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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.




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