Step Away from Mr. Potato Head, Please!

Harvard study says eating potatoes can make you fat.

By , Columnist

I was driving home from my workout, so hungry I was about to eat my arm. So, I decided to make a quick stop at my favorite veggie burger drive-thru. Innocently listening to my local NPR station (KPCC), I was mostly pondering the idea of ordering French fries with my veggie burger, when I vaguely started listening to Patt Morrison’s interview with Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian from the Harvard School of Public Health. I perked up when I heard what I would soon discover was some serious potato-bashing.

Every several weeks I allow myself a French fry splurge. My weight loss theory for myself is to honor cravings. If I push them down, they pop back up like beach balls being held underwater. French fries are definitely an extravagance, and frankly they don’t make me feel good. I don’t think fried foods make anyone feel good, but once in a while the crunchy, salty hit is a nice treat.

But, no one will ever make me give up my baked potatoes. I previously wrote about my most amazing foodie discovery of Trader Joe’s Creamy Goat Cheese as a healthier, tastier, and far more satisfying alternative to butter on my baked potato. I was never attached to the butter, but I love my Mr. Potato Head. As a pescatarian who rarely eats fish, one of my favorite meals that I eat once or twice a week on average (sometimes more in winter) is a big baked potato with goat cheese with lightly sautéed vegetables and a salad. It is filling, heavenly, flavorful, textured, and zesty.

I have lost 22 pounds since January and this has been one of my staple meals. I have probably more consistently eaten potatoes than anything else. So, when Dariush Mozaffarian from the Harvard School of Public Health says that all foods are not equal, my response is, “You are right, Mr. Mozaffarian, potatoes are far superior.” They do have vitamins and minerals, but mostly they are a most luscious backdrop for other nutrients. More important, a baked potato is a tried and true comfort food. It warms the soul.

Dr. Mozaffarian’s study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, says that a serving of potatoes is much worse for our waistlines than a serving of nuts. I eat nuts too - plenty of them. A tablespoon of toasted almonds is a great accent to just about any food as far as I’m concerned - breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. But, a baked potato, or even a bowl of steaming new potatoes with fresh herbs, cannot be beat for its soul-nurturing effects.

If you are trying to lose weight, you have to do what I call the full court press: mind, body, and spirit must be satisfied. If I listened to Dr. Mozaffarian’s conclusion that potatoes aren’t great for weight loss, I would be denying myself some serious satisfaction.

Mr. Potato Head, I will always be true to you no matter what the doctors say!

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Bridget Fonger is the co-author of “The Lazy Woman’s Guide to Just About Everything,” a book that helps women become happier, more passionate and fulfilled by living the “Lazy Way,” aka with less stress and more joy! Ms. Fonger has been featured on HGTV several times with her home décor and…

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