Cut sugars in your diet by replacing them with artificial sweeteners

Using Artificial Sweeteners Instead of Sugar: What’s the Scoop?

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

Do you know anyone who loves to walk through an electronics store just to see the hottest new gadgets on the shelves? How about those guys who like to browse hardware stores for the latest thingamajig they can’t live without? For me, it’s a trip to the grocery store. I love to see the changing array of fresh produce on display, the endcaps with new and improved versions of time-honored brands, and the latest flavor sensations to hit the yogurt, ice cream, and salad dressing aisles!

The common thread here is that the world is constantly changing and we like to keep up with what’s happening. That’s especially true in the world of food. So if you’ve noticed some increased buzz around the topic of low-calorie artificial sweeteners and a move away from added sugars in the foods and drinks you buy, I’ve got the scoop for you.

In January, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture released the latest edition of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. One of the key recommendations is to reduce our intake of added sugars to less than 10 percent of our total calories, or no more than 12 teaspoons a day if consuming a 2000 calorie diet. The Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations from the American Heart Association also call for a reduction in added sugars intake to help lower your risk for developing heart disease. As a result of these recommendations, the food and beverage industry has been working to reformulate many products to lower the added sugar content.

This means we may see new claims on the front of some food packages, changes in ingredient lists and in the nutrition facts panel. One way we can keep the sweet taste in foods and drinks at home while using less sugar is to replace some of that sugar with low-calorie artificial sweeteners, like SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. In fact, the more we cook and bake at home, the more options we have to reduce the added sugars in our diets. Let me show you how.

Menu Makeovers Save the Day

Let’s say your menu tonight includes a garden salad with French dressing, grilled chicken with barbecue sauce and a side of baked beans, a glass of lemonade and some homemade peach crisp for dessert. Did you know you could get more than 25 teaspoons of added sugars in that meal, even with modest portions? That’s more than double the amount of added sugars most of us should have in a single day!

One way to cut back on the added sugars in this meal is to replace the commercial products containing added sugars with your own salad dressing, barbecue sauce, and lemonade made with SPLENDA® Sweeteners. Another option is to use SPLENDA® Sweeteners to sweeten the lemonade and peach crisp. A third choice is to do all the above. If you’d like to give it a try there are plenty of SPLENDA® recipes to help you do all that and more.

If you want to substitute a SPLENDA® Sweetener for full sugar in your own favorite recipes just follow this helpful Measurement Conversion Chart to get the right amount whether using the granulated product, packets or Sugar Blends. You might also want to read my blog, Sugar Substitutes for Baking: SPLENDA® Sugar Blends and Baking with SPLENDA® Sweetener Products: Some Helpful Tips and Guidelines from Sue Taylor to get best results.

Every time you dip into a sugar bowl or honey jar is an opportunity to make a substitution that can lower your daily intake of added sugars – and more opportunities to use SPLENDA® Sweetener Products for a sweet alternative.

 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 recipe tips for cooking and baking with SPLENDA® Sweeteners, visit the Cooking & Baking 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.


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 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.


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 You can read the original post here.

woman weighting herself on balance beam scale

Do Low-Calorie Sweeteners like SPLENDA® Cause Weight Gain?

This post was written as a guest blog for Splenda Living. 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.

At one time or another we’ve all experienced the jaw-dropping discovery that something we believed to be true, isn’t. I still can recall the unsettling moments in my childhood when I found out the truth about Santa Claus and the tooth fairy!

If you’ve had similar situations where something that you thought was a fact suddenly became fiction, then you understand the power of myths.

Myths often begin as a way to explain things we don’t understand. Based on my 30+ years as a consulting dietitian I know that over time myths can become “common knowledge” as more and more people accept and repeat them. Soon, there’s no one left to question whether that information is true or not, and the myth becomes part of our reality.

That is why it can be is so hard to accept some of the scientific reports we hear these days. When they challenge our long held beliefs, our initial reaction is to reject them, even if we have no evidence to support our version of the truth.

Too Much Myth-Information around Weight Gain

The subject of weight loss is one where myths and misinformation often collide. I like to call the result myth-information. Here are just a few examples of widely reported myths I’ve bet you’ve heard before:

  • Eating late at night makes you gain weight
  • Starchy foods increase belly fat
  • Sugar substitutes (even SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener, heaven forbid!) can cause obesity

None of those statements is true based on the best scientific evidence available, but many people still believe them. They have a hard time accepting the research that shows it is the total number of calories we consume each day that contributes to weight gain, not the time of day we eat them. Similarly, some people have doubts about the studies that demonstrate starchy foods, or foods high in carbohydrates, are no more likely to produce belly fat than any other source of calories.

Letting go of the myth about sugar substitutes and weight gain is particularly difficult for some people, despite the evidence to the contrary.

Research on the biggest users of sugar substitutes has found they are most often people who are trying to control their weight and improve the quality of their diets. In fact, a study of participants enrolled in the Weight Control Registry showed regular use of foods and beverages sweetened with low calorie sweeteners, including SPLENDA®, is a common strategy employed by those who have had long-term success maintaining a significant weight loss. (Note: SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener is a brand name for sucralose, the sweetening ingredient in all SPLENDA® Sweetener Products, and has been enjoyed by millions of consumers for over 20 years.)

Using a low cal sweetener such as SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener in place of sugar, is probably not enough to make you reach your weight loss goal, but can certainly help, and is one of many small changes you can make in your diet and physical activity to get there. Just like using smaller plates to control portion sizes and taking the stairs instead of the elevator, small changes can add up to big results when they become part of a healthy lifestyle.

If you find it hard letting go of a myth, it may help to remember that it probably began to explain something we once didn’t understand. But after we have the facts to explain it, we don’t need the myth any more.

You can look forward to more truth telling in my upcoming blogs on SPLENDA LIVING™, which I promise will be based on science and well-documented facts, not myth-information.

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, please visit:

  • Sacks FM, Bray GA, Carey VJ et al. Comparison of Weight-Loss Diets with Different Compositions of Fat, Protein, and Carbohydrates. N Engl J Med. 2009;360(9):859-873
  • Anderson GH, Foreyt J, Sigman-Grant M, Allison DB. The Use of Low-Calorie Sweeteners by Adults: Impact on Weight Management. J Nutr. 2012;142(6):S1163-S1169
  • Sigman-Grant MJ, Hsieh G. Reported Use of Reduced-sugar Foods and Beverages Reflect High-quality Diets. J Food Sci. 2005;70(1):S42-S46
  • Phelan S, Lang W, Jordan D, Wing RR. Use of artificial sweeteners and fat-modified foods in weight loss maintainers and always-normal weight individuals. Int J Obes.2009;33(10):1183-1190
A look past the headlines reveals the truth about the safety of low calorie sweeteners

Is it the Science or the Sweeteners?


Those colorful little packets of low calorie sweeteners have been on tabletops since the 1950’s when the pink ones first appeared. The blues ones followed in 1981, with yellow, green and orange filling in the rainbow over the next 30 years. The sweetening agents in those packets have also been used in thousands of foods and beverages providing us with a range of sugar free and reduced or no calorie products.

For those of us who have been regular users of low calorie sweeteners in one form or another, their availability has added up to countless calories that we haven’t consumed since they’ve been available. I find it comforting to know I’ve saved 140 calories for every can diet soda I’ve drunk, 30 calories for each packet of sweetener I’ve used and 120 calories for every 8 ounce container of light yogurt I’ve eaten. And I could go on.

So if, like me, you’re also a regular user of low calorie sweeteners, you’re probably wondering why everyone hasn’t embraced their calorie-saving benefits. After following all of the negative press they have received, I think I can explain.

Science Isn’t Emotional

Whenever you see a headline or hear a news broadcast about low calorie sweeteners they always tilt towards the sensational. It seems no one can talk about them rationally, objectively, unemotionally.

But questions that can be answered by sound scientific research are not emotional. The answers are reached by following precise, methodological procedures and the results are published so all the world can see them.

Everyone may not like the results, but you can’t argue with facts. Yet when it comes to reports on low cal sweeteners, they’re always tainted with opinion, conjecture and suspicion.

There is No Conspiracy

Speaking of suspicion, some of the controversy surrounding the safety of low cal sweeteners stems from the belief by a radical minority that you can’t trust the FDA, a government agency, for ruling on the safety of what’s in our food. These naysayers actually believe the chemists, microbiologists, toxicologists, food technologists, pathologists, molecular biologists, pharmacologists, nutritionists, epidemiologists, mathematicians, sanitarians, physicians and veterinarians who serve as food safety experts at the FDA are all corrupt.

I don’t believe in that conspiracy, but for those who do, I have three questions:

  1. If you don’t trust the FDA’s ruling on low cal sweeteners, what about the thousands of other products they have jurisdiction over, including food additives, infant formula, cosmetics, non-prescription drugs, medical devices, and veterinary products?
  2. How do you explain the fact that the regulatory agencies in more than 100 countries have reviewed the research on low calorie sweeteners and have also found them to be safe for use by their populations?
  3. Do you also doubt the integrity of independent health organizations, such as the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, and American Diabetes Association, since they, too, have endorsed the safety of low calorie sweeteners?


New Research Doesn’t Cancel Out Old

Even if you accept the wisdom of the experts, what do you do when a new study comes along that “suggests” a particular low calorie sweetener “may” be “linked” to some problem? Whatever you do, don’t toss out all your diet drinks and sugar-free desserts. Those studies do not prove the sweetener caused the problem in question. The researchers have simply made a “connection” between point A and point B, and they’d have to do a whole lot more research in order to connect those dots.

If and until that research is done using the kinds of studies that can prove cause and effect, preferably in human beings, the existing body of evidence stands firm. It helps to keep in mind that much of the scientific process is based on trial and error, and half of that process results is errors. That’s why we don’t abandon the proven and tested body of evidence we already have based on a single study.


How Much Evidence Is Enough?

But for those who still aren’t convinced we know enough about low calorie sweeteners, I offer these final facts:

  • over 200 studies have been done that support the safety and effectiveness of low cal sweeteners
  • low calorie sweeteners have been used around the world for over 40 years
  • more than 200,000,000 people (that’s 200 million) safely use and enjoy low calorie sweeteners!

As a registered dietitian who has been advising consumers about healthy eating habits for over 35 years I feel confident that low calorie sweeteners are not a problem. And when they are used in place of sugar as part of a balanced diet complemented by regular physical activity they can help prevent weight gain – and that is a really big problem.

Low calorie sweeteners can help you enjoy the sweet life and control your cravings

Low-Calorie Sweeteners and Sweet Cravings

This post was written as a guest blog for Splenda Living. 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.

Have you ever wished we lived in a world where you could eat whatever you wanted and not have to worry about gaining weight or getting sick? If you have, you’re not alone. Sadly, until that distant planet is discovered we have to pay attention to what and how much we eat to stay healthy here on earth.

But that doesn’t mean we can never have the foods we crave. I know I wouldn’t want to live in a world where I couldn’t enjoy a warm chocolate chip cookie once in a while.


Anyone who has had an intense desire to eat a certain food has experienced a food craving. What separates a craving from hunger is the desire for a very specific food, while almost any food can satisfy hunger.

If this sounds familiar to you, then you can count yourself among the 97% of us who have had food cravings. Studies show women report more of them than men, and the frequency, strength and types of foods women crave are different, too. But the one food more of us crave than any other is chocolate!


As common as they are, the reasons behind food cravings are poorly understood. One popular theory is that we learn to associate certain foods with positive feelings early in life, such as getting an ice cream cone after we skin our knee.

Eating ice cream after a fall probably did help us forget about our boo-boos when we were children. Unfortunately, the more the connection was reinforced between special foods and feeling better, the harder it became to break. That is why so many adults still deal with all types of discomfort, both physical and emotional, by eating foods they crave.


Other theories about what trigger food cravings include meal monotony, rigid food restrictions and nutritional imbalances. Is it any wonder why weight loss diets are so hard to stick to? They’re often boring, unpalatable and incomplete, so our food cravings get the best of us.

If your food cravings lead you to something sweet, there is a way to satisfy that desire and still keep your calories under control. Using a no cal sweetener, such as SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, in place of sugar lets us have the sweet taste we want without all the calories.

And despite what you may have read somewhere on the Internet, there is nothing in SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, or any other low calorie sweetener, that will increase or extend our desire for sweets. I know there have been some of contradictory studies on this topic covered in the media, which can be confusing. However, the scientific evidence points in the opposite direction by showing that low cal sweeteners do not stimulate appetite or food intake and don’t cause weight gain. One of their biggest advantages is how they can help reduce caloric intake and consequently body weight.

Of course, we still have to pay attention to what triggers our food cravings and how we deal with them, but we don’t have to completely avoid all the foods we crave. Sometimes we may just need to take a smaller portion and savor every bite to feel satisfied.


To help keep my sweet tooth in check I start my day with a delicious breakfast parfait made by sprinkling SPLENDA® Sweetener on some high-fiber cereal and plain yogurt layered with fresh berries. Later in the day I whirl SPLENDA® into a frothy iced latte made with fat free milk for the perfect afternoon pick-me up. And when I really want to have a chocolate chip cookie, I know I can take one from my freezer, made using a SPLENDA® recipe, and warm it up for a few seconds in the microwave oven for a sweet treat.

I am a firm believer in practicing what I preach. That’s why I am confident in providing this sensible nutrition advice: By including foods and beverages made with low calorie sweeteners in our daily diets we can enjoy the sweet taste we love, but with fewer calories. It’s almost like living in a perfect world!

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.

): Sugar and sweeteners can be part of healthy diet

Sugar or Sweetener – Which is Best?

Both sugar and artificial sweeteners can have a place in a healthy diet

They’re the foods and beverages we love to hate – anything that tastes sweet. We love them because they satisfy one of our most primal appetites. We hate them because it’s so easy to consume too much of them, or to eat and drink sweet tasting things instead of the other less tasty stuff.

But is that really a sugar/sweetener problem or one of portion control? Take a look at my post on portion control and evidence below, then decide.

Sugar is Natural

The Food and Drug Administration allows food manufacturers to describe foods as natural if they do not contain added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances. Both sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) meet those criteria. The both come from plants and undergo less processing than what it takes to turn milk into cheese.

Once sugar, HFCS or a naturally sweet piece of fruit is eaten, they are broken down into the exact same simple sugars. Your body cannot tell where they came from and uses them all in the same way. And although fruit does have other nutrients in it along with the sugar it contains, the sugar is there for a reason. It helped us select the ripest, and consequently, most nutritious fruits when we were foraging for our food, and that contributed to our evolutionary success as a species.

Flash forward to the 21st Century and sugar is no longer hard to come by or only found in fruit. That makes it easy for some people eat too much of it, but that does not mean sugar or HFCS is bad for us. Too much is not good, and that’s true about everything as I wrote in my blog, There are No junk Foods.

And what about the alternative to sugar and HFCS, artificial sweeteners?

Sweeteners Are Safe

Low and no calorie sugar substitutes have been available for over 50 years. Saccharin was the first, and each new sweetener discovered since then has undergone more extensive study than any other additive in the food supply.

Still, the suspicions linger on.

The weight of the research sides with the sweeteners. Not only is there no scientific evidence that they are harmful or increase our appetite, they can actually play a role in weight and blood glucose control when used as part of an energy balanced diet. Of course, some people use a lot of them who do not have balanced diets, but are the sweeteners to blame?

According to international experts, the answer is no. The safety of the low and no calorie sweeteners on the market today has been endorsed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives of the World Health Organization, the Scientific Committee for Food of the European Union and the regulatory agencies for more than 100 countries. Could they all be wrong?

Position Statements in support of these sweeteners have also been issued by groups including the American Diabetes Association, American Medical Association, American Dietetic Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Cancer Society to name a few. Are they all misleading the public?

You decide. Are sugars and sweeteners the problem, or do some people have a problem with them?

Super foods are not enough for a healthy diet

Are Super Foods the Key to a Healthy Diet?

Quality and variety are essential for good nutrition

The battle of the super foods has always fascinated me. We live on a planet with more than 390,000 plant species, many of them edible but never sampled, yet there are some who think they have figured out what the Top 10 Super Foods are that we should eat for good nutrition.

I don’t buy it and never did. Any time you limit your diet to a top 10 food list, no matter how virtuous, you are losing the value of variety.

Eating a wide variety of foods is one of the basic tenets for a healthy diet. This means you should spread out your choices over all food groups and within each one, while also switching it up with the seasons. For example, if you like apples, it’s a good idea to buy some from New York State as well as Washington and swop out a Cortland for a Crispin or a Cameo occasionally, too.

That said, eating an apple a day is not the goal. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that we eat 3-4 servings of fruit every day. That’s 1 ½ – 2 cups of fruit 365 days of the year. Most Americans don’t even come close to meeting that goal.

A 2009 report from the Centers for Disease Control found that in no state were U.S. adults eating the recommended 3-4 servings of fruit a day and only 32.5% were consuming fruit two or more times a day. Debating whether blueberries or pomegranates should hold first place on this year’s super food list is a distraction from the more important issue that most Americans simply need to eat more fruit!

Eating fruit in any form can help close the gap. Fresh fruit is fine when available and affordable, while frozen fruit offers year round value. Canned fruit in unsweetened juice provides convenience and cost savings every day of the week, and dried fruit offers economy of space as well. And what could be easier than drinking a cup of 100% fruit juice once a day?

My strategy has been to always include a serving of fruit as part my breakfast and lunch, then have another as an afternoon snack. Even if I’m traveling, I can always get a glass of juice on a plane or in a bar and buy some trail mix with dried fruit in any convenience store. When the fruit bowl is empty at home, I always have berries in the freezer for my yogurt, mandarin orange segments in the pantry to toss into a salad and sundried tomatoes to snack on.

Something as basic as eating more fruit can result in dramatic changes in the quality of your diet. You’ll benefit not only from all of the vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients you’ll be consuming, but also because of all the other stuff you won’t be.

Why not keep a list of the different types of fruit you eat over one year to see if you can come up with 100? That’s a as a super food list I’d really like to see!

Motivation comes from within, the reasons are your own.

Getting Motivated to Eat Right

Why motivation is a critical step to eating right

Somewhere along the way, after counseling thousands of clients about food and nutrition, creating hundreds of handouts, writing books and articles, teaching classes, delivering presentations and providing media interviews, I realized that all of the valuable nutrition information I was disseminating did not automatically motivate those on the receiving end to eat better. The only real measure of success for all of my efforts has been the improved knowledge about food and nutrition people have gained from me. But seeing that knowledge put into practice is another matter entirely.

Finding the motivation to act on one’s knowledge of how to lead a healthier lifestyle is a private matter. It cannot be taught, but must be discovered within. And it must be a deeply powerful motivator because we must draw upon it every day, several times a day, to reap the benefits. Making good food choices just three out of seven days a week doesn’t cut it. Nor does exercising like a fiend after every binge.

My motivators for eating right and exercising regularly have been clear to me for most of my life. I had the motivation long before I had all of the knowledge acquired as a registered dietitian about the do’s and don’ts of living well. Those forces have never weakened their hold over me. With each new day and every new situation I have faced, the decision to make wise food choices and remain active have always won out over all other temptations and distractions. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that my life is a bore – far from it. I just don’t lose sight of the prize.

Here’s what has motivated me to maintain a healthy body weight for over 50 years and better than average stamina, strength and flexibility for a woman my age:

Low pain threshold. I don’t like to hiccup, let along cough. Knowing certain behaviors can increase my risk for pain and discomfort is like an inoculation against living carelessly.

Belief in prevention. Most treatments involve some risk and lots of side effects, not to mention pain, so preventing injury and illness has always made more sense to me. By living clean I pay it forward.

Fear of hospitals. Maybe it was that first time I visited a hospital as a little girl and smelled that smell when I exited the elevator on the ward where my grandmother was a patient, but I can still recall wanting to run away as fast as I could. I have never gotten over my aversion to hospitals and do all that I can to avoid them.

If you haven’t found your personal motivation to eat smart and stay fit, this is where your journey should begin. If you have found it, I’d love to hear what works for you?