Artificial sweeteners are not all the same

What Are Artificial Sweeteners? The Go-To Guide

This post originally appeared as a guest blog in SplendaLiving.com.

Like anyone else, I have favorite foods I can eat over and over again and never grow tired of them. Chunky peanut butter is on top of that list for me. But I also like to try unfamiliar foods and am always ready for the next new eating experience that will awaken my taste buds. Many of those experiences have been the result of seasoning combinations that transformed the taste of a familiar food into something original and unexpected, like the first time I had chicken mole. The sauce is made with chocolate, cinnamon and at least three types of peppers, and after one bite that chicken went from ordinary to extraordinary!

Given the limitless ways herbs and spices can be combined to create flavors, I think it’s fair to say our enjoyment of food is greatly enhanced by them all. I know I would not want to have to limit the number of spices on my shelf to just three or four of my favorites.

The availability of different spices to season our food provides a useful analogy to help answer the question, “What are artificial sweeteners?”, since just as all spices are not the same, all artificial sweeteners are not the same, either. Artificial sweeteners (also known as sugar substitutes, low-calorie sweeteners, or high intensity sweeteners) come from different sources, have different sweetening powers compared to sugar and have different properties depending on what foods or beverages they are added to. Recognizing the different features of these sweeteners makes it much easier to understand what they are and how you can use them, which is also true for peppermint and paprika!

In the Go-To Guide below you will find four artificial sweeteners, which are approved for use in the U.S. and available to consumers. Information is provided on their popular brand names, their sweetness intensity compared to sugar, how each sweetener is made, the types of products they’re most often found in, and some of the most popular foods and beverages in which you can find them. When reading the ingredient list on food labels you may notice that more than one artificial sweetener is used in your favorite no- and low-calorie foods and beverages. That is because just like spices, using them in combination with one another provides some foods with the best taste profile.

Another feature artificial sweeteners share with most spices is that a little bit goes a long way. Due to their intense sweetening power (compared to sugar), the amounts needed to achieve the same sweetness you would get if using sugar is very, very small. And since they have few or no calories and don’t raise blood glucose levels or insulin requirements, they can be a helpful tool for anyone trying to manage their weight or diabetes.

Artificial sweeteners reference chart

Go-To Guide on Artificial Sweeteners

You may also consult the Comparison Chart in one of my earlier blogs for more information about some of these sweeteners.

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.

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:

U.S. Food and Drug AdministrationAdditional Information about High-Intensity Sweeteners Permitted for use in Food in the United States

 

Calorie Control Council. Sugar Substitutes.

 

Dozens of different sugar substitutes are used to sweeten our food

A Sweetener by Any Other Name is Just as Sweet

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

The ingredients we use to sweeten our foods and beverages come from a wide variety of sources and have many different features and names.  In some cases, the only thing they have in common is that they all taste sweet! Some are ingredients found on our pantry shelves while others are already in the food and drinks we consume. Some have names we cannot easily pronounce while others are words we use in our everyday speech. And the list goes on.

There are so many terms used to describe the sweeteners available to us that it’s easy to become misled into believing some are better than others. We have all these terms because the ones used by the scientists who study sweeteners are different from those used by the food safety agencies that approve and regulate their use. And the terms used by health professionals who counsel people about the role of sweeteners in the diet differ from the ones used by the companies that sell them to us.

Given the heightened awareness of “added sugars” in our diets with the release of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the expected appearance of “added sugars” on the revised Nutrition Facts label due later this year, it seems like a good time to review just what we mean when talking about the sweeteners we consume.

Calories Not Nutrients

The main way all sweeteners can be classified is by whether or not they contain calories. The scientific terms used to describe this distinction are “nutritive” sweeteners, which contain calories, and “non-nutritive” sweeteners, which do not.

Terms for Non-nutritive Sweeteners

This list includes the terms permitted by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approved food additives and ingredients, as well as those that are Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS). This list also includes other terms that have crept into common usage but are not clearly defined by any official source.

  • Alternate or Alternative sweetener – any sweetener used to replace sugar, like aspartame; may include nutritive sweeteners, such as honey and corn syrup
  • Artificial sweetener – derived from plant-based sources or manmade, such as acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), advantame, aspartame, cyclamate, neotame, saccharin, sucralose
  • High-intensity sweetener – hundreds of time sweeter than sugar and therefore used in very small amounts, such as acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), advantame, aspartame, monk fruit extract (luo han guo), neotame, saccharin, stevia (rebaudioside A), sucralose
  • Intense sweetener – same as high-intensity sweetener
  • Low-calorie sweetener –used in such small amounts the caloric value is minimal, such as allulose and aspartame; can be used to describe a no-calorie sweetener combined with a bulking agent that has calories
  • Natural sweetener –any sweetener derived from plant-based sources; non-nutritive options include  stevia (Rebaudioside A), monk fruit extract (luo han guo), and the polyol erythritol
  • No-calorie sweetener –is not metabolized by the body and passes through it unchanged, such as acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), advantame, monk fruit extract (luo han guo) , neotame, saccharin, stevia (Rebaudioside A), sucralose
  • Noncaloric sweetener – same a no-calorie sweetener
  • Polyol –carbohydrates that are not sugars, but have the taste and texture of sugar with less than half the calories, such as D-Tagatose, erythritol, hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH) isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, trehalose, xylitol
  • Reduced-calorie sweetener –contain less than 4 calories per gram, like polyols, or products that are a combination of nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners
  • Sugar alcohol – same as polyol
  • Sugar replacer – same as alternate sweeteners, artificial sweetener and sugar substitute
  • Sugar substitute – same as alternate sweetener, artificial sweetener and sugar replacer; commonly refers to non-nutritive sweeteners in table-top packets
  • Synthetic sweetener –not derived from plant-based sources, such as acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), advantame, aspartame, cyclamate, neotame, saccharin
  • Zero calorie sweetener – same as no-calorie sweetener

Terms for Nutritive Sweeteners or “Added Sugars”

The terms in bold type are recognized by the Food and Drug Administration as ingredient names. The others also sweeten our foods and beverages and appear on food labels, but are not recognized by the FDA as ingredient names for “added sugars.”

  • Agave nectar
  • Anhydrous dextrose
  • Beet sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Cane juice
  • Cane sugar
  • Carob syrup
  • Coconut sugar
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Crystal dextrose
  • Crystalline fructose
  • Date sugar
  • Dehydrated cane juice
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Evaporated corn sweetener
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Fruit nectar
  • Glucose
  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Liquid fructose
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Nectars (e.g. peach nectar, pear nectar)
  • Pancake syrup
  • Raw sugar
  • Refiner’s syrup
  • Rice sugar or syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Sugar
  • Sugar cane juice
  • Sorghum syrup
  • Table sugar
  • Turbinado
  • White granulated sugar

You may want to print out this list and keep it in a handy place so you won’t be confused the next time you’re reading a food label.

 

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.

 

Added sugars can be replaced by low calorie sweeteners

Lowering Added Sugar in Your Meals

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

I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, 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.

There’s so much in the news these days about the dangers of eating too much sugar I find myself tuning out the frightening warnings so I can enjoy my favorite gelato in peace. If you’ve stopped listening to those broadcasts, too, you’ll be happy to know you don’t have to stick to a sugar-free diet for it to be a healthy one.

What those reports about high added sugar diets fail to mention is that the people who consume them often have other dietary habits that contribute to poor health, like not eating enough fruits and vegetables or using too much salt. But research on people who eat well-balanced meals based on plant foods and healthy fats and oils, such as the Mediterranean Diet or DASH Eating Plan, shows us you can include some added sugar as part of a happy, healthy lifestyle!

That should be good news for anyone, like me, who doesn’t think they could survive on a diet with no added sugar. Instead, do as I do and strive to use less added sugar while choosing foods built on the principles of good nutrition. Let me explain how.

Naturally-Occurring Sugars Differ from Added Sugar 

Sugar is naturally found in fruits, vegetables, grains and milk products. It is what makes a fresh peach taste so sweet and why onions caramelize when heated. The foods these naturally occurring sugars are found in are an important source of key nutrients we need every day.

Many foods and beverages also have sugar and other sweeteners added to them to make them taste sweet or to perform other functions. Lowering the amount of these added sugars is the goal. The easiest way to know if added sugars are in the foods you buy is to check the ingredient list for any of these terms.

Recommendations for reducing the added sugars you consume start by knowing how much sugar you can eat. The amount can vary from 4 to 12 teaspoons of sugar a day for caloric intakes of 1000 to 2200 a day based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), although these recommendations may change with the release of the 2015 DGA. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends limiting added sugars to less than 10% of total calories, which would be 6 – 14 teaspoons a day for caloric intakes of 1000 – 2200/day.

Unfortunately, we cannot tell from reading a food label how much added sugar is in a serving of a food or beverage. That may change when food labels are redesigned, but until then, here are three simple tips that can help you follow a diet with less added sugar.

Tips to Finding Foods and Beverages with Less Added Sugar

  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.

And if you’re confused by all the sugar claims you see on food labels, be sure to read my blog about how to read food labels.
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.

 

Claims on food labels do always mean what you think

Sugar Free Food Labels – What Do They Mean?

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

I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, 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.

Reading food labels provides us with valuable information that can make it easier to the find products that best fit our nutritional needs. They can also be confusing.

For example, did you know the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has definitions for “low sodium,” “low fat,” “low calorie,” “low cholesterol,” “sugar-free” and “lower sugar” – claims which appear on food labels? And did you know the claims “sugar free” and “no added sugar” don’t mean the same thing?

If you’re trying to control the amount of sugar in your diet, understanding what the different claims for sugar on food labels mean can help make your shopping trips less confusing – and that’s sweet!

How to Read Food Labels: First Things First

When reading food labels, the first thing you need to know is how the FDA defines the word “sugars.” When found on a food label it refers to all “one-and two-unit” sugars used in food. This includes white and brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey and many other ingredients that have one or two sugar units in their structure. The sugars found in fruit, fruit juice and milk products also fall under this definition of sugar, however, low calorie sweeteners such as SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener (sucralose) the sweetening ingredient in SPLENDA® Sweetener Products, and polyols (sugar alcohols), do not.

Then there’s the word “free.” Even when products make the claim “sugar free,” “zero sugar,” “no sugar,” “sugarless” and “without sugar” they can have a small amount of sugar. However, this amount (less than 0.5 grams per serving), is so small that it represents an amount of calories and carbohydrates that would be expected to have no meaningful effect in usual meal planning.

This brings us to the claims “no added sugar,” “without added sugar” and “no sugar added.” They are allowed on foods that replace those which normally contain added sugars and have not had sugar or any other ingredient containing sugar added during processing. These foods differ from those with “sugar free” claims because they may contain naturally occurring sources of sugar, like a “no added sugar” ice cream containing lactose from the milk. They also can be sweetened with low calorie sweeteners.

How to Read Food Labels: What Sugar Free Foods Are Not

Now that you know what “sugar” and “free” mean in food labeling you need to know what those terms don’t mean. The most important distinction is “sugar free” does not mean “carbohydrate free.” While it’s true all sugars are carbohydrates, all carbohydrates are not sugars. Comparing the carbohydrate content on the Nutrition Facts panel of similar products where one makes a “sugar free” claim and the other does not will let you see if there really is much difference.

“Sugar free” and “no added sugar” claims also do not always mean “calorie free.” In fact, products carrying those claims must state “not a low calorie food” or “not for weight control” unless they meet the criteria for a low or reduced calorie food.

How to Read Food Labels: Sweetening Your Lower Sugar Diet

Once you’ve figured out what the best products are for you, you can add a little sweetness using one of the many SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener Products available, such as packets for your coffee and iced tea and the granulated form ideal for cooking and baking. If you want to add a little sugar, the white and brown SPLENDA® Sugar Blends contain a mix of sugar and sucralose for recipes where a little of both is best. You can find more ways to use all of these SPLENDA® Products in my earlier blog, Cutting Calories Every Day with SPLENDA® Sweetener Products.

Life can be sweet if you know how to read the labels!
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.

 

Low-calorie sweeteners can be used to replace many of the added sugars in your diet

Where is the Hidden Sugar in Your Meals? How to Identify the Calorie Culprits

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

I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, 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.

Do you believe in magic? Some people apparently do if they think they can cancel out all the excess calories and added sugars in their meals by simply using a low calorie sweetener. But no sleight of hand can make that happen!

If you’ve ever seen someone order a diet soda with a bacon cheeseburger and large order of fries you know what I’m talking about. The truth is they don’t need a magician they need a mathematician because the numbers just don’t add up right.

There is no doubt the diet drink helps to reduce their caloric intake. It can drop the beverage calories by 150 to 250 calories depending on the size of the drink, but the rest of that meal still clocks in at 800-1000 calories. Skipping the bacon and getting a small order of fries and a salad would help bring the meal into range with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. So, along with the diet drink, they could cut out about half of the total calories compared to the higher-calorie version of this meal.

Identifying Calorie Culprits

A key benefit to using low-calorie sweeteners, like SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, in place of sugar is the way they can lower the calorie content of what we eat and drink – but that only applies to the added sugars they replace. All of the other sources of calories and carbohydrates in our meals stay the same.

For example, this recipe for Velvet Pound Cake calls for SPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend instead of full-calorie brown sugar. The SPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend has half the calories of full-calorie brown sugar, but the butter, cream cheese, flour, eggs, and the remaining sugar still contribute significant calories in this dessert.

Some people ask, “Then why bother using a sugar substitute?” That’s a question I’m always happy to answer because it gives me a chance to remind them that to achieve and maintain a healthy weight we must keep track of all sources of calories in our diets, not just those from sugar. You can learn more about that here. And research on people who have successfully lost weight and kept it off has found low-calorie sweeteners and products made with them were a helpful tool in their initial weight loss and continue to be a strategy that keeps them on track.

Replacing Hidden Sugar

Another benefit of low-calorie sweeteners is they can help us reduce the amount of added sugar in our diets. Every time we use a packet of SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener in a cup of coffee or glass of iced tea we cancel out about 8 grams of sugar, which is 28 calories less than what we would have consumed if we used sugar.

But what about the hidden sugar in foods?

I consider “hidden sugars” to be any caloric sweetener added to a food or drink that doesn’t really make it taste sweet, so we may not realize it’s there. No one should be surprised there’s added sugar in ice cream, but did you know the dressing used on coleslaw often contains sugar? The same is true for marinara sauce, General Tso Chicken and barbecue sauce.

A good way to reduce your intake of these hidden sugars is to read ingredient lists carefully to identify all sources of added sugars, then look for products that avoid them or use a sugar substitute instead. You can also make your own dressings, sauces and marinades to eliminate many of these sources of added sugars in your diet.

When you understand the real benefits of low-calorie sweeteners, you don’t need to believe in magic to have a healthy diet!

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.

Learn what foods can cause diarrhea due to food allergy or intolerance.

Is Your Diarrhea a Sign of a Food Allergy?

DIARRHEA IS A COMMON SYMPTOM OF FOOD ALLERGY AND FOOD INTOLERANCE

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

If you experience occasional diarrhea, it could be caused by a food allergy or food intolerance. Most people connect food poisoning with diarrhea, but that is not always the case.

A true food allergy is an abnormal response to a food triggered by the immune system. Research shows that around 3 to 4 percent of people have food allergies. The first sign of symptoms may be within minutes of coming into contact with the problem food – meaning you may have simply touched it, not consumed it – or several hours later.

If you have a true food allergy will cause a reaction every time the food is consumed. The diagnosis may require a combination of lab tests, physical exam, thorough diet history and a controlled food challenge.

These eight foods account for 90 per cent of all food allergic reactions.

  1. Milk – not the same as lactose intolerance, includes milk casein and whey
  2. Eggs – includes both the white and yolk
  3. Peanut – is a legume, not a true nut
  4. Tree nuts – includes but not limited to walnut, almond, hazelnut, coconut, cashew, pistachio, Brazil nuts
  5. Finfish – such as salmon, tuna, halibut
  6. Shellfish – such as shrimp, crabs, lobster
  7. Soy –includes soy milk, flour, oil, and soybeans
  8. Wheat – not the same as gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley

The most common symptoms of a food allergy are:

  • Gastrointestinal: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Skin: Rash, itchiness, swelling
  • Respiratory: Congestion, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, wheezing
  • Other: Anaphylaxis, a swelling of the throat and difficulty breathing that can be fatal

Food intolerances can also result in diarrhea. They are triggered by the inability to completely break down or digest a food. Small amounts of a suspect food may be tolerated without difficulty, while larger amounts will bring on symptoms. It may take some trial and error testing to determine if you have a food intolerance.

Common food intolerances:

  • Sugars: lactose in milk, fructose in fruit, honey and high fructose corn syrup
  • Gluten: protein found in wheat, rye, barley and some other grains
  • Preservatives: sulfites commonly used in wine and dried fruit, monosodium glutamate (MSG) a flavor enhancer

The same types of symptoms can occur with a food intolerance as those experienced with a food allergy. The key is to figure out which food(s) are responsible for your symptoms and how much, if any, you can tolerate if you’re unwilling to give up the food.

You can find more information from The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN)

how can you tell what products are really natural?

What Does “Natural” Mean?

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

I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, 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.

What one word do you think sells the most food in the U.S. when used on a food label? Here’s a hint: It’s not organic, healthy or protein. If you guessed “natural” you are correct! The food industry sold nearly $41 billion worth of food last year labeled with the word natural. Only claims about fat content were higher, but more terms were included in that category.

What exactly does “natural” mean when we see it on a food label? The dictionary says it means “existing in nature” or “not man-made,” but I see it printed across brightly colored boxes, bags and cans of food in the middle of the store containing products that you’ll never see “growing spontaneously, without being planted or tended by human hands,” which is another definition of natural!

As it turns out, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not come up with an official definition for what “natural” means other than objecting to its use on foods with “added colors, artificial flavors and synthetic substances.” That is why you can find it on so many foods that are highly processed and full of salt, sugar and fat – they all make the grade as “natural” ingredients.

Are Food Additives Natural?

Another term whose meaning is a bit ambiguous is “food additive.” Most people have a negative impression of the term when they hear it or believe a food is not “natural” if it contains food additives, but that simply isn’t true.

The FDA considers any substance that becomes a part of a food during processing or the making of the food to be a food additive. These substances can be derived from animal, vegetable, or manmade sources. For example, the vitamin D added to milk and vinegar used to pickle cucumbers are food additives. So are any ingredients used to prevent spoilage, maintain the desired consistency, or improve the appearance of a food. If you want to see them all, there are over 3000 food additives listed in the database directory Everything Added to Food in the United States (EAFUS) on FDA.gov.

Are Low-Calorie Sweeteners Food Additives?

The FDA uses the terms “high-intensity sweeteners” and “nonnutritive sweeteners” for what I call low-calorie sweeteners and others commonly refer to as sugar substitutes. No matter what you call them, the FDA either categorizes them as food additives or generally recognized as safe (GRAS) ingredients.

Of the eight low-calorie sweeteners currently on the market in the U.S., only stevia and monk fruit extract are GRAS, while acesulfame potassium, advantame, neotame, saccharin and sucralose are food additives.

Either way, all of these ingredients must satisfy FDA’s rigorous safety standards to become part of our diets. You can find a helpful infographic illustrating how the two approval processes work here.

If you’d like to know more about how ingredients like sucralose (the sweetening ingredient in SPLENDA®Sweeteners) are approved, be sure to check my other posts on the subject: How are Low-Calorie Sweetener Ingredients Approved? and Is SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener (Sucralose) Safe? Authorities We Can Trust.

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.

For more information, visit:

Having too many food choices can result in overeating if we make the wrong decisions in the grocery store

Can Too Many Food Choices Lead to Obesity?

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the original blog here.

HAVING TOO MANY FOOD CHOICES CAN RESULT IN OVEREATING IF WE MAKE THE WRONG DECISIONS IN THE GROCERY STORE

The average grocery store in the U.S. now has up to 60,000 different items in stock. That’s good news if you’ve always wanted a mango chipotle salad dressing, but for most of us that’s just too many food choices. And research shows that choice overload may actually be contributing to the obesity epidemic.

I like grocery shopping since I’m in the food and nutrition business. But with the expanding number of products for sale, it now takes me a lot longer to do it. Supermarkets are where food manufacturers showcase their latest and greatest products, so everything that fills the shelves is of interest to me. How else could I possibly know there are low sodium olives and braised beef flavor with sweet potato dog treats?

But for most people, food shopping is a chore – a dreaded chore. The more people you have to feed, the more dreaded it is because the pantry never remains stocked for very long. And each trip back to the store involves another round of decision-making as you take in all those choices.

A simple shopping list is not enough to help you win the battle against too many food choices.

Food Choice and Hunger

No matter how much you may like macaroni and cheese, it would soon lose its appeal if you had to eat it over and over again (toddlers excluded). Research shows that appetite declines, regardless of physicalhunger, when limited to eating the same food day after day. This loss of interest in food is also seen in people who have lost their sense of taste.

The other side of that coin is called hedonic hunger. That is when you eat more than you physically need because you can move from one food to another to get a new taste sensation. Our enjoyment of food over-rides our sensation of satiety. That’s what happens every time we order dessert immediately after a meal.

When food shopping, we are not literally consuming everything we put into our carts, but we are “setting the table” for what we might consume once we get that food home. How well we make those decisions can contribute to overeating.

Overchoice and Overeating

Careless Decisions: Overwhelmed by having to make so many decisions you grow mentally tired of evaluating all the choices. To simplify the process you may ignore important information (price, nutrient content, health claims), make an impulsive decision or don’t choose at all, even if it’s something you really needed. That is how you leave the store with a familiar brand of cereal instead of the high fiber, low sugar one you meant to buy.

Incomplete Decisions: You make a decision but are not satisfied with it because you don’t know if you saw every possible choice, and fear there may have been something better. Your enjoyment of that food is diminished by a feeling of uncertainty about what you may have missed and you are likely to eat more of it trying to become satisfied. That is how you can polish off a half-gallon of low fat ice cream in a few days so you can go back to look for more options.

Irrational Decisions: The availability of so many tempting choices can over-ride your rational, decision-making process and make it easier to select foods for other reasons, such as to reward yourself or satisfy emotional needs. That is how you arrive home with so many items that were not on your shopping list.

To avoid poor decisions when food shopping, my advice is to:

  • always have a list
  • never shop when hungry
  • pay in cash

What works for you?

save cash by cutting calories

How Counting Calories is Like Saving Money

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

I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, 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.

How much money would you be willing to lose in order to avoid gaining 20 pounds? According to a survey of Consumer Attitudes Towards Food Safety, Nutrition & Health, more than half of Americans (56%) “somewhat” or “strongly” agreed with the statement, “I would rather lose $1,000 than gain 20 pounds.”

Fortunately, there is no one coming to collect this $50 a pound if you happen to gain a few, but there is a way to make a connection to money here. Just think about what it costs to buy larger clothes and pay for a weight loss program if you do gain weight. Now consider the fact that by not gaining weight you can save all that money. And when you include the savings from the improved health you’ll have by not gaining weight, your savings can quickly add up to much more than $1000!

The Dollars and Cents of Counting Calories

An easy way to put this concept to work is to view your Daily Caloric Allowance like a financial payment for a job you are doing. Getting the most out of your calories (or money) is the goal, without exceeding your allotted budget. That means you must shop around for good deals and plan ahead so you can afford what you want while still being able to balance your calorie (or bank) account at the end of the week.

The good news is there are many lower calorie foods and beverages available to help you do just that. Products that are labeled fat-free, low-fat and reduced-fat are almost always lower in calories than their full-fat versions (check the Nutrition Facts to be sure). Those labeled sugar-free are often made with a low-calorie sweetener, such as SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, in place of sugar, and that saves you calories, too.

Just check the Nutrition Facts Label and compare the caloric content and serving size of the foods you buy to similar items in order to see how you can save calories while controlling your weight.

Here’s a couple of excellent sources explaining how to interpret the Nutrition Facts Panel:

Here’s an example of how you can save almost 750 calories in this 2000 calorie menu:

Calories Saved SPLENDALiving(3)

Note: Calorie savings are approximate, based on standard serving sizes and an average of similar products. They are not only the result of the SPLENDA® Sweetener substitution for sugar; other ingredients may provide calorie savings as well.

 

 

Some product labeling claims are not supported by the nutrition facts on foods

Nutrition Facts on Foods & Product Label Claims

SOME PRODUCT LABELING CLAIMS ARE NOT SUPPORTED BY THE NUTRITION FACTS ON FOODS

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. This site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can view it here.

We’ve all seen the nutrition facts on foods. The official looking panel has been part of the product label since 1994 and lets us know how much of this or that nutrient is in a serving of that food. The standardized format lends a certain credibility to the information it contains.

But what about the claims made on the front of the package and in food ads?

Stretching the Truth in Product Labeling Claims

When the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) was passed by Congress in 1990, it included regulations for the nutrient content claims that can appear on food labels. These regulations cover the words and phrases that be used to describe the nutrient content, whereas the Nutrition Facts panel contains the actual amounts.

Did you know a food can’t claim it’s “high” or “low” in a nutrient unless it meets strict definitions set by the government for use of those terms? Same for “light,” “low,” and “lean.” The nutrient content claim regulations for what can be said on a food label also include the terms “good source of,” “excellent source of,” “contains,” ‘provides,” “more,” “rich in,” “reduced” and “free.”

Each of those words or phrases means a serving of the food has a certain amount of the nutrient it’s being used to describe. For example, “low fat” means there are 3 grams or less of fat in a serving while ”rich in calcium” means it contains 20 percent or more of the Daily Value for calcium.

As thorough as these regulations seem, copy writers have found a way around them. Some descriptive language I came across while reading the circular from a national grocery chain today made that clear. If you see any of these while shopping, be sure to check the nutrition facts on the food label to find out what’s really in there.

Unregulated Nutrient Content Terms on Product Labeling

  • packed with
  • jam-packed with
  • bursting with
  • loaded with
  • full of
  • chock-full of
  • stuffed with
  • best source of
  • greatest source of
  • filled with
  • brimming with
  • abundant source of
  • plentiful

Also worth reading: Imagine Food Shopping Without Nutrition Facts on Food Labels