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Old 1st September 2007   #1
Senior Member
Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 517
Default Pleasure is healthy; guilt unhealthy

The Centre for Consumer Freedom e-mailed an interesting report yesterday called "Government-Mandaded Guilt."

In addition to noting several appalling examples of modern weight hysteria, the report (correctly) observes that the individuals and organizations which are trying impose guilt on women for their natural love of self-indulgence take a coldly utilitarian view of food -- and of life.

As the report observes,

Dictating calorie counts reduces the value of a meal to a measure of energy. But anyone who's ever enjoyed a snow cone on a hot day or shared a bottle of wine at a romantic dinner knows that food is much more than that...

Maybe someone should clue in the nutrition "experts": Good food isn't just about staying alive. It's about enjoying life too.

Very good points. But what especially intrigued me in the report was one of the links -- to a medical study from several years back; a study that reveals just how damaging guilt is to women's health; and conversely, just how beneficial pleasure is to a woman's well-being.

Many of these findings are stunning, and fly directly in the face of present-day weight-control propaganda.

Here are some choice excerpts:

Pleasure increases enjoyment, reducing stress and enhancing the immunity system, thus making a positive contribution to overall good health.

People choose their pleasures for rational and purposeful reasons, according to the desire to adjust their psychological state.

This pleasure can enhance the immune system and reduce stress.

Conversely, guilt can increase stress and undermine the immune system.

Unnecessary guilt can drive a dangerous psychological wedge between the "ideal" and the "real" self, further enhancing stress levels and undermining the immune system.

This can lead to, for instance...eating disorders, heart problems or brain damage.

The benefits of pleasure and enjoyment are seriously undervalued in both science and society. Scientific studies show that enjoying the simple pleasures in life, without feeling guilty, can reduce stress and increase resistance to disease.

Relatively little is known about the science of pleasure because scientific and medical exploration have tended to be based on a "disease" model of life which has taken "health" as a base line and measured deviations from that.

A further benefit, largely unrecognised, is the evidence that enjoyment can boost the function of the immune system and protect the individual from a range of illnesses, from the common cold to heart disease and cancer (5).

Even if the opportunity to indulge is made available, our behaviour is still constrained by psychological considerations, primarily guilt and worry over the consequences of our actions...

Guilt has long been viewed as a source of chronic mental disorders and is frequently associated with depression (11). This link has become so well accepted that measures of guilt are also used as indices of depression (12). Thus, "excessive or inappropriate guilt" is one of the nine clinical criteria used to diagnose major depression (13).

Chronic feelings of unresolved guilt can spiral, providing an ongoing source of self-degradation and an endless reminder of the failing that originally evoked the guilt. Internalising these feelings can eventually give rise to depression (14)...

Guilt-induced depression can result in eating disorders (15) of which self-punishment is frequently a component (16)

Chronic guilt, as an "intrinsic stressor", increases levels of stress hormones which can lead to infection, cardiovascular and gastro-intestinal problems, and brain damage.
The study singles out "eating chocolate and sweet things" as an example of a pleasurable activity that actually benefits health, while feeling guilty over self-indulgence damanges health, in the ways described above.

I wish these results were better known, and I wish more women would take them to heart.

Now, we know -- the best thing that any young woman can do for her health is to free herself from guilt, to eat whatever she wants, and as much as she wants, and to fully enjoy the health-giving pleasure that she feels from doing so.
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