Let low calorie sweeteners take the place of added sugars in your diet

What’s New in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans?

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com. You can read the original post here.

If you don’t like mathematics or tracking what you eat, you may find it difficult to follow the recommendation to reduce the added sugars in your diet found in the latest edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Guidelines). Even if you do like math and record-keeping, you’re probably not going to be happy with how many of your favorite foods and beverages taste once the new limit on added sugars is applied. (Spoiler Alert: Keep reading for my advice on how to have a lower sugar diet that still tastes sweet!)

The new guidelines encourage us to limit our daily added sugars intake to less than 10 percent of our total calories as part of a healthy eating pattern. To figure out what your daily limit for added sugars is, you first need to know what your daily calorie requirements are. You can use this table in the Guidelines for an estimate of your daily calorie needs based on age, gender and physical activity level.

Once you know how many calories per day you should eat, take 10 percent of that number to know how many calories you can devote to added sugars. Now you must divide that number by 4 to determine the number of grams of added sugars you should try to stay under each day. Another option is to divide the sugar calories by 16 to calculate the daily number of teaspoons that shouldn’t be exceeded in your diet.

Tracking Added Sugars in Foods and Beverages

To stay within your allotted budget for added sugars you should keep track of the grams and/or teaspoons of added sugars consumed each day, along with your total daily calories. Unfortunately, one of the biggest challenges with this step is that added sugars are not labeled on the nutrition facts panel of food products.

There are, however, a few ways to use the food label to find foods and beverages with less added sugar as noted in my previous blog, “Lowering Added Sugar in Your Meals.” Try these tips:

  1. Ingredients are listed by weight with the one used in the greatest amount coming first, so if an added sugar is at the end of a long ingredients list on a nutrition panel it is most likely not present in a significant amount.
  2. Foods and drinks made with no- and low-calorie sweeteners, like SPLENDA®Sweetener Products, typically have less added sugar than their full sugar counterparts.
  3. The more types of sugar there are in the ingredient list, the more likely their combined weight would appear higher on the list.

Strategies to Reduce Added Sugars in the Dietary Guidelines

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans report also provides a few strategies to help us reduce added sugars from our foods and beverages:

  • omit the sugar
  • choose unsweetened drinks or ones containing less sugar
  • have sweetened drinks less often
  • have sweetened drinks in smaller portions
  • limit or decrease the portion size, or choose unsweetened or no-sugar added versions of grain-based desserts (cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, doughnuts, sweet rolls, and pastries) and dairy desserts (ice cream, frozen yogurt, pudding, and custard).

Let SPLENDA® Sweeteners Help You Reach Your Goal!

An easy-to-incorporate strategy I recommend is to replace some of the added sugars in your food and beverages with high-intensity sweeteners (also known as sugar substitutes or low-calorie sweeteners) like sucralose (the sweetening ingredient in SPLENDA® Sweetener Products) to retain the sweet taste that is such an important part of our eating experience.

Here’s what the new Guidelines say on the subject of low-calorie sweeteners: “High-intensity sweeteners that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) include saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), and sucralose. Based on the available scientific evidence, these high-intensity sweeteners have been determined to be safe for the general population.”

Replacing some added sugars with high-intensity sweeteners is a smart way to reduce added sugars in the diet while providing the sweet taste we want. For example, instead of the typical sweet tea with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you could try this Hot Spiced Tea and spread some No-Sugar Needed Triple Berry Jam on your sandwich.

Using SPLENDA® Sweeteners or other high-intensity sweeteners instead of added sugars is a strategy that can produce big results at the end of the day without doing all the math. For example, just by substituting one can of diet soda for a can of regular soda automatically eliminates 10 teaspoons of added sugars from your day no matter what other changes you may make. Adding a SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener packet instead of 2 teaspoons of sugar to three cups of coffee a day removes six teaspoons of sugar from your tally. And preparing this Berry-Cherry Pie with SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated replaces one cup of sugar in the traditional recipe (or 6 teaspoons per serving).

There are probably a number of other changes you will need to make to limit the added sugars in your daily diet. But being able to continue enjoying a little sweetness in your meals, with less added sugars, should help make those changes a lot easier to achieve.

I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog with Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

To learn more about Sugar Substitutes, visit the Sugar Substitutes section of this blog.
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. 

 

Aspartame has been help part of healthy diets for 35 years

The Most Studied Low Calorie Sweetener Turns 35 This Year

This blog was originally written for Aspartame.org. You can read that  post here.

The global population is aging at a faster rate than ever before in human history. Right now the number of people throughout the world over the age of 65 makes up 8.5 percent of the total population, or 671 million people according to International Population Reports.  That number is projected to jump to 1,566 million people by the 2050, making 16.7 percent of the world’s population over 65 years of age!

If you’re wondering what this has to do with aspartame and other no- and low-calorie sweeteners, there is a connection. Knowing you may live well into your 80s or 90s can provide the motivation for living better now to extend the quality of your life as you get older. That’s where aspartame can help.

 Benefits of Aspartame

Aspartame has been an approved food additive for over 35 years. Since its introduction into the food supply in the 1980s as an artificial sweetener 200 times sweeter than sugar a growing body of research has demonstrated its role in a healthy lifestyle. The benefits most frequently reported are that aspartame and other artificial sweeteners can aid in:

  • Weight maintenance
  • Weight reduction
  • Reduction in the risks associated with obesity
  • Diet satisfaction with less added sugars and fewer calories
  • Eating a greater variety of healthy foods
  • Management of diabetes

Knowing low-calorie sweeteners can support weight management is significant because, along with getting older, the World Health Organization reports we are also getting heavier. In fact, obesity has more than doubled in the global population since 1980. Today overweight and obesity are the leading risk factors for noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers and are now linked to more deaths worldwide than being underweight.

If you want to prevent the chronic diseases that can strip away independence as you age, achieving a healthy body weight is one of the most important steps you can take. Using aspartame in place of sugar can help by providing a sweet taste to foods and beverages with few or no calories.  And it can be used by the entire family, not just those trying to lose weight, although any unintended weight loss should always be brought to the attention of your physician.

Aspartame is not a drug and, therefore, cannot produce weight loss without making other behavior changes, but it can be a valuable tool in maintaining a balanced and satisfying diet — and that can add more healthy and happy years to your life.

 Safety of Aspartame

The safety of aspartame has been rigorously monitored by food safety experts since it was first approved for use as a food additive more than three decades ago. New research from human and animal studies is regularly evaluated along with the existing body of evidence to determine any potential risk to the population at current levels of exposure or Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI). The experts report aspartame does not cause damage to the genes or induce cancer, does not harm the brain or nervous system, and does not affect behavior or cognitive function in children or adults. They also have found no risk to the developing fetus from its use during pregnancy at the current ADI levels (except in women suffering from PKU).

Regulatory agencies representing more than 90 countries have conducted their own reviews of the scientific literature on aspartame and approved its use for their populations. This list includes the United States, Canada, the member countries of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), France, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil. In 2013 the EFSA re-issued a Scientific Opinion on the safety of aspartame as a food additive and again concluded it was not a safety concern based on current exposure estimates and there was no reason to revise the ADI of 40mg/kg body weight per day.

It is reassuring to know there is a consensus among so many experts about the safety of aspartame, especially when conflicting reports from single studies hit the news. Living well into our nineties is a big enough challenge without having to worry about that!

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN is a registered dietitian, cultural anthropologist and scientific advisor to the Calorie Control Council, whose 30+ year career includes maintaining a busy nutrition counseling practice, teaching food and nutrition courses at the university level, and authoring 2 popular diet books and numerous articles and blogs on health and fitness.  Her ability to make sense out of confusing and sometimes controversial nutrition news has made her a frequent guest on major media outlets, including CNBC, FOX News and USA Today. Her passion is communicating practical nutrition information that empowers people to make the best food decisions they can in their everyday diets. Reach her on Twitter @EverydayRD and check out her blog The Everyday RD.

Vacation weight gain can lead to creeping obesity

The Spring Break Souvenir Nobody Wants

This post was originally written for TheSkinnyOnLowCal.org.

When college students return to campus after their winter break most of them can’t tell you exactly when they’ll be taking their final exams, but they all know the dates for spring break. Reservations are booked long before anyone cracks open a book at the start of the semester. Escaping to someplace tropical for fun in the sun is standard fare, but for many there is a souvenir that can linger long after the tan marks have faded. It’s called creeping obesity.

Just like holiday weight gain that isn’t lost from one year to the next, weight gained while on vacation can contribute to creeping obesity – or gradual weight gain over time – if those extra pounds aren’t lost when you get home.  A recent study found the average weight gain for vacations of one to three weeks was .7 pounds, with some subjects gaining as much as 7 pounds.

Another finding in that study was that weight was gained despite the slight increase in physical activity reported during vacations. Apparently snorkeling and beach volleyball aren’t enough to offset the increased caloric intake, especially from alcoholic drinks which tended to double while on vacation!

Gaining a small amount of weight may seem like no big deal, but as I said in my book Fighting the Freshman Fifteen, if you don’t deal with the ounces they’ll turn into pounds by the time you graduate.  And since it’s much easier to lose one or two pounds than five or ten, why not make it part of your vacation plans to drop those unwanted pounds as quickly as you gained them?   Here’s how to do it.

Ways to Spring Back From a Spring Break!

  1. Know Your Number– Before you go on vacation use a customized program, like SuperTracker, to determine the number of calories you consume each day to maintain your present weight with your usual amount of physical activity. This is number your baseline calorie allowance.
  2. Step on the Scale– Weigh yourself before you leave for vacation and again on the morning after you return to see if you’ve gained weight and how much you need to lose to get back to your pre-vacation weight. Weigh yourself daily while following the steps below until you reach your goal.
  3. Keep a Record– Start recording everything you eat and drink, and the amounts, so you can tally your daily caloric intake. Keep it 200 calories below your maintenance number, calculated in #1. One way to drop 200 calories a day is to replace sugar-sweetened drinks with diet drinks and to use no- and low-calorie sweeteners in place of sugar.
  4. Up Your Activity– Increase your usual time spent in physical activity by at least one hour per week by adding a single 60-minute workout or an additional 15 minutes to four regular workouts.
  5. Monitor Your Maintenance– You can stop the calorie counting and extra hour of exercise once you return to your pre-vacation weight, but continue to weigh yourself weekly. Resume the food records and added exercise time if you see your weight going up before your next vacation.

Robyn Flipse. Fighting the Freshman Fifteen. Three Rivers Press, 2002.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN is a registered dietitian and cultural anthropologist whose 30+ year career includes maintaining a busy nutrition counseling practice, teaching food and nutrition courses at the university level, and authoring 2 popular diet books and numerous articles and blogs on health and fitness.  Her ability to make sense out of confusing and sometimes controversial nutrition news has made her a frequent guest on major media outlets, including CNBC, FOX News and USA Today. Her passion is communicating practical nutrition information that empowers people to make the best food decisions they can in their everyday diets. Reach her on Twitter @EverydayRD and check out her blog The Everyday RD.

 

Introduce sugar free drinks to children to reduce added sugars

Winning Kids Over from Sugary Drinks to Ones with Less Added Sugar or Sugar-Free Drinks

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com. You can read the original post here

Every generation of parents faces different challenges when it comes to raising their children. That may explain why grandparents and their adult children don’t always see eye-to-eye over what a child should eat for breakfast. Yet the one part of childhood nutrition they usually do agree on is the need to reduce the amount of added sugars children consume.

Back when I was in elementary school parents and teachers warned us to cut back on added sugars to avoid cavities and those dreaded trips to the dentist for drillings and fillings. Today, thanks to fluoridated water and better dental hygiene, childhood tooth decay is better controlled. Now children face rising rates of obesity and excess added sugars are being blamed for contributing to the problem.

So when I get questions from parents (and grandparents) about whether their children should have chocolate milk or plain milk with their school lunch, drink lemonade or lemon seltzer at the family picnic, or order a soda or glass of water at a pizza party, I recommend drinks that replace sugar with low-calorie sweeteners, like SPLENDA® Sweetener Products, for a simple solution.

As fellow Registered Dietitian Hope Warshaw explained in her blog, “American Academy of Pediatrics Weighs In on Added Sugar and Sugar Substitutes,” the Academy recognizes the safety of low-calorie sweeteners for children and their use as a tool to reduce the added sugars and calories in a child’s diet. The important point here is that they are a tool, and when used as part of a balanced diet, low-calorie sweeteners can help children enjoy a wide variety of foods and beverages they might not be willing to eat without a little sweetness.

 Lead By Example

The best way to introduce children and teens to drinks with less added sugar is to let them see you choosing and drinking them. They should feel good about the choice, not stigmatized for having something labeled “sugar free.” It also helps if you serve just one beverage option for everyone in the family instead of segregating the sugar-free version for only some members. And it makes life easier when you only have to find room for just one pitcher of sugar-free iced tea on the picnic table!

Another important behavior to model for children is moderation. Serving sizes of no-calorie and low-calorie beverages should be age appropriate along with their frequency of use. And they should never replace recommended servings of low-fat milk and 100% fruit juices that provide essential nutrients.

Special occasions like birthday parties and youth sporting events provide a perfect opportunity to offer drinks with less added sugar to a child since plenty of high-calorie foods are typically being eaten, including many that contain added sugars. These occasions also provide a very effective “teachable moment” for a child when they realize they can have the frosted cupcake or goody bag of candy and the drink with less added sugar, but must give up the treats if they have the sugar-sweetened drink.

Let Children Help

Allowing children to help prepare family meals is a valuable way to teach them about good nutrition. A good place to start is by making smoothies together. This Strawberry Orange Smash Smoothie contains strawberries, calcium fortified orange juice, non-fat yogurt and SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener to make a delicious and nutritious drink for kids of any age.

Since most children love watermelon and it doesn’t require a sharp knife to chop up once cut open, you can let your little ones help make this Watermelon Lemonade. Just make sure they wear their swim goggles while squeezing the lemons!

And if you have teenagers looking for something more “sophisticated” to drink, let them try this Homemade Chai. It’s full of flavor from the fresh ginger and dried spices with just enough sweetness from SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, to keep them smiling as they sip.

You can find many more beverage recipes with less added sugar on Splenda.com and more good advice on dealing with childhood weight gain and obesity in the blog “Small Changes Can Help Children and Teens Manage Weight” by my colleague Sue Taylor.
I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog with Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

Use low caloire sweeteners to reduce added sugars in the diet

Hitting the Sweet Spot in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Savor the Flavor for National Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month Savor the Flavor

Use National Nutrition Month to make progress towards meeting the goals of the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans by reducing the added sugars in your diet

If you’re a numbers person you’re going to love the news in the latest edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Guidelines) about the amount of added sugars we can include in our diets. If you don’t like mathematics or tracking everything you eat, the news is dreadful.

The Guidelines say we should limit our added sugars to no more than 10 percent of our total calories as part of a healthy eating pattern. To figure that out we need to record the calories in everything we eat and drink all day so we can find the total calories we consume, and then take 10 percent of that to know how many calories we can devote to added sugars. Once we have that number we must divide it by 4 to determine the number of grams our added sugars can weigh, or we can divide the sugar calories by 16 to calculate the number of teaspoons we can have.

Now all we have to do is keep track of those grams and/or teaspoons of sugar, along with all the calories, to be sure we don’t exceed our daily allowance. And don’t forget to reserve some of your “sugar allotment” if you have a special occasion coming up that might include a decadent dessert. You need to budget for that.

What’s Missing from the Sugar Reduction Strategy?

A thorough reading of the 300+ pages of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released in early 2016, did reveal a few shortcuts to these calculations, but the results won’t be as accurate. The “strategies” offered to help us reduce added sugars from our beverages are to simply omit the sugar, choose unsweetened drinks or ones containing less sugar, have sweetened drinks less often or have them in smaller portions.

The only strategies on how to reduce added sugars from grain-based desserts (cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, doughnuts, sweet rolls, and pastries) or dairy desserts (ice cream, frozen yogurt, pudding, and custard) are equally imprecise. The Guidelines suggest “limiting or decreasing portion size” or choosing the unsweetened or no-sugar added versions.

Given these options you’ll be out of luck if your menu tonight includes a garden salad with French dressing, grilled chicken with barbecue sauce and a side of baked beans, a tall glass of fresh squeezed lemonade and some homemade blueberry crisp for dessert. You’d be getting more than 25 teaspoons of added sugars in that meal, even with modest portions, and that’s more than double the amount most of us can include in our daily diets.

That just doesn’t seem right and it doesn’t hold true to another key message in the Guidelines that states, “Any eating pattern can be tailored to the individual’s socio-cultural and personal preferences.”

What’s missing from these “strategies” are ways to use high-intensity sweeteners (also known as sugar substitutes or artificial sweeteners), or products made with them, to replace some of the added sugars in our food and beverages so we can retain the sweet taste that is such an integral part of our eating experience.
What the Guidelines do say on the subject is:

“High-intensity sweeteners that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) include saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), and sucralose. Based on the available scientific evidence, these high-intensity sweeteners have been determined to be safe for the general population.”

Why not recommend high-intensity sweeteners as a guaranteed way to reduce added sugars in the diet? Every time they are used in a food or beverage they can reduce our total added sugars consumption while providing the sweet taste we want. Instead, we are being asked to give up or use less honey in our tea, syrup on our pancakes and jelly with our peanut butter.

Replacing some of the added sugars in our diets with high-intensity sweeteners is a “strategy” that can produce big results without doing all that math. Substituting one can of diet soda for a can of regular soda automatically eliminates 10 teaspoons of added sugars from our day no matter what other changes we may make. Using a yellow sugar substitute packet instead of sugar in three cups of coffee a day removes six teaspoons of sugar from our tally. Preparing blueberry crisp with a sugar substitute deletes a cup of sugar from the recipe.

There are many other food and beverage choices we must also make to meet the goals in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Having the chance to enjoy a little sweetness in our meals will make them easier.

About the author: Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist and cultural anthropologist with over 35 years of experience specializing in food, nutrition and health communications. She is a consultant to several food and beverage companies, including the Calorie Control Council and Heartland Food Products Group. She is author of the blog “The Everyday RD” and tweets as @EverydayRD.

This blog was originally written for FoodConsumer.org. You can read the original post here.

Taxing soda can't fix a poor diet

Can We Tax Our Way to Better Diets?

If your kids aren’t doing well in school, do you tell them they just have to give up video games and they’ll do better? Of course not! Even if they never played another video game for the rest of their lives, they’d still have to read books, complete assignments, and pass tests to attain those better grades.

The same is true for improving the quality of our diets or losing weight. It can’t be done by asking people to give up foods and beverages they enjoy, like soda. That’s simply not sustainable. A healthy and balanced diet requires eating the right foods in the right amounts and in the right frequency to get the desired results, with or without soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks.

The amazing thing about a well-planned diet, matched by regular exercise, is that you can actually have the occasional soft drink without “ruining” your health or gaining weight! It’s all about eating the foods that supply the nutrients our bodies need to stay healthy since nothing we remove from the diet can replace them.

While no food or beverage can cancel out the nutritional benefits of the other foods we eat, we can gain weight if we eat too many calories, including those found in the most nutritious foods. That means eating a strawberry-banana smoothie every day that is full of vitamin C, potassium, protein, and calcium can supply more calories than we need and result in weight gain over time. Those excess pounds can lead to obesity, and obesity can increase the risk for hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer no matter how many nutrients came with the calories.

So when you hear people blaming sugar-sweetened drinks for obesity or other health problems and propose to tax them or implement warning labels to improve our diets, remind them that’s not how good nutrition works – just like banning video games at home won’t make kids get better grades in school.

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.

 

Losing weight involved changes in diet and activity

Do I Really Have to Exercise More?

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com. You can read the original post here.

Don’t you hate it when you swear off your favorite banana nut muffins (or fill-in-the-blank treat) for an entire week only to find you haven’t lost an ounce when you next step on the scale? It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that you might as well eat all of the muffins (or whatever you gave up) that you want since omitting them from your diet didn’t lead to weight loss, but that isn’t what your little experiment proved.

Losing weight is hard, but not complicated. As we all know, the hard part is giving up (or cutting back on) foods and drinks that we enjoy eating whenever we want. It’s difficult because we have to disrupt well-worn habits and deliberately do something else instead. But it’s not complicated once we understand why we are changing our habits. In order to lose weight we need to create an energy deficit, and the best way to do that is to increase our energy output (through increased activity) at the same time that we decrease our energy (calorie) intake.

That’s why skipping the muffins wasn’t enough. Maybe you ate more of something else or had less physical activity that week so didn’t create an energy deficit. It’s also why just swapping out sugar for a low-calorie sweetener may not always lead to weight loss. What matters is the total energy taken in versus total energy used up.

Research shows that working on both sides of the energy deficit equation is a more effective way to losing weight than just cutting calories or just increasing physical activity. It’s also a great way to reinforce the new healthy eating behaviors and exercise routines that will help us maintain our weight loss once we reach our goal.

Moving More throughout the Day

If you need to up your activity level to create your energy deficit you’ll be happy to know a gym isn’t the only place where we can burn calories. We can incorporate more activity into our daily routines by doing things like building a short walk into every coffee and meal break we take throughout our workday and parking on the outer rim of the lot and walking to the entrance instead of parking close to it. We can also get into the habit of standing instead of sitting whenever we’re talking on the phone and walking into the bank instead of using the drive up window. Every time we move we are helping to create that energy deficit!

Staying Active When the Days are Shorter and the Temperature Drops

If you find it more challenging to stay active in the colder, shorter days of winter, just think like a kid! I remember loving it when it snowed so we could build snow forts, have snowball fights, go sledding down the steepest driveways in the neighborhood and ice skate on the frozen ponds near my home. There’s no reason why we can’t still do those things as adults.

If snow isn’t part of your winter, but it is too cold and dark to exercise outdoors, you can still act like a kid and sign up for some fun stuff at the recreation center, like fencing, archery or judo. Maybe it’s time to take that introductory 6 week class at the gym in kickboxing, rock climbing or dance? And don’t forget the free workouts you can get at home using DVDs or YouTube videos or by doing a few laps inside the mall. Just make sure you crank up your speed as you walk past the food court!

I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

For more information about the role of low-calorie sweeteners in weight loss, read “Low Calorie Sweeteners and Weight Loss: There Are No Magic Bullets.”

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. 
References:

 

Ugly fruits and vegetables are still nutritious

Reducing Food Waste from Farm and Fork

This post was written as a guest blog for DiscoverMonsanto.com. You can read the original post here.

The first club I joined as a child was the “Clean Plate Club.” My parents, who had made their “Clean Plate Pledge” after World War II in an effort to conserve food at home to help feed our starving European allies, introduced my sisters and me to the club. As a child, I never understood how the uneaten food on my plate could feed someone in another part of the world, but the message stuck with me. I now know that cleaning my plate was not the answer. Buying crooked carrots was.*

As a registered dietitian nutritionist who has spent my career promoting the importance of fruits and vegetables in a nutritious diet, I was shocked to learn that more than half of all fruits and vegetables grown are never eaten. The perishable nature of fresh produce can explain some of this waste, but the rejection of the “funny-looking” ones has become a major contributor to the problem. As a result, I’ve become committed to educating people about the challenges of food waste and what we can do to find solutions.

Food loss
Food loss is an umbrella term used to describe all of the postharvest food that never gets consumed. Some of this loss is unavoidable due to spoilage or processing losses that occur before the food reaches the marketplace. Food waste is a component of food loss. It represents edible food discarded by growers, retailers and consumers that is avoidable. This includes everything from leaving crops in the field due to their odd appearance to letting carefully selected food rot in our refrigerators after we buy it.

If you shop at a farmer’s market or have your own vegetable garden or fruit tree, you know that all apples are not the same diameter and all zucchini are not the same length. Have you ever wondered why you don’t see that much variety in supermarket produce aisles? It’s a chicken or the egg conundrum.

Food waste
Since the beginning of food commerce, every transaction between a produce vendor and his or her customers has been a closely scrutinized exchange. Shoppers have always felt the need to hold, squeeze and smell the peaches to find the best of the bunch. Sellers have vouched for the sweetness of their fruit by offering a slice to taste and a hint for making the perfect pie. This exchange has allowed buyers to gain trust in their produce vendors (if the results were favorable) and the seller to secure a repeat customer.

I know how valuable this relationship is whenever I buy food in an international market. Shoppers with little knowledge of the best quality standards for selecting fruits and vegetables and no attentive vendor to help them with their selection resort to choosing the best-looking items in the bin. When retailers are left with “unaesthetic” pieces they cannot sell, they stop accepting them in their orders. Farmers left with these “misfits” must find a processor willing to pay enough for them to cover the cost of harvesting and transporting them, or simply plow them under.

The produce industry now uses specifications for many crops based on size, color and weight – not what is edible. These specifications not only appeal to the visual cues consumers are using to make a purchase, they also make it easier to pack melons, peppers or tomatoes into boxes that can be evenly stacked on pallets and loaded onto trains, trucks or planes for transport. And once those boxes are in warehouses, their uniform counts and weights expedite the processing of store orders and the successful execution of this week’s schematic display in the produce aisle

As a result, shoppers have become accustomed to seeing only perfect produce, while perfectly edible, but “disfigured,” fruits and vegetables go to waste. After learning more about the food waste issue, I became committed to finding a solution. It came during a visit to the Monsanto research farm in Woodland, California.

While participating in an in-field breeder chat with cucumber breeder Neschit Shetty, Ph.D., I learned that selective breeding was used to grow cucumbers so they would be just the right size to fit into pickle jars. That was an “ah-ha” moment for me! If plant scientists can do that, I realized they can help farmers grow fruits and vegetables that meet the appearance standards consumers now expect in addition to ensuring they’ll taste great, contribute to a balanced diet and be easy to use in our time-stressed lives. These seed breeders can also breed crops to satisfy the environmental concerns of farmers and logistical requirements of retailers so fewer of them are left in the fields.

For me, that is a win-win solution to one piece of the food waste problem. Another is to use smaller dishes so I can keep my credentials in the Clean Plate Club without eating more than I need!

*The popular baby carrots found on every crudité tray are nothing more than “misshapen” carrots that were cut into bite-sized pieces. This was the brainchild of an innovative carrot farmer who wasn’t able to sell his crooked and oversized carrots so decided to have them cut into a smaller size and shape instead of plowing them under. It turned out to be a very profitable idea since consumers are willing to pay more than double for these whittled carrots than the bigger ones they must cut themselves.

For the Love of Chocolate

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com. You can read the original post here.

What’s the most important “heartfelt” holiday celebrated in February? You get points for knowing Valentine’s Day is on the 14th, but did you also know February is American Heart Month? The goal throughout the month is to raise heart disease awareness, the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Then on the first Friday in February we celebrate National Wear Red Day where we not only get to make a fashion statement, but we can use it to remind women they may be at risk of heart disease and not know it.

I hope you agree February is the perfect time to show our love for the ones we love by helping them take steps to keep their hearts healthy!

Now for a harder question: How can we celebrate Valentine’s Day right smack dab in the middle of heart health awareness month and still be kind to our hearts? One simple answer is to have sweet celebrations, with less added sugars. Both the American Heart Association and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend cutting back on added sugars, and using SPLENDA® Sweetener Products is an easy way to do just that!

Recipes for Desserts and Drinks with Less Added Sugar

To help you get started I’ve collected some of my favorite chocolate dessert and drink recipes from the SPLENDA® collection – all with less added sugars. As you will see, using SPLENDA® Sweetener Products in place of full sugar isn’t the only way these recipes are made more heart healthy. They also use vegetable oils or soft spreads instead of butter and fat-free milk instead of whole to reduce the saturated fat content. By making those substitutions and using SPLENDA® Sweeteners instead of full sugar, the caloric content of the recipes is also lowered to help with weight management. And another way you can cut the calories of any dessert is to simply cut the serving size in half!

If you have questions about the health benefits of chocolate, please read my earlier blog about the Health Benefits of Chocolate.

Chocolaty and Sweet Recipes with Less Added Sugar

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups rolled oats

6 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons trans-free margarine, softened

1/2 cup SPLENDA® Sugar Blend

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Combine flour, oats, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In bowl of electric mixer, beat margarine and SPLENDA® Sugar Blend on medium speed 1 to 2 minutes, or until light and aerated. Beat in eggs for 1 minute, or until light. Beat in extracts. Stir in dry ingredients.
  4. Drop teaspoons full of dough onto lightly greased baking sheets and flatten each with the back of a fork dipped in water.
  5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in preheated oven, or just until puffed and no longer shiny on top. Cool on sheets 5 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

Nutrition Info

 Ingredients:

1 cup slivered almonds

1 1/4 cups SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons milk

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 egg white, lightly beaten

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with vegetable cooking spray; set aside.
  2. Bake almonds in a shallow pan for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring once, or until lightly toasted. Set aside.
  3. Beat SPLENDA®Granulated Sweetener, 3 eggs, and milk at medium speed of an electric mixer for 3 minutes or until mixture is smooth and pale yellow in color. Beat in extract.
  4. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; add to SPLENDA®Granulated Sweetener mixture and beat on low speed until a stiff dough forms. Stir in almonds. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly 4 or 5 times. Divide dough in half; shape each portion into an 8-inch log. Place logs on prepared cookie sheet and flatten to 3/4-inch thickness; brush with beaten egg white.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown; reduce oven temperature to 325° F. Remove from baking sheet to a wire rack; cool 10 minutes. Cut each log diagonally into 1/2-inch thick slices with a serrated knife, using a gentle sawing motion. Place slices on cookie sheets. Bake 10 minutes; turn cookies over, and bake 10 additional minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Nutrition Info

Ingredients:

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

2 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup SPLENDA® Sugar Blend

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate morsels

 Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300° F.
  2. Bake walnuts in a shallow pan, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until toasted. Set aside.
  3. Beat egg whites and vanilla at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy.
  4. Add SPLENDA®Sugar Blend, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form; stir in walnuts and chocolate morsels.
  5. Spoon rounded teaspoons of mixture onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes in preheated oven. Drop oven temperature to 200° F. Bake for one hour and 45 minutes. Cool slightly on cookie sheet. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight tin.

Nutrition Info

Ingredients:

1/4 cup water

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon grated orange peel

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

5 1/2 cups skim milk

2 cinnamon sticks

1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Whisk water, cocoa powder and SPLENDA®Granulated Sweetener in a saucepan. Slowly bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook until mixture thickens and resembles a syrup.
  2. Mix in remaining ingredients and heat. Do not boil. Serve hot.

Nutrition Info

Of course, eating a heart-healthy diet is important all year long if you want to reduce your risk for heart disease. Using a sugar substitute like one of the SPLENDA® Sweetener Products in place of full sugar can help you with the goals of reducing your added sugar and calorie intake and with achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

 

Weight loss tips based on the best research

Weight Loss Tips: Can SPLENDA® Sweeteners Help with My Weight Loss Goals?

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com. You can read the original post here.

If all you ever hear is “diets don’t work,” it’s easy to become discouraged about trying to lose weight. You even may have tried a few fad diets yourself and gained first-hand experience with their long-term ineffectiveness. But that doesn’t mean there is no hope in controlling your weight. What it may mean is you’re ready to forget about fad diets and turn to the research on what does work for weight management. Here’s a short recap of some of the latest findings that can help.

Weight Loss Tip: Replace Sugar with No-Calorie and Low-Calorie Sweeteners

Research published in the May 2015 Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reviewed 10 studies on the impact of replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with alternative lower calorie beverages, including water and diet drinks made with no-calorie and low-calorie sweeteners, such as SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. The researchers found this simple substitution was associated with lower calorie intake and lower weight gain in the long term. Based on the available evidence, the researchers concluded there is a potential benefit on body weight by substituting water and other low-calorie beverages for sugar-sweetened ones.

The above results were reinforced in a larger systematic review of the evidence from 90 animal studies and 245 human studies in adults and children on the effects of low-calorie sweeteners on energy intake and body weight. The findings were published in the International Journal of Obesity in November 2015 and found no evidence from the many short and long term studies in humans that “low energy sweeteners” increase energy intake or body weight. In fact, the review concluded that use of no-calorie sweeteners in place of added sugar, can help one to lose weight and that research should now be focused on how we can best use no-calorie sweeteners for the most effective weight loss strategies.

And just in case you’ve heard that consuming low-calorie sweeteners might backfire by increasing your preference for other sweet tasting foods and drinks, another important study put that myth to rest. In a paper published in Current Obesity Reports in March 2015, researchers analyzed the data from several types of studies to determine the effects of no- and low-calorie sweeteners on appetite for, and intake of, sweet tasting products. What they found was there was no consistent relationship to support a heightened appetite for sweet foods, and some studies actually showed no- and low-calorie sweeteners were associated with consumption of fewer sweets. In studies involving both children and adults the research showed the use of no- and low-calorie sweeteners can reduce the intake of caloric sweeteners and support weight loss efforts.

Weight Loss Tip: Text Your Way to Better Health

The Annual Review of Public Health in March 2015 published a review of dozens of studies that looked at the use of text messages to assist people in reaching their health goals. One of the first things the researchers found was there is a wide range of app features and types of messages available. Some apps allow for interaction, offer personalized messages or can be programmed to customize the frequency of message delivery. General messages offer advice, motivation, encouragement, tips and/or support to users on a regular basis. The researchers found the majority of the interventions were effective when addressing weight loss and some other health goals including smoking cessation and diabetes management. In short, it’s like having a support group in your smartphone.

Weight Loss Tip: Rearrange the Kitchen

The foods on the kitchen counter in your own home can have an impact on your weight, according to a study published in Health Education and Behavior in October 2015. The researchers found the more visible and convenient foods such as cookies, cereal and soft drinks are in the kitchen, the more likely household members will have a high Body Mass Index. On the other hand, the food most often found on kitchen counters in homes of people who are not overweight was fresh fruit. These results are consistent with other research done by this team that found office workers ate more candy when it was on their desks than when it was in the desk drawer or on a filing cabinet. According to lead researcher Brian Wansink, PhD., the visibility and convenience of food has a greater influence on how much we eat compared to hunger.

Putting the Latest Research on Weight Loss into Action in the New Year:

  •  Switch to no-calorie and low-calorie sweeteners, like SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, in place of sugar in your drinks and use diet beverages and water instead of full-calorie drinks.
  • Download a coaching app to your smartphone, tablet or computer to support and encourage you to reach your weight loss goals every day.
  • Remove high calorie, high fat snack foods from the kitchen counter (and office desk) and keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter.

I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.