Nothing White Diet suggested by Dr. Beth 4.0

The Nothing White Diet

Elaine M. Hinzey, RD, LDN

“Oh no, I can’t eat anything white,” the woman says as she pushes away the baked potato. The “nothing white” diet is growing in popularity. While it is true that a high intake of refined carbohydrates can lead to a higher risk ofobesity and type 2 diabetes , it never works to make broad generalizations when it comes to food. No one would argue that Americans need more refined flour, white rice, pasta, white bread, crackers, or sugary cereals in their diet. Salt, butter, and cream are all white foods and also foods that we would do well to eat less of these days. However, following some misguided advice will also cut out nutritious foods such as:

  • Bananas: A large banana provides only 120 calories, while packing 14% of the daily value (DV) for fiber, 20% DV for vitamin C, 25% DV for vitamin B 6, 14% DV for potassium, and 18% DV for manganese. 
  • Cauliflower: One cup of raw cauliflower is 25 calories and contains 77% of the DV for vitamin C, 20% for vitamin K, and 14% for folate. 
  • Cheese: One ounce of part-skim mozzarella cheese will only add 71 calories to your diet, while providing 22% of the DV for calcium and 14% of the DV for both phosphorous and protein. 
  • Chicken: A half of a chicken breast will set you back only 120 calories, but will add 27 grams of protein (54% DV) to your diet. It also carries with it 66% of the DV for niacin, 32% vitamin B 6, 23% phosphorous, and 30% selenium. 
  • Egg whites: One large egg white is only 16 calories and holds 7% of the DV for protein. 
  • Fish: One filet of cod is pretty darn filling for only having 95 calories, plus it adds 21 grams of protein (42% of the DV) to your menu along with 23% of the DV for vitamin B6, 17% for B 12, 20% phosphorous, 13% potassium, and 60% selenium. 
  • Milk: One cup of nonfat milk contains 90 calories, 17% DV for protein (8 grams), 20% DV for riboflavin, 16% DV for vitamin B 12, 30% DV for calcium, and 25% for phosphorous.
  • Mushrooms: One cup of sliced oyster mushrooms is only a measly 36 calories and 20% of your DV for niacin along with 18% of your DV for riboflavin. 
  • Onions: One cup of chopped onion is only 64 calories but is packaged along with 20% of your DV for vitamin C. 
  • Turnips: One cup of cubed turnip is 36 calories and provides 46% of your DV for vitamin C. 
  • White beans: A cup of canned beans (that is a lot of beans!) will provide your body 299 calories, 19 grams of protein (38% of your DV), 13 grams of fiber (50% of your DV), 17% of your DV for thiamin, 43% folate, 19% calcium, 44% iron, 33% magnesium, 24% phosphorus, 34% potassium, 20% zinc, 30% copper, and 67% manganese.
  • White potatoes: A large baked potato is 278 calories and 7 grams of protein (15% of the DV). It also

Elaine M. Hinzey, RD, LDN

  • contains 26% of your DV for fiber, 48% vitamin C, 13% thiamin, 21% niacin, 46% vitamin B 6, 21% folate, 18% iron, 21% of both magnesium and phosphorous, 46% potassium, 18% copper, and 33% manganese.
  • Yogurt: One cup of plain nonfat yogurt is 137 calories and 14 grams of protein (28% DV), 34% riboflavin, 25% vitamin B 12, 16% pantothenic acid, 49% calcium, 49% calcium, 18% potassium, and 16% zinc.

After reviewing the list above, it does not make much sense why anyone would want to exclude these foods from their diet, and that is before we delve into the phytonutrients and other healthful properties that do not appear in a nutrition database. The rules of saying “no white food” are arbitrary and hard to pin down; take cheddar cheese for example, which has been colored yellow, but is originally white. There are people who will eat cheddar cheese, but shun mozzarella, ricotta, etc. Alas, brown sugar is white sugar with molasses added to it; sugar is sugar, and replacing white sugar with brown sugar makes no difference to the nutritionals of the final product. What about white whole-wheat bread or whole-wheat pizza crust, or quinoa and barley, which are a kind of creamy white?

It makes so much more sense, if your end goal is to cut back on refined starches and sugar (a noble goal), to just cut out as many processed foods as possible from your diet. If the ingredient list resembles the length of War and Peace , put it back on the shelf, but please do not cut out nutrition-packed foods such as white beans or milk in your attempt to avoid a color.

References and recommended reading

Lynn D. White foods to avoid. Livestrong website. Updated March 26, 2011. Accessed April 12, 2016.

SELFNutritionData website. Accessed April 12, 2016.

Zelman KM. The truth about white foods. WebMD website. Accessed April 12, 2016. kevin:adesignstory YES

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