Why is it that we are inclined to feel guilty about enjoying the pleasures of life? Is it our culture? Is guilt such a pervasive feeling in other cultures?
One of my favorite guilty pleasures is a long, hot shower. As I stand under the water, letting it wash away my stress (and the smell of barn), there's a volley going on inside my head that goes like this: "I really shouldn't be wasting water like this. But I don't run the water while I brush my teeth, so I can stand here a couple more minutes. And I always do full loads of dishes and laundry. Just a couple more minutes."
I grew up in the "Save Water" decade. We had monthly seminars in elementary school about conserving water. The messages were well ingrained in my head. Wasting water was as sinful as stealing. Being a water-lover in a save-water-society is a tough row to hoe.
But I'm not feeling guilty anymore. I recently switched our showerhead to a water conservation model. (If you receive your electricity from a cooperative such as Stearns Electric Association you can get a water conservation kit for just $10 until March 31.) The new showerhead reduces water output by a gallon a minute. I'm in heaven. I'm having my cake and eating it, too. Yeah, a long shower is still not a good use of clean water, but now I'm using a lot less water.
As much as I love a good hot shower, I think Dan loves a cold glass of chocolate milk even more. Hands down, "bunny" milk, as he calls it (you know, the Nesquik Bunny), is his favorite food and beverage.
I used to feel terrible about allowing my son to drink chocolate milk for breakfast, lunch and supper. Not anymore. Recent research shows that children who consume flavored milk have greater total milk intake, less soft drink and fruit drink intake, but similar juice intake, compared to children who do not drink flavored milk. Flavored milks are nutrient-rich and provide the same nutrients and benefits as unflavored milk. (Go to www.raiseyourhand4milk.com for more information.)
So go ahead and mix up a glass of chocolate milk for your little tike — and one for yourself — and skip the guilt. (Now, this only applies to chocolate milk. If you eat that whole box of Valentine's chocolates, you'll have to come up with your own justification.)