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In Defense of Goldfish

By Cristin Dillon-Jones

I am a registered dietitian and, yes, I eat Goldfish crackers. I eat them quite frequently, in fact. I also eat ice cream, pizza and French fries. What kind of a dietitian am I? I am a practical one because I know that eating the "perfect" diet every day is both unrealistic and boring. For more than two years now, I have been writing the "Eat Like Me" blog for SELF.com and I have proven that we can eat healthy and still experience all the enjoyment that food brings to our lives.

When Jennifer wrote an "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" column about my blog a few months ago, she mentioned I eat Goldfish. Much to both of our surprise, this set off a cascade of comments from readers who took issue with the notion of promoting "refined grains" as healthful. So, I am writing this post in defense of Goldfish.

We all have our own opinion of what is healthy. For me, a healthy diet contains grains, fruit, vegetables, dairy, lean meat, beans and oils because consumption of these foods has been proven to prevent diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease and obesity. Goldfish are made from grains, so they fit into a healthy diet. Of course, there are better grains out there that provide more fiber, vitamins and minerals, but even these refined grains are a source of carbohydrates for our body. I never eat Goldfish alone -- they are always paired with something healthy and filling so a small serving (rather than a whole bag) satisfies me. That's the key to sticking with a diet -- not a perfect diet, just a real-world, healthy diet.

If you are looking for permission to indulge in some of your favorite treats, you have it from me, a dietitian. If you don't eat them, you are going to get disgruntled, and you can't live your life being angry at the food you "can't" have. Instead of testing your willpower, spend some time learning about portions and food composition. You will find you can stay full and energized off healthy food combinations, then enjoy treats like pizza, ice cream and French fries occasionally with no guilt.

Food can bring so much pleasure to your life -- be it just the taste of it or the fond memories it brings of eating in the company of friends and family. I am a dietitian, but I am realistic one. We all eat differently, and your diet may be as healthy as or even healthier than mine. The point is, if you know that what you eat majority of the time is nutritious, then go ahead and enjoy Goldfish once in a while! I know I do!

Cristin Dillon-Jones is a registered dietitian and the "Eat Like Me" blogger for SELF.com.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  August 18, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Guest Blogger , Nutrition and Fitness  
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Comments

Yep. I never trust people who claim perfection. 99% of those folks are blowing smoke. The other 1% of the time, they just clearly don't have the same food "issues" I do -- so how can they possibly understand?

The key is to figure out what "treats" work for you -- and then to limit those to "occasional" instead of daily. Personally, I can't do simple carbs much at all -- they send me off onto the blood sugar carnival ride. So I live day-to-day in South Beach-ish land, and my occasional indulgence tend toward the high-fat variety(bratwurst, ice cream cone). When I crave carbs, I have modified recipes to work around things like flax seed meal, oat bran, ground nuts, etc.

But my mom's the opposite: she can't live without her pasta and bread, so she finds it easier to cut way back on the meat, then splurge on an occasional steak. Either way, we're both losing weight and are very healthy. (I always say I'll worry more when my blood pressure crosses into the triple-digits!).

Posted by: laura33 | August 18, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

"...consumption of these foods has been proven to prevent diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease and obesity."

Sorry, but this is utter nonsense, and the author should know better. Eating a balanced, healthy diet may reduce the likelihood that one may be stricken by one (or more) of these diseases, but there is no proof that it "prevents" any of them.

Dietitians are not physicians and should not make statements about medical conditions that they are unqualified to make.

That said, the rest of the column is a refreshingly realistic "take" on what constitutes a healthy approach to eating.

Posted by: oldguy2 | August 18, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

The Weight Watchers diet is a good one to follow. You can eat anything in moderation, even sour cream, wine, pizza. The trick is to keep track of your exchanges. If you have a big baked potato, you cut back on other bread exchanges. The diet features lean meats, veggies, fruits, and bread, and at least 2 quarts of water a day. Fairly easy to follow and you are not denied your favorites -- just limit them, weigh the portions carefully and keep track of what you eat each day.

Posted by: Baltimore11 | August 18, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Her blog is great--I highly commend it. It is both very realistic and very startling. She eats all this stuff, but TINY portions, accompanied by lots of exercise and produce. I'm learning so much.

As far as the shameless plug re weight watchers goes--ick. Weight watchers just doesn't work for most people. Variety is good, but too much is just, well, too much. For most overweight people, having such access to refined carbs isn't such a good thing. Obviously Ms Dillon Jones doesn't struggle with food cravings the way some of us do.

Posted by: madgebaby | August 18, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Well I would first like to start off with the fact that I'm a huge fan of Cristin and her blog. She is an outstanding example of an intuitive eater that has a healthy relationship with food. Many dietitians these days are so obsessed with counting calories and counting exchanges and all of these other diet "rules" that it is practically impossible to have a healthy relationship with food. Cristin, on the other hand, shows many individuals that food choices don't and shouldn't be so black and white or "good and bad".
So with that said, Cristin I think you did an excellent job on this article. It's so refreshing to finally hear a dietician have a realistic outlook on nutrition and health. Your a huge inspiration to me and I look forward to your blog each and everyday. You motivate me to live the healthiest lifestyle I possible can. Meaning eating the things I love in moderation (Which definitely includes goldfish) as well as eating nutritious and whole foods!

Posted by: nscompcheergurl8 | August 18, 2009 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Cristin,

Great article.

As a fellow RD, let me tell you that I love your blog- in fact you inspired my to start my own blog. And, I subscribe to your general eating philosophies.

My thought is that others often struggle with food cravings due to the fact that they see certain foods as "restricted".

Thank you for providing a practical and realistic example of healthy eating!

Posted by: ahtillma | August 19, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Yes, the "prevent" comment was just silly. Like PP said, a dietician is not a physician, so stick with what you know...the food pyramid and such.

I'll go back to what was said on the original blog. She may be a dietician, but her meal choices are certainly not doable for a "normal" person.

She often has lunches consisting solely of yogurt and a handful of fruit. Any "normal" person would be starving.

I don't know...it seems they'll give anyone a blog these days.

Posted by: itsrandygoldman | August 20, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

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