Don’t Eat Something Because “It’s Good For Me”

Last weekend I went to the movies with my son. Even though we weren’t seeing the same movie (my tastes don’t quite mesh with my 16-year-old), we did drive over together, and I count that as bonding. As I was sitting in my seat, waiting for the previews, I overheard a conversation a few seats down from me. It went a something like this:

“Every night I sit down with my bag of dark chocolate bits and I eat until I am full and can’t eat another bite. I know they are good for me and I’m supposed to eat them, but I don’t even like dark chocolate!”

This was sad to me on so many levels, perhaps the saddest being that she didn’t like dark chocolate!

Let’s look at what this woman was saying, and why it is not only sad, but also very unhealthy.

First, she is sitting down every night and eating until she can’t eat another bite. To be sitting down, probably in front of a television set, and eating is not a good habit. I call this type of eating “unconscious eating,” because you aren’t aware of how much you consume. A movie theatre is another example. How often have you bought the large popcorn and it was finished before the previews? I call those “wasted calories” because you probably didn’t even have a chance to enjoy them.

She did say she ate until she couldn’t eat another bite, so perhaps she wasn’t in front of the television. Yet she was making a point to eat until she was so full she “couldn’t eat another bite.” This is another unhealthy behavior. Chances are that if you eat until you are stuffed, especially before going to bed, you are still going to feel full in the morning. When people overeat at night, they tend to skip breakfast the next day, setting themselves up for a cycle of skipping meals and then eventually overeating because they wait too long. While this behavior won’t hurt you if you only do it occasionally, this woman sounded like she overate every night, and I’m guessing she did not eat regular meals the rest of the time.

Let’s leave the chocolate part for last; let’s look at the “I know they are good for me, but I don’t like them” comment. This is an unfortunate reason to eat food: because it is good for me. The primary reason you should eat something is because you like the way it tastes. The fact that certain foods have health benefits is a bonus. But to just eat something “because I should” is disturbing. Folks who do this wind up not appreciating all the wonderful foods, tastes and flavors found in meals and snacks. Unfortunately, food becomes like medicine -- you don’t take it because you like it, you eat it because it’s good for you.

Now, let’s address the last comment “I don’t even like dark chocolate.” Never mind that the research suggesting dark chocolate may be heart healthy. Never mind the fact that I, personally, am only starting to accept that there are people who don’t like dark chocolate (and I can still be friends with them). The amounts recommended are less than 2 ounces per day, and the plant chemicals found in the dark chocolate can also be found in other fruits, like apples.

But to force-feed yourself dark chocolate while you don’t like it? This makes food more than medicine — it makes food a punishment.

Please don’t punish yourself by forcing foods into your mouth you do not like. Food is one of the many pleasures we have in our lives. Of course there are many reasons to eat fruits and vegetables, chicken and fish. And there are also good reasons to eat cake, ice cream and chocolate.

Just don’t make the reason “because it’s good for me.”


Become At Peace with Food: Stop Dieting and Lose Weight

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