Friday, January 19, 2007

Rx: Chocolate

I confess I love chocolate. Especially dark chocolate. I love it plain and with dried fruit in it. From chocolate liqueur poured over ice cream to mole sauce, I will find a way to incorporate it into my eating life.

Is this anything a legitimate health care professional should confess in public? Well, as it turns out yes. For a couple of reasons. First of all, it seems that dark chocolate can actually be good for you. Well, in "modest" amounts, anyway. It used to be said that an apple a day kept the doctor away, but recent studies have shown that a square of dark chocolate a day can actually cut in half your risk of heart disease . So from a health care perspective, you can say you're in it for the medicinal purposes. (Just don't tell that to anyone but the cat.)

And then there's another, and perhaps more important medical reason why eating chocolate can be good for you. I spoke with a friend recently whose sister-in-law died of cancer at a young age. She had been following a very strict, raw-foods diet in her attempt to combat her disease. Apparently, when she was on her deathbed, she told her husband, "I wish I had eaten more McDonald's french fries."

What a sad thing to be looking back, wishing you had eaten something "sinful"! Not that I counsel my patients to chow down on donuts or pork rinds. But it's so clear to me that living a healthy life is much, much more than always doing what's "right". The food that is good for your body is fine to eat as a basic diet . But let's not forget the spirit. Sometimes when you get those cravings for something "bad", it's a sign that your spirit needs nourishing.

In his introduction to MFK Fisher's "The Art of Eating", Clifton Fadiman writes that "the palate persists in glory almost to the very end." So let's not forget to celebrate our daily lives in ways that honor our bodies and ways that honor our spirit. Yes, it's important to eat a healthy diet. And it's equally important to enjoy those fries.

Or that chocolate.


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Chris said...

Ha! This is a great post. I, too, love chocolate. Unfortunately, I am allergic. So - everyone needs to eat my chocolate for me and smile!

Toni said...

I will do my best to indulge for you, Pebbles. And I definitely will smile!!