Nevermind Burgers & Soda -- Here's What's Really Packing on Pounds

Maressa Brown

french friesIt may have been when I living in L.A. or from Gwyneth Paltrow that I first heard about the annoying diet in which you just completely give up "white foods." As in anything considered a simple carbohydrate, like white rice, white pasta, white flour, sugar, and of course, potatoes. Because I got to Weight Watchers Lifetime status in college by focusing on balanced, healthy eating overall, I believed that "no white foods" business was bunk, and I rolled my eyes at any mention of it. People who refuse to eat a whole category of foods were surely bound to rebel at some point and go hog wild on French fries and Funfetti cupcakes, right?

Now, though, I'm not so sure. New research says potatoes beat sugary drinks, unprocessed red meat, and processed meats (like hot dogs and bacon) in a list of foods associated with the biggest weight gain over time. Measly potatoes are worse than pop (or, if you're not from the Midwest like me, soda)?!

Surely, they must have just meant the fried, fast food version or the fried, snack bag kind, right? As the Brits say, chips or crisps?? But NO. The New England Journal of Medicine study says potato chips, French fries, as well as mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes and BAKED potatoes will all make you fatter over time. For every additional daily serving of potatoes people ate in this study, they gained more than 1 1/4 pounds over four years.

That may not sound like much -- especially compared to what most of us gain in four years at college! -- but when your metabolism is already slowing down, and every holiday season packs on another couple of pounds, and then you hit menopause (or men hit andropause), that is 1 1/4 pounds no one wants to have to contend with!

While dining at a Greek restaurant just this weekend, my options for a side included rice, lemon potatoes, or fries. (Greek restaurant proprietors must have missed the memo tweet from Dr. Oz about this study.) I got the lemon potatoes, thinking, "Well, they're not fried, they're authentic Greek cuisine, and the reviews on Yelp said they're awesome here!" But then my sister (who has her B.S. in Dietetics) noted that they're high-glycemic, starch city, and most definitely a dreaded, fat-making WHITE FOOD. AGH!

That experience, plus this study, have opened my eyes in a way. In other words, I'm no longer rolling my eyes at those "no-white-food" people. I'm going to become one of them! But I can't blame potatoes themselves for causing all the damage. It's just that frequent consumption must indicate an unhealthy, starchy, simple carb-heavy diet overall that leads to weight gain. But we don't have to say goodbye to fries or chips forever. There are always sweet potatoes (which are higher in fiber and lower glycemic), butternut squash and kale!

What do you think about this study and the "no white foods" diet?


Image via joyosity/Flickr

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