Reducing food waste starts at home

Reducing Food Waste with Common Kitchen Utensils

I grew up with parents and grandparents who lived through The Great Depression, so I learned some valuable lessons about frugality by the way they lived their lives. Lessons like saving for the things you want rather than buying on credit, following a household budget so you can pay your bills on time, and never wasting anything, including the electricity to power a light left on in a room after you’ve left, the cold air in the refrigerator that escapes when the door is left open too long, and the crumbs in the bottom of a box of corn flakes that can be used in the meatloaf. The lessons about not wasting edible, usable food have had the most lasting impression on me.

When I was a college student on a very limited budget, my frugal food skills helped fill many gaps in my diet, like freezing the milk in my fridge in ice cube trays before leaving for extended breaks so I could thaw it and use it in cooking when I returned. Then once I graduated, got a job and had a full pantry and bank account, I still couldn’t bear to toss out a mangled crust of bread. Instead, I’d freeze it with other random pieces to be turned into crumbs the next time I need some. And I can’t stop myself from checking the misshapen fruits and vegetables in the discounted bin at the grocery store. If more of us would buy them it would go a long way to reducing the 36 million tons of edible food that get tossed out every year in the United States.

If it shocks you as much as it does me that so much food in this country is wasted while so many people do not have enough to eat, you do not have to wait for new government regulations to make a difference. There is plenty each of us can do right in our own homes to make sure we always use what we have and only buy what we need to avoid wasting food.  This Infographic from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics tells the whole story and you can visit eatright.org for more information on healthful eating or to find a registered dietitian nutritionist.

To help get you started, here are my top tips for getting every last bit of goodness out of the food I buy using some common household utensils.

Rubber Spatulas – They come in assorted sizes, shapes and handle lengths to make it easy to scrape the insides of jars, cans, bottles and other food containers. Without one you could be throwing out 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise in every quart jar and a teaspoon of tomato paste in every 6 ounce can.

Ice Cube Trays – This is the perfect way to save and freeze any extra stock, sauce, or gravy you have, or the milk before going on vacation. Just pop the cubes out once frozen and store in a labeled zip-top bag. Trays with lids help prevent spills and the transfer of odors from other foods. Ice cube trays can also be used to freeze fresh herbs that have been cleaned, trimmed and chopped and fruit juices, pulp or puree that can be used in smoothies.

Salad Spinner – You may not have to toss that limp looking lettuce, just give it a rinse in cold water and a spin to bring it back to life.  If it doesn’t revive enough for salad, chop it and add to a soup or smoothie. Spinning washed salad greens, herbs, and berries before storing in the refrigerator also helps to keep them fresh longer by removing excess water.

Sharp Paring Knife – By cutting away the blemished part of many types of produce (potato, bell pepper, carrot, apple, pear, winter squash) you can eat or cook  the remaining portion without risk. Removing all around the moldy edge on a piece of hard cheese or hard salami is also a way to save the rest.

Citrus Zester or Microplane There’s plenty of flavor to be salvaged from those lemon, lime and orange rinds, so be sure to wash and rinse them and collect what you want before cutting the fruit for other uses.  You can put grated zest, strips or strings in a labeled jar or zip-top bag in the freezer to have on hand when a recipe calls for it.

BONUS TIPS:

Add water, vinegar or wine to near-empty mustard and catsup containers, close cap tightly, shake, and then add to soups, sauces, or dressings.

Add milk to near-empty containers of peanut butter, honey, molasses, jam, jelly, preserves, chocolate syrup, pancake syrup, or maple syrup,  close cap tightly, shake and drink or add to a smoothie.

Read more in Reducing Food Waste from Farm to Fork.

Eating low energy density foods can keep you satisfied longer

Strategies to Ward Off Hunger While Trying to Lose Weight

This post originally appeared on SplendaLiving.com.

If you’re looking ahead to the New Year and dreading the thought of starting another weight loss resolution that will leave you feeling hungry all the time, you may want to check out the concept of “Volumetrics”. It’s all about feeling full while trying to lose weight. Imagine being satisfied at the end of each meal, and between meals, with no hunger pangs to derail your commitment. Now that’s a diet you can stick to for life!

Volumetrics was developed by Barbara Rolls, Ph.D., Professor of Nutrition at Pennsylvania State University. Based on her research on meal plans made up of different types and amounts of foods, she found that eating more foods with “low energy density,” rather than ones with a “high energy density,” can help you lose weight without feeling hungry.

What is Energy Density?

The energy density of a food is the number of calories (“energy”) in a certain amount of that food. Foods with a high energy density have more calories by weight than foods with a low energy density. Since we tend to eat the same amount of food each day, Dr. Rolls proved that by choosing foods with a lower energy density we could eat the same volume of food and lose weight without feeling deprived.

The biggest difference between the foods with high energy density compared to those with low energy density is their water content. Water has no calories, but does add weight to foods, so foods that are mostly water, like fruits and vegetables, have relatively low energy density. For example, 16 ounces of carrots have roughly the same number of calories as one ounce of peanuts; however, eating 4 large carrots weighing one pound is more filling than eating 28 peanuts that weight one ounce.

Another way to see how water content affects energy density is by comparing fresh fruit to dried fruit. If you have a dish with 20 fresh seedless grapes in it, they will weigh about 100 grams and contain 70 calories. When the water is removed from those grapes to make raisins they will shrink in weight to just 8 grams, and fill less than one tablespoon, but still contain 70 calories.

Adding more fruits and vegetables or liquids to recipes for soups, stews and casseroles is a way to make those dishes have a lower energy density, along with reducing the amount of fat they contain. When you do that, if you eat the same portion you are used to having, it will provide fewer calories yet leave you feeling satisfied.

High Energy Dense Foods

Foods high in fat tend to be the most energy dense, regardless of whether the fat is naturally occurring – as it is in certain cuts of meat, nuts and regular cheeses – or is added during preparation. I always like to remind my clients that one slice of bread with a tablespoon of butter has about the same number of calories as two slices of the bread without the butter. The question they have to answer is, “Which one will fill you up more?”

The key to including these higher fat/high energy dense foods in your Volumetrics diet is to combine smaller portions of them with low energy dense foods. Good examples are blending chopped mushrooms into your ground beef for burgers, sprinkling toasted nuts on a salad rather than eating them out of hand, and pairing an ounce of cheddar cheese with an apple instead of a stack of crackers.

What about Beverages?

Most beverages are more than 90 percent water so they have low energy density, even if they are relatively high in calories. However, Dr. Rolls’ research found that drinking more beverages, even plain water, does not provide the same satiety as eating low energy dense foods. The main reason to include plenty of water and low calorie beverages in your plan, like those sweetened with SPLENDA® Sweeteners, is to satisfy your thirst so you don’t confuse it with hunger. And it’s a valuable way to avoid adding unwanted calories from higher caloric drinks.

Here’s wishing you a very healthy and happy 2017!

 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:

National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Low-Energy-Dense Foods and Weight Management: Cutting Calories While Controlling Hunger

U.S. News and World Report Best Diets Ranking 2016. Volumetrics Diet

 

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.

Giving yourself permission to cheat when on a diet can result in emotional sabotage

Are Cheat Days a Helpful Diet Strategy?

GIVING YOURSELF PERMISSION TO CHEAT WHEN ON A DIET CAN RESULT IN EMOTIONAL SABOTAGE

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.

Cheating has been a hot topic in the diet world lately. Discussions about whether it’s okay to have a “cheat day,” “cheat meal,” or even a “cheat food’ when trying to lose weight or follow a healthy eating plan have been taking place throughout all my social networks.

Now I’m ready to add my two cents. And the arrival of both Easter and Passover this weekend – both challenging food holidays for dieters – suggest there couldn’t be a better time to address this moral dilemma.

The Power of Words

If you have followed the pink slime stories in the news over the past few months then you have witnessed first-hand the power of words. Public outrage over those two words have put a meat company out of business, thousands of people out of work, and left stores and consumers scrambling to find an alternate source of ground beef.

Do you think the reaction would have been the same if the product in question had been referred to in all those news stores as “boneless lean beef trimmings,” its technically correct name? I don’t.

Cheating is also a powerful word. It immediately brings to mind something bad, like marital infidelity, or a sports scandal, or a kid taking answers off another kid’s test. There is simply no right way to cheat.

Anyone on the path of self-improvement cannot be helped by this word. Even if you give yourself permission to cheat as part of your diet strategy, you increase the likelihood you will be emotionally sabotaged by it and fall off the wagon completely. Here’s how:

Cheating implies a failure of moral judgment, so you will feel you are not worthy of reaching your goal. Cheating means you broke the rules, so you can never win.

Cheating suggests a weakness of character, so it is your fate to be fat (or have clogged arteries or whatever other health issue you’re trying to fix).

Practice Being Normal

Since you cannot be perfect in this life, it helps to have a back-up plan. That’s why I recommend to people that they “practice being normal” as an alternative to the whole idea of needing to cheat on a diet.

Being normal means you’ll make some mistakes along the way to your better self (and size), but you can learn from them and move on. For example, you might realize you don’t make careless food choices when you’ve gotten enough sleep or you don’t over eat when you don’t skip meals. You may even discover you can eat a handful of jelly beans just because you want to.

The good news is it doesn’t mean you’ve cheated, it just means you’re normal.

Are you ready to banish cheating from your diet for good?

Low calorie sweeteners don't produce food cravings

Do Regular Consumers of Low-Calorie Sweeteners Have More Sweet Cravings?

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.

It’s very easy to study what tastes good to an individual. All you have to do is give the person a sample of a food or drink and observe. The person’s expression often tells you instantly whether it’s a thumb up or thumb down response!

But what if you want to know whether something is going to taste good to a large number of people? That’s not so easy.

Studies on taste preferences in children and adults show there are wide interpersonal differences in what we like. Some of that is due to genetic factors that determine the number and type of taste receptors in our mouths. Taste preferences are also affected by our age, race and gender. But another big influence is what we learn about different foods before we take the first bite.

Think back to when you had your first sip of black coffee. It probably tasted quite bitter. But if everyone around you kept saying how good it was you may have learned to like it, even if it needed some cream and sugar to go down! That’s just one example of how our experiences help shape our taste preferences.

Does Eating Sweets Make Us Crave Them?

The preference for sweetness is considered a universal trait, but there are also large variations in how much of that taste each of us likes. That’s why some people look at the dessert menu before ordering their meal in a restaurant and others pass on dessert without even peeking at the choices.

There are even people who say they crave sweets. It’s possible they have a higher tolerance for the taste of sweet foods than the rest of us, or they may have learned to associate sweet tastes with other positive feelings. Either way, it is an individual response, just like the preference for black coffee. You can read more about sweet cravings here.

One question I am often asked about sweet cravings is whether the use of low calorie sweeteners, like those found in SPLENDA® Sweetener Products, can trigger such cravings since they are considered “high-intensity sweeteners.” I’ve explained why that is not the case in a previous blog, but new research provides further evidence that low-calorie sweeteners do not overstimulate the taste receptors in the mouth to make us want more sweets.

The latest study was designed to measure how untrained subjects rated the sweetness intensity of sugar, maple syrup and agave nectar compared to different strengths of the low-calorie sweeteners acesulfame potassium, rebaudioside A (stevia) and sucralose (the sweetening ingredient in SPLENDA® Sweeteners) when they were dissolved in water. The researchers found the low calorie sweeteners did not produce greater sweet sensations than the other sugars tested nor did they cause cravings. In fact, the subjects detected higher intensity sweetness from the regular sugars than the low calorie alternatives.

What about Regular Users of Low-Calorie Sweeteners?

Another study on the diets and lifestyle habits of people who are regular users of low-calorie sweeteners suggests that they do not cause cravings or overeating. Using over 10 years of data collected in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers identified more than 22,000 users of low calorie sweeteners and placed them into one of four groups based on how they used the sweeteners. They then rated their diet quality using the Healthy Eating Index and evaluated other personal behaviors such as physical activity, smoking and alcohol use.

Results of this investigation showed consumers of low-calorie sweeteners have these traits compared to non-users:

  • Higher income and education
  • Higher Healthy Eating Index scores, including better scores for vegetables, whole grains, meat and beans and milk/dairy
  • Physically active
  • Less likely to smoke and drink alcohol
  • Less likely to consume solid fats and added sugars

With all the evidence on the safety and utility of low calorie sweeteners, I think it’s time to move beyond the questions about sweet cravings and overeating and ask, “How can I include them in my healthy lifestyle?”

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 on low calorie sweeteners, visit the Sugar Substitutes section of this blog.

References:

Drewnowski A, Mennella JA, Johnson SL, Bellisle F. Sweetness and Food Preferences. J Nutr. 2012; 142(6):1142S-1148Shttp://jn.nutrition.org/content/142/6/1142S.full.pdf

Antenucci A., Hayes JE. Nonnutritive Sweeteners are not supernormal stimuli. Inter J Obesity. June 10, 2014, doi:10.1038/ijo.2014.109http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24942868

SplendaTruth.com: “New Study Shows Sugar Substitutes Do Not Overstimulate the Sweet Taste Buds

Drewnowski A, Rehm CD. Consumption of Low-Calorie Sweeteners among U.S. Adults Is Associated with Higher Healthy Eating Index (HEI 2005) Scores and More Physical Activity. Nutrients 2014, 6, 4389-4403; doi:10.3390/nu6104389http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25329967

 

Research shows people eat less of a snack they crave when they delay eating it.

Research Offers Simple Way to Snack Less on Foods You Crave

JUST IN TIME FOR SUPER BOWL SUNDAY, STUDY OFFERS STRATEGY TO HELP SNACK LESS AND CONTROL CRAVINGS

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 crave certain foods and give in too easily to the urge to snack, do not despair. A new study offers valuable advice just in time for Super Bowl Sunday, the biggest snack day of the year!

Research presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology showed that when subjects postponed eating a snack they craved to an unspecified time in the future, they ate less. Not only did they eat less of that food when they finally got around to having it, they ate less of it over the next week, which can be helpful if you have a lot of Super Bowl leftovers in the house.

A key finding from this study was that those subjects who put off eating the snack they desired to an unstated time in the future did much better than those who denied themselves eating any at all and those who gave themselves permission to eat all they wanted.

Why Postponing Works?

By postponing the opportunity to eat something you crave, you give yourself time for the desire to diminish, and that’s a good thing. Every minute you’re not eating those nachos, fried mozzarella sticks, or chocolate covered pretzels adds up to calories, fat, salt and sugar you did not consume.

This strategy also removes two other saboteurs to self-control: guilt and retaliation. Guilt comes into play when you immediately start eating all you want of the snacks calling out to you. Once you realize what you’ve done, guilt can trigger further gluttony. On the other hand, if you tell yourself you can’t have the snacks at all, you’re likely to feel deprived and will eventually retaliate and eat more than your share.

Delay Trumps Denial

The subjects were divided into three different groups. One group was allowed to eat the snack freely, another was told not to eat the snack, and the third was told they could eat it later. The researchers observed their behavior when offered two different snacks: candies and chips.

The results were the same whether the subjects were assigned to a group or got to select the group themselves. Those that were told to delay their snack ate the least. Those who were told not to eat the snack at all ate the most.

So as you get you game plan ready for the Super Bowl, here’s a cheer that is sure to make you a winner when the snacks are served:

“I think I’ll pass!”

Sweet cravings are often a learned response to stress

How to Control Sweet Cravings with New Coping Skills

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.

The connection between certain foods and our emotions can be very strong. I know having carrot cake with cream cheese frosting puts the “happy” in my happy birthday celebration, but it isn’t the only way to put a smile on my face. Yet many of my clients have told me they find it difficult to cope with the ups and downs of everyday life without turning to sweet treats to lift their spirits.

If you’ve ever eaten your way through a sleeve of Girl Scout cookies to help you deal with a difficult situation, you know what I’m talking about. Whether it’s an overwhelming project at work or an extended to-do list at home, using food to “feed” your emotions can become an unhealthy habit.

The desire to eat sweets can feel so strong to some people they call it a craving. But is it really a food craving or just a long-used coping mechanism?

I’ve written about the power of perceived food cravings before. Their connection to coping mechanisms is very strong. Simply put, if we have always relied on certain foods to help us get through tough times we can feel very deprived without those foods – but that isn’t a craving. It is a learned way to cope. Unfortunately, the pleasure of eating a favorite food is short-lived, while the excess calories that go with those foods can last forever. And eating doesn’t solve the problem at hand.

What you need if you’ve become conditioned to think of food as the fix for everything that hurts are new coping skills. The goal is to learn how to deal with whatever comes your way so you can feel good about yourself for handling the task rather than giving in to sweet cravings to feel good. The more you practice these skills, the less you’ll rely on food rewards for your happiness. You’ll soon discover that nothing tastes as sweet as success!

Coping Without All the Calories

  • Have a backup plan.You need a new strategy that can be implemented in a moment’s notice to replace reaching for a treat. An easy one is to drink a 12 ounce glass of cold water and avoid eating anything for at least 30 minutes. That will give you time to deal with the problem and break down the need for instant gratification.
  • Use the escape route. When thoughts of food are distracting you, let your mind take a rest and put your body to work instead. Go for a short, brisk walk or get up and do some jumping jacks or find a stairwell and make a few trips up and down to provide a physical release for your pent-up frustrations. Getting away from the situation for a few minutes can’t hurt, and the activity just might help to clear your mind so you can see your way to a solution a little faster.
  • Reach for a lifeline. Sometimes our problems are just too big to handle on our own, especially when facing unrealistic expectations imposed by yourself or others. Knowing when it’s time to reach out for help can save both time and unnecessary stress. Focus on getting the job done using whatever resources you can rather than trying to go it alone.
  • Fortify your fortress. Keeping tempting foods out of sight can certainly make it easier to stay on task, but that doesn’t mean you can never eat something sweet. That’s where low calorie sweeteners, like SPLENDA®No Calorie Sweetener, can come in handy. Using a low calorie sweetener instead of sugar makes it possible to satisfy your sweet tooth with fewer calories as a regular part of your meal plan. Whether used in a cup of your favorite herbal tea, to flavor a Sweet and Spicy Snack Mix or make a batch of Deep Chocolate Shortbread to stash in the freezer, you can enjoy a sweet treat just because it tastes good, not because it helps you cope!

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.

 

Usrers of low calorie sweeteners have healthier diets than non-users

Sucralose Side Effects Myth: Does SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener Increase Appetite?

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com on November 27, 2014. 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.

It’s easy to start believing something if we hear it over and over again. That’s why advertisers use jingles that get stuck in our heads so we’ll remember their brands, and why gossip is shared as the truth after seeing it on Twitter 10 times.

Believing there is a connection between no calorie sweeteners (like sucralose, the sweetening ingredient in SPLENDA® Sweeteners), and increased appetite is another example of the power of repetition. You may have heard that claim several times, but is it really true? There’s some new research about regular users of low calorie sweeteners that should help change your mind on the subject for good!

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers from Washington State University created a profile of the diets and lifestyle of regular consumers of low calorie sweeteners. What they found indicates that the people who use them also make many other smart choices to maintain their health and a healthy body weight. What they did not find was any indication that users of low calorie sweeteners have increased appetites or a tendency to overeat.

While I have written about the factors that influence appetite and cravings before, this new research provides further evidence that low calorie sweeteners are a helpful tool for people who want to enjoy sweet tasting foods and beverages, but without all the calories of sugar. So if you have an appetite for something sweet, you should not hesitate to keep using SPLENDA® Sweetener Products!

Here’s what researchers Adam Drewnowski and Colin Rehm discovered after analyzing NHANES data from 1999-2008 for nearly 22,000 adults.

  • 30% reported using some type of low calorie sweetener, either in a tabletop form or in foods or beverages
  • Based on scores from the Healthy Eating Index, consumers of low calorie sweeteners have better quality diets with more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, meat/beans, diary and oil than non-users
  • Consumers of low calorie sweeteners are less likely to smoke than non-users
  • Consumers of low calorie sweeteners are more likely to engage in physical activity than non-users
  • Consumers of low calorie sweeteners are more likely to be trying to lose or not gain weight than non-users

You can find more fascinating facts about users of low calorie sweeteners on this Infographic.

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:

Drewnowski, A., Rehm, C. Consumption of Low-Calorie Sweeteners among U.S. Adults Is Associated with Higher Healthy Eating Index (HEI 2005) Scores and More Physical Activity. Nutrients 2014, 6, 4389-4403; doi:10.3390/nu6104389

Food Insight: New Studies Support Use of Low-Calorie Sweeteners for Weight Management
 

Signs of an eating disorder need to be evaluated regardless of age

Eating Disorder in Midlife Often Overlooked

SIGNS OF AN EATING DISORDER NEED TO BE EVALUATED REGARDLESS OF AGE

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, so the post has been reproduced here.

The recent sudden death of a 65 year old woman I know made me wonder if she wasn’t one of those women who struggled with an undetected eating disorder in the final two decades of her life. She had become “painfully thin” and looked so frail I couldn’t imagine how she stood up on her own. When I saw her at social gatherings, she never had a plate of food. And although she had some medical problems, her death came as a shock to everyone who knew her.

There’s plenty of evidence to show women do not stop caring about their weight as they age. How they deal with it separates the perpetual dieters from those with anorexia, bulimia or other disordered eating. Unfortunately, the societal pressures on women to be thin have become so persistent that women over 40 are just as likely to have eating disorders as those under 40.

The appearance of an eating disorder in an older woman is often the resurfacing of a problem that started in her youth. Anyone who learned at a young age to cope with stress by controlling her appetite is susceptible to resuming those coping mechanisms when life gets difficult. For women over 40, the trigger may be a trauma, such as the end of a marriage, loss of a loved one, or onset of menopause.

But even a woman who never dieted in her 20s can resort to unhealthy food restriction in her 50s when she realizes her tummy is not flat as it used to be. A study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders in June 2012 found 62% of women age 50 and older said their weight negatively impacted their lives.

The danger for older women is that they are not as readily diagnosed as young girls. Changes in the eating habits of a teenager are noticed by her parents, as is a sudden drop in weight or the absence of menstruation. Since weight loss and a diminished appetite are common side effects of many illnesses and medications, they are not as surprising when seen in an older woman.

Yet the health risks of eating disorders are just as great for older women as young. The heart muscle is weakened, cognitive function declines and bone loss accelerates. If left untreated it can lead to organ failure and death. The goal is to get treated before these problems begin.

Signs of Possible Eating Disorder

  • Excessive concern with dieting and losing weight
  • Dissatisfaction with body weight, shape, size
  • Weighing oneself more than once a day
  • Denial of hunger
  • Excessive or compulsive exercise
  • Self-induced vomiting after eating
  • Binge-eating followed by guilt, shame, regret
  • Use of laxatives, diuretics or diet pills without medical supervision

Even though eating disorders look like food issues on the outside, they are rooted in unresolved psychological issues. The American Journal of Psychiatry reports almost 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression. Focusing on how much you weigh can be much easier than dealing with low self-esteem or feelings of worthlessness.

It is important to remember that the behavior of someone with an eating disorder is an expression of their pain. They do not need to be told to eat more or exercise less. What they need is recognition of their pain, and an offer of help to get some relief.

Do you recognize the signs of an eating disorder in anyone you know?

Summer gardens and menus are filled with nightshade foods

10 Nightshade Foods Now in Season

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, so the post has been reproduced here.

Nightshade foods all contain alkaloid compounds that are naturally produced by the plants to protect them against insects. Some people may be sensitive to these compounds and experience problems with nerve, muscle and joint function or digestion. Cooking lowers the alkaloid content of these foods by 40-50%, but that may not be enough to allow highly sensitive people to enjoy them. Anyone who suspects they may be sensitive to nightshade foods can safely eliminate them for 2-3 weeks to see if it improves their condition.

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1. Tomato – Eaten raw on sandwiches and in salads; squeezed for juices; widely used to make sauces, soups, curries, casseroles; found in condiments such as catsup, salsa, relish.

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2. Eggplant – Classic dishes include eggplant parmesan and rollatini (Italian cheese-filled), ratatouille (French vegetable stew), baba ghanoush (Arabic spread), baingan bartha (Indian curry), moussaka (Greek minced meat pie). It is prepared deep fried, stir fried, grilled, roasted, baked and as a pizza topping.

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3. Potato – Green or sprouted areas reflect high alkaloid content, though it is caused by chlorophyll, not alkaloids. Eaten fried, baked, mashed, boiled, roasted, stuffed; added to soups, stews, casseroles, eggs, salads; dehydrated and reformulated as patties, nuggets, coatings, thickener.

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4. Peppers – Includes sweet and hot bell peppers and chili peppers; the spices paprika and cayenne; Tabasco Sauce; and all foods prepared or seasoned with them.

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5. Pepino – Resembles a melon so sometimes called pepino melon, but closer in size to an apple. Common in markets selling foods from Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador and Peru, but also cultivated in California, Hawaii New Zealand, and Western Australia.

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6. Pimento – Also called the cherry pepper or “pimiento” in Spanish. Eaten fresh, pickled or jarred and as a stuffing in green olives and in pimento-cheese and pimento loaf.

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7. Tomatillo – Also called ground cherry, Mexican tomato and green tomato (not to be confused with under ripe green tomatoes). Is the key ingredient in green sauces used in Latin American cuisine.

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8. Gooseberry – Used in fruited desserts such as pies, crisps, cobblers and crumbles; preserved as jam; extracts flavor beverages and syrups. cuisine.

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9. Goji Berry – Also called wolfberry, used in many Asian dishes; often dried then reconstituted in rice congee and almond jelly; made into an herbal tea, wine and beer. cuisine.

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10. Tamarillo – Used in chutneys and curries, added to stews, found in some fruit compotes and desserts. Native plant in the Andes of Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and the cuisine from those regions. cuisine