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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.

Tags: Health National Obesity Blog
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Picnics, BBQs and Pool Parties, Oh My!

Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD

In just a few short days Memorial Day Weekend officially kicks off summertime!  Bust out the sunscreen, bathing suits, and grills–fun in the sun has finally arrived!  People of all ages, shapes, and sizes will be headed out to picnic, BBQ, and have their first pool party of the year with their family and friends.

With all of these events comes lots of fun food and beverages.  Parties every weekend can lead some to indulge more than they should.  The key is balancing your sweet treats and drinks with other nutrient-rich healthy swaps.  No one wants a party-goer who can’t enjoy a cookie, soda, or hotdog every now and then— so learn to surround your treats with lighter choices.

When planning your picnic or BBQ, try to balance your indulgent snacks with some nutrient rich or low-calorie options, such as diet soda, vegetables, fresh fruit, and light beverages. Also be sure to balance what you eat and drink with plenty of activity. Swimming, playing badminton, or taking a stroll in the sunshine are all ways to achieve the perfect balance during the season.

Summer is a great time of year to relax, hangout, and enjoy.  Remember that all foods fit – enjoy your favorites while balancing them with low calorie options and activity!

Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a full time sports dietitian for Ben Hogan Sports Medicine, where she works with athletes of all levels, serves as a media dietitian, and speaks to sports teams as well as at a variety of nutrition, athletic training, and coaching conferences. She has worked with the Texas Rangers and is the sports dietitian for Texas Christian University Athletics, the Dallas Cowboys, FC Dallas Soccer Team and Jim McLean Golf School where she works with amateur and professional golfers.


Tags: National Blog Balance
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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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