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    You Ask, I Answer: Nutella

    Since returning from a recent trip to Paris, I have been craving this [Italian chocolate and hazelnut spread].

    Could you touch on its positives and negatives?

    I feel guilty eating it.

    — Robin Cameron
    New York, NY

    Though Nutella has a cult following in the United States, it is as common as peanut butter in many European countries.

    The ingredients tell quite a tale.

    They are — in descending order of predominance by weight — sugar, modified palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa powder, skim milk, lecithin, vanilla, and reduced mineral whey.

    Interesting fact: vegetable oils replace modified palm oil in Nutella sold outside of the United States.

    Meanwhile, this is what the nutrition label reveals:

    Nutrition Facts For 1 serving (2 Tablespoons)

    Calories: 200
    Saturated fat: 2 grams
    Sugar: 20 grams (5 teaspoons)

    We are clearly looking at a dessert treat without much redeeming nutritional value.

    That is not to say it can’t be enjoyed in a certain context.

    One tablespoon of Nutella (say, spread over a toasted slice of whole grain bread or some whole wheat crispbread) only adds 100 calories to your day.

    So in that sense, it is possible to enjoy a little Nutella.

    I firmly believe that in order to form healthy eating habits, guilt needs to be taken out of the equation.

    Guilt over enjoying decadent food accomplishes nothing but making you more vulnerable to extreme dieting, which in turn usually sets you up for bingeing in the future.  Next thing you know, the guilt cycle starts all over again!

    To prevent the risk of starting off with a tablespoon and coming back for 6 more throughout the course of the night, make Nutella a post-dinner treat, rather than a pre-dinner snack.

    Since you will feel fuller after finishing dinner than an hour before you sit down at the dining table, this reduces the risk of trying to quash your hunger with a delectable sweet spread that is fine in certain amounts.



    1. jess said on August 29th, 2008

      This post reminded me of this: http://www.bigcitylittlekitchen.com/2007/08/13/nutella-cake/ and how much I want to eat it.

    2. Tere said on August 29th, 2008

      I love your idea of feeling good about enjoying a treat. Moderation is key. I’m concerned when a “dieter” treats food as the enemy. Food is meant to be enjoyed. You present a good balance. Making the food play by your own rules is brillant!

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