Let me start this off by saying I think fries have no place on a menu. Fries are not food. They're greasy, they're nutritionally devoid, and they make you feel terrible.

Yet hot chips, and other kinds of chips (wedges and the like) are a very popular order in New Zealand. They are part of a family of what I call "yellow food".

Basically, this is the unhealthy stuff we always lean towards in unsightly volumes when we are socialising with friends. It's chips and it's onion rings, it's cheese and crackers, it's calamari and it's pizza and it's garlic bread.

Chips, bread, or pizza is great for socialising because it gives you a short burst of warm, predictable joy. Photo / Getty Images
Chips, bread, or pizza is great for socialising because it gives you a short burst of warm, predictable joy. Photo / Getty Images

With the exception of cheese (and only in small amounts), all this yellow food is terrible for your health. Super high in bad fat and processed carbohydrates, high on the glycemic index, and wildly non-satiating.


We shouldn't confuse this fake yellow food with real yellow food, though. Fruits like bananas, lemons, pineapple, mango, spices such as turmeric and cumin, unlike the aforementioned fake yellow stuff, these are all naturally yellow. And they're good for you.

So why are we so attracted to all that nasty, artificial yellow food? Well, because it's all comfort food. Something like chips, bread, or pizza is great for socialising because it gives you a short burst of warm, predictable joy. These foods are hot and "carby" and chewy and crispy. When you're hanging out with mates, all those feelings help you relax.

Yellow food also makes for good "drunk food". You know, the stuff you crave when your night out has come to an end. In these instances, I'd add kebabs, burgers, burritos, crisps, and even meals like mac 'n cheese, pasta, and spaghetti.

These foods are delicious when you're rinsed. You can feel them soaking up the booze and helping you into the inevitable 12-hour coma that's to come.

I'm going to rain on your parade now and try and convince you to put the yellow food down because it's all gross and – for the sake of human obesity rates – we'd all do well to make a conscious effort to cut them out of our diets.

First of all, guess where that golden yellow colour often comes from? In the case of something like fries, it can be a corn-based dextrose sugar coating. Fries are literally starchy white carbs, covered in sugar, deep fried in saturated fat. It's the worst of the worst of the worst.

Then come the calorific issues with yellow foods. I looked them all up – from chips to cheese to pizza – and couldn't find any artificial yellow foods that are "no less than 1000 kilojoules (239 calories) per 100g". You might as well just be eating chocolate if you're going to eat stuff that high in energy, because you'll eat much less of it.

Obesity in New Zealand is rising. This video outlines the statistics around obesity in NZ and where we rank in the world.

Also, yellow foods are clearly not a meal, which is why you'll often see them by the bowlful at cafes at 3pm, bars after 5pm, and street-side at 1am. People eat yellow food to tide themselves over until they eat something real.


The problem is that one snack of yellow food likely contains more energy (that you'll need to burn off, naturally) than a proper plate of wholesome food.

What could we be eating instead? When we socialise, have mid-afternoon hunger pangs with mates, or are about to get in an Uber home, what could we reach for?

I'm a big fan of meaty treats in these situations. A lamb kofta here, some chorizo there: high-protein products hit that same spot that yellow foods do but come with far more nutritional benefits.

Throw away anything bready, golden, or greasy, focus on small doses of high-quality animal protein. I reckon you'll feel a lot better for it.