I’m a registered dietitian and, despite what all the carbohydrate fear-mongers say, I believe in pizza.
In fact, I believe in pizza so much that every Friday night at my house is family pizza night.
We make the pizza with refined, powdery, light flour. That’s because refined, powdery, light flour makes the most delicious crust—crisp on the outside; with the right amount of gluten and chewiness.
We add the yeast, the 00-refined flour, and the salt. We knead. We wait for the dough to rise. Then our daughters pick their toppings like a salad bar and make their pies. As we make pizza, my wife and I drink craft beer(s) and afterward we all watch classic movies with our kids.
Team Mohr believes so much in our pizza tradition we built a pizza oven in our backyard. It’s a place to gather with our family and friends and connect.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you should eat highly refined, fiber-free carbs regularly. What I am suggesting, however, is that tradition trumps any concerns of this unfairly demonized delight.
Food is so much more than calories. Yes, calories matter and, yes, the quality of those calories matter. But the U.S. Dietary Guidelines actually suggest making half your grains whole. I’m no mathematician, but that means the other half is not whole.
Carbohydrate researcher Yanni Papanikolaou, M.P.H., agrees. “Many people may not realize that enriched grains, like pizza crust, breads, and cereals, can also be part of a healthy eating pattern due to their contribution of iron, folate, and several B vitamins,” Papanikolaou says. “So, while whole grains are a must, keeping enriched grains in the diet is also important to help meet nutrient recommendations.”
And then there are the intangible benefits.
Research continues to show the health benefits of friendship, social connections, and establishing your own tribe.
“As parents we spend so much time focused on the tasks of daily caregiving, we miss the chance to simply enjoy our kids’ company” says Regan Jones, R.D., of This Unmillennnial Life Podcast. “Food traditions—like taking my boys to Panera for breakfast every Friday morning—has meant years of special memories I’m not sure we would’ve shared each Friday otherwise.”
Sol Orwell, co-founder of the nutrition reporting powerhouse Examine.com, took his love and passion for chocolate chip cookies and turned it into a charity event that’s raised over $300,000. He did so with the basic premise that “eating good food with people is a great way to build bonds and create community.”
My challenge to you: Eat the pizza (or cookie, cake, donut, whatever) if you want. But more important than the food itself, is the tradition. Create your own tradition with friends and with family. Embrace the fun and intangible health benefits of doing so.
And, for the record, as a guy who grew up in Jersey, NY-style pizza trumps Chicago-style any day. But I don’t want to start fights. Most importantly, I’d rather you eat pizza with a friend, than a salad alone.
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