Ode to the Potato Chip

By Marsha Hudnall
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The poor maligned potato chip.  It has such a bad reputation yet it’s a food that’s made a big difference in helping me eat healthy.

Not just any old potato chip either.  It has to be Lay’s.  I have my standards.

Anyone who knows me these days knows I’m all about eating healthy.  Our Food as Medicine program at Green Mountain is a direct outgrowth of my own personal experience with, then extensive and continuing education into, how eating truly well can turn around chronic health problems.  Problems ranging from polycystic ovarian syndrome, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, arthritis and obesity that is the result of an unhealthy lifestyle.

So how does a potato chip fit into that scenario?  After all, it’s fried, loaded with salt and not a food anyone would put on a list of foods to help make and keep you healthy.

Well, I might.  If it’s what a person really wants.

The dangers of deprivation

What weight struggler hasn’t been here before:  We don’t let ourselves eat what we want, but then find ourselves obsessing about the food.  We try substituting a variety of stand-ins, end up overeating them, yet still give in to what we really wanted in the first place.

Drop a potato chip, or few, into that picture.  Would it really be healthier to down a bag of baby carrots, several glasses  of water, an apple, some watermelon, who knows what else, and then the potato chips because we can’t stop thinking about them? How about just starting with the potato chips, maybe along with other foods as part of a balanced meal/snack if we’re really hungry?

If we feel guilty about eating potato chips, that can set us up for compulsive eating or binge eating them.  But if we remove the label of “fattening” (which may be a more damaging label than “bad” for many of us),  and eat them as part of an overall healthy eating plan, admittedly in moderation, we might just find we are successful in overcoming binge eating tendencies and can eat just one.  Okay, maybe a small bowl.  That’s still better than the whole bag.

Because I let myself eat potato chips when I want them, I don’t overeat them.  In fact, I hardly eat them at all anymore.  While I still like the taste, I find I don’t like how they make me feel.  I would have never learned that, however, if I hadn’t allowed myself to eat them freely.

Have you found that letting yourself eat any ‘bad reputation’ foods has actually helped you be more successful in overcoming binge eating and eating better overall?

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