Claims on food labels do always mean what you think

Sugar Free Food Labels – What Do They Mean?

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

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

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

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

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

How to Read Food Labels: First Things First

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Read Food Labels: Sweetening Your Lower Sugar Diet

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

Life can be sweet if you know how to read the labels!
Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Identifying Calorie Culprits

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

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

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

Replacing Hidden Sugar

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

But what about the hidden sugar in foods?

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

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

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

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

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

 

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.

 

how can you tell what products are really natural?

What Does “Natural” Mean?

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

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

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

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

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

Are Food Additives Natural?

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

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

Are Low-Calorie Sweeteners Food Additives?

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

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

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

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

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

For more information, visit:

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
 

Sugar substitutes help make managing diabetes a little easier

The Sweet Truth about Artificial Sweeteners and Diabetes

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com on November 6,, 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.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about diabetes? If you thought of sugar, you’re not alone. The connection between diabetes and excess sugar in the urine was first made by a Greek physician over 2000 years ago. Back when I was studying the disease in college, patients were still expected to test the sugar content of their urine several times a day to see if they were in good control.

We have learned much more about the causes, symptoms and treatment of diabetes in the past 200 years, but its connection to sugar remains strong.

In recognition of American Diabetes Month, I’d like to share the results of some new research on the role of sugar and artificial sweeteners (sugar substitutes) in diabetes, to bring you up to date.

Two Types of Diabetes

There are two classifications of diabetes, commonly known as type 1 and type 2. Only 5 percent of people who have diabetes have type 1, and most are diagnosed when they are children or young adults. Their bodies do not produce the insulin they need to convert sugar and starches into energy, so they must take insulin by injection or other means.

People with type 2 diabetes experience high blood glucose (sugar) levels because they don’t make enough insulin or their body does not use it properly. Being overweight, inactive, and having high blood pressure are some of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes. You may want to take this brief “Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test” offered online for free by the American Diabetes Association.

A combination of lifestyle changes and medications can help keep blood sugar levels within normal limits in people with diabetes.

The Role of Diet in Diabetes

The treatment of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes includes consuming a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy body weight. This can be accomplished by following the same eating patterns recommended for us all in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (pdf). People with diabetes do not have to buy special foods or have different foods prepared for them if the meals the rest of their family is eating are well balanced, but need to be more careful managing their carbohydrate intake.

The key to managing one’s weight is to manage caloric intake. Since sugar has calories, the amount eaten must be controlled just like any other source of calories. But since most people really like sweet-tasting foods and beverages made with sugar, it’s easy to consume too much of them. That why using low calorie sweeteners, such as SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, can be a big help. They let you enjoy the great sugar-like taste, but with few or no calories added.

In fact, numerous studies have found that the use of no-calorie sweeteners (like sucralose), can help people with diabetes in several ways. Some of the benefits of low calorie sweeteners are that they:

  • Can aid in weight loss and maintenance when used in place of sugar
  • Can help limit total carbohydrates in the diet to help regulate blood glucose levels and insulin requirements
  • Can help make reduced calorie and/or carbohydrate diets more palatable which may improve compliance
  • Can help satisfy sweet cravings without increasing hunger or appetite
  • Have no effect on gastric emptying or intestinal sweet receptors
  • Do not contribute to dental caries

Having counseled hundreds of people in my career who were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I always felt it was a shame they didn’t know about the healthy diet and lifestyle I was recommending to them before they got the disease, because if they had it’s possible that they could have prevented it. So to commemorate American Diabetes Month, I’d like to recommend to everyone who does not have diabetes to adopt this way of life to help reduce the risk of developing diabetes.

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:

Polonsky KS. The Past 200 Years in Diabetes. N Engl J Med. 2012;367:1332-1340

Jophnson CA, Stevens B, Foreyt J. The Role of Low-calorie Sweeteners in Diabetes. US Endocr.2013;9(1):13-15

Anderson GH, Foreyt J, Sigman-Grant M, Allison DB. The use of low-calorie sweeteners by adults: impact on weight management. J Nutr.2012;142:1163S–1169S

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.(Lond).2009;33(10):1183–1190

Peters JC, Wyatt HR, Foster GD, Pan Z, Wojtanowski A, Vander Veur SS, Herring SJ, Brill C, Hill JO. The Effects of Water and Non-Nutritive Sweetened Beverages on Weight Loss During a 12-week Weight Loss Treatment Program. Obesity. June 2014;22(6):1415-1421

Piernas C, Tate DF, Wang X, Popkin BM. Does diet-beverage intake affect dietary consumption patterns? Results from the Choose Healthy Options Consciously Everyday (CHOICE) randomized clinical trial. Am J Clin Nutr. March 2013;97(3):604-61

Konstantina Argyri, Alexios Sotiropoulos, Eirini Psarou, Athanasia Papazafiropoulou, Antonios Zampelas, Maria Kapsokefalou. Dessert Formulation Using Sucralose and Dextrin Affects Favorably Postprandial Response to Glucose, Insulin, and C-Peptide in Type 2 Diabetic Patients. Rev Diabet Stud. 2013; 10(1):39-48

Wu T, Bound MJ, Standfield SD, Bellon M, Young RL, Jones KL, Horowitz M, Rayner CK. Artificial sweeteners have no effect on gastric emptying, glucagon-like peptide-1, or glycemia after oral glucose in healthy humans. Diab Care.2013;36:e202-e203

Espinosa I, Fogelfeld L. Tagatose: from a sweetener to a new diabetic medication?Expert Opin Investig Drugs.2010;19(2):285–294.

 

Low calorie sweeteners are safe for everyone in the family

Are Low Calorie Sweeteners Safe for Children and Pregnant Women?

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com on October 31, 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.

The most successful clients I ever saw in my 30+ years providing nutrition therapy to individuals and families were pregnant women. They could break a bad habit overnight and maintain a new one without missing a beat. As proud as I was of their results, I knew it wasn’t because I was such an exceptional counselor. It was because they were all so exceptionally motivated.

They knew their food choices didn’t just affect their own health, and that made all the difference.

One of the most frequently asked questions I got from these women – and they asked a lot of questions – was if it was safe to use low calorie sweeteners while pregnant. Many of them learned the calorie-saving advantages of drinking diet soda in their teens and developed the habit of sweetening their coffee with a no-cal sweetener packet, like SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, while in college. They wanted to continue these simple and satisfying weight control strategies during their pregnancy, but needed reassurance.

The advice I gave these clients of mine was the same whether they were pregnant, nursing or making decisions about what to feed their children. I told them low calorie sweeteners are safe for us all because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process for all food additives, including low calorie sweeteners, covers the entire population since food is equally available to everyone (while drugs require a prescription). If the FDA does feel certain consumers must be made aware of particular ingredients in the food supply, they require food companies to list them on their food labels. That is why there is a statement on products containing phenylalanine to alert those who must avoid it due to a condition called phenylketonuria (PKU).

I would then tap into their motivation by telling them the rest of their diet (or their child’s) matters much more than any one food, beverage or ingredient, such as low calorie sweeteners. My goal was to help them look at the big picture when it comes to food and nutrition, or as we dietitians like to say, takeThe Total Diet Approach. Eating the recommended servings of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, dairy and oils each day is essential to good health, yet easily overlooked if distracted by the latest diet fads.

If my clients asked for evidence to back up my claim that low calorie sweeteners are safe for them to use, I would then refer them to the information on sugar substitutes provided by the American Academy of Family Physicians, which addresses many of the questions families have about the use of low calorie sweeteners. If they still had doubts, I would encourage them to discuss their concerns with their personal physician since he or she is the most qualified person to discuss their health needs. I would remind them that some of the people making unfounded criticisms on the Internet have no medical or other professional qualifications, and that such claims on the Internet are not regulated by anyone.

You have to wonder what motivates some of them?

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.

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Have fun burning calories this fall

Family Fitness Tips for the Fall

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com on September 30, 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.

The added hours we get to spend outdoors during Daylight Savings Time and mild weather that goes with it make it easy to be more active in the summer, even if it does just feel like you’re having fun. Who doesn’t jump at the chance to go for a swim or paddle a kayak on the lake?

Contrary to what some kids may think, the sound of school buses rumbling through the neighborhood doesn’t mean the fun is over. There are still plenty of ways for the entire family to enjoy outdoor activities together now that fall has arrived.

Energy Balance Knows No Season

Maintaining a healthy weight is all about energy balance. The calories we consume from foods and beverages must be matched by the number of calories we use up each day. The problem with most advice on how to do this is it often focuses on getting enough “exercise” to use up those calories. But what if you don’t belong to a gym and don’t have the recommended number of hours per week to spend in one?

The solution is to have more lifestyle activities. They can be things you build into your everyday routines, like walking the dog, or chores you do yourself instead of paying someone else to do, like mowing the lawn. It can also be doing things you enjoy, like dancing. As long as you get your body moving you are helping to stay in energy balance.

Here are 30 Family Fitness Tips for Fall to help get you started.

Parks & Playgrounds

  1. Gather pine cones, rocks or interesting leaves
  2. Climb the monkey bars
  3. Climb a tree
  4. Ride on a swing
  5. Have a scavenger hunt
  6. Hit a tennis ball against a wall
  7. Shoot a basketball and rebound it yourself
  8. Hit golf balls into a field and retrieve them
  9. Play catch with a baseball or softball
  10. Fly a kite

Driveways & Sidewalks & Backyard

  1. Play hopscotch
  2. Draw a mural with chalk
  3. Blow bubbles and chase them
  4. Have a beach paddle ball contest
  5. Throw a football
  6. Hula hoop
  7. Jump rope
  8. Play monkey in the middle
  9. Play bean bag toss
  10. Kick the can

House & Yard Chores

  1. Wash the car and bicycles
  2. Rake leaves
  3. Bag the leaves or pile at the curb
  4. Sweep the garage, porch, patio, deck
  5. Turnover and mulch garden beds
  6. Wash the windows
  7. Shake or beat throw rugs
  8. Paint a fence
  9. Plant fall bulbs in flower garden
  10. Wash patio furniture

And if you want a steaming cup of hot cocoa after your outdoor activities, you can save some calories without giving up the sweet taste by preparing it with SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. Keep a batch of this Mix Ahead Hot Cocoa Mix in your pantry so it’s ready when you are.

For more 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.

 

Learn new ways to prepare favorite foods without gluten and sugar

Gluten Free and Lower Sugar Baking Tips

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.

Would it still be a Caesar salad without the garlic croutons, or still be a strawberry shortcake without the buttermilk biscuit? If you have been diagnosed as being sensitive to gluten, you are likely to face many recipe challenges. And the task is even harder if you want to lower your added sugar intake, too. But just like learning to make new recipes using ingredients and preparation methods that you haven’t tried before takes practice, you can master the art of gluten free and lower-added sugar cooking and baking to keep your meals real.

Wheat Functions & Features

The main value of the gluten in wheat flour, besides being a source of protein, is that it stretches when heated so dough and batters can rise to make light, airy breads, cakes and pastry. Higher protein wheat flour is typically used in yeast breads to give them structure, while lower protein flour, such as cake flour, provides a more tender crumb and texture for cakes and pastry. Without gluten, you’ll need other ways to get volume in your baked goods and create the desired texture.

Flavor is also provided by the type of flour used in a recipe, so when making substitutions for wheat flour you must consider how this will affect the taste of the finished product.

For best results when doing your gluten free cooking and baking, keep these Wheat Substitution Tips in mind.

Wheat Substitution Tips

  1. Follow measuring instructions carefully, such as to sift before measuring
  2. Use a combination of flour substitutes or a ready-made mix to get the benefits of several different ingredients
  3. Trust the recipe; it will have different ratios of liquid and dry ingredients than wheat-based recipes, and more leavening
  4. Don’t measure other ingredients over your mixing bowl, especially leavening, since spillage can affect results
  5. Mix for the time suggested and at the right speed; under or over mixing can affect results
  6. Avoid over filling the pan so batter can rise evenly and won’t collapse before fully baked
  7. Bake in the right type of pan (metal or glass) of the recommended size and at the right temperature
  8. Use a digital or “instant read” thermometer to check the internal temperature of breads to avoid over-baking
  9. Stock your pantry with gluten-free baking products, such as xanthan gum and guar gum, to get volume, and dough enhancers to help prevent items from going stale quickly
  10. You’ll be happy to know that SPLENDA® Sweetener Products have no gluten-containing ingredients.

Sugar Functions & Features

Granulated white sugar, powdered confectioner’s sugar and brown sugar are the sweeteners of choice in most recipes for desserts, candies, jellies and preserves, but they do much more than just sweeten the recipe.

Sugar also provides color, flavor, volume, texture, consistency and/or structure, depending on the recipe you’re making, so when it’s not used other steps must be taken to produce the desired results. You can get some tips on what to do in my blog “Cooking & Baking With Low Calorie Sweeteners” or one from Sue Taylor on “Baking with SPLENDA® Sweetener Products.”

Another great way to sweeten a dish is to substitute a fruit puree (such as unsweetened apple sauce) for some of the oil or other liquids called for. This may require making adjustments in the dry ingredients, too, but the benefits are worth it. You can also add dried fruit bits to enhance the sweetness or a little more of the spice(s) called for, such as cinnamon or nutmeg, or a dash more vanilla or other flavored extract.

Bonus Tip: If you have some failures in your early attempts at making gluten-free and/or lower-sugar recipes, put them in the food processor and turn them into sweet and savory “crumbs” to use as coatings, toppings and extenders for other dishes.

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.