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)
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 every day, if you so choose.
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!
My proposal? Turn that self-flagellating emotion on its head.
Instead of feeling guilty about eating Nutella, allow yourself a certain amount a day and feel good about the fact that you can enjoy a food you love, in moderation, on a daily basis.
The moment you make the shift from the Nutella jar controlling you to you making that jar play by YOUR rules, you are on the right track.
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.