Women are always talking about food in moral terms. There’s “good food,” the stuff we feel virtuous about eating. You know—broccoli and chicken breast and fat-free yogurt. Or tofu and green smoothies and chia seeds.
Then on the devil’s side of the equation we find “bad food.” The kind of stuff we love ever so much and then feel guilty about enjoying.
Of all the idiotic diet mindsets around, this one irks me in a special way.
What we eat simply isn’t a matter of salvation or damnation, OK?
We have nutritional needs, and we have a limited calorie budget to spend. So yes, of course we can make more or less nutritious choices with that budget.
But it just isn’t a moral issue.
As I tell my customers, if they feel like having pizza and beer and going over their calorie budget on occasion, more power to them. Enjoy every bite.
Just don’t make blowing the budget a daily habit.
Do bananas make you fat?
Since it’s a piece of fruit, you probably see it as a “good food.”
Weight Watchers certainly does, having declared several years ago that all fruit now has zero “points” in its universe.
Points, if you didn’t know, are basically a calorie-counting scheme, and in the old WW regime, everything you eat was assigned a point value. Each point was worth around 50 to 60 calories, depending on the fat content of the food.
(Higher-fat foods “cost” slightly more points even if their calorie value was the same as lower-fat foods. I know—it’s weird.)
All that changed with the PointsPlus system (which I’ve written about before). Now a banana—or a pear, an apple, a plum, a nectarine, and so on—costs you precisely zero points, even though, of course, it does not have precisely zero calories.
So a banana must be good. After all, it’s a zero-point piece of fruit.
I thought we’d just established that bananas fall clearly on the side of the angels!
Bananas are full of sugar (wow—what a surprise for fruit, huh?), including sucrose (otherwise known as “table sugar”). And you know that *has* to be evil.
Well, that’s what the man on the video wants you to believe.
He says that foods high in sugar automatically make you gain weight and prevent you from losing it.
So what’s the truth? Is the banana an angel or a devil?
Back to basics
Let’s go back to square one for a sec.
There is no food that automatically has the power to “make you fat” unless you eat too many calories of it.
As I’ve said before, if your body needs 2000 calories a day and you eat precisely 2000 calories of day of . . . anything . . . you will maintain your weight.
The nutritional quality of your diet might be horrendous, in which case you won’t feel or look good, and you could develop numerous nutritional deficiencies.
But even if all you ate were demonic bananas—or cheese or pork rinds or gummy bears or name your poison—you will not gain fat without excess calories.
Having said that, let me add a couple of important caveats:
- If you’re not getting enough protein, you will lose muscle mass, which will slow your metabolism and have other unfortunate effects
- Some foods stimulate appetite (see Dr. David Kessler’s book The End of Overeating for a fascinating explanation), so our choices can make a big difference in how easy or tough it is to stick to a calorie budget.
But the bottom line is always calories in and calories out.
So . . . should you eat bananas?
Hell yes, if you enjoy them.
No, of course you can’t eat as many as you want without repercussions, as Weight Watchers’ zero-points designation would suggest.
But no (sigh of relief), they won’t automatically make you fat because they’re laden with sugar.