With the holidays right around the corner and the school year getting busier and busier, my mind is all over the place!  I decided to make a “hodgepodge” episode so I can talk about several nutrition issues that I’ve been thinking about recently.   First, we will examine some foods that get a bad rap.  Then we will look at new research on eggs and the implications that has for us.  Finally, we will learn how to eat well during the holidays.  Yum


Hodgepodge – Podcast Transcript

Hi and welcome to Nutritionally Speaking.  I am your host, Michaela Ballmann.  Today we have another 3-part episode.  Today we will be talking about foods that get a bad rap, new research about eggs, and eating well during the holidays.

There are many foods that get a bad rap these days—among these include white potatoes, bananas, and bread.  What is so bad about these foods that makes them the target of unfounded nutrition advice?  Many believe that since russet and other popular potatoes have a white interior that they are equivalent to white bread, and are put on the black list.  How has the color white become associated with all things bad related to nutrition?  Is cauliflower to be avoided because it’s white?  How about milk? Cottage cheese? Mushroooms? Sure, there are plenty of examples of white foods that we should limit our intake of, like sugar, refined carbohydrates, and butter; but does the white color automatically make the food less healthy?  No!  Though we usually recommend bright-colored foods, naturally white foods are good too.  Cauliflower has a good amount of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K,  folate, and phytochemicals; Mushrooms are a good source of vitamins and minerals such as riboflavin, niacin, copper, selenium, potassium, and phosphorous, and Baking potatoes contain good amounts of vitamin C, B6, potassium, manganese, and fiber.  Don’t let the white color food you.

Bananas get a bad rap because they have less water content than other fruits and therefore are more calorie dense than, say, watermelon.  How does this make a banana a bad food choice?  It is an excellent source of fiber, potassium, Vitamin, C and other healthful nutrients.  Forget the extra few calories, and since it fills you up it might make you eat less at that meal or later—it’s a great food!

Lastly, I’m only going to touch briefly on the notion that bread is bad for you.  After the Atkins diet grew in popularity, people all over the world came to believe that carbohydrates are the enemy, the cause of weight gain, and therefore need to be banned.  Grains make up the largest portion of the old and new food pyramid—they contain wonderful nutrients and should most definitely be part of a healthy diet.  I’ll have another podcast on carbs and popular diets.

Eggs—such a controversial topic these days due to recent research that has changed the way we look at this multifunctional food.  We have thought for many years that we should limit our intake of eggs to about 4(-5) per week due to the high cholesterol intake of the yolk.  This created an industry for Egg beaters and other egg substitutes, with people replacing the whole egg with either just the egg white or these substitutes.

We have learned to limit our intake of eggs due to the cholesterol in the yolk (213 mg) because of the rise in cholesterol levels. The most recent research has changed our whole view on egg–it shows that blood cholesterol is not due primarily to dietary cholesterol like we once thought.  It is due to saturated fat.  Saturated fat is once again the culprit!  So, since we need to limit our intake of saturated fat, and not necessarily cholesterol, we are once again recommending eggs as a healthy food, able to be eaten every day.   Note: if you have cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or high LDL cholesterol, you should limit your dietary cholesterol intake to less than 200 mg a day. So if you want to eat your full egg, try to limit other sources of cholesterol throughout the rest of the day.

Adding eggs back into your diet may seem strange at first, because we have been taught that the cholesterol raises our cholesterol which can lead to fatty deposits in our arteries, possibly leading to heart attacks and strokes.  But eggs are a wonderful food, full of protein that will keep you full as well as vitamins and minerals—in fact, vitamins A, D, and E are in the yolk only! Buying omega-3 enriched eggs will help make the fat you consume from the egg yolk even better!

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is almost here!  The holidays are upon us and many feel unprepared for the bounty of food that we are going to have to face at every party, get-together, celebration, and feast that we are invited to our host.  How do we deal with all this food, this rich, special, highly anticipated food that we cherish due to its connection with this (special) time of year?  There’s no doubting that there is an emotional connection with food, so knowing this, how do we deal?

First, when we go a party where there’s hor-doevres and party food, we need to scope out the food available to eat and decide what we are going to eat and how much so we do not end up grazing the entire night or unconsciously eating  a whole plate of Christmas cookies.  When looking at the platters of appetizing food, it is important to choose protein foods that will keep us full longer, whole grains if they are available, fruits, veggies, and water if there is no better beverage choice.  Some good options are a few pieces of cheese and crackers, veggies (without the dip, or with just enough to satisfy), and  fruit.  I would limit my intake of desserts, high-fat hordoevres (like pigs in a blanket, quiche, etc.), and high-caloric beverages.  Of course, you can have some, but make sure that you plan that food into your Calories for the day and that you balance it with more healthful foods.

Second, if you are at a dinner, follow the same principles, but since it’s a meal, you have more Calories to divide/distribute among the different foods offered.  You may want to have more white turkey and less mashed potatoes or stuffing; you could forgo a roll and have a piece of pie.  Decide what you REALLY want to eat. Remember, the holiday season really is special and the food is too, so enjoy it!  DOn’t preoccupy yourself so much with what to eat that you don’t enjoy the fellowship of friends and family and the good food prepared.

Third, satisfy yourself, Don’t overstuff yourself.  Know that you can take leftovers home or have another piece of pie tomorrow.  Sometimes, I recommend eating a smaller breakfast and lunch the day of a large holiday dinner, but for some people this strategy backfires, because they become so hungry that when they get to dinner they eat way more than they normally would just because they’ve been hungry all day.  Figure out what would work best for you, and above all, listen to your body.


Here’s some take home points:

Pick foods that you like.  Plan them into your calories for the day.  Include protein foods to keep you satiated.  When confronted with many high-fat foods, pick the ones that you really want, and forgo the others.

Watch out for calories from beverages–(alcohol has 7kcal/g and the calories add up fast); remember that drinking calories is much easier than eating them, so it’s more easy to overdo it.  Have just a little or opt for water.

When you’re done, push your plate away or move away from the hordoevres table–getting out of the sight and smell of food is more helpful than you may think. Eat slowly–you’ll enjoy it more and eat less.  Feel comfortable saying “no” to offers of more food or foods you don’t want to eat  It’s your body and you get to choose what to put in it.


So, today we have learned that:

  1. White foods aren’t necessarily unhealthy.There are actually many healthful “white” foods; Potatoes, bananas, and bread are good for you and you should feel free to eat them in appropriate amounts.
  2. Eggs are actually off the black list and can be part of a healthful diet.
  3. Healthy eating during the holidays is possible, and can result in weight maintenance and less guilt.

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks for listening!

See you next time on Nutritionally Speaking!


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