Thursday, May 6, 2010

An Ode to Yogurt

I've always been highly opposed to yogurt. Always. Every few years I would get mildly interested and try it, only to be repulsed. So when I read Michael Pollan's Food Rules, I skipped over the section that mentioned yogurt. In Mireille's book, I skipped over the first few times she mentioned it as well. Then she dedicated a small section to it, and I decided to read it, and maybe even give yogurt another try.

True story: The last time I tried yogurt I wanted to vomit. I was originally told that I probably just didn't have the right kind, or maybe I needed to get flavored yogurt, or maybe I should add fruit. I'm not sure what was given to me, but after 2 bites, I was done. So if I was willing to try it again, you can imagine how wonderful all the things I was reading were saying about it.
Rule #33- Eat some foods that have been predigested by bacteria or fungi.
Disgusting. You can see why I skipped over it. Food Rules mentions sauerkraut, soy sauce, and sour dough bread as all being great options, in addition to yogurt. Pollan mentions that they're a good source of vitamin B12, which you can't get from plants, and that they also contain probiotics-beneficial bacteria that improves the function of the digestive and immune systems, and may help reduce allergic reactions and inflammation.

Like I said, I didn't care. Mireille mentions that yogurt is "essential" to her lifestyle. Later she says that yogurt is a vital secret to hunger management. I decided I could figure it out on my own. But then she went and dedicated a whole section to it. I'm pleased to report that she also hated it at first. But she came around.
Yogurt is actually better for you than any of these dairy products. Doctors typically recommend that patients on antibiotics- destroyers of intestinal flora- eat one serving with each meal. One gram of basic yogurt has something like ten million live bacteria Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, vital to your digestive well being.
I suppose this is all well and good. I decided to try some, but it's hard to find good yogurt! I picked up some flavored Yoplait, and while it looked decent, and I knew it was popular, one look at the ingredients made me rush to put it back (and just for fun, I'll bold the bad ones): Cultured Pasteurized Grade A Nonfat Milk, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Modified Corn Starch, Kosher Gelatin, Corn Starch, Tricalcium Phosphate, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Potassium Sorbate Added to Maintain Freshness, Sucralose (Splenda Brand), Citric Acid, Acesulfame Potassium, Yellow #5, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D3.

I also picked up the Activia since Jamie Lee Curtis is doing everything she can to get us to eat it. Again, the ingredient list is awful: Cultured Grade A Non Fat Milk, Strawberries, Water, Modified Food Starch, Fructose, Inulin, Contains less than 1% of Acacia Gum, Modified Corn Starch, Natural Flavor, Kosher Gelatin, Carmine (For Color), Carrageen, Sodium Citrate, Aspartame, Xanthan Gum, Malic Acid, Acesulfame Potassium, Sucralose.

Soooo. What's a girl to eat? I asked my roommate what she preferred, and she pointed me in the direction of Greek yogurt because it's thicker and creamier. I decided to purchase Fage since it was on sale. Ingredients: Grade A Pasteurized Skim Milk, Live Active Yogurt Cultures. THE END! Isn't that fantastic?

I got the 2% originally because I was trying not to go for the one that's been processed the most, but they didn't have Fage Total. I originally put a half teaspoon of honey into each cup I ate, but I've become used to the taste, so I eat it plain now.

The best part about my yogurt journey has been realizing that Mireille is right: Yogurt is very important in the quest to cut back on meal sizes. The first night I had a cup of yogurt after my meal, and I felt very full. So I decided to switch it up and have yogurt before my meals as a tiny appetizer. It works. I have a cup of plain yogurt, and while I'm still hungry, my belly is halfway full. I eat smaller meals, and I'm just the right amount of full. I briefly wandered into "stuffed" territory my first few days, but I learned to cut back. I also learned to have yogurt before each meal, and not just at dinner. It really is amazing. And I definitely credit yogurt with my weight loss.

Note: I'm not condoning only Yoplait and Activia, I just used them as examples. Just like Fage isn't the only decent yogurt out there.


  1. I've looked into Greek yogurt before, because I've heard it's supposed to be super healthy, but it kind of scares me LOL. I eat the Yoplait light thick & creamy (no fruit chunks!). Well, I did. But my Wal-Mart quit carrying the kind I like (mixed berry) so I was sad.

  2. What! Why does it scare you? It's delicious. And I'm sorry about the loss of your Yoplait, but as stated above, it's not acceptable. My grocery store sometimes has moments when it decides not to carry Greek yogurt (or maybe they ran out?), so I know there are a few regular yogurt options that are organic and healthy. Stoneyfield is one. Have you tried it?