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  • Bacon, Soda, and Longevity – What’s the Connection?

    Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN

    Did you see the headlines earlier this summer proclaiming the world’s oldest person eats bacon every day? The story caught my attention since bacon is one of those “guilty pleasure” foods we all enjoy, and we now have evidence that a 116 year old woman has been eating it every day!

    There are many other things that may have contributed to this woman’s long life, such as her genetic heritage (her grandmother lived to be 117!). She also naps regularly, eats three meals a day and has a loving family.

    As with most things in a long life, it’s never that simple – Spoiler alert: bacon is not the key to longevity!

    The same holds true for headlines that say drinking soda can cause obesity, type 2 diabetes, or heart disease. What’s missing from those unfounded statements is any evidence from randomized clinical trials to demonstrate cause and effect.

    Like longevity, the research on what does cause these illnesses reveals a strong genetic component. They are also influenced by numerous environmental factors and lifestyle behaviors. It’s just not a simple matter of sipping a sugar-sweetened beverage or not. In fact, our overall dietary patterns   matter much more than any single food we may eat.

    I’m sure it will make many people happy to know they can still enjoy bacon and their favorite soft drink and live a long life. The lesson here is that it’s not the bacon that will guarantee you’ll reach your 100th birthday or the sweet drink that will keep you from getting there. Eating balanced meals and getting plenty of physical activity are habits that can add years to your life.

    Keep that in mind the next time you see an inflammatory headline providing a quick fix for all of your dietary woes.


    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.

  • Building a Healthy Diet with Your Food Choices

    Neva Cochran, MS, RDN, LD

    When people find out I’m a registered dietitian nutritionist, they’ll often tell me they were “bad’ that day because they ate a piece of cake or French fries or a soda. They’re usually surprised when I tell them healthy eating is not about “good” and “bad” foods but about balance, variety and moderation. I don’t believe there are any foods or beverages you should never eat. The key is to balance your choices by eating a variety of foods in appropriate portions to make sure you get all the nutrients you need. That can still leave room for foods you love and may consider “off-limits.”

    Nutrition experts recommend a daily meal plan with around 1800 – 2200 calories for the typical adult with moderate activity. By eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains along with lean proteins (fish, poultry, lean beef and pork, eggs and beans), low-fat dairy and healthy fats, you can achieve a healthy balance of 15 - 20% of calories from protein, 45 - 60% from carbohydrate, and 25 - 35% from fat. You’ll also meet the recommended levels for fiber and 18 vitamins and minerals, with some calories left over for favorites like a soda or cookie. 

    That’s how moderation works. You can enjoy treats and favorites while maintaining the nutritional quality of your overall diet. The key is watching portion sizes, balancing foods like soda and cookies with nutrient-rich foods and offsetting calorie intake with adequate physical activity.

    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.

  • The Sweet Truth about Your Health Concerns

    Susan Mitchell, PhD, RDN, LDN, FAND

    Growing up in the South, homemade desserts were a part of life. My Mom made fabulous baked goods like sticky buns and desserts like angel food cake or pecan pie on birthdays. My passion for food and baking comes from watching her and experiencing how cooking food for your family and friends is about relationships and love. Portions were not obscene. A cookie didn’t resemble a small pizza.

    Fast-forward and portion sizes have puffed up, the number of calories we eat everyday has shot up and many of us face health concerns. Do you? The media likes to make scapegoats out of a single food or food ingredient such as sugar. Working in this arena, I see it everyday. It’s so hard to know sound science from pseudo science. Plus, state governments attempt to add taxes to your food as a way to force change in the weight issue facing our country. But does it?

    Solid evidence continues to show that soda taxes raise revenue but are unlikely to affect soda consumption or weight loss substantially. The USDA and National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data both show a decline in the amount of added sugar consumed since 1999 while obesity and diabetes rates have continued to rise.

    Healthy options are available if we make the decision to choose them. Education and empowerment are the ticket for changing health concerns. Instead of taxing beverages and food as an answer for obesity, how about taking a stand against ‘sitting disease’ the norm in most offices? And find smart and creative ways to cut back on excess calories eaten from nutritional vacant foods that affect our daily lives and the scale. Small and simple changes over time can have a large impact on health concerns and weight.

    Award winning registered dietitian nutritionist, Dr. Susan Mitchell is host of the podcast Breaking Down Nutrition: Your Digest for What Works, What Doesn’t. She also shares her passion for nutrition at FoodFitFabulous.com where you’ll find the food you love, how to be fit for life and fabulous everyday.