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  • Veggie Halos and Soda Demons

    Kim Galeaz, RDN, CD

     

    The over-hyped health halo for fruits and vegetables is no more warranted than the demonization of soda and all things sugar. I may be a registered dietitian, but I simply refuse to single out any one food, beverage or food group as the shining star or scapegoat for your health status. Which is why I found myself quite frustrated recently on two specific occasions, while reading an article on Market Watch about soda taxes and while sitting in the dentist’s chair getting my teeth cleaned. 


    The dental hygienist asked “how can I get my daughter to eat more vegetables?” While I didn’t reply “you can’t, only she can,” I did my best to provide tips on offering - not forcing or mandating - kid-friendly veggies like edamame in the pod, strips of red, yellow and orange bell peppers and sweet potato oven wedges. Her daughter will eat corn, green beans, and mashed potatoes, so I had to set the record straight and explain all three were indeed nutrient-rich vegetables and not “bad” choices. Serve them often I encouraged.

     

    Then I read the Market Watch article about the new soda and sugary beverage tax in Berkley, California.  I detest taxes on soda and beverages as much as I detest labeling foods as “good” or “bad.” Every food, every beverage, can - and should in my opinion - have a place in your diet if you choose. No forcing, mandating, regulating or legislating how you will spend your daily calorie budget. Soda tax supporters hope more expensive sugary beverages will lead to less consumption, even no consumption, and result in improved public health.

     

    But eliminating soda and sugary beverages from your diet will not save your health any more than over-emphasizing fruits and vegetables.  No one food or beverage alone is ever responsible for poor or good health. It’s the overall balance that makes a difference. Enjoying the right amount of all nutrient-rich food groups for your calorie budget, adding a daily treat if you choose (whether it’s a soda, milkshake, brownie or chips) and balancing all choices with ample daily activity. It’s your choice.

     

     

     

  • My choices for a happy and healthy 2015

    Melissa Joy Dobbins MS, RD, CDE

    ‘Tis the season for reflecting and making those New Year’s resolutions. As a dietitian and a mom, I’m keeping my entire family in mind as I consider realistic and effective ways to improve our health in the New Year. Read my family’s resolution’s below.

    Make exercise a family affair. We already have some family-oriented activities that we enjoy. A family bike ride is my all-time favorite, though my husband and I just completed our first triathlon together and recently started taking ballroom dance lessons- which are really enjoyable! This year, we want to do more. I am looking forward to taking a karate class with my son and a weekly dance class with my daughter.

    Balance our diets better. We will continue to strive for more balance in our diets by emphasizing nutrient-rich foods and moderating less nutritious choices. I’m all about “guilt-free” strategies to include all the foods we love, so there are no hard and fast rules for sweets and treats at our house. Instead, we consider the entire day, and even the entire week, when making decisions about what kinds of foods and beverages to choose, and how much. Because of our emphasis on including nutrient-rich foods at meals and snacks, I feel good about letting my kids learn to make their own choices about the “extra” foods and beverages they consume.

    Be sensible about our screen time. We are very aware of the amount of time we spend in front of the TV, computer, tablet, video games and smartphones. In addition to spending quality time together, we will focus on quality screen time together. For example, we love watching movies together. It provides us with lots to learn and laugh about. We ensure that some of the video games we play have some puzzles or brain training games and that we get our bodies moving with dance video games.

    I’m confident that we have a good foundation upon which to build healthier habits, and glad that we have the right to choose what is best for our family. I wish you and yours a healthier new year by choosing what is best is for you!

     

  • What Does Food Mean to You?

    Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN

     

    Can you imagine a July 4th picnic with no hot dogs and lemonade? How about a ballgame without peanuts and soda? Would a visit to Santa be complete without cookies and hot cocoa? These are just a few examples of foods and drinks that have become part of the way we celebrate special occasions or are a part of our religious, ethnic, and national heritage. You could say the stories of our lives are filled with food and beverage anecdotes!

    As a registered dietitian and cultural anthropologist, I know eating is about more than just nourishing our bodies. Foods and drinks have special meaning to people around the world and these beliefs are passed on from generation to generation every time they are served in a traditional way. Anyone who has blown out candles on a birthday cake knows what I’m talking about!  

    When taxes and other restrictions are proposed to diminish the role of certain foods and beverages in our diets they often overlook the role they might play in these important customs. They also overlook the fact there is no one diet that is right for everyone, yet we can all benefit from nutrition education to make better food choices to meet our daily needs.

    In my 40 years of counseling people about healthy eating I have never recommended the same dietary plan twice. Instead I have worked to help each of my clients make the changes they were ready and able to make to improve their personal eating habits. This has always involved listening very closely to the meanings of different foods and beverages in their lives so that I could show them how they could continue to enjoy them in moderation.

    Supporting more nutrition education can help us eat better without trampling on our traditions. All Americans deserve the right to make their food and beverage choices without being arbitrarily taxed because policy makers want to discourage us from including certain items in our diets. Education, not regulation, is the only effective way to improve public health without infringing on personal freedoms and customs.
     

                                                                    

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