In all my years as a dietitian, I’ve never seen a population eat so many potatoes as where I now live. Potatoes are a staple. Dinner on ninety percent of the food recalls I take is “meat, potato, vegetable.” Which wouldn’t be such an issue – I have nothing against potatoes – except that most people aren’t eating them baked or boiled with nothing added. The majority of my patients add both butter and sour cream to their baked potatoes, or prepare them mashed, and often out of a box. Potatoes get a bad rap, but the problem is not with the potato itself.
Since potatoes rank as the top vegetable in America (they’re truly not a vegetable, though – better considered a starch), it’s helpful to know exactly how Americans are consuming this tuber. And although you might think that mashed or smothered in high-fat condiments would top the preparation methods list, the truth is that at home potatoes are most often consumed as chips, and away from home they are consumed as French fries.
So if the “vegetable” that Americans are eating the most really isn’t a vegetable AND is served deep fried, you can start to see the problem.
Add to that our love of snack foods (45% of Americans use snacks as meal replacements and 91% of people snack at least once daily), and that potato chips rank as the top snack, and the case against chips grows even more.
Honestly though, as I said before I have nothing against potatoes and actually nothing against chips – I’m just for healthy food. If you mainly choose a balanced diet full of actual vegetables and fruit, and once in awhile enjoy some potato chips, that’s fine. Problem is, no one really can eat just one.
One food doesn’t make or break a healthy diet – it’s how much and how frequently you have something. I’ve repeated this phrase to my clients more times than I can count. But if you go back and read about Abom-Edible #6: Cheese, you’ll realize that since most people would categorize chips as “bad,” then when they do have them, they tend to overconsume.
If you are one of those individuals, here are my suggestions:
- Don’t keep chips in the house. If they are there, you’ll eat them.
- If you really want chips, buy a snack size bag. When you’re done, you’re done.
- Stay tuned for tips on managing all or nothing thinking…