THE BLOG

Twinkies Safe in the White House

05/13/2010 02:06 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Michelle Obama refuses to demonize Twinkies -- they are safe in the White House and I suppose that is good news. Vilifying one particular food or food group makes no sense at all when the goal is to eat not less but better, and one Twinkie now and then is just 150 extra empty calories every now and then, and not all that bad for you compared to the 800 empty calories you will find in a Big Gulp. A Twinkie lover might give up on a healthier diet if officially deprived of that spongy cream-filled little cake.

By the way, according to Snopes.com and contrary to urban myth, a Twinkie doesn't last forever. But they do keep for up to 25 days, which is -- let's face it -- rare in a cake. There are at least 28 ingredients in a Twinkie. Most are synthetic, many are a mystery, and some like high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated shortening that might or might not be beef fat (vegetarian alert!) are just plain hideous. It may be a food processor's highest achievement, considering that its shelf life can outlast the shelf it's on.

Obviously, I'm not recommending Twinkies as "part of a healthy diet," and neither did the First Lady. I'm just being realistic about the fact that just about everyone makes poor food choices once in a while. It's a lot better to accept that and then get back to eating healthier foods than to demonize one particular snack. Vilify Twinkies and before you can say "no carb" or "no fat" you'll be back on some loopy diet that sets you up to fail. So, if you love Twinkies eat one -- and don't feel guilty.

Defending Twinkies got me thinking about all of the other foods that thwart attempts at weight loss. those foods labeled "bad" that put the yo-yo into yo-yo dieting. Some, like bread, rice, pasta and cheese, have been dietary staples in a wide variety of cultures for centuries, and to exclude them from your diet if you enjoy eating them is surely setting yourself up to fail. It is also senseless. Asian cuisine is often rice or noodle based, and the obesity rate is low. French and Italians eat bread, pasta and cheese and their obesity rate is also low. Calories count. Nutrition packed calories, of course, best nourish the body.

But some foods -- fresh strawberry shortcake topped with whipped cream in June, peach ice cream on a hot July afternoon, pumpkin cheesecake in the fall, or a little cellophane wrapped cream filled cake that reminds you of your childhood -- these may nourish the soul. And a little noshing that leads to nourishing can be a good thing every now and then.

"All things in moderation, including moderation," as Mark Twain once said. He could have been speaking to someone who couldn't live without Twinkies.