Friday, May 26, 2006

Good Food/Bad Food

The other day when I went to give blood, it turned out to be a volunteer/community type faire at an office building near my house. So in addition to the Red Cross, there were several other worthy organizations there, and they were also giving out little gift cards to thank you for coming, either to Starbucks or to Jamba Juice. Since I don't drink coffee, I chose the Jamba Juice. The woman said, "Good for you!"

A few weeks ago, I was having lunch with my friend at a buffet (I don't like buffets, but I like my friend...), and the options for dessert were lime jello or chocolate cake. I chose the jello, and she said, "Good for you! You're so disciplined."

I have to admit, the idea that I am somehow a better person because I like jello more than cake is confusing to me. Or that I would rather have a smoothie than a latte'. I know that these people were not complimenting me on my taste, actually. They were complimenting me on my discipline, my choices, and how 'healthy' they are. Because I am obviously depriving myself of something I would rather have, is how they see it.

But I don't quite get it. I do remember when my mom was dieting, that she would use the word 'virtuous' for when she had eaten something healthy, and that she would feel guilty for eating something unhealthy, or too much of really anything, and I think that's part of the trap of dieting, a trap of our society. Because really, food isn't 'good' or 'bad', it's just food. It doesn't have a conscience, and doesn't have morality. It just sits there, and you eat it or you don't. Of course I understand that there are foods that are better for you than others...blueberries, for example, are healthier for you than ice cream. But are you a better person for eating blueberries than if you choose ice cream? NO. Will you be healthier if you eat more blueberries than ice cream? Possibly. But if we can take some of the morality and guilt out of food, and just eat what we want, and try to eat more of the healthy stuff and less of the unhealthy stuff, I think we'll all be a lot better off. Now please excuse me, there are some cheetos in the kitchen calling me.

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