Pizza – Actually Good for You?

Posted by Claire Florsheim

Monday, May 12, 2014

Tags: MyPlate

Do you remember this old TV commercial?

“Pizza in the morning, pizza in the evening, pizza at supper time! With pizza on a bagel, you can eat pizza anytime!”

Not a bad idea (I’m talking pizza any time, not necessarily on a bagel), right? Pizza can actually make a very healthy addition to any meal – breakfast, lunch or dinner. Now I know, I know – I’m a dietitian, so shouldn’t I be telling you pizza is public enemy #1? Well, fortunately for all of us, I’m here to tell you that pizza is your friend.

We dietitians love to preach moderation, and for good reason. While it is important to eat nutritiously, it is equally important to enjoy what we eat. For whatever reason though, people tend to believe that these two cannot go hand-in-hand. We feel that to eat healthfully, we have to give up the foods we love … and then we feel guilty when we eventually (as we all do) give in to temptation. But enough with this love-hate relationship with food! There are no “bad” foods when you let moderation be your guide.

So what does moderation look like? In a word: MyPlate. Chances are that if you remember the 1980’s Bagel Bites jingle from above, you are probably more familiar with the Food Guide Pyramid, which MyPlate recently replaced. Basically, MyPlate takes the Food Guide Pyramid and puts it on a plate, so it looks like this:

Pizza - Actually Good for You?

As you can see, you have all the food groups (i.e., variety) in the correct proportions (i.e., moderation), or as I like to describe it: VARIETY + MODERATION = BALANCE.

So where does pizza fit into the puzzle? Pizza boasts not one, not two, but THREE food groups:

  • Dairy (cheese)
  • Veggies (tomato sauce)
  • Grains (crust)

Simply add a lean protein such as chicken for a topping (though this is optional – not necessary – since the cheese already gives you a good amount) and fruit for a side, and you have the perfect MyPlate. For an added veggie boost, opt for veggie toppings or a side salad.

Limit yourself to 1-2 slices and you just turned your guilty pleasure into a balanced meal, with leftovers to boot (breakfast pizza, anyone?)! If you are looking to really amp up the nutrient power of your pizza, DIY from scratch by making a pizza with a whole grain crust and part-skim (that means reduced-fat) cheese. For a fun twist, use a whole grain English muffin or corn tortilla for the crust.

Pizza - Actually Good for You?

I’m loving this heart-shaped pizza!

If you’re out and about in the DFW area, try one of my faves:

- BJ’s Brewhouse: Half California Club Flatbread Pizza and Salad (lunch menu)
- California Pizza Kitchen: 1-2 slices Thin Crust Margherita Pizza with Asparagus + Arugula Salad
- LA Gourmet Pizza (Dallas): 1-2 slices Mediterranean Pizza (whole wheat crust) with House Salad

As it turns out, you really can have your pizza and eat it too!


Claire Florsheim

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Good points you shared. Loved it.

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