They're all white...
June 13, 2011 6:24 AM   Subscribe

Rice > pasta/bread?

Why did the doctor insist today that I cut pasta and bread out of my diet, but eat more white rice. Is this a Korean cultural bias? Is white rice really more nutritionally sound than bread or pasta?

If it matters, overweight (but lost about 50 pounds so far) female, mid 30s, crazy, chronic pain/suspected fibromyalgia, hyperthyroid, generally healthy living in S. Korea.
posted by kathrynm to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Long-grain white rice has a lower glycemic index value than bread, although pasta is about the same as rice.
posted by briank at 6:44 AM on June 13, 2011

Rice doesn't have gluten (or more specifically, gliadin) and gluten intolerance has been suggested as one of the possible causes of fibromyalgia.

Googling fibromyalgia gluten will give you a variety of sources of, no doubt, variable veracity.

Personally I'd go for brown rice over white as the calories are more nutritious but that might be counter to what your doctor want to monitor if s/he is trying an elimination diet approach.
posted by i_cola at 6:46 AM on June 13, 2011

Did the doctor think you had any digestive issues? Because that's the only reason I can think of to specifically recommend white rice. There is a perception in Korea that foodstuffs made with flour are hard to digest and stress one's body. So if you are weak or have digestion problems then white rice is recommended. It's not a recommendation based on nutrition.

I'm curious if the doctor specified white rice or just said rice. Because if they just said rice, then that can include unpolished rice (현미), or even rice cooked with other grains or beans (잡곡밥).
posted by needled at 6:49 AM on June 13, 2011

When I lived in S.Korea, bread products were extremely hard to come by and consisted only of white bread and bakery products...both low nutritional value and the latter v.high fat content. I gained 30lbs there!!! Maybe he's encouraging you to eat more locally eaten foods, following a more traditional korean diet which is generally v.v. healthy.
posted by bquarters at 7:17 AM on June 13, 2011

This "primal diet" guy says white rice might not be as bad for you as other grains. (I have no idea if there's anything to this idea, but maybe your doctor is thinking along the same lines.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:01 AM on June 13, 2011

Anecdotally rice doesn't seem as bad as wheat..maybe due to gluten.

If you want carbs, sweet potatoes would be a pretty good bet. Staple of the Okinawan and Kitavan diets which are pretty healthy cultures. If you ate a controlled amount of sweet potatoes alongside a normal daily amount of fruit, it would be a good choice IMO.
posted by Not Supplied at 8:05 AM on June 13, 2011

Looks like you can get sweet potato noodles as well. I'm looking as I may go to Korea.
posted by Not Supplied at 8:08 AM on June 13, 2011

The glycemic index and gluten issues mentioned above sound most likely. But, since weight is also an issue it could be that they are trying to help you control how many calories you consume. A slice of bread could contain 50 calories or it could contain 200 calories. The size and ingredients vary so much that your doctor could have just been trying to take the guess work out of portioning cheese bread vs. the thin bread of an English cucumber sandwich. You measure a 1/2 cup of rice and you know exactly what you are dealing with.

Just a possibility.
posted by munchingzombie at 9:25 AM on June 13, 2011

I lived in Korea. Bread in Korea is pretty much worthless, nutritionally. When you think about the kinds of pasta dishes available in Korea, they're not much better. Rice-based meals in Korea tend to have more protein, more vegetables, and fewer carbs. That, I'd bet, is why your doctor recommended a more Korean diet. I also found that Koreans had a more reality-based approach to diets; when they want to lose weight, they cut carbs.
posted by smorange at 10:04 AM on June 13, 2011

Thanks everyone for the answers. The reason I saw this particular doctor (who was described to me as rehabilitation specialist) is because a week ago I had an IV placed (finally on the fourth attempt). The first stick, on the top of my right hand is still bruised and very sore. It has spread up over my wrist bone and down onto the tops of my fingers. It's blueish like a new bruise near the IV site and fading around it. My psychiatrist is the one who made the referral. I also had started Effexor and he has since d/c that (I lasted 4.5 days before the GI side effects became intolerable).

This doctor I saw did not specifically say she wanted me to do an elimination diet. She didn't mention gluten or any other food sensitivity. She asked if I was having GI issues and I said yes because I'm on an antibiotic for a vaginal infection. I figured out this morning that one of the two meds she prescribed is a grape seed extract and the other is some sort of yeast thing.

To address some questions, she just said rice. Though I've been here 5 years I thought rice was rice (unless it was brown rice, which I don't think I've seen here). I always have some on hand, but I'm not a big rice fan. Bread here is indeed worthless, though when I do eat it (pretty rarely anymore) it's a sandwich with a bit of meat and a ton of vegetables. I don't eat out a lot. Our local gimbap restaurant closed and there aren't many non-fast food restaurants around me. What I do eat for dinner is generally lean chicken cooked with vegetables and pasta (only a bit) on the side. A lot of the weight loss recently is simply a lack of appetite and taste perversion which may be the thyroid drug or the antidepressants.

So again, thanks for the education. I'll try subbing in rice for the pasta when I make dinner.
posted by kathrynm at 5:09 AM on June 14, 2011

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