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Living Well with Options

Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, Carmichael, California

I celebrated an important anniversary earlier this month, the anniversary of the day I was diagnosed with Type I diabetes in 1979. I’ve not only lived but lived well with diabetes for 36 years, and there are many factors that contribute to my good health and happiness along the way—including the variety of food and beverage options all around us that promote good health.

I first need to recognize the love and support of my family. My dad had Type I for 56 years. My mom has been living with Type I for 30 years. Yes, she was diagnosed after I was, which has led to a few family jokes about how contagious diabetes must be. It’s not, but my parents’ positive attitudes about living well with diabetes certainly have!

I also need to appreciate the important role healthcare professionals have played in my life. So many have been kind, respectful, and treated me like an individual. They relied on good science to give the best care, but they also relied on good sense to give the best advice based on my personality and lifestyle choices.

And finally, I need to thank the companies that produce foods and beverages with low and no- calorie sweeteners. Drinking a diet beverage is not only an appealing choice for me a few afternoons a week, but I appreciate all of the research that supports the role of diet drinks in healthful and balanced diets, including a recent review article published last month in Current Obesity Reports.

The author evaluated data from observational, laboratory, and intervention studies of humans that looked at relationships between low- and no-calorie sweeteners, dietary intake, and weight. Observational studies can provide some insights into associations (not cause & effect). Laboratory studies can provide a glimpse into relationships at one point in time. Intervention studies, in particular randomized, controlled trails (RCTs), provide the strongest data for relationships between dietary intake and health outcomes.

Science has again supported -- through numerous intervention studies in both children and adults -- that that low- and no- calorie sweeteners tend to reduce intake of sugar-sweetened foods, and to facilitate weight loss and management. This confirmation is beyond great news for anyone, like me, looking to make informed decisions rooted in science not trends. Cheers to good health and the enjoyment of a wide variety of foods and beverages!

Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, is an award-winning dietitian/nutritionist (RDN), farmer’s daughter, and published author who is inspired by farmers, flavor, and fun! Having had Type I diabetes since age 7, Amy is living proof of the power of mindful choices when it comes to health and well-being.

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