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  • In Case You Missed It

    Pat Baird, MA, RDN, FAND

    The efforts of concerned citizens, local businesses, and outsiders that banded together to fight the Alabama beverage tax proposal were not in vain- Alabama’s Governor Bentley has finally signed the state budget with no new taxes on soda! This wasn’t the first time a proposed tax on soda has been defeated. Soda tax proposals have failed in more than 30 states and cities across the country- and for good reason.

    Advocates of these types of taxes claim that they are the solution to solving the obesity epidemic throughout the United States. However, a study by George Mason University researchers demonstrated that even a tax as high as 20 percent tax on soda would only reduce an obese person’s Body Mass Index from 40 to 39.98 percent. Obesity is a complex issue. Yes, food and beverages play a large part in weight - but so does genetics and exercise.  Of the three, science has shown that balancing food and beverage choices with physical activity are effective in managing weight. The Centers for Disease Control has a number of different strategies for managing weight and reducing the obesity epidemic- none of which includes taxes.

    Demonizing certain foods and/or beverages just doesn’t work. What will work is increasing nutrition education, improving community access to parks and walking paths, and teaching people how to read food labels, along with a host of other approaches. 

    So congratulations Alabamians- let common sense and moderation prevail.

    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. 

  • Fall into Smart Portions

    Rosanne Rust, MS, RDN, LDN

    Fall has arrived and you may find yourself planning get-togethers for football tailgates, fall festivals, or school classroom parties, so I thought this was the perfect time to share some tips to keep things balanced.

    • Balance out the sweet-treat food with a platter of veggies with dip. Make it festive with simple orange quarters, or add a platter of whole grain crackers with cheese, or oat bran pretzel sticks with dip.
    • Offer a variety of beverages on ice - water bottles, apple cider, diet, and regular drinks. Offer mini cans of soft drinks, try mixing up a punch adding seltzer mixed with your favorite fruit drink.
    • Nutrition education starts in the home. Don’t food shame.. It’s adds an unhealthy perspective on eating, and may even promote disordered eating. It’s okay to enjoy a sweet treat on a special occasion. Plan a spread with enough of a few things, rather than too much. Portions matter, so enjoy your favorites in moderation.

    Using these simple strategies, we will all be able to enjoy the fall season with family and friends, without sacrificing a balanced diet. Cheers!

    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.

  • Myth Or Fact: Is a calorie just a calorie?

    Amber Pankonin MS, RDN, CSP, LMNT

    There are many claims today about how reducing calories in the diet is not the only key to weight loss.  The focus has shifted to the source of calories and not necessarily the amount of calories that are consumed.  I have also seen suggestive headlines that you can simply lose weight without giving up a single calorie or without having to do any form of physical activity or exercise - this is simply not true.

    Calories that accompany foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber such as fruit and vegetables are definitely a smart choice. However, I believe that you can balance those choices with more indulgent choices throughout the day and still succeed at weight loss — especially when you include physical activity in your daily routine.

    With the amount of nutrition and calorie information available and with so many great selections to choose from, I don’t just think but instead know that it is possible to achieve weight loss by reducing overall calories and including physical activity everyday. Diet beverages are just one of the proven tools for reducing caloric intake, while still allowing yourself a treat.

    At the end of the day, all calories count—from any source. The body of science is clear and supports that a calorie is still a calorie regardless of the source and that weight loss can be achieved through making independent choices and including physical activity. Balance is key.

    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