Odds and Ends

A Donut by Any Other Name

March 24, 2017

Earlier this week,  while perusing my usual media feeds, I was treated to a recipe for a healthy version of a chocolate glazed donut. More precisely it was a Paleo version of this very non-Paleo treat. I’m assuming at this point most of use have heard this buzzword. The recipe author excitedly shared that it was so good (and so healthy) that she had eaten one every night for the past two weeks. Don’t worry, the point of this post isn’t to denigrate donuts, in fact I’m setting out to do the opposite. I would very much like to exonerate donuts and all other treats from the need to be healthy, Paleo, “clean” versions of themselves. Bear with me, and at the end of this post let’s split something with sprinkles on it, shall we?

My thought process after seeing this recipe went something like this:

Wanting treats make sense, who doesn’t want a treat? Why not just eat a donut? Wait, what if we spend hours and hundreds of dollars making “healthy” versions of things like this chocolate donut only to end up creating the exact thing we were trying to avoid. I mean, like, what if your body responds to the “healthy” version in exactly the same physical and chemical way it would from the donut made from wheat and actual sugar? What if the same donut neurons fire in your brain because it is the same? Even though we’re like “this one has a lower glycemic level so I can eat it every day all day,” but your body is just like “Yay, a donut! I can metabolize this even though you think I can’t. Donut! Donut!”

What I mean, is this:

Don’t get me wrong, if you have a medical condition like Celiac disease, or bona fide food allergies, then you grab that bag of nut flour, make yourself a chia egg, and get to work. Otherwise? Can we just let treats be treats? What if you don’t want to eat the donut because it’s healthy? That’s not the point of donuts really anyway.

I don’t like the creation of “bad” foods, even where donuts are concerned. Dietary dogma is kind of a slippery slope, and if in the end all you’re left with is a severe phobia of non-approved foods as mandated by whichever protocol you’ve chosen, then to my mind you’ve not helped yourself out. I know, I know. People try various protocols and they have good results, heal ailments, and plenty of people will want to argue that these things aren’t diets, they’re lifestyles. I get it, and I’ve been there. I feel like there’s one small change that actually causes the big one and that entire food groups are unnecessarily cut out, but we think we have to make these huge, sweeping changes. I am one of *those* annoying people with food allergies, so perhaps this is why I’m sensitive to this kind of thing. I hate talking about the way I eat, I hate when people point out what I eat. Yes, I prefer mostly unprocessed, natural foods, but I’m not preachy about it, and mostly it’s the easiest way to not eat the things that cause the allergic reactions. I also 100% believe in moderation, a.k.a. treats.

Perhaps my issue is more personal. I don’t like it when people vilify the foods I’m actually allergic to because it weakens the response when I go out and need to be taken seriously for my own health and well-being. This article from the Boston Globe expresses everything I would try to restate here, so I’ll just gently nudge you to read it for yourself: Why food allergy fakers need to stop. If the recipe/post had been titled “Allergy Free Donut” instead, I would have leaped for joy, but that fact that it had created this “bad” thing that was righted with the “right” healthy ingredients just bugged me. Am I making any sense here? Have we learned nothing from Diet Coke? (Just had to throw that in there, I’m not saying Paleo donuts are fake chemicals.)

I feel like I’ve failed to articulate the very specific sentiment I so desperately set out to say. Any chance you’re getting it via ESP? I’ve spent a lot of time reading and thinking about health and food (see above re allergies), and I suppose along the way I’ve had to confront a lot of conflicting information, and a lot of very heated, passionate discussions from people who think they know the one way. But, sadly, there is no one way. Perhaps my point is really quite simple: everything in moderation, including moderation.

But, forget all that. Let’s go back to my theory that a donut by any other name (or recipe) is still a donut. I mean, in the way we conceive of a donut, this holds true. If you like donuts, you should eat them, sans guilt or other qualifications. There is a place in life for treats, donuts included. So please, for all that’s holey and sugary, just eat the donut, a real one, with real sugar, that came from a real frying vat, with real sprinkles. Call it a real treat and then have a salad later, or another donut. Whatever you want.

*Photo credit: The image of the lovely sprinkled donut is courtesy of Jack Lyons.

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