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.
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