Avoiding sugar is not the key to weight control

Avoiding Excess Calories

This post was written as a guest blog for Americans for Food and Beverage Choice. You can read the original post here.

I heard a funny joke the other day about a woman who couldn’t double the recipe for her favorite chocolate chip cookies because her oven didn’t go up to 700 degrees. Anyone who likes to cook knows you don’t have to double the oven temperature to make more cookies, just the ingredients, but it got me thinking about some of the other “kitchen math” that keeps people from eating well.

Counting calories is by far the toughest nutrition problem most people have to solve each day. Knowing how many calories we consume is one half of the energy balance equation (more math!) Knowing how much energy we expend in physical activity is the other half. The calories from all foods and beverages contribute equally to the intake side of the equation. When we consume more calories than we expend we can gain weight. Increasing our level of activity is one way to off-set those extra calories. Consuming fewer calories is another. Keeping both sides in balance is the goal for weight maintenance. If you’re tuned in to popular media you might think sugar-sweetened drinks are responsible for obesity, but that simply isn’t true.

All calories count – which is why I shake my head in disbelief at those who single out just one caloric source as the cause for obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Proponents of taxes on soda, warnings on sugar-sweetened beverages, and more red tape for grocery stores have got it wrong. As a registered dietitian, I’m convinced that consuming excess calories is the problem and unfortunately, there is no tax that will fix that.

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.

Knowing "how much" and "how often" are key yo making the best food chocies

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

This post was written as a guest blog for Americans for Food and Beverage Choice. You can read the original post here.

One of the liabilities of being a registered dietitian is that we are asked a lot of questions about food and nutrition, even when we’re not on duty. That happened to me recently while looking over menu choices at an international buffet. The woman in line next to me saw “Registered Dietitian Nutritionist” on my name badge so sought my opinion without any introduction.

Her question reminded me of how eager people are to have “yes” or “no” answers about eating certain foods when what they really need to know is “how much” and “how often.”

Let me explain.

Herbs and spices have long been used for medicinal purposes in addition to flavoring our food. Over time scientific studies have been able to demonstrate the health benefits of some of these ‘”traditional” therapies, like mint for an upset stomach and cinnamon for blood sugar control. But just like taking a drug, there is a right dose and right frequency that provide those benefits.

Now back to the woman on the buffet line. She wanted to know if she should take the Chicken Tikka Masala for her lunch since it had turmeric in it, and she heard turmeric can prevent tumor growth. She went on to say she had a strong family history of *** cancer and was concerned about finding a lump. While that is a lot of information to get from a complete stranger, I couldn’t help but wonder if she really believed a single meal from this buffet would lower her risk of cancer? I also hoped she was taking other steps to protect her health. Then I told her if she liked tikka masala this version looked very good.

This encounter reminded of how easy it is for people to think they shouldn’t consume any foods or drinks sweetened with sugar because they see headlines that proclaim “sugar is toxic” or “soda causes obesity.” While neither claim is true, what gets lost in the headlines is the “how much” and “how often” part of the discussion and the other factors that contribute to a healthy lifestyle.

Eating a wide variety of foods and balancing your energy intake with adequate physical activity are part of a healthy lifestyle. So are getting enough rest, managing stress and not using tobacco products. And if you enjoy sugar-sweetened beverages or those made with low-calorie sweeteners, they can be part of a healthy lifestyle, too.

It all comes down to how much and how often and what else you’re doing to make all of the pieces of a healthy lifestyle add up right. When you do you’ll find life really can be sweet with sugar and spice!

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.

 

Blends made with sucralose p and sugar make baking easy

Sugar Substitutes for Baking: SPLENDA® Sugar Blends

This post was written as a guest blog for 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.

Even though I am a big proponent of low-calorie sweeteners, like SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, to lower the calories from sugar in my diet, that doesn’t mean I’m anti-sugar. Far from it! I am reminded of this whenever I’m preparing those less-added-sugar desserts that just wouldn’t turn out right if they didn’t have some sugar in them.

Thankfully, there is a way to get the unique cooking properties of sugar with fewer calories and still get the results you’d expect from full sugar.

Less Added Sugar vs No Sugar

SPLENDA® Sugar Blend and Brown Sugar Blend can help in preparing lower added sugar versions of your favorite recipes. Each is a mix of sucralose (the sweetening ingredient in all SPLENDA® Sweeteners) and pure sugar – either white or brown sugar. Baked goods made with them achieve the volume, moistness and browning you want, but with less sugar.

Since SPLENDA® Sugar Blends get half their sweetness from sucralose, you don’t have to use as much to get the sweet taste you want. That’s how they help you cut sugar calories. For most recipes, you simply replace the full amount of sugar called for with half as much SPLENDA® Sugar Blend orSPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend. Every cup of sugar replaced with half a cup of SPLENDA® Sugar Blend saves you 387 calories and 100 grams of carbohydrate!

This product is different from SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated, which offers even more calorie savings. SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener works best in recipes where sugar is used for sweetness rather than functionality, and can be used in many baked goods with no, or only minor, modifications. A big advantage to using SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated is that you can make one-to-one measurements of it to replace the sugar in a recipe. A cup of SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated has the same sweetening power as a cup of sugar, but with 678 fewer calories.

You can find recipes like these Choco-Chip Cookies that combine SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated with brown sugar.

When Every Calorie Counts

It’s great to know we can cook and bake with sugar substitutes and still enjoy the foods we love, but with fewer calories from sugar. It’s also important to know that the calories we save using sugar substitutes like SPLENDA® Sweeteners have nothing to do with all of the other ingredients in our recipes. That means the calories in the flour, butter, eggs and chocolate chips in my favorite cookie recipe don’t disappear when I use SPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend in place of brown sugar – but I do appreciate the reduction. You can read more about that in my earlier blog, Where is the Hidden Sugar in Your Meals? How to Identify Hidden Calorie Culprits.

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 about cooking and baking with SPLENDA® Sweetener Products, visit the Cooking & Baking section of this blog.

 

Heart Healthy Foods You May Have Missed

Some Heart Healthy Foods You May Have Missed

LOOK FOR THESE HEART HEALTHY FOODS THAT DON’T GET THE ATTENTION THEY DESERVE

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

When looking for foods that can improve your heart health, many of the ones most often recommended are either expensive, not easy to find, or are foods you don’t like. That doesn’t mean you have no chance of lowering your risk factors for heart disease through diet. The same attributes in those commonly named “heart-healthy” foods are found in many other more palatable options.

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Sardines – Salmon gets all the attention when it comes to fatty fish, but sardines are one of the most concentrated sources of the omega-3 fats DHA and EPA you can get, and at a much lower price all year round. The oils in fatty fish help lower triglycerides in the blood and reduce blood pressure and irregular heart rhythms. A 3-ounce serving eaten twice a week is all you need.

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Black beans – Oatmeal is recognized as being good for your heart, but dry beans, like black beans, have the same benefits and are far more versatile in the diet. Beans are a good source of soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and keeps it from being absorbed. They are also rich in phytonutrients, like flavonoids, that can inhibit the clumping of platelets in the blood. Eating ½ cup a day can make a difference.

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Raisins –Like blueberries, raisins are rich in antioxidants that help reduce cardiovascular risk factors, such as blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and markers for inflammation. Unlike blueberries, raisins are convenient to have on hand no matter what the season. Enjoy ¼ cup as a fruit serving daily.

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Popcorn – Whole grains don’t just in the form of breads and cereals. Popcorn is a whole grain and a good source of polyphenols, a naturally occurring antioxidant, that improves heart health. It’s very budget friendly and a satisfying snack as long as it’s prepared without excess salt and oil.

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Milk– Most often associated with calcium, milk is also high in potassium which is maintain the fluid balance in the body and help the kidneys eliminate excess sodium. With as much potassium as a medium banana, every 8 ounce glass of fat free milk you drink is a great way to keep your heart strong.

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Plant Stanols and Sterols – These compounds are found in very small amounts in fruits, vegetables, and grains. They help block the absorption of cholesterol, but there is not enough of them in foods to get the 2 grams a day needed for cholesterol-lowering benefits. Daily use of foods fortified with stanols and sterols, such as Minute Maid Heart Wise Orange juice and Benecol spread, is an valuable way to supplement a heart-healthy diet.

Low calorie sweeteners all taste sweet, but are not the same

Are Some Sugar Substitutes Better than Others?

This post was written as a guest blog for 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.

Most people know that carrots are a healthier choice than candy, but what about carrots versus kale? If you compare the nutrient content of each you will find a half cup portion of cooked carrots provides more vitamin A than an equal portion of cooked kale, but the kale has more vitamin C.

Since we need both vitamin A and vitamin C for good health, the best choice might be to eat both carrots and kale!

A harder question to answer, but one I’m asked all the time is, “What is the best sugar substitute?” Since so many people do not understand the unique features of the available no-calorie sweeteners, I like to refer them to my blog, “Sucralose, Stevia, Aspartame, What’s the Difference?” to find the information needed to compare them.

Maybe you’ve heard stevia is a healthier sugar substitute than sucralose, the sweetener in SPLENDA® Sweetener Products, because it is a “natural” sweetener compared to sucralose. This is, however, really a myth. I also covered that question in a previous blog, “What Does Natural Mean?”

There is also no official definition for the term “natural” for ingredients used in prepared foods. If you really want to compare stevia vs sucralose, here are the facts you need to see how they stack up.

Stevia vs Sucralose

sucralose chart

Finding the healthiest foods is not easy since we need so many different nutrients for good health and no one food can provide them all. Deciding which sugar substitute is best for you is much easier – just choose the one that tastes best to you!

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.

Reference: Global Stevia Institute http://globalsteviainstitute.com/stevia-facts/

For more information about sugar substitutes, visit the Sugar Substitutes section of this blog.

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There's no rpoof diet drinks causes weight gain

DO YOGA PANTS AND DIET DRINKS MAKE YOU FAT?

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

Have you noticed how many more people are wearing sweatpants, yoga pants or leggings instead of jeans these days? If you have, or are among those who have made the switch, it is a growing trend. According to one market report, jean sales have been declining for the last three years while sales of “active pants” have been on the rise.

What you also may have noticed is that not everyone wearing athletic attire looks like they spend a lot of time in the gym. Do you suspect that their trendy new attire has made them gain weight?

Probably not.

My guess is that while it’s nice to be in fashion, the elastic waist bands and stretchy fabrics are very forgiving for anyone who has put on a few pounds and doesn’t want to buy bigger clothes.

This observation reminded me of another common misperception that isn’t as easily debunked. Many people believe that diet drinks can lead to weight gain because so many of the people who regularly drink them are overweight. But what we really should be asking is, which came first — the excess weight or the diet drink?

While there may be an association between wearing yoga pants or drinking diet beverages and being overweight, the behavior didn’t cause the problem. Overweight people may simply be more comfortable wearing yoga pants and may drink diet beverages to help them reduce their caloric intake.

There is no evidence of cause and effect here.

That’s an important point to keep in mind whenever you see headlines that proclaim an association, correlation, relationship or link between a population and a particular behavior or food choice. So if you happen to drink diet soda or wear sweatpants, you’ve got nothing to worry about. And if that active wear makes it easier to get more exercise, that’s even better!

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.`

 

 

Balancing food choices is the key to diabetic meal plans

Delicious Ideas for Your Diabetes Meal Plan

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.

People who have diabetes do not have different nutritional needs than those who do not have the disease. There also is no one diabetes diet or diabetic diet meal plan they must follow. Instead, what individuals who have been diagnosed with diabetes do have is a greater motivation to eat well to manage their illness. And when they do that they are also lowering their risk factors for heart disease and stroke, two leading causes of death for all Americans.

A valuable tool that can help you get on the right track is ChooseMyPlate. It provides all of the practical information you need to build a healthier diet based on the Dietary Guidelines, from shopping lists and safe food storage tips to healthier holiday choices and eating for vegetarians.

Looking for Meal-Time Inspiration

Numerous websites, books and other sources share information about diabetic diet meal plans, but that doesn’t mean you have to find one and stick with it. Living with diabetes means knowing how to adapt any menu or recipe to meet your personal needs. Working with a qualified healthcare professional, such as a Registered Dietitian or Certified Diabetes Educator is the first step to understanding how to do that.

Once you know how to manage diabetes you’ll be able to find inspiration everywhere, from award-winning cookbooks to your favorite cooking show on TV. Sometimes all you need to do is make a simple substitution in a recipe so it will “add up right” for you, like using SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, instead of sugar.

The best news of all is that your good example can be followed by the rest of your family to improve their diets, too. As I’ve often said, one of the best ways to prevent diabetes is to eat as if you already had it.

Living with diabetes is not about whether or not you can have sugar or how many carbs are in a bagel. It’s about a lifestyle that includes making the right food and beverage choices, not smoking, getting regular exercise, adequate sleep and more.

So if you’re still wondering, “Is There a Diabetic Diet?” check out this blog post about diabetic diet by fellow blogger and dietitian Hope Warshaw. You’ll find advice that’s good for us all.

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.

 

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

Are Cheat Days a Helpful Diet Strategy?

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

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

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

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

The Power of Words

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

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

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

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

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

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

Practice Being Normal

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

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

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

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

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.