Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween Candy Is Okay


Halloween is a special night for kids of all ages and besides the fun costumes the candy is often a highlight.

If you, and your kids, enjoy the special treats of Halloween you don’t have to feel guilty about eating the candy if you follow a few tricks – positive tricks not Halloween tricks.

· Choose candies that are dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate – more healthful fat and less sugar

· Look for candies that contain nuts - a touch of protein

· Go for the bite size bars and savor them, don’t inhale them

· Enjoy candy After a meal not in place of or in-between meals

· Develop a plan for how much candy to enjoy each day

When distributing candy watch how many pieces you eat while passing out the candy – this isn’t a “one for you, one for me” event. When trick or treating is complete, layout all of the candy and decide, which pieces do you really want to eat and which ones can you in fact “live without.” Take those that you don’t care as much about and either take them to your office or consider other options to give them away. The ones that you really want can then be divided into daily portions.

If you have focused on enjoying some candy and dividing it out to make enjoyment last longer you will have a plan that takes the guilt out of eating Halloween candy.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Skinny on Low Calorie Sweeteners


Recently a national television show spent one hour on the topic of low calorie sweeteners. During the hour, several misstatements were made about low calorie sweeteners, not the least of which a “mistake” in terms of the amount consumed. Accusations were made that low calorie sweeteners can "pervert" the system when it comes to perception of sweetness, that they trigger weight gain, and that they cause weight gain in the all important to health area – the belly.  The problem with the discussion is that few scientific facts were presented; it was a show of much "sensation" and little substance.

As a registered dietitian (RD) I pride myself on knowing the science of food and nutrition and speaking about the science - not beliefs, myths or sensations. As an RD, I have read the science and because of that I have agreed to serve as a member of the Aspartame Advisory Panel. This panel focuses on reviewing scientific studies,advising the company on what the studies mean to consumers and how to communicate scientific facts about low calorie sweeteners, so let’s discuss some facts.

First, the body of evidence on the safety of low calorie sweeteners, in humans, is extensive and to this point it is safe for consumption by adults. Evidence is not as conclusive on use by children but thus far no human studies show harm when used by children. The presence of data in humans is especially important since – well we aren’t rats – and rats respond differently to low calorie sweeteners than do humans. example – rats like starch so they respond favorably to the sweetener Splenda but they do not like Sucralose. Rats are also indifferent to Aspartame, whereas humans find it to be sweet.

Second, during this show the host stated that the average consumption of low calorie sweeteners per year is 24 pounds or 10,000 individual packets per year or 27 packets per day or 9 packets per meal - Every Day. A search of the literature shows that the actual per individual intake is about one pound per year – so Not 24 Actually 1 pound/year.

Third, a significant number of scientific organizations, including the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, have all stated that low calorie sweeteners can be a useful part of a weight management plan and Not the cause of weight gain.

So what should you do with your low calorie Sweeteners? Continue to use them in place of sugar, honey, brown sugar, maple syrup and other calorie sweeteners to get the sweet taste you love without the calories. But don’t forget that other foods can provide a sweet taste – Fresh fruit with low-fat yogurt, sliced bananas on cereal, a small glass of 100% juice combined with sparkling water for a refreshing drink and many other options.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Making Smart Sense out of Sodium


Last spring a report came out indicating that sodium might not be such a big concern to diet. However, a closer look at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report finds that the conclusion of the scientific group was that the Evidence showing clear “cause and effect” between high sodium intake and disease is lacking.

This conclusion might sound convincing but what it really means is that studies have thus far not been designed to demonstrate a “cause and effect” outcome. Studies thus far have shown an indication or association between too much sodium and heart disease risk, so this new report shouldn’t really change how you look at your sodium intake.

Currently Americans consume, on average, 3400 mg/day of sodium, this is in excess of the recommended 2300 mg/day. While sodium is found in all foods except for fruit, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans reported the top food sources of sodium were-

* Yeast breads

*Chicken and chicken dishes

* Pizza

* Pasta and pasta dishes

You might be surprised to see some of these foods on the list but one of the reasons several of them make the list is that we consume too much food from that group. Read more here -

Changing sodium intake takes a little time – taste buds have to adjust – so try these tips.

* Reduce intake slowly

* Use salt in cooking or at the table

* Read labels

* Try herbs and spices in place of salt

* Learn the right portions for bread and other grain foods