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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.

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.

You Can’t Eat That! And Other Bad Advice

Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, FAND

I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was seven years old. Along with the diagnosis came a lot of well meaning advice from family members and friends.

The most commonly offered advice was “You can’t eat that!” This would happen when I’d have cake at a friend’s birthday party or I’d drink a soda when my blood sugar was crashing after basketball practice. What these people didn’t understand is that I was choosing what was best for me, and I was balancing my intake of carbohydrates from all forms—including cake, cereal, bread, pasta, fruit, fruit juice, and soda. I was and still am managing my diabetes well.

Managing diabetes is all about balancing what you eat with your activity level, stress, medication, and sleep. It’s an on-going process, something I work on every day. I became a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) so I could help others learn how to balance their food and beverage choices.

It bothers me that people demonize certain foods and ingredients. Right now, many people are demonizing not only sugar but also low-calorie sweeteners.

Research shows that added sugars can be part of a balanced diet. If you’re consuming sugar as part of a healthful diet including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods and dairy, that’s okay. And if you’re choosing low-calories sweeteners to control calories as part of your healthful diet, that’s okay, too. Research shows low-calorie sweeteners are a safe, effective tool for weight management.

Instead of focusing on single ingredients or foods, shift your focus to the overall balance of your food and beverage choices. An occasional soda is okay. A daily diet soda is fine. Instead of agonizing over specific foods or ingredients focus on the overall quality of your diet.

You know what’s best for you. Now go forth and choose it!


Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, FAND, is a registered dietitian nutritionist who has lived well with Type I diabetes for more than 38 years. The owner of Farmer’s Daughter Consulting, Inc., she consults with a variety of food and beverage clients on issues related to nutrition and health. 

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