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Good, Bad and the Ugly: Conversations about Foods, Beverages and Ingredients

Carol Berg Sloan, RDN

I recently came across an article which began “In the last few years, I’ve watched a continuing battle among my friends about which is worse for you: artificial sweeteners or sugar.”  It reminded me of the several heated discussions with friends and family members about what are considered “good” or “bad” foods, beverages, and ingredients over the past several months, which always begin the same way.

Someone will want me to tell them the magic foods they should eat and what dreadful foods they should stay away from in comparison, for example kale vs ice berg lettuce, whole grain crackers or cheese puffs, or coffee vs green tea? The overlying theme is that these topics are typically based on the most recent headline page, a popular blog or hearsay at the office, parties, or family gatherings.

To such debates, I usually state that we eat a variety of foods and beverages throughout our lifetimes and most people consume different foods and beverages daily! Humans like variety and variety is the spice of life. The bottom-line is that all foods and beverages can fit into a healthy diet while minding portion control and having an awareness of nutrients. A single bowl of kale won’t miraculously help you lose weight, just as a single can of soda won’t ruin your diet. Moderation across all calories is the key.

Back to the article at hand, when asked about sweeteners and safety, the science trumps all and even points to the usefulness of these sweeteners when if come to losing weight. But remember, there can be room in your diet for sugar, also, if you take the rules of balance and moderation into consideration.

As a registered dietitian I will continue to give my clients, friends, and family advice based on current evidence and my expertise, not the opinion du jour or other hearsay. Keep the science in mind when making your choices at the grocery store!

Carol Berg Sloan RDN, FAND is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and independent food and nutrition communications consultant in Long Beach, California. Carol has served as a delegate to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and as a member of the Academy Positions Committee and Finance and Audit Committee.


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