• What is your mindset about food? The food or nutrition dogma you adhere to?

    As you move through the day, the week or even when you are just hanging with family or friends, what are some of those long-held beliefs about food?

    Whether it is potatoes or soda, hot dogs or coffee, or even soy products or milk, I find that some of these foods are quite polarizing.

    I have a lot of stories to share about this topic. I am just not sure if this is a subject that people talk about all the time (I am guessing…yes) or if it is just that people are so shocked that as a registered dietitian nutritionist that I am eating something so horrific. I should know better, right?

    Get over it.

    Are French fries really so bad?

    “You eat fries? Aren’t potatoes fattening?”

    Said to me by a friend who was gob smacked that I asked for fries as my side to the burger I ordered. Let’s think about this: burger and salad? Or burger and fries?

    I mean it isn’t like I have them all the time – not even once a month if I had to guess. And I do love a good burger.

    And, potatoes have no fat by themselves. So, no potatoes aren’t really fattening, it’s what we do to the potatoes that make them “fattening”. That is a post for another day. (Hint: an excess of calories is what contributes to excess body fat. But it is even a bit more complex than that.)

    “I don’t drink soda.”

    Do you drink soda?

    Congratulations – neither do it. Not really.

    Ok, I do. But ONLY if it is used as a mixer with the right kind of distilled spirit.

    But I don’t drink soda by itself.

    And I never, ever drink regular soda.

    This isn’t a soap box, but more of an I am not judging you, so don’t judge me.

    As a kid we didn’t really have soda at home. I remember the ladies in the neighborhood drinking Tab or diet Dr. Pepper (in a blue can). I remember I had a friend with diabetes and there was always a diet Coke set in a separate place in the fridge for her. As if a grown up would mistake a silver can for a red can.

    But we weren’t soda drinkers. But one summer, I was at a company picnic and the cans of soda were there for the taking. Grape soda was something I really liked. I drank three cans of grape soda that day. It was so good. For a while. Then as the hot summer day wore on, and the nearly 36 ounces of grape soda in my stomach decided it was time to make an escape, I learned a lesson about drinking too much soda. I have never touched a grape soda since.

    But this is just me. While there is a grape soda fiasco in my past, the whole carbonation thing isn’t my jam. But when it is time to have a mixed drink, especially in a bar that doesn’t fathom the art of a cocktail, then soda it is. Diet at that. I don’t want to waste calories on this stuff. I just need a medium to alleviate the burn of bottom shelf distilled spirits.

    And while some people will have all kinds of claims of why I shouldn’t drink diet soda – sheesh it is six OUNCES, not a gallon or even a pint – I know my habit and I am not concerned.

    There are more stories about the foods that I could go on about.

    Tofu/soy doesn’t cause cancer

    Soy causes cancer… nope it doesn’t. Well, maybe it could, but humans just can’t and more likely won’t eat that much soy to increase the risk.

    Same with the hot dogs. The only people I get worried about are the ones in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest every Fourth of July in Coney Island. I can’t not watch. It is so inane. But that’s another post for another day. Someone will choke to death one day, and it will be all over for more than just that one person.

    Coffee is just fine in amounts that most rational humans would consume.

    Coffee? Are we still questioning this stuff? Okay, coffee is fine in the right amount. But if you get over the top amounts then this could be problematic for the heart and central nervous system. And while a lot of us tend to use the words coffee and caffeine interchangeably, this isn’t accurate. Caffeine is found in way more than coffee and is a potentially toxic drug. Coffee is a medium in which we can get the caffeine.

    Also, once you turn coffee into a frappe, milkshake, dessert, something equal to two – six doughnuts then it isn’t really coffee anymore is it? Don’t blame coffee for the coffee shop seasonal spectacle that gets a buzz for a week and then disappears.

    To get yogurt and cheese you need this stuff.

    And, milk. Oh boy. If you don’t want to drink milk fine. But don’t forget that to get cheese you need milk and to get yogurt you need milk. And before you echo Peta arguments, maybe just think about this for a bit: humans are not the only animal to drink the milk of another animal. And while humans are the only animal to drink milk into adulthood, they are also the only ones who build machines to help them move around. Humans do a LOT of things that no other animals do.

    While I just gave some examples here, think about your thoughts and beliefs around food. If you choose not to drink coffee because you don’t like it, choose not to drink milk or consume dairy because you are allergic, or don’t drink soda or alcohol because it just isn’t your thing, GREAT.

    Very often people will come up to me and ask or say that they read somewhere that this is good for you or this is bad for you or this food does this (really the questions are endless). My response is, “where did you read that?” Where? To their chagrin, they response is a hesitant… “on the internet”. I push further asking where on the internet. To which the answer if often a non-response as they realize that they either don’t remember or that it was a celebrity Instagram feed, a “friends” Facebook post, a sponsored post or some random website in which they, like many others, got sucked in to believing as gospel.

    But if you are skipping some of these things with the belief that it will be the death of you, then think about this:

    • You should seriously rethink how much of this stuff you are eating or drinking.
    • Ask yourself, where did this belief come from? Family, friends, the internet, a television show, a health professional, a friend-of-a-friend?

    It is okay to choose to skip certain foods for your own reason. Just don’t let it be a reason related to guilt, shame, or a nonsensical reason. Don’t let anyone scare you into avoiding something you like or want.

    This dietitian says, it is okay. But be reasonable.