Is there anything wrong with eating candies, cakes, doughnuts and things like that?
The Rambam in Hilchos Dei’os states that a man who is wise will eat what’s healthy for him, what’s beneficial. He says לא יאכל כל שהחיך מתאוה כמו הכלב והחמור – “Don’t eat only things that your palate desires, like the dog and the donkey do” (Hilchos Dei’os 3:2). You’re not an animal that eats only what it thinks is delicious to eat. אלא יאכל דברים המועילים לו – “You should eat only the things that are beneficial for you” (ibid.).
So we see that following your desires means that you lack sense, like a donkey or a dog. Now will we specify for you that candies and cakes are wrong to eat? Well, sometimes it’s not wrong. Many times people are down, and they need a lift; and then it’s recommended that they take a nosh, and they should enjoy life a little bit more than the regular routine. Yes, sometimes you can do things that are not not wrong to do, only that they’re not recommended, but you do it in order to raise your spirits.
But ordinarily, things that are full of sugar will cause your teeth to rot unless you brush your teeth after eating them. And sometimes they take the place of the nourishing foods that you should be eating, and therefore it’s not sensible for a person to waste his efforts on nosherei.
However, we’re not going to say that you can’t eat candies or cake. It would be foolish for anybody to make such a rule. Sometimes a candy or a piece of cake is important to give you a lift. And for happy occasions, sometimes people can be stimulated to a little more joy, because of these things. Therefore, it requires discretion.
But the wiser man is the man who chooses a diet that is healthy and nourishing. Not organic and special health foods; I don’t know about that. But foods that are healthful and nourishing, and that people can get the most benefit from, that’s how a wise man should eat. You don’t need me to tell you; you know that yourself.
TAPE # 627 (January 1987)