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  • Do you really need to spring clean your diet?

    Amber Pankonin MS, RDN, CSP, LMNT

    Every spring, I love to spring clean my home and I religiously go through every closet in my home to clear the clutter. But as a Registered Dietitian, I’ve noticed that consumers also want to spring clean their diets aka going on fad diets or detox cleanses in order to be ready for swimsuit season.

    I’ve even seen consumers toss out every item in their pantry or refrigerator thinking that this will be a great way to get in shape for summer.  The truth is these fads only contribute to the misinformation and oversimplification of nutrition science.

    And the problem with dumbing down nutrition science is that these well-intentioned lifestyle magazine or blog recommendations to get fit are rooted in low-quality science can do more harm than good.

    So, instead of turning to these drastic measures, we must remember that numerous studies – including The CHOICE study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition  – have repeatedly demonstrated the benefits of a balanced lifestyle, including diet beverages, as well as low-calorie sweeteners, which are in thousands of foods and beverages – in helping to reduce calorie intake.

    This spring don’t forget that the key to a success is not demonizing a single nutrient or product, but balancing one’s calories among all the foods and beverages we enjoy with those we burn through physical activity and exercise.

    Amber Pankonin MS, RDN, CSP, LMNT is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, passionate about food, nutrition science, and agriculture. She works as a nutrition communications consultant, adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and blogger at stirlist.com

  • Celebrate Choice and Balance at Every Party

    Kim Galeaz, RDN CD

    Recently, there have been many proposals by the government to regulate the food and beverage choices that people make. However, these government regulations simply won’t make people healthier.

    From graduation parties to bridal showers, summer holiday cookouts to birthday brunches, food is an intrinsic part of every celebration. So is it possible to enjoy everything and still keep good health in mind? 

    Absolutely. Just incorporate two key strategies, balance and choice. Whether you’re a party-planner or guest-goer, balance and choice help you blend great taste AND good health.

    We should all get to enjoy the party season in moderation, so these are my top tips for making informed, balanced food and drink choices at your next celebration.

    • Focus on five nutrient-rich food groups – grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy and protein – provide variety plus essential nutrients. On this sample menu for example, you’ll see variety with color, flavor and texture as well as something from every essential food group.
    • Include indulgent choices. Whether decadent desserts, or creamy dips, cheesy side dishes and fried foods, favorite celebration foods can easily be offered alongside leaner and lighter choices. Let guests balance and choose appropriately.  
    • Offer beverage choices. Serve full-calorie beverages like party punch, lemonade, sweet tea, and soda along with unsweetened tea and low and no-calorie soda, tea and lemonade.
    • Avoid the “Just because it’s there.” Don’t automatically pile every food from the buffet on your plate “just because it’s there.” Decide strategically what you’ll choose, focusing on favorite foods or new, unique options not regularly enjoyed.  And no need to clean your plate “just because it’s there.” Keep portion size and fullness in mind.
    • Plan. Strategize. Celebrate. Plan sweet treats. If you know you’ll want dessert or a piece of wedding cake, leave room for it.

    Ultimately, the most important thing to keep in mind when letting yourself enjoy these celebrations is to make sure that you are balancing your calories from what you eat and drink with those you burn through what you do when it comes to physical activity.


    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

  • Looking Beyond The Headlines To Make Informed Choices

    Melissa Joy Dobbins

    When I heard the recent news headline that diet soda leads to bigger waistlines, my first thought was, “Or do bigger waistlines lead to diet soda?” It seems to me that people who are watching their waistlines might be more likely to choose diet sodas than those who are not.

    Well, the truth is, just because there is a correlation between two things that doesn’t mean that one necessarily causes the other. In scientific research, “correlation” is very different from “causation”. Certain types of nutrition research (randomized controlled human clinical trials) can determine cause and effect, however most of the data linking diet to chronic disease comes from observational human epidemiological studies. This type of research cannot determine cause and effect; it can only determine associations (correlations) to be studied in future research, which was the case in the most recent sensationalized media headline about diet soda and waistlines.

    In my registered dietitian opinion, this is precisely why it’s so challenging for people to take nutrition headlines and figure out what the bottom line takeaways are. Sensational and misleading headlines get in the way of people making their own, well-informed choices about their diet and lifestyle. Weight control is hard enough without conflicting and confusing information getting in the way of your efforts. And it’s not a “one-size-fits-all” solution. In my 20+ year career as a dietitian I’ve counseled thousands of people on weight management and diabetes. Each and every client is unique. Each and every client needs an individualized assessment and goals that are tailored to their specific needs.

    My advice: question the headlines, balance your diet and exercise, and make well-informed choices that fit your lifestyle and health goals. After all, it is up to you to make your own choices about your diet and exercise habits.

    Melissa Joy Dobbins, MS, RDN, CDE is a nationally recognized registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes educator with more than 20 years’ experience helping people enjoy their food with health in mind. She is known as the Guilt-Free RD – “because food shouldn’t make you feel bad!” TM. Connect with her on Twitter @MelissaJoyRD, check out her blog and her new Sound Bites podcast.

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