CHILDREN and their preference for white foods are notorious. Pasta and rice it is. A bit of pizza with cheese and hot potato chips if you’re lucky.
Colourful carrots, peas and the like get tossed. Parents all over the world have had this battle. Worse still, there are adults hooked on too much white food, such as bread and pasta, which in excess are detrimental to long-term health.
Granted not all “white” foods are unhealthy and some of us may not even take colour into consideration.
But if it’s white, chances are it isn’t right.
White foods are generally refined and processed and of course they lurk in many a meal – often of the convenience variety.
For starters they just look so good and clean and wholesome. My first childhood memory of bread is of a soft fresh slice of bread that my parents would buy at the supermarket bakery. Before we left the store we would walk to this clunky, rusted slicer where my parents would slice the bread themselves.
Registered dietitian and physiologist for the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa Gabriel Eksteen says the white food issue in SA is of growing concern.
“The high consumption of refined grains like white flour, white bread, milled maize and white rice is certainly a concern. Ideally these should be replaced with unrefined grains which are higher in fibre and richer in nutrients. Eating more whole grains helps to prevent obesity, diabetes and heart diseases.
“However, cauliflower, coconut, mushrooms and garlic are all white foods and are great. So don’t get too caught up in colour. We understand the sentiments behind this categorisation, bit still think it can be misleading.
There are many disguises too. For example brown sugar is no healthier than white sugar.”
White foods can lead to lifestyle diseases like hypertension, obesity and diabetes which is on the rise. South Africa is ranked 39th out of 190 countries for the highest diabetes rates in adults, at 12.3%.
Registered dietician Keri Strachan agrees, and says: “Overeating these high carb foods can lead to unwanted weight gain, and over the long term, metabolic syndrome through accumulation of visceral fat leading to dyslipidemia, high blood pressure and diabetes.”
Strachan says the first step to eliminating the bad white foods from your diet could lie in how you plate your food.
“I would suggest starting to serve a meal by filling half your dinner plate, before starting to serve the carbohydrate-rich foods and protein-rich foods.
“This will increase the micronutrient profile of the meal and also aid in keeping the calorie load controlled.”