Gather ‘round the campfire children…and don’t forget your teddy bears. You’ll need them after the stories you’re about to hear tonight. The Pocket RD has some dark tales to tell, tales that will make you shiver in your boots and cower under your blankets. These stories do not originate from ages long ago, but rather from an extraterrestrial world where health and nutrition advice comes from no-credential charlatans and celebrities. Oh yes, you should be scared little children, because if these stories don’t give you nightmares, I don’t know what will! Mwahahahaha!
The Ghost of Carbohydrates Past
It was a dark and stormy night, and I laid awake in my bed, listening to the whistle of the leaves and the soft tap tap tapping of a lone branch against the window. I couldn’t fall asleep, so I did what anyone would do…turned to YouTube for funny videos of French bulldogs. But instead, I came upon something horrifying. It was a video of Kourtney Kardashian, responding to the hard-hitting interview tactics of E! News about how she stays so slim. It was almost as if she was wielding a butcher knife…first, she slashed out dairy from her diet. Then, it was the most dreaded nutrition word of all: GLUUUTTTTEEENNNN. She ripped that protein found in wheat, rye and barley right out of her pantry, out of her life, out of the lives of her children. I threw the iPad across the room in terror, and noticed the shadows on my wall began to morph. They were forming terrible images…carbohydrates! All of them! I saw pasta, bread, and oh no…a potato! I ran out of the room screaming! All the celebrities, the magazines, Dr. Oz…they had all told me carbohydrates were evil and will make us fat! I ran as fast as I could, to the gluten-free aisle at the grocery store, where I could finally breathe a sigh of relief.
Moral of the story: if that just sounded absolutely ridiculous, that’s because it is. I am putting my foot down on this whole gluten-free-by-choice business once and for all. GLUTEN IS NOT BAD FOR YOU. It is simply a protein found in wheat, rye and barley that gives foods elasticity. All carbohydrates – gluten-containing or not – contain important nutrients that fuel our bodies. The key is to be smart about our carbohydrate choices: opt for nutrient-packed whole grains like whole wheat bread and brown rice, or starchy veggies like sweet potatoes and butternut squash. You don’t need to run screaming from carbohydrates.
The Legend of Fatty Hollow
There is a force bubbling up from underneath the ground, trying to seep into our bodies and trickle its way into our brains. It is oily, sticky, and consumed in large quantities can clog our arteries. FAT. A word that sends chills up spines and fills our hearts with fear…literally. But in the small town of Fatty Hollow, this fat is on the rise. There is a spooky phenomenon sweeping through the town, called the “ketogenic diet”, and it advises all the unsuspecting townspeople to consume fat in a 4:1 ratio compared to carbohydrates. And the townspeople followed this diet plan blindly because it promised weight loss, and claimed to be a “fat-burning machine”. But little did they know, consuming so much fat with so little carbohydrate AND restricted protein was causing them to fall into a dark hole, known as “ketosis”. All of a sudden, they were staring high cholesterol and triglycerides in the face, and were feeling weak and without energy. The lack of carbohydrates had made them so angry, they started to turn on each other. The whole town fell into ruin.
Moral of the story: the ketogenic diet is a real thing. It is often used as a short-term strategy to help reduce seizures in children with epilepsy. But this ketosis, that is the scary part. Ketosis is achieved essentially when your body has run out of its glucose supply, and it turns to the waste products of fat, or “ketones”, for energy. Ketosis is basically what is occurring when your body is starving. So before you run off to put butter in your coffee or cook everything with coconut oil, remember that your brain loves to run on glucose…not ketones. Don’t become the headless horseman because your glucose supply has run dry.
Creatures That Go Bump in the Night(shade)
It’s a classic tale…gorgeous football quarterback meets even more gorgeous Brazilian supermodel, they fall in love, and have a beautiful life made in Ugg boot heaven. But here is where the tale gets dark. This couple, they have a private chef (of course), and each day, he slowly adds a bit of poison to the family’s diet. Soon, the family begins to turn against the foods they once loved. Each day they eliminate another food, often a food no one has ever heard of until they eliminate it and suddenly it becomes popular. This couple is trend-setting like that. Then, this scheming chef did the most horrific thing you can think of…he told the media. Suddenly every news and TV outlet published the list of foods this couple would not, could not eat. And the public looked on in horror, because nightshade vegetables were on the list. “What are nightshade vegetables?” they exclaimed. No one knew. But because this couple was so beautiful and so athletic, the public grabbed their pitchforks and dug up every nightshade vegetable they could find. They tossed them aside like yesterday’s news, spat on them and spewed hissing claims like, “You’re toxic!” in their sad faces. It was a force that could not be stopped, and the nightshade vegetables were looked down upon ever since.
Moral of the story: ok, here’s the deal with nightshade veggies. They include the following: tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplant, gogi berries, potatoes, tobacco, and peppers. They contain “glycoalkaloids”, which are natural pesticides produced by this group of foods to protect themselves against insects and bacteria. But claims that glycoalkaloids cause inflammation have made them a no-no in the eyes of the uber-famous and their crowd of followers. While it is true that some may be more sensitive to nightshade veggies (similar to a lactose intolerance), they are packed with nutrients that we shouldn’t intentionally avoid and may actually have some anti-inflammatory properties.
Now that the tales have been told…they don’t seem so scary, right? Things like gluten, carbohydrates and nightshade vegetables have been made out to be the villains of the nutrition world, but in reality, take a look at all the processed foods out there. THAT is the real ghost story. Refined sugars, high sodium, and ingredients we can’t pronounce…OH MY! It’s enough to make you jump right out of your skin. So before you latch on to some of these food trends, think about who are the real monsters under your refrigerator.