(This entry is dedicated to Oswaldo, a student of mine who recently reminded me “you are what you eat,” and the harmful nature of the Twinkie.)
I have a guilty little secret. Even though, I try my best to stay in shape, and watch what I eat, I love Twinkies. You known those little golden sponge cakes filled with cream that Hostess has been selling to the American public since the 1930’s.
Now I’m no Twinkie-holic, but a pack of Twinkies, (or two), is my little reward when I really push myself at the gym. It’s something I can bribe myself with in order to push myself to the next level. My Twinkie is sort of the carrot dangling in front of the horse.
Naturally, I’ve never been under the delusion that Twinkies were good for me. In fact, I’ve never been quite sure what they are even made of. Until a few days ago assumed, maybe with a subconscious desire to do so, that they at least contained some natural ingredients. I thought that they had at least a bit of nutritional value.
Boy was I ever wrong.
Twinkies contain no eggs, no butter, no milk, and no cream. In fact they contain nothing that can spoil during their twenty-five day shelf life. So much for that old urban myth, which states Twinkies last forever.
So what are Twinkies made of, you ask? For that answer I suggest you read “Mmmm, Tasty Chemicals,” by Anne Underwood in the March 5th 2007 issue of Newsweek Magazine. (See below) It’s a real eye opener, if not a real stomach turner.
Oddly enough a few weeks ago, before this article came out, my students and I had a debate on the health issues of eating snack foods, especially snack foods such as Twinkies. While I vehemently defended my Twinkie addiction (though the truth is I actually eat Zingers, a Twinkie covered in raspberry jelly and coconut shavings), I had to concede that eating other healthier things was definitely in my best interest. After all, an apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Too bad apples just don’t taste more like Zingers.
The only defense I could assert when it comes to eating a pack of Zingers or two, maybe in a stressful week three, is that I really don’t ingest anything else that is that bad for me. I do watch what I eat (diet-wise), I don’t drink alcohol, don’t smoke, and only reluctantly take the prescription drugs my doctor says I need to take to manage my cholesterol and chronic pain.
In other words I do try to take care of myself. My justification is simply this, every now and then I have to indulge, and if that means a Zinger or two what’s the real harm. My Twinkie (Zinger) is my guilty little pleasure, and while I now know I shouldn’t, now that I know what they are actually made of, I doubt I’ll change my wicked ways.
My students, especially Oswaldo may be right, but hopefully, in the end, I’m not what I really eat.