What Makes something a Guilty Pleasure

Guilty pleasures are much like the apple eaten by Eve. They are the forbidden fruits of life which are presented to humankind every day of the week. People know within themselves that they should not be indulging in them, and yet do. The guilt lies in knowing that what it is that the individual chooses to eat is indeed forbidden, and the temptation of a guilty pleasure differs from person to person, though is in itself one which is too hard to resist.

Examples of guilty pleasures are fairly simple to give. In Eve’s case, the apple was the one fruit she was told not to touch. Equally so, in life, there are foods which present themselves as too good to miss out on, even though health or ethical behavior may dictate that the individual makes different choices. The diabetic who chooses to eat forbidden foods may indeed be in a state of denial, or simply rebelling against what they have been told are forbidden. The dangers of these foods may be well known to them, though somehow the temptation to eat them is too great.

A woman who is dieting may feel that the bar of chocolate is a pleasure she deserves after self deprivation. She knows that the chocolate bar itself has calories, though dismisses these in favor of consumption simply because she can. The guilty pleasure of the taste and sugar rush will mean that the dieter will make excuses. The value of chocolate such as magnesium or some other content will be highlighted by the dieter as a reason or justification for the eating habit which may have made them overweight in the first place.

The child who eats too many candies usually knows that they have. Similarly, they may hide their consumption from adults and try to throw away those wrappers so that no one sees. In the case of a child, perhaps the temptation to be like other kids is what spurs them into eating the candies. Their parents may be strict with what they eat, but surrounded by children who are permitted candies, they are tempted into that area of “forbidden fruits.”

A theme evolves when looking at what a guilty pleasure consists of, particularly in relation to food. There are criteria to distinguish whether this is mere gluttony or a guilty pleasure and the criteria can be defined as follows:

A) Should the individual be eating this food?

B) Do they eat it regardless of knowing they should not?

Many eat things out of ignorance about good nutrition and in these cases, one can dismiss these consumers from the “guilty pleasures” aspect. These are people who eat because they feel the need to, though have no idea that it is wrong to do so. In the case of guilty pleasures, the individual consumer must be aware that the food is “forbidden” in order for the guilty aspect to come into play.

These are the foods which are consumed daily worldwide, regardless of health or commonsense dictating that those foods are “forbidden.” Fueled by advertisements which tempt the taste pallet and the display of foods within supermarkets, “guilty pleasures” are those temptations to which people succumb. The individual who has an allergy to strawberries though loves them may occasionally dabble and not care about consequence. These are risky behaviors, and this is what puts them clearly into the “guilt” category.

The child who is told that he will rot his teeth if he eats too many candies won’t stop eating candy because of the warning. They may be too young to understand what tooth decay consists of and consider this too alien to what they have experienced. The pleasure rush beats the warnings, as they bite their way through another candy.

Similarly, the dieter who knows that smothering that “righteous” salad with mayonnaise ups the calories, may do so simply because it makes the bland salads taste nicer and become more of a temptation. They know that mayonnaise is fattening, though they want to tell people that all they eat is salads. The guilt lies in the knowing, and hiding their own guilty pleasure behind the facade of healthy eating.

At any age, from the infant who licks sugar from a pacifier to the elderly patient who decides to ignore their diabetes, guilty pleasures are in the same category as the apple which tempted Eve. She knew she should not eat it, though was tempted into eating it regardless. Each day, people take the quick route to satisfaction by indulging in guilty pleasures. They tempt. They tantalize, and awaken the taste buds, though the guilt has to be lived with as the consequences manifest themselves. Those guilty pleasures are what makes life interesting, risky and varied, and throughout all the generations since Eve have lured human beings into tasting the apple.