Aspartame has been help part of healthy diets for 35 years

The Most Studied Low Calorie Sweetener Turns 35 This Year

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

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

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

 Benefits of Aspartame

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

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

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

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

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

 Safety of Aspartame

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

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

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

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

Introduce sugar free drinks to children to reduce added sugars

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Lead By Example

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

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

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

Let Children Help

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

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

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

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

Use low caloire sweeteners to reduce added sugars in the diet

Hitting the Sweet Spot in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Savor the Flavor for National Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month Savor the Flavor

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

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

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

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

What’s Missing from the Sugar Reduction Strategy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the Love of Chocolate

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

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

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

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

Recipes for Desserts and Drinks with Less Added Sugar

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

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

Chocolaty and Sweet Recipes with Less Added Sugar

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups rolled oats

6 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons trans-free margarine, softened

1/2 cup SPLENDA® Sugar Blend

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

Directions:

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

Nutrition Info

 Ingredients:

1 cup slivered almonds

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

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons milk

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 egg white, lightly beaten

Directions:

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

Nutrition Info

Ingredients:

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

2 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup SPLENDA® Sugar Blend

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate morsels

 Directions:

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

Nutrition Info

Ingredients:

1/4 cup water

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon grated orange peel

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

5 1/2 cups skim milk

2 cinnamon sticks

1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions:

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

Nutrition Info

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

 

Weight loss tips based on the best research

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weight Loss Tip: Text Your Way to Better Health

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

Weight Loss Tip: Rearrange the Kitchen

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

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

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

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

 

Losing weight one pound at a time can help you reach your goal

Making New Year’s Resolutions for Realistic Weight Loss Goals

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

No one ever makes a New Year’s resolution to lose just one pound, but maybe more people would get the results they want if they did. The big advantage in aiming to drop just one pound is that you’ll be rewarded more quickly than waiting to lose 10 or more. And you‘ll be rewarded more often, which can be a source of motivation to keep going.

Having a realistic weight loss goal will also make it easier to focus on just one pound at a time. Sound too good to be true? Let me explain why this approach works.

Every veteran dieter knows losing weight isn’t the hard part, keeping it off is. No matter what weight loss plan you choose, if all you’re thinking about is the result – that final number you want to see on the scale – you won’t be focused on the behavior changes that are going to get you there. Yet mastering those new lifestyle behaviors holds the key to your long-term success, so it pays to pay attention to them every step of the way.

Personalize Your Weight Loss Plan

Throughout the 30 years I provided nutrition therapy to clients in my private practice, I worked with thousands of people who wanted to lose weight, manage diabetes, lower blood pressure or improve their lipid profile for better health. No two clients made exactly the same dietary changes, yet all found ways to adjust what and how much they ate to have a healthier diet. Each client also made choices about how to spend their discretionary time in order to exercise regularly, get enough sleep and have less stress – all parts of a healthy lifestyle.

One thing that was true for everyone I saw was that each individual decided what steps they would take from start to finish. Some chose to eat oatmeal every day, others told me eating breakfast simply was not an option for them. Either way, the changes they made were ones they decided were realistic and sustainable, not me.

A question many clients asked me was whether it would help if they replaced some of the sugar in their food and drinks with a low-calorie sweetener, like SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener. I was happy I could tell them there was plenty of research to support that decision for weight loss. For example, one study demonstrated that replacing caloric beverages with water or diet beverages produced weight loss in adults. Another study found using low-calorie sweeteners was a tool that helped members of the National Weight Control Registry maintain their weight loss and compliance with their dietary objectives. You can learn more about these remarkable people here.

So if you’ve resolved to lose weight in the New Year, why not start out by trying to lose just one pound? One way to do that is by making small changes to cut calories from your usual diet, like switching from sugar to SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener. After you get used to one calorie-cutting change you can make another. Over time, all of those small changes will add up to a new way of life for you and a new weight you can live with.

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

For more information about living a healthier lifestyle, visit the Healthy Lifestyle 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. 

References:

Tate DF, et. al. (8). Replacing caloric beverages with water or diet beverages for weight loss in adults: main results of the Choose Healthy Options Consciously Everyday (CHOICE) randomized clinical trialAm J Clin NutrMarch 2012;95(3):555-563

 

Phelan S, et. al (3). Use of artificial sweeteners and fat-modified foods in weight loss maintainers and always normal weight individualsInt J Obes. 2009;33(10):1183-1190

 

Family recipes can be improved by each generation

Tweaking Holiday Recipes: ‘Tis the Season for Joy, but Not All the Weight Gain!

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 TC Heartland, 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 is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the foods that will be served at one of your holiday dinners? For me, it’s my mother’s recipe for turkey stuffing. Although it contains a loaf of white bread and a pound of pork sausage and is loaded with calories, it just wouldn’t be the holidays without it! If you feel the same way about the special dishes that are part of your holiday meals, but are concerned about year-end weight gain, help is on the way!

I’m tackling ways to help curb holiday weight gain in a two part series. Here in Part One I’m focusing on how to tweak some favorite holiday recipes to make them lower in calories and/or added sugar without losing their great taste. In December you can look for Part Two, which deals with portion sizes and how to get what you want without taking more than you need. And if you need a little refresher on the topic before then you can read my previous blog about Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain.

Keeping the Traditions without All the Calories

Many of the ingredients now available to prepare our favorite holiday recipes are more convenient than the ones our grandmothers and great-grandmothers used. Preparing a boxed cake mix instead of measuring and mixing all of the ingredients in a cake recipe is just one example. We also have modern appliances that make meal preparation easier and more predictable. I’ll take my electric mixer over a hand whisk to beat egg whites any day. I don’t know anyone who wants to give up the improved safety, quality or convenience these changes offer us when cooking, especially during the holidays.

Some of the ingredients available today also allow us to enhance the nutritional value of a recipe without sacrificing taste or appearance. I’m sure my great-grandmother would have been happy to use enriched flour in her holiday stollen so it would contain more iron and important B vitamins along with all the dried fruits and nuts. She also might have replaced the sugar in her cookies, pies and cakes with SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated had been available in her day. It measures cup for cup when used in place of sugar for cooking, baking and beverages and significantly reduces the calories and carbohydrate that sugar adds. You can try in recipes such as No-Sugar Sugar CookiesIrresistible Lemon Chiffon Pie and Ricotta Cheesecake Torte. I’m sure you’ll agree, the only thing missing is some of the added sugar and calories that go with it!

As you prepare your holiday menus and food shopping lists, here are some other ways to tweak your favorite recipes to cut calories you’re never going to miss – and help curb holiday weight gain. (Please note that the calorie savings can vary depending on the brand of product you select.)

  1. Use fat-free evaporated milk instead of regular evaporated milk in pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes and creamed soups – save about 120 calories per cup
  2. Replace full fat cream cheese with reduced fat cream cheese (Neufchatel) in cheesecake, spreads and frostings – save about 200 calories per 8 ounces
  3. Use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream in dips, sauces and cakes – save about 260 calories per cup full fat Greek yogurt in place of full fat sour cream and 150 calories per cup fat-free Greek yogurt in place of reduced fat sour cream
  4. Make your own Mix Ahead Hot Cocoawith SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated instead of buying instant cocoa packets – save 50 calories per 6 fluid ounces prepared
  5. Choose a single crust pie versus a double crust pie (such as pumpkin pie instead of apple pie) and save at least 100 calories per serving without the top crust (not counting other potential calorie savings in the filling)
  6. Replace half the oil in quick breads with unsweetened applesauce – save about 900 calories per ½ cup of oil you replace
  7. Top warm fruit crisp with whipped cream instead of ice cream – save about 35 calories per ¼ cup “dollop”
  8. Spray cooked vegetables with a mist of olive oil instead of adding melted butter – save about 90 calories for each tablespoon of butter replaced with a spritz of olive oil
  9. Skim fat from stock before making soup or gravy – remove 115 calories per tablespoon of fat
  10. Prepare party punches with SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated instead of sugar – save 677 calories per cup of sugar replaced with SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener. That saves almost 20 calories per serving.

While these are not the only changes that may be needed to avoid holiday weight gain, they are a good start that will benefit everyone around your table. And just as I’ve tweaked my mother’s stuffing recipe to replace the pound of pork sausage with half a pound of lower fat poultry sausage and half a pound of diced mushrooms, you will find ways to reduce the excess calories and added sugar in your holiday meals that no one is going to miss, thanks in part to SPLENDA® Sweeteners. The gathering of family and friends is what matters most during these special celebrations, and it’s nice to know we can continue to pass on traditions from one generation to the next even if the recipes change over time.

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.

Plate size is one way to control portion size

Controlling Food Portions to Help You Curb Holiday Weight Gain

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 TC Heartland, 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.

A simple ruler may hold the key to preventing holiday weight gain this season. You’ll need it when unpacking the festive plates, glasses and utensils you use for all your holiday parties and meals. As indicated by the research cited below noting the size of that dinnerware can help you control the size of the portions you eat.

A study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found a link between portion size and overeating based on a review of more than 70 other studies that looked at the effect of different portion sizes on food consumption. The researchers concluded “people consistently consume more food and drink when offered larger-sized portions, packages or tableware than when offered smaller-sized versions.”

Pick the Right Plate for Portion Control

Choosing a smaller plate or bowl is one way to limit portion sizes according to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research. The research found that using smaller plates can decrease serving size by up to 10% with a corresponding reduction in the number of calories served. If your holiday place settings are super-sized, this may be a good time to pick up some smaller-sized pieces to add to the set to provide the options you need. I found a nice selection of smaller plates and bowls at the discount store that worked well with my tableware, and I got them at a great price, too!

 Apply Caution to the Portion Size When Eating Out

When eating in a restaurant or someone else’s home you typically don’t have a chance to pick your own plate, so other strategies are needed to control food portions. The most important one to remember is that you do not have to eat everything on your plate – or multiple plates if served multiple courses – no matter who prepared the meal or is paying for it. And if questioned about why you didn’t finish be prepared to politely, but firmly, tell your host how delicious the food was, but you simply had enough. You can then ask to take the unfinished portion home.

Need more help? Keep these 5 Portion Control Tips in mind to help you avoid holiday weight gain and unwanted calories all year long:

 Portion Control Tips

  1. Always use a small plate to serve yourself hors d’oeuvres at parties to avoid taking food from platter to mouth where it’s easy to lose track of how much you’ve eaten.
  2. Choose an appetizer for your meal when eating out and complement it with a salad and/or side vegetable.
  3. Alternatively, share an entrée in restaurants and get your own appetizer or salad to start.
  4. Use a salad plate at buffets and don’t put more than three different foods on it at a time, so you must get up and revisit the buffet line if you want more food.
  5. Ask the server for a “primo piatti” portion of pasta, or first course, instead of an entree portion.

For more tips on controlling holiday weight gain, see my earlier blog on “Tweaking Holiday Recipes.”
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 substitutes can help reduce added sugars in the diet

Halloween, Diabetes & Sweet Indulgences – How to Make the Right Choices

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

It’s that time of year when our homes and offices become filled with an assortment of chocolatey, chewy and crunchy candies as we approach Halloween and its aftermath. I know I can’t resist grabbing a few fun-sized bags of my favorite M&Ms from the trick-or-treat bowl when I see them. But what does this sugar-laden holiday mean for the 30 million American children and adults who have diabetes? And how much added sugar can the rest of us enjoy without putting our health at risk?

According to a new survey from the National Confectioner’s Association (NCA), Halloween is the top candy-giving holiday of the year with retail sales expected to reach $2.6 billion in 2015! Fortunately, most people understand candy is a treat to be enjoyed in moderation and nearly 80 percent of parents report they have a plan in place to help children make smart choices after bringing home their Halloween haul. Some parents limit the number of pieces their child is allowed per day while others limit the stash to a certain amount and then get rid of the rest. I like to swap out some candy for sugar-free gum since chewing it can help prevent cavities at the same time it eliminates a food that can cause them.

Limiting the added sugar in the diet

Since Halloween isn’t the only time of year when we eat candy it helps to know how much added sugar we can include in our diets to make room for it when we do. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends we limit added sugar to less than 10 percent of our total calories.  This is equivalent to around 50 grams of sugar (12 teaspoons) a day for someone consuming 2000 calories. The WHO suggests further reductions in added sugar to less than five percent of total calories for additional health benefits.

The NCA reported candy contributes about 50 calories a day to the average American diet, which can mean 4-12 grams of sugar (1-3 teaspoons) depending on the type of candy. That would get you approximately 2 chocolate kisses or 2 hard candies, so if your habit is greater than that you may want to satisfy your sweet tooth with the sugar-free varieties.

Carbohydrates, Candy and Diabetes

The good news for people with diabetes is that the day after Halloween is the start of American Diabetes Month. November 1st is a perfect time to refocus on the goals for good diabetes management, including eating a healthy and balanced diet. Added sugars can be a part of it, but the amount is based on individual carbohydrate allowances at each meal and snack. Since many foods that provide essential nutrients are also a source of carbohydrate, such as fruit, grains and vegetables, it is important for people with diabetes to use their available carbohydrate count for those choices first.

Artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, provide a way to sweeten foods and beverages without unwanted sugar, carbohydrates and calories. For example, a packet of Equal® can replace 2 teaspoons of sugar in a cup of coffee, bowl of oatmeal or dish of yogurt. Another option is to make your own sweet treats like these Double Chocolate Brownies and Fruit Kabobs with Coconut Cream Dipping Sauce. They do have calories and carbohydrates from other ingredients, but less than the original versions and still taste great.

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.

 

Reducing added sugar by changing your coffee habit

How Sweet is Your Coffee? Let Me Count the Ways…

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

It seems every food and drink is celebrated with its own day on the calendar and coffee is no exception. September 29th is designated National Coffee Day and there are sure to be plenty of people raising a mug to honor the occasion since 83 percent of American adults claim they drink coffee – and it’s not just one cup – a according to the National Coffee Association. American coffee drinkers average three 8-ounce cups per day adding up to a total of 146 billion cups per year making the United States the biggest consumer of coffee in the world!

For regular coffee drinkers, placing an order or fixing a cup at home or work is typically done on “auto pilot” thanks to well-worn habits. These are behaviors that help us get through the day without having to make conscious decisions about everything we do. We develop habits after repeating a behavior so many times it becomes an automatic response to a situation.  Whether a habit is a good one or bad one, it’s going to be pretty consistent.

If you like your coffee sweet, that can mean you’re consuming a lot more sugar than you realize. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination found sweetened coffee and tea beverages contribute 7 percent of the added sugars consumed by Americans adults. A woman adding just one teaspoon of sugar to her three cups of coffee each day would be getting half of the 6 teaspoons of sugar per day recommended by the American Heart Association. Sugar isn’t the only way we sweeten our coffee. The average “pump” of flavored coffee syrup is equivalent to 1 ½ teaspoons of sugar, and most specialty drinks have three or four pumps.

Non-dairy creamers can also be a source of added sugars along with milk substitutes, such as almond, coconut and soymilk. Check the ingredient list on the products you use to see if they contain sugar, corn syrup or other caloric sweeteners. You may be surprised to find your favorite “creamer” is not only whitening your brew, but is sweetening it, too.

Adopting some new habits for how you order or fix your coffee can lead to big reductions in both added sugar and unwanted calories. If you start on National Coffee Day by replacing 3 teaspoons of sugar with a sugar substitute every day you’ll have eliminated 1,092 teaspoons of sugar by this time next year or nearly 10 pounds of sugar and over 15,400 calories! The more changes you make the more calories and added sugar you can eliminate.

Here are six healthy habits that will help get you started cutting down on added sugar while still enjoying your coffee sweet every day of the year.

  1. Use a low-calorie sweetener like Equal® in place of sugar to get the sweetness of 2 teaspoons of sugar with just 4 calories compared to 32 calories in 2 teaspoons of sugar
  2. Switch from syrup to spices like nutmeg, cinnamon or cocoa powder to add flavor without sugar or calories
  3. Request sugar-free syrup with zero calories per pump instead of sugar-sweetened syrup with 20 calories per pump
  4. Order a smaller size drink since the bigger the drink the more sugar, syrup and creamer you use
  5. Try a sugar-free non-dairy creamer to save 20 calories and 5 grams sugar per tablespoon
  6. Ask for just a spoonful of whipped cream rather than the full cap that traditionally covers the cup.

 

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