Letter: An unwholesome definition of healthy

Yale Dining does a commendable job of providing a variety of options in the dining halls that help to promote students’ health and well-being. However, the article “Dining plans health fest” (Jan. 12), provides misleading information about the healthiness of our food choices.

The article implies that a diet including fried food and cheesy potato skins is not a healthy one. As a firm believer in intuitive eating, I do not think this is true. Instead, I hold that every food has a place in a healthy diet, not just those in the salad bar. There are no good foods or bad foods.

My real problem with the article, however, is Yale nutritionist Karen Doughtery’s “Tips For Eating Healthfully at Yale.” According to her, we should “go vegetarian twice a week. Vegetarians are 20 percent thinner.” I thought the tips were for eating more healthfully, not becoming thinner.

And thin does not necessarily equal healthy. According to a 2009 article in The Journal of Nutrition, “a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower muscle mass index than is an omnivorous diet at the same protein.” More dangerously, a 2009 study released by the American Dietetic Association showed that while vegetarians were less likely to be overweight or obese, “current vegetarians may be at increased risk for binge eating with loss of control” and have an increased risk for extreme unhealthful weight-control behaviors. Similar studies have shown that adolescents who have symptoms of eating disorders may adopt a vegetarian diet as a weight-loss method because it is a socially acceptable way to avoid eating certain food groups.

In addition, Doughtery’s tip of using a small plate to “trick your eyes” is not eating healthfully either: it is using a small plate. Eating a piece of pie on a small plate is the same as eating a piece of pie on a medium or large plate. Tricking your eyes may influence you to serve yourself a different amount of food initially, but it does not impact the healthiness of your choices. Moreover, if you’re hungry from not eating enough, you may get a second helping or eat a snack later in the day.

Although I appreciate Yale Dining’s commitment to its students, providing this kind of information is not acceptable.

Kimberley So

Jan. 13

The writer is a junior in Branford College.

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