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All I can come up with is "it felt so wrong, like using a Coca Cola to take a vitamin"

Edit: In that example, it's not so much the idea of "cancelling out" the benefit of the vitamin, it's more doing something that feels sort of yucky even though it is good. Even if the act of taking the vitamin and drinking the soda is a net benefit, it still makes people feel like they are doing something wrong.

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My wife's a nurse. She, and every other Taiwanese I know (MD, RN, or just plain person like me) insists that the only way to take meds is with water, either warm (never cold) or at room temperature. The problem with washing down your meds with anything but pure water is that there may be some chemical interaction between the meds and the liquid you drank -- as there is with grapefruit juice and some meds -- that mitigates the effect of the meds. That is my inference, at least. I don't know for sure. – user21497 Sep 23 '12 at 2:47
@ЯegDwight I believe that the implication is that Coca Cola is bad for you while vitamins are good for you. – coleopterist Sep 23 '12 at 6:14

7 Answers 7

"guilty pleasure" can also fit that scenario because you're doing something you intrinsically know is wrong but you enjoy it anyway.

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The word counterproductive came to mind, if you mean that the drinking of a soda canceled out the good of taking a vitamin.

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I wasn't meaning so much "canceled out" as doing something that feels sort of yucky even though it is good. Like even though the act of taking the vitamin and drinking the soda is likely a net benefit, it still makes one feel like they are doing something wrong. – jayrdub Sep 23 '12 at 2:44
@jayrdub: Drinking "sodapop" of any variety never produces a net benefit. Recent (last week) studies strongly suggest that "sugary drinks" trigger obesity, surely a net deficit. How about "I felt like such {a sinner / a felon / an oxymoron [stress on moron (just a joke)]"? – user21497 Sep 23 '12 at 2:55
@jayrdub, Like self-reproach or self-disgust? Or compunction, which is any uneasiness or hesitation about the rightness of an action. – JLG Sep 23 '12 at 3:00
@BillFranke: I agree with you – if you're imagining someone slamming down a 16-oz Mountain Dew just to take a vitamin. But it could just be a small sip of soda, to wash the vitamin down, in which case there could be a net benefit. – J.R. Sep 23 '12 at 9:13
@J.R.: Mea culpa. I'll take meds with anything I'm drinking (usually sugarless coffee or tea). That's why I've heard the only tepid water exhortation so often. I no longer drink grapefruit juice or any other kind of juice. I do take my antihypertension etc. meds with bottled room-temperature water every morning and evening, though. I agree, a little bit of soda probably won't hurt and does make the meds go down, which is better than not taking them. – user21497 Sep 23 '12 at 9:34

There are a number of words for one's discomfort in some action, though the "even though it is good" aspect would have to come from context. One such example would be reluctant.

Reluctant implies some sort of mental struggle, as between disinclination and sense of duty. (

In practice, the term describing the disagreeable action might be selected based on the most appropriate connotation.

  • I am always squeamish when giving blood.
  • The team begrudgingly released their IP to the public.

As far as phrases that describe the scenario, it sounds a lot like you're describing an uncomfortable "ends justifies the means" scenario (see also consequentialism).

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Are you looking for an established idiom or metaphor? Or will something original suffice?

If the latter, you could say:

It's like having too big a dessert after a large meal.

which perhaps conjures up an image of overeating – presumably, both the meal and the dessert were good, but, in the end, you end up wishing that you had eaten a little less.

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"taking your medicine" is an idiom that could apply - medicine is good for you, but rarely does it taste or feel good.

"eating your own dog food" might work depending on context - it's a term from technology companies referring to running their own products internally (often an incomplete or buggy version) in order to find/fix bugs and prove it's usefulness in real-world settings. It does, however, imply a personal effort in the creation of something and an attempt to "sell" it to others - so wouldn't work for all cases.

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A counterintuitive proposition is one that does not seem likely to be true when assessed using intuition, common sense, or gut feelings. –Wiki

coun·ter·in·tu·i·tive /ˌkoun(t)ərinˈt(y)o͞oədiv/ adjective –Google

contrary to intuition or to common-sense expectation (but often nevertheless true).

If it didn't seem right to you but it was correct, then it was counterintuitive.

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Considering your edit, "hedonistic" could be a candidate. Hedonism is the philosophy that pleasure is the only intrinsic good, and often people will informally deem acts that prioritize pleasure to be examples of "hedonism" (as a sort of slang). This would work if by "yucky" you mean "perhaps morally reprehensible" and by "is good" you mean "feels good"; further elaboration always helps, though.

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