One part of the U.S. National Eating Disorder that has always baffled me is the tendency to eat foods we don't like, or that upset our stomachs, just because we believe that these foods are healthy. I personally believe that a varied diet is a generally good idea, not just for health reasons, but for enjoyment of life, but why does that diet have to include things that actually taste bad to us? Things that make our digestive systems complain?
I suppose part of it is rooted in the mealtime conflicts, where children are threatened and cajoled into eating vegetables. Since these children were forced to eat things they actively disliked, they grew up thinking that a little culinary misery is necessary for a healthy diet. After all, if it isn't necessary, then that means mom or grandma didn't have a very good reason for doing what they did, aside from pure sadism, right? Or just not knowing any better, and it's difficult to view your mom that way.
I would wonder, how many people reading this (tell me, I do want to know!) were ordered to "fill your plate!" then ordered to eat the entire plateful practically at gunpoint? I was lucky enough that my mother rightly recognized this as a seed of later food- and eating-related mental issues, so she did not demand that we eat a particular quantity of food, nor insist that we eat particular items of food.* My grandmother, however, did and still does henpeck everyone at a family dinner if they have not piled high and subsequently eaten every bite, and she has never been respectful of my vegetarianism. Since I didn't get this treatment at home, I found it intrusive and offensive, and recognized that I was extremely lucky.
I was especially fortunate in that, because vegetables were not treated as a nasty medicine that must be eaten at all costs, I never viewed them that way. That, coupled with my parents' decent culinary skills, allowed me to enjoy vegetables, from Brussels sprouts to winter squash. I guess I was also a lucky child in that broccoli and Brussels sprouts did not taste bad or bitter to me; many children are sensitive to bitter flavors, making it more cruel when they are forced to eat vegetables that really do taste awful to them. Sadly, many parents do not know or care about this tendency, so by the time a child's taste buds have changed to tolerate broccoli and cabbage, they've been so traumatized by these items that they won't try them in adulthood.
Even so, many adults these days are conditioned to not just believe that it's required to eat food that tastes bad, but they feel guilty for enjoying foods that don't. Food isn't nourishment, it's medicine. You eat tomatoes for their lycopenes. Wine is consumed not for enjoyment, but because it contains reservatrol. Don't you dare enjoy that cup of tea, you're drinking it to get your antioxidants! Same thing for chocolate! And your birthday cake? You need to leave out the flour, butter, eggs, milk, and sugar--even if you aren't diabetic or suffering from celiac disease, because, well, because. Give me a break.
Can we stop this stupidity? If you don't like the way a food tastes, don't eat it. It's okay to have foods that might affect someone else badly--their medical conditions do not have anything to do with you. I'm allergic to peanuts, but millions of people eat them every day without a problem. So eat your peanuts if you can. I also can't eat bell peppers (although I will spare you the description of why), but you go right ahead and enjoy them. Meanwhile, I'll be having a slice of cake while taunting my friend A., who has celiac disease :)
Eat what you like. Don't eat what you don't. Stop using food as medication. Please?
* Please note that later eating issues were absolutely NOT related to food or weight. Seriously.