When it come to your goals for a healthy lifestyle, do you feel guilty? No, that’s too mild; let’s put it another way. Are you guilty? I’ll bet a lot of you answered a big resounding “Yes.” It just came automatically. But what, exactly, are you guilty of? In case the list that immediately formed in your mind isn’t long enough, here are a few points you might add.

1. You just ate a huge piece of chocolate cake (in fact most of the cake), even though you had resolved never to do that again.

2. You know that you ought to join AA, but you can’t bring yourself to admit to your problem in a church basement full of people. (Plus, there’s that higher power thing.)

3. Heart disease (or breast or colon cancer, or diabetes) runs in your family, but you have hardly cut a morsel of fat out of your diet.

4. You are exhausted from work, plus caring for a family, and rarely have the energy left to assemble decent school lunches for your kids.

5. You never got to the gym all week.

6. You haven’t gotten to the gym yet this year (despite having a membership).

7. You bought discounted products that were a real bargain even though you know if you looked at their labels they’d contain awful ingredients – cookies loaded with transfats, shampoo full of slaughterhouse by-products and chips with a fat content that’s over the moon.

8. You know that if you tried on your bathing suit, the bulges of flab would be even bigger than they were last year.

9. You’ve heard that the best step to reduce global warming is to cut animal products from your diet, but you can’t bear to eliminate bacon or cheese pizza.

10. You know that wheat brings on allergic reactions, but sometimes you want it anyway, or perhaps your Achilles heel is coffee, dairy or sugar.

When I consult with my nutrition clients, I am often surprised by the myriad ways in which we make ourselves feel guilty. We expect superhuman achievements. We drive ourselves so hard. Where does all this guilt get us?

Aren’t you parenting as well as you can manage right now, considering all the conflicting pulls on your time and energy? Aren’t you beginning to accomplish a few shifts in your habits? Although you haven’t checked off every item on your imaginary to-do list, didn’t you, in fact, recently perform several kind acts?

Can you release a little of the pressure to be so darn prefect? When you look back to five years ago, you may see that you’ve come a long way in achieving valuable goals. It’s worth taking a moment to pat yourself on the back, take a deep breath and smile. You aren’t doing so badly, after all.

Chocolate Squares

Love chocolate? Here’s a treat that’s bursting with nutrition. If you use almonds and almond butter, it also provides a source of calcium. For a zinc-rich treat, make it with cashews and cashew butter. For omega-3 fatty acids, try walnuts plus nut butter. For economy, try peanuts and peanut butter. Rice syrup is an excellent choice for this recipe because of its thickness; get it at health food stores. Maple syrup is delicious, although the squares are not so firm at warm temperatures. You may use 2.5 ounces of carob chips instead of the chocolate, and vanilla in place of mint.

• 1/2 cup nut butter
• 1/2 cup syrup (rice, barley, malt or maple)
• 2.5 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
•1/2 tsp mint extract • 500 ml (2 cups) flaked cereal such as Nature’s Path millet rice cereal
• 1/2 cup chopped, unsalted nuts
• 2 tbsp oat bran or wheat germ

Vesanto Melina is a dietitian and author of nutrition classics; she consults from her home office in Langley. www.nutrispeak.com , tel.            604-882-6782      .

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