Posted on Aug 18, 2020, 7 p.m.
The No White Food Diet is an eating pattern that is based upon the notion that eliminating all processed white coloured foods from the daily diet can help to promote weight loss and improved blood sugar control. The tops to avoid in this pattern are white flour, white rice, white salt, white sugar, and white oils, stressing the importance of eliminating anything refined.
Those who support this meal plan suggest that most white foods are unhealthy, and they have likened them to white food death as many have been heavily processed, are high in carbs and they contain fewer nutrients than their more colourful counterparts. By removing these white coloured foods from your diet it is suggested to set yourself up for a more nutritious diet that will promote weight loss and restore blood sugar balance.
Most health experts would disagree and suggest that basing dietary choices strictly on food being white is an oversimplified way to approach good nutrition. Also if followed to the letter, this would exclude healthy choices such as white mushrooms, Garbanzo beans, onions, garlic, turnip, and cauliflower from the diet.
That being said this strategy may have a little merit, especially if it helps you to reduce the intake of ultra-processed foods in favour of more healthy nutrient-dense choices. For example replacing white rice with brown rice, swapping out white bread for whole-grain bread, or stopping one from overdoing it with added sugars and salt.
White bread is typically made from refined flour and falls into the can’t have list in this meal plan, as are closely related foods such as crackers, pastries and most breakfast cereals. This is actually a good elimination as when flour is refined the germ and brain of the grains are removed along with most of the fibre, vitamins and minerals during the milling process. What is left is a product rich in carbs but lacking in other important areas like protein and fibre. Additionally, research suggests that high intake of white breads are associated with weight gain. Thus reducing the intake of white bread and similar refined grains is a good move. These can be swapped out for healthier choices that are made from whole grains that include the germ and bran which have a final product retaining more of the nutritional value, does not have the tendency to encourage weight gain, and has the fibre content that may curb blood sugar responses and improve feelings of satiety.
White pasta is very similar to white bread, being made from refined flour and containing fewer nutrients. While white pasta has not been shown to increase weight the same way as white bread alongside other nutritious foods, the serving size makes a difference. If one is not mindful of portion control this can contribute to excess calorie intake and weight gain. Pasta also is available that is made from whole grains, alternatively you can consider other options such as those made from legumes that contain more fibre and protein than most grain-based varieties.
White rice also falls into the refined category. It starts out as a whole grain but the milling process transforms it into the starchy fluffy rice that is rather common. It is not really inherently bad, but it does not contain much in the way of nutrition apart from calories and carbs. Once more portion size is important as the lack of protein and fibre makes it very easy to eat far too much. The simplest alternative is to swap out white rice for brown rice, but there are other whole-grain options to help add variety such as black rice, bulgur, and quinoa.
White sugar is also on this list, but most versions of this diet also prohibit the use of more colourful forms of sugar including honey, brown sugar, agave nectar, maple syrup, and turbinado sugar as they are all collectively referred to as being added sugars that offer little nutrition other than calories. Basically this meal plan prohibits added sugars or sweeteners, which really is not a bad thing to suggest due to these simple carbs being quickly absorbed into the bloodstream contributing to rapid blood sugar fluctuations. The alternative is to eat fruit to naturally satisfy that sweet tooth while enjoying the benefits from the vitamin, minerals, fibre, and antioxidant properties.
Table salt is another white food that comes in other colours. Sodium may be essential to health, but the fact is that the majority of people eat far too much of it, with the majority coming from ultra-processed food choices. This meal plan encourages reducing salt intake from processed sources. Herbs and spices are prompted as alternatives to salt, and these tend to be great sources of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that play roles in reducing inflammation and regulating blood sugar among other benefits.
White potatoes also make the avoid list in this meal plan. Although they are not inherently unhealthy they have a reputation of being unhealthy which is largely due to how they are often prepared and portion sizes. White potatoes are actually a good source of several important nutrients such as fibre, potassium, and vitamin C. You can try switching them out with different types of other colourful vegetables which will add a diverse array of nutrients to your diet such as asparagus leafy greens, carrots, bell peppers, cabbage, or zucchini. Additionally, if you want some starch you can substitute orange sweet potatoes, purple potatoes, green peas, and winter squash for those white potatoes.
Most versions of this meal plan consider animal-based fats to be white foods which are mostly saturated fats. This meal plan recommends sticking with very lean meats and fat-free dairy products if any at all. Some versions of this meal plan make exceptions for fish, eggs and poultry while others don’t. Again these are not inherently unhealthy, it is how they are prepared, portion size, and how often they are consumed that may contribute to increased cholesterol and the higher risk of heart disease experienced by some people. This meal plan recommends replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats or plant-based options such as olive and avocado oil, as well as whole foods such as nuts, seeds, and legumes.
The fact is that the colour of food really does not tell you much about the nutritional value, thus this approach to weight loss could be confusing those who are trying to learn how to make healthier choices. While some white foods are less nutritious than others, many are healthy choices and worthy of being included in any diet that is aimed at promoting overall health and well being.
While this meal plan does make some points it is important to take a serious look at what foods you are eliminating from your diet and why. Basing this on only colour is a mistake as some of them may actually be of benefit and help you to reach your goals. In this case, being biased to food that is white would eliminate cauliflower, garlic, onions, mushrooms, parsnips, turnips, cashews, sesame seeds, pine nuts, white beans, coconut, pears and many other healthy choices from your diet. A better approach would be to aim to consume whole foods that are minimally processed and keep portion control in mind.
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