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ICYMI: Shoddy Science Shields Paternalistic Pop Tax

Americans for Food and Beverage Choice

A recent street survey recently grabbed national headlines by claiming a grocery tax in Berkeley caused soda consumption to drop considerably. While we all know that shock value, alarmist headlines, and misinformation run rampant in the online news landscape, many readers do not evaluate the methodology or science behind the click bait.

Luckily, Julie Kelly and Jeff Stier set the record straight on this particular survey for a piece featured in RealClearHealth. As they note, the report in question was not evidence that the tax was working and the methodology used was “inherently suspect” by admission of the researchers themselves. According to Kelly and Stier, “The headlines not only sounded too good to be true, but an actual reading, let alone analysis, of the study showed they were completely wrong.”

So the next time something sounds too good to be true, it just may well be. Thankfully, we can count on proven facts and valid research to stand the test of time.

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Tags: Health National Advocacy Taxes
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When The News Tells Tales About Soda Taxes, What Do You Believe?

Americans For Food and Beverage Choice

The news cycle is fast and furious - but unfortunately, not every series of articles surging forward is accurate. Sometimes what we read is even downright misleading. Here’s a prime example: recent reports falsely claim that soda taxes are curbing consumption and enhancing health. Closer examination shows these stories are not backed by credible research. And, it is illogical to presume that one arbitrary tax will amount to change that registers on a bathroom scale.

It is well established that taxing a single grocery item does not cause us to change our diets in a comprehensive way. In fact, research shows, any reduced consumption of one product can actually trigger increased intake of another set of calories. Sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

What the data does make clear is that obesity and obesity-related health issues have continued to rise for years while soda consumption dropped steadily at the same time. In other words, beverages are not a unique variable driving America’s public health challenges. These issues relate to many factors, ranging from overall diet and genetics to inactivity and stress. So taxing soda is a fundamentally flawed idea to begin with.

What we hold true is that holistic education will always prove more productive than cherry-picking products to tax. It’s not up to the government to decree what you eat, drink and feed your family. We can all make informed choices from the well-labeled products on the market today, which come in a plethora of calorie counts and sizes and can be incorporated into a balanced diet.

So the next time someone tells you soda taxes are working, take a good, hard look at their claim. Taxes certainly make governments richer, but to date, research has yet to verify that grocery taxes carry any real or lasting benefits.

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Tags: Health National Advocacy Taxes
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Family Meals: A Valuable Choice

Neva Cochran, MS, RDN, LD

As a child family meals were a daily ritual for both breakfast and dinner in my home. My mom prepared these hot meals for our family every day of the week. When I was in high school and she returned to work full-time, I helped her both in the planning and preparation. We sat down once a week to plan the week’s dinner menus, which made it easier for us to prepare after a busy day at school or work.

Enjoy togetherness

To highlight the importance of family meals, The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Foundation led the charge to designate September as National Family Meals Month. Family meals may not take several hours to prepare anymore or be something busy families with lots of activities can do every single day but they are important for several reasons.

Savor the benefits

Sitting down and sharing a meal lets families relax and catch up after a hectic day as well as help children learn conversation skills and good table manners. According to FMI, regular family meals are linked to higher grades, better self-esteem and positive behaviors like sharing, fairness and respect. In addition, research has documented that kids who share family meals at least three times a week have healthier eating habits and are less likely to be overweight.

Involve them all

Getting the entire family involved is a great way to make sure meals represent everyone’s favorites and food preferences. When they help plan, shop for and prepare meals, children learn how a variety of foods can create nutritious, balanced meals. Using the USDA MyPlate as a guide, each family member can plan dinner for one day of the week. Parents can teach kids how to balance food choices with a meal that pairs grilled meat with fried potatoes, a steamed green veggie and whole grain roll. Likewise, enjoying fruit for dessert after most dinners allows the family to splurge a couple of nights a week on a piece of cake or an ice cream float.

Making balanced food and beverage choices starts with parents teaching their kids at home, including around the family dinner table, and a much better strategy than trying to regulate or tax people into better eating habits. There are many choices in life. Choosing to make family meals a part of the daily routine will reap benefits for parents and kids now and for years to come.

 

Neva Cochran is an award winning registered dietitian nutritionist and nutrition communications consultant in Dallas, Texas. A veteran media spokesperson and popular speaker she was also a 20-year freelancer for Woman’s World Weekly magazine. She is a past president of the Texas Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics and a past chair of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation. Neva is also an advisory partner to the Food and Beverage Industry. Follow her on Twitter at @NevaRDLD


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Don’t Buy the Hype: Soda Taxes will not enhance health in America

Americans for Food and Beverage Choice

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about soda taxes, and politicians’ false promises are not helping cut through the confusion. In the finale of our five-part series, we'll discuss just what can be done to enhance America's public health.

What can be done to enhance health in America? Education and collaboration will continue to drive healthy choices across America. Everything we eat, drink and do contributes to the overall health picture, which is why balance, moderation and activity are truly the key. The beverage industry’s Balance Calories Initiative is working to promote this message. This effort, and others like it, will propel meaningful health behavior change. Arbitrary taxes will do no such thing.

So the next time you hear that a politician has proposed a tax for your own good, think about the real, revenue-boosting motives behind the rhetoric.

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Making Choices, Having Choices

Carol Berg Sloan, RDN, FAND

I recently attended a chef specific event where food service professionals from high-volume restaurants and hotels came together to learn about trends in the industry. What's hot on the menu? When health-conscious consumers dine out, they want flavorful food, good drinks but most of all, choice. They want to be able to get a comfort classic such as Lobster Mac' and Cheese but also have available legume centric Vegan Patties on Whole Grain Buns. They want a decadent dessert, but have the option to finish a meal with fresh fruit.  They like to see retro "pop", but also look for diet soda, flavored water and tropical fruit drinks on the bar menu. This sentiment echoed was across all age categories and geographic locations. When people spend their dollars on a meal they want to revel in the social, emotional and nourishing aspects of enjoying all types of food and drink together, but they also demand quality and a huge spectrum when it comes to choice.

I had an impromptu meal last week with a friend and colleague at a popular Japanese sushi restaurant. We chose a variety of dishes, some “healthier” than others, but a mix. It was a two hour "event" where we ate and drank, laughed, talked business and walked out feeling satiated and satisfied with the choices we made.

The bottom line is that consumers want choice. When politicians try to restrict that choice with taxes or bans, it affects everyone, from the restaurants and small businesses that are forced to limit their options, to consumers, just like you and I, who want to eat and drink what works best for us on any given day or occasion. 


Carol Berg Sloan RDN, FAND is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and independent food and nutrition communications consultant in Long Beach, California. Carol has served as a delegate to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a committee member of the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Nutrition Education for the Public and Dietitians in Business and Communication Dietetic Practice Groups. Carol is also an advisory partner to the Food and Beverage Industry.



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Tags: Health National Advocacy Blog
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What Influences Our Food & Beverage Choices?

Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, FAND

Because I’m a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), my family and friends often assume I’ll always choose the healthiest menu items when dining at a restaurant. But like most people, my food and beverage choices are based on many factors, including my mood and who I’m eating with that day. What I choose when I’m grabbing a quick bite at an airport is quite different from what I’ll order when my husband and I are out for date night.

Research from Datassential, a Chicago-based market research company, shows there are many different reasons people make certain restaurant and food choices, including how much time or money they want to spend, where they want to eat (e.g., in the car, at the restaurant, at home), whether they need a quick bite or they want to linger over a meal, and how they want to feel after eating (e.g., energized, relaxed, happy).

As a nutrition professional, of course I want people to make the “best” choice, but I also respect the fact that the “best” choice may be based on a number of factors. My goal is to help people feel good about their food and beverage choices, and to help them find balance.

Remember, the key to a healthy diet isn’t what you choose at a specific time or place; it’s based on the overall dietary pattern and lifestyle you create for yourself. On that note, I’m grabbing a diet soda and going for a short walk!

 

Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, FAND, is an award-winning dietitian, farmer’s daughter, public speaker, author, and president of Farmer’s Daughter® Consulting, Inc., an agriculture, food, and culinary communications firm.Amy is also an advisory partner to the Food and Beverage Industry.

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Don’t Buy the Hype: Soda Taxes affect the future of our communities and our personal liberties

Americans for Food and Beverage Choice

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about soda taxes, and politicians’ false promises are not helping cut through the confusion. In part four of our five-part series, we'll take a look at how these grocery taxes affect the communities they're implemented in.

How will this affect the future of our communities and our personal liberties? Soda taxes can cause people to take their grocery shopping to neighboring communities. Over the long term, this harms small businesses and jeopardizes the jobs they provide. Also, when politicians start taxing common items there is no telling where the taxes will begin and end. This is a slippery slope, which can incite politicians to continue to dictate – and limit – our personal choices.

Stay tuned for more misguided motives behind beverage taxes.

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Tags: Health National Blog Balance
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New Food Labels are coming!

Pat Baird, MA, RDN, FAND

One of the things that I've learned in leading corporate wellness workshops is that most people don't understand food labels. Labels often come up as an aside to the topic, or they're actually part of it.

I see many people reading labels in supermarket aisles that leads me to think, "Great, people are using the label information”, so there must be a disconnect between reading and understanding nutrition information. 

All that may change. Earlier this year FDA approved a major overall of the food label. This new label must appear by 2018.  The new label is larger, contains more information, and is meant to help people know what they're choosing.  I have a few concerns. Chiefly, that “added sugar" will be displayed just below the "Total sugar" line. I worry that consumers will focus on sugar and toss aside items without really knowing why.

Sugar is the demon of the day, and that's unfair. Sugar provides energy and that is the first need of the body and the brain. While many consume too much sugar, many also consume too much sodium. Likewise, sodium is an important nutrient.  My point: it's all about balance.  And it’s about understanding the importance of more of some things, and less of others.

For instance, this dietitian is in favor of items like chocolate milk. The nutrient value, overall, is far greater than the fuss about the added sugar it contains. Soda is another thing that gets some evil attention. Ironically, the consumption of soda has actually declined over the last 10 years. Low- and no-cal sweeteners in soda allow us to enjoy soda without calories.  "Mini" cans provide another alternative.

Knowledge is power.  That's one of my core beliefs.  When it comes to food labels, they can be a wonderful tool to help consumers make better food choices.  "Better" means understanding what you're choosing - and why.  There is never a reason to eliminate any food or beverage; only to find a place for it.

Pat Baird is a registered dietitian nutritionist, a fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; and President of the CT Academy of Nutrition.  She is an award-winning author of five books, a noted media spokesperson, and adjunct professor at UConn Stamford. Pat worked in healthcare at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and is an advisory partner to the Food and Beverage Industry.


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European Habits we can all use

Sylvia Klinger, MS, RD, LDN, CPT

There is a distinct and matchless sensation about traveling to Europe that warms my heart and soul. What I find most impressive about Europeans are their eating habits and lifestyle. Despite the many American fads, Europeans seem to be more at ease, satisfied, and happy without hearing the word diet. After having had the opportunity to visit and teach in Europe for a number of years, I’d like to share what I have learned.

Balanced Portions— Regardless of their food preference, whether eating at home or at a restaurant, portions are moderate, even their plates, bowls and cups are small sized—meaning there is always room for a small treat, if desired!

Never Skip Meals— Three meals a day is a ritual and eating together with family and friends is a habit Europeans practice often; gathering together to share meals on a weekly basis, if not daily.

Walk Everywhere— Europeans walk or bike everywhere, and keep active in their daily lives. The balance of exercise and food is something we can all apply a little more to our lives.

Simple Living— Europeans’ live uncluttered lives, bringing balance to their homes and closets as well as their diets.

Take Family Vacations— Most recently while traveling to Vienna, I met a couple from Spain who although admired the career opportunities offered in the USA, could never trade their one-month vacation each year. While this may not be realistic for many Americans, I think it’s important to balance work with downtime to get the most of life.

Balance and moderation is the key to a happy lifestyle, whether it’s taking a half day from work occasionally, or including some sweet treats to your diet. So the next time you’re feeling deprived of some “you time”, look to Europe and see what you can do to bring some balance to your life.

Sylvia is the founder of Hispanic Food Communications, Inc, a nutrition and food communications consulting company. She is a bilingual Hispanic native, a leading expert in cross-cultural Hispanic cuisine as it relates to nutrition and health, and an advisory partner to the Food and Beverage Industry.

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Tags: Health Blog Balance
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Soda taxes: not good for your wallet or your health

Americans for Food and Beverage Choice

Time and time again, soda taxes have proven a failure. From rising obesity rates in states where they’ve been deployed, like Arkansas, to increased soda sales where beverage taxes have been enacted, as we’re seeing in Mexico—one thing is clear, soda taxes fail to improve public health.

A study at George Mason University determined that a 75-cent soda taxed to a higher price of 90 cents would only decrease the BMI of a severely obese person by 0.02 percent. The data shows that levying taxes on soda is a quite inefficient way to improve the health of the public. Rather, it increases the government’s control over your decisions and your money.

The government should never exercise control of your decisions, and your family’s grocery budgets, to fill their bank account under the pretense of improving your health. Our people deserve to be treated more fairly by the officials elected to serve them.

Soda taxes are no way to improve public health. Comprehensive health education, is a far more efficient, effective alternative.

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Stop Mommy Shaming

Rosanne Rust, MS, RDN, LDN

It’s sad to say that I read at least one article a day that skews the nutrition and diet landscape. The advice given is often strict and inflexible, ultimately creating feelings of inadequacy or shame. The target audience is often mothers. Sometimes it’s even mothers shaming other mothers! A colleague recently observed that it’s almost as if “food shaming” has become its own brand.

A recent story news about a country music star who was cornered by a few judgey moms had this to say:

“Dear Mommy Shamers,

Unless you are my child’s doctor, father or mother, do not tell me how to raise my child, or how to feed her.”

 She makes a good point: there is no perfect recipe for parenting a perfect child, and parenting does includes feeding. Feeding is not just about what you feed your child however; it’s also about how. Are you feeding with love, meeting the child’s physical and emotional needs? Are you meeting your own needs? After all, a stressed out mom is not going to have the energy to be her best self (therefore, jarred baby food may be a perfect fit).

The same practice fits when they are toddlers and begin sitting at the table. The parent’s job is to provide a variety of healthy choices than can result in a balanced diet, and the child’s job is to choose how much to eat. Encourage your child to eat those nutritious foods first, and then enjoy treats without fanfare. When you don’t deprive your young child the occasional treat, they can learn what proper portions are.

There are so many healthy options in the grocery store for your children. Simply balance out fresh food from the basic food groups with some convenience foods, while also allowing those small treats. Nutrition education starts in the home and should not be dictated by government regulation, or anyone else’s judgement! Balance and moderation are the best ingredients to include in your lifestyle as you raise healthy eaters.

In addition to being the mother of 3 sons, Rosanne has nearly 30 years of experience in the food and nutrition field. She is the coauthor of several books, including DASH Diet For Dummies®, which all share her philosophy of balancing healthy eating with exercise and an enjoyment of life's little pleasures. Check out her blog, Chew The Facts, for more on this topic.


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Tags: Health National
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Top Five Summer Hydration Myths

Kim Galeaz, RDN CD 

These five summer-related food and beverage myths are just as relentless and oppressive as the Midwest heat and humidity. They just won’t go away. But I’m persistent, too, so here are the facts.

1. Myth: Only water hydrates.

Fact: All beverages hydrate because they’re all high water content. Milk, juice, regular and diet sodas, sports and energy drinks, tea and coffee all count as hydration.  Even summertime lemonade and sweet tea. In fact, diet soda is 99% water!

2. Myth: Caffeine dehydrates.

Fact: Your morning coffee, latte, and summer peach tea all hydrate. When the IOM (Institute of Medicine) released the 2004 DRI (Dietary Reference Intakes) on water needs, they determined caffeine-containing beverages do not negatively affect hydration in people accustomed to consuming caffeine. Not accustomed to consuming caffeine? Your body will adjust in about five days. So go ahead, kick back, and cool off with a big glass of refreshing iced tea.

3. Myth: Eight cups daily.

Fact: You actually need more: Men need at least 13 cups of total fluid daily and women need at least 9 cups. But this is in a temperate climate and without strenuous activity. So when you’re taking your daily exercise run, playing badminton on a humid summer evening or riding your bike in the park, you need to balance accordingly. Which is why it’s good to know all beverages hydrate. Bonus fact: research indicates you’ll drink 45 to 50 percent more if it’s flavored.

4. Myth: Beverages with low-calorie sweeteners are off-limits.

Fact: All no- and low-calorie sweeteners are safe to consume (hundreds of studies confirm) and can be an effective weight loss/management tool. And no, they don’t increase your appetite or cause weight gain either. I’ve been drinking about three diet sodas daily for over 40 years and my weight is optimal.

5. Myth: Sugary beverages and foods are off limits.

Fact: Sugar is okay to enjoy, including summertime popsicles and snow cones (lots of water!) and lemon shake-ups at the State Fair. Paying attention to ALL calories and choices daily is the key, not over-focusing on just sugar. Focus on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy choices instead and enjoy sugary drinks and foods along with - not instead of - an overall healthy diet.

 

Kim Galeaz RDN CD is an Indianapolis-based registered dietitian nutritionist and believes in vibrant aging and optimal health by blending and balancing all food/beverage choices with a daily dose of positive attitude and activity. As owner of Galeaz Food & Nutrition Communications, she’s a recipe creator, writer, speaker, spokesperson and advocacy consultant for the food, beverage and agriculture industry. Find Kim’s nutrition tips & recipes @KimFoodTalk


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Why We Still Need Experts in the Information Age

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN

I was at a meeting with my tax accountant last April and she had a can of diet soda on her desk when I arrived. “You must think I’m terrible for drinking this stuff” she said, but added, “the caffeine gives me the boost I need when putting in late hours during tax season and the sugar-free option helps me avoid unwanted calories.”

While I’m usually the one asking her for professional advice when we’re together, this was clearly a situation where she needed my expertise, so I asked her why she thought I would disapprove of her beverage choice. Her answer surprised us both.

She said she had seen so many alarming reports about sugar and artificial sweeteners that she simply believed all sweet tasting drinks must be bad for her. Then when I asked her where she had read these reports, she admitted she didn’t have a clue. “They’re all over the Internet” she sheepishly said.  She went on to say that must sound pretty foolish coming from a person who deals in the cold hard facts of accounting, but when it came to nutrition facts, it was all a blur to her.

I told her I could relate to her feelings since I am equally baffled by financial matters, but fortunately, I could rely on her expertise to set me straight. Now I was going to return the favor.

I explained that sweet drinks – whether made with sugar, high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners –could be a regular part of her diet as long as all of her nutritional needs were being met and she did not exceed her energy requirements. The problem isn’t the sweet drinks, I told her; it’s not getting the second half of that equation right.

To make the point hit home I explained diet and exercise were like an accounting ledger. The nutrients column needs daily deposits and the activity column needs regular expenditures. “Good nutrition is all about checks and balances,” I said, not any single food or ingredient. If you budget properly you can “afford” to eat anything, just like a good financial budget allows you to buy what you want. She nodded in agreement.

When our visit was over she thanked me for the gentle nudge to be more critical of where she gets her food and nutrition information, and said if she has a question, she’ll consult an expert. “You have my number” I told her, “and don’t be afraid to use it for expert advice.”

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, "The Everyday RD," is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

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Tags: Health National Obesity Blog
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Exercise and Nutrition: A Balancing Act

Neva Cochran, MS, RDN, LD

May is Exercise is Medicine Month, an annual initiative of the American College of Sports Medicine to emphasize the essential role exercise plays in an overall plan to promote good health and prevent chronic disease.

As a registered dietitian nutritionist who taught in a cardiac rehabilitation program for 13 years alongside an exercise physiologist, I know firsthand that nutrition and exercise go hand-on-hand to support heart health. And in my own life, I also realize the importance of balancing nutrition and activity to maintain good health, feel better and allow flexibility in my food choices.

Six years ago I needed to lose about 20 pounds, so I downloaded a smart phone app to track my food intake and physical activity. The app calculates your calorie level to lose weight. As you enter your exercise, meals and snacks it keeps a running total of the calories you’ve consumed and expended along with the number you have left for the day.

 By recording my food and exercise, I successfully lost 20 pounds in four months. Once I reached my goal, the app gave me a “raise” of about 500 calories/day. The good news is I continued to track my food intake and activity every day so I’ve maintained the weight loss within ±2 pounds for six years.

And, no, I don’t feel deprived! The app makes it easy to indulge sometimes and balance it by eating fewer calories at another meal or exercising more. For instance, I love soft-serve ice cream with real sugar so I make room for a 4-ounce portion several nights a week. On the other hand, I like drinking diet soda so I save the calories I would consume in a regular soda to use for something else. If I overdo one day, my goal is to come out even on exercise and food calories at the end of the week. 

With summer right around the corner, warmer weather and longer days will make it easier to be active outdoors. Challenge yourself to move more so you can enjoy summer’s barbecues and picnics without gaining weight. Just be sure to balance the calories you eat with adequate exercise.

 

Neva Cochran is an award winning registered dietitian nutritionist and nutrition communications consultant in Dallas, Texas. A veteran media spokesperson and popular speaker she was also a 20-year freelancer for Woman’s World Weekly magazine. She is a past president of the Texas Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics and past chair of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation.



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Family Meals and Mindful Eating

Carol Berg Sloan, RDN, FAND

We recently had the pleasure of a weekend getaway on the family boat. My adult daughters have birthdays about 2 weeks apart so the party began after weeks of planning meals and packing the right clothes. The clothes were easy, but the meals took a bit more time.

While always thinking about balance when it comes to food, sweet treats, fun beverages, and fancy hors d'oeuvres were in order. I thought for a long time about how to keep it all in balance.

  • Cake pops make great alternatives to large slices of birthday cake. They allow everyone to have a sweet treat without overdoing the sugar!
  • With such a variety of no-and-low calorie beverages on the market, it’s easy to fit them in to a balanced diet. We opted for some diet sodas and low calorie punches for our party.
  • Baby vegetables with a Greek yogurt-based dip make a great addition to any spread.

Being together, now that the kids have scattered, was a treat in itself. The food tasted better, the drinks were more refreshing, and our hikes were more enjoyable. Research reveals that eating together feeds more than just the body. It nourishes the mind and soul as well.

Planning ahead, making smart choices regarding food and drinks, while fitting in exercise makes for a memorable and healthy weekend. Presence is indeed "presents" enough.


Carol Berg Sloan RDN, FAND is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and independent food and nutrition communications consultant in Long Beach, California. Carol has served as a delegate to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a committee member of the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Nutrition Education for the Public and Dietitians in Business and Communication Dietetic Practice Groups.

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Tags: Health National Advocacy Blog
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Don’t Buy the Hype: Soda Taxes Don't Solve Obesity

Americans for Food and Beverage Choice

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about soda taxes, and politicians’ false promises are not helping cut through the confusion. In part two of our five-part series, we'll take a look at how these grocery taxes affect public health.

Will a soda tax solve obesity? No. It’s completely misleading to suggest that soda intake is a standalone risk factor driving obesity, or other complex health conditions for that matter. CDC data clearly shows that as soda intake has declined, obesity rates have continued to rise. In other words, soda is not the culprit some claim. Also, historically, soda taxes have not helped health. When it comes to weight gain and obesity, there are factors we cannot control (i.e., genetics) and ones we can (i.e., overall diet and activity). This issue is obviously bigger than a single source of calories. That’s why claiming this tax is a cure-all is so very misleading.

Stay tuned for more misguided motives behind beverage taxes.

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Tales from a College Nutrition Professor

Pat Baird, MA, RDN, FAND

In the 20+ years that I’ve been a college professor, the comments and questions from students never cease to amaze me.  In fact, it’s one of the reasons I continue teaching-- to keep my fingers on the pulse of what nutrition headlines and myths are circulating and impressing people.  Nutrition misinformation fascinates me, as does the challenge of clarifying it.

Myth: Low-Calorie Sweeteners are unhealthy

For instance, a student recently commented that low-cal sweeteners are “bad” and talked about a study on their unhealthy effects. From what he said, I could tell it was right out of a 1968 study that caught lots of attention in its day, yet somehow still has legs. The problem is the study was done on rats and he clearly hadn’t evaluated the science. I explained where the rumor originated and that evidence shows that low-cal sweeteners are safe and proven to help when used in weight loss programs. I point out that the American Heart Association maintains this position, as do many other health care organizations, like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the FDA, who affirms that low-calorie sweeteners are safe for human consumption.

Science is really the issue and the revelation that nutrition is a science comes as a shock to many students. Yes, nutrition IS a science, and one study, on rats, does not a body of evidence make.

Myth: Soda is the cause of obesity

On the flip side, are the students who believe sugar-sweetened beverages make you fat? The evidence shows otherwise. Excess calories and/or too little activity contribute to weight gain. Obesity is a complex issue that cannot be simply attributed to one dietary ingredient. All calories count and balance really is key.  

Myth: Fresh is best

A myth I often hear is that when it comes to produce is “fresh is best,” while canned and frozen items should be avoided.  Not so.  Due to the transportation and storage involved, by the time they are cooked or consumed fresh fruits and veggies have lost nutrients.  Frozen and canned items are processed immediately after harvesting so nutrient loss is minimal. What’s important is to purchase fresh produce in season, know your vendor, that turnover is quick, and prepare soon after purchasing.

I could go on and on. There are two important considerations in nutrition. One is to take time and know the source of the information; go beyond the headline. The other is balance. That means balance in food choices and balanced opinions. There is no reason to demonize one food or one ingredient. Hidden beneath the dramatic headline is generally a fable that people mistake for fact.

Pat Baird is a registered dietitian nutritionist, a fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; and President of the CT Academy of Nutrition.  She is an award-winning author of five books, a noted media spokesperson, and adjunct professor at UConn Stamford. Pat worked in healthcare at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. 


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Shhh! My top secrets for an ideal balance

Sylvia Klinger, MS, RD, LDN, CPT

Don’t Believe All the Diet Hype

If you are smitten by diets that offer timeless promises, but are packed with limitations and restrictions that are nearly impossible to follow, don’t waste your money. Instead, look for meal plans that include both your caloric needs and some of your favorite ingredients. Don’t begin omitting food groups based on fads and trends, unless you have a specific medical condition. Remember, it’s important to maintain a well-balanced diet and that all calories count!

Flavor is Royal

Discovering the ultimate mindful eating experience is something we should all try to aim for as often as possible. Recent studies have shown that people truly have an affinity for bold and rich flavors, suggesting that we are drawn to foods that have a strong and excellent taste. The trick is finding a happy place where we can enjoy flavorful foods mindfully—without over indulging. Next time you sit down to eat a flavorful treat or drink a refreshing beverage, enjoy them, but in appropriate and mindful amounts. There are plenty of treat sized beverages and snacks that can be enjoyed in your balanced diet.

Get Moving

It’s no question that we need to exercise more – 80% of the adults don’t get the recommended exercise. It’s critical that we move, no matter what it is we do. It is best to start with simple and fun activities before we can start a daily exercise routine that can burn hundreds of calories. Remember that every step burns calories-- so stay active through the day.

Keeping the Balance

Mix up your movement! Variety is the spice of life and crucial to maintaining a healthy weight. This could be changing an exercise routine, adding other nutrients to your meals, or simply increasing your fluid intake.

 

Have any other great tips for keeping the balance in your life? Leave a comment below!

 

Sylvia is the founder of Hispanic Food Communications, Inc, a nutrition and food communications consulting company. She is a bilingual Hispanic native who is a leading expert in cross-cultural Hispanic cuisine as it relates to nutrition and health.

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Tags: Health National Blog Balance
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Stand Up to Food Nannies

We’re sick of the food nannies telling us what we can and can’t eat.

In the 80’s, they told us fat was bad, now, we understand that most fats are good for you. Then, they told us salt was out of the question. Now, the science affirms that there is minimal support for drastic reducing sodium intake. Now, the food nannies are coming for sugar. Specifically, sugar sweetened beverages.

From California to Pennsylvania, local and state government food nannies are proposing beverage taxes under the guise of improving public health. These proposals simply serve as an ill-fitting band aid for politicians with a severe problem of overspending. Singling out one caloric source is never a good, nor realistic, path to achieving better health— overall balance and consideration of all calories matters most. And the science proves it.

Learn more on The Truth About Beverage Taxes and don’t let the food nannies tell you what you can and cannot eat. What goes in your grocery cart is your choice.

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Tags: Health National Blog Choice
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Spring Ahead with Balanced Choices

Rosanne Rust, MS, RDN, LDN

Are you one of those people who dreads Daylight Savings Time? You just start getting used to waking up with the sun, and boom– we turn the clocks ahead!  Well springtime is the perfect time to do some forward thinking about your eating and exercise habits, too. As a dietitian, I enjoy helping people improve their eating habits and enjoy better health, but the truth is, I don’t expect you to eat perfectly healthy meals and snacks 100% of the time

I sure don’t, and perfection is not necessary to create a healthy lifestyle!

A healthy lifestyle is created with balance:

  • Get your zzz’s. Sleep is vital to health. It helps maintain a healthy immune system and even helps with weight control!
  • Plan your meals each day - a simple bowl of oatmeal, a fruit and yogurt smoothie, a hard-cooked egg, or a glass of milk and a breakfast bar can do the trick when you’re in a hurry in the morning. Using the USDA guidelines to choose variety each day at lunch and dinner. It’s pretty simple: a cup of vegetables or salad; a half cup of whole grain rice or pasta or a small roll; and a 3-5 ounce serving of protein.

Everything you eat and drink matters, so this is why the concept of moderation is so important.

I don’t know too many people who want to drink water exclusively, so an occasional sweetened beverage is fine. I also love dessert, but I can’t eat dessert every day and maintain a healthy weight. Keep portions in mind and make choices that are right for you- there is no one size fits all diet.

You know what’s good for you. Spring ahead with these healthy habits each day!

In addition to being the mother of 3 sons, Rosanne has nearly 30 years of experience in the food and nutrition field. She is the coauthor of several books, including DASH Diet For Dummies®, which all share her philosophy of balancing healthy eating with exercise and an enjoyment of life's little pleasures. Check out her blog, Chew The Facts, for more on this topic.


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Tags: Health National Blog Balance
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