Fad Diets for Weight Loss Have Long History

Fad Diets for Weight Loss Have a Long History

THE HISTORY OF FAD DIETS REVEALS THE STRUGGLE TO LOSE WEIGHT IS NOT NEW

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.

As a registered dietitian I have spent as much time battling wacky weight loss diets as my clients have spent trying to lose weight. Sure, it would be great if you could “lose weight while you sleep” as one fad diet promised, but that’s just not possible. It’s just another empty promise that can do more harm than good in the end.

How can you tell if a fad diet is bad for you? Any diet that puts your health in jeopardy for the sake of losing weight is not good. And sometimes you can tell just by the name!

In honor of National Nutrition Month this March, I’d like to expose some of the fad diets from the past so you won’t be as likely to fall for them in the future. It’s a perfect fit with this year’s theme for National Nutrition Month, Get Your Plate in Shape. The theme combines the equally important messages to balance your food choices and be physically active to get your plate – and your body – into good shape.

Questions about how to get in shape have been around for as long as there have been scales and mirrors! Unfortunately, many of the answers have come in the form of fad diets and wacky weight loss gimmicks. See how many you recognize from this Fad Diet Timeline adapted from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that spans over 200 years, and use it as a reminder that while fad diets may come and go, good nutrition is here to stay.

Fad Diet Timeline

1820 Vinegar & Water Diet, requires mixing apple cider vinegar and water to cleanse the body

1903 “Fletcherizing,” promoted by Horace Fletcher, requires chewing food 32 times

1925 Cigarette Diet, recommends that you “Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet”

1928 Inuit Meat-and-Fat Diet, includes caribou, raw fish and whale blubber

1930 Hay Diet, does not allow carbohydrates and proteins to be eaten in the same meal

1950 Grapefruit Diet, is based on the belief grapefruit juice can melt fat

1964 Drinking Man’s Diet, is made up of alcoholic drinks and meat

1976 Sleeping Beauty Diet, individuals are heavily sedated for several days, so can’t eat

1981 Beverly Hills Diet, allows only fruit, in unlimited amounts, for the first 10 days

1986 Rotation Diet, rotates the number of calories taken in from week to week

1987 Scarsdale Diet, is low in carbohydrates and calories

1994 First version of the Atkin’s Diet, a high protein, very low carbohydrate plan

1995 Sugar Busters, eliminates sugar and refined carbohydrates

1996 Eat Right for Your Type, is based on eating foods matched to your blood type

2000 Raw Foods Diet, focuses on eating just uncooked, unprocessed, organic foods

2004 Coconut Diet, replaces most animal fats and vegetable oil with coconut oil

2011 Baby Food Diet, starts with 14 jars of baby food a day and an optional adult dinner

How many did you recognize?

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

 

Preventing heart disease tastes great!

Every Day Heart Health in February and Beyond

This is a sponsored post developed for The Coca-Cola Company, but all content is my own.

It’s February again, and that means it’s American Heart Month. With all of the health information out there, it can be hard to figure out how to work heart healthy choices into your daily routine. By keeping a few simple tips in mind for foods, beverages and overall health, you can make small changes this month that will benefit your heart all year round.

A balanced healthy eating plan that is low in saturated fat and sodium and full of fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds, fish, high-fiber whole grain breads and cereals will help improve heart health. Select from this wide variety of meal options and make heart-healthy choices all day long.

Heart-Healthy Ways to Start Your Day

Simple swaps like full fat dairy for lower fat milk, yogurt and cheese will help start your day on a heart-healthy note. A few more examples to kick your day off right include:

  • Smoothie made with frozen fruit, fat-free milk and flax seed or wheat germ.
  • Ready-to-eat high-fiber whole grain cereal or cooked oats prepared with fat-free milk, raisins or other dried fruit.
  • Parfait layered with cut-up fruit, low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese and low-fat crunchy granola.
  • Corn meal pancakes or whole grain waffles topped with fruit and a dollop of fat-free ricotta cheese.
  • Whole wheat wrap spread with natural peanut butter or low-fat cream cheese with sliced pears or chopped peaches.
  • Corn tortilla filled with black beans, salsa and shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese.

Lunch Time Meal Solutions

Base your mid-day meal with vegetables, then add low-fat dairy and whole grains for a balanced plate.

  • Roasted vegetable salad with turkey, fresh spinach and light vinaigrette, plus a whole wheat roll with mashed avocado.
  • Easy vegetable soup made with low-sodium tomato juice, frozen mixed vegetables and canned beans, plus whole wheat crackers with low-fat cheese and spicy mustard.
  • Lean beef slider with caramelized onion on potato roll, plus Napa cabbage slaw tossed in reduced-fat mayonnaise and a baked apple topped with low-fat Greek yogurt and toasted walnuts.

Eating Right into the Night

Choose lean proteins like chicken, fish and certain cuts of beef and flavor them with fresh or dried herbs and spices for a satisfying meal lower in fat and sodium, and healthier for your heart.

  • Stir-fried sirloin steak strips and portabella mushrooms over quick-cooking brown rice, plus garlicky green beans and cucumber salad with dill for sides.
  • Black bean veggie burger on multigrain bread with sliced red onion, plus roasted half acorn squash filled with chopped apple, honey and cinnamon and broccoli and bulghur pilaf sides.
  • Sautéed shrimp and cherry tomatoes over orzo with crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese and grilled zucchini basted in olive oil, plus kiwi and strawberry slices over arugula with balsamic vinaigrette.

Sensible Snacks for Any Time of Day

Reducing calories and smart snacking can go hand in hand, just watch your portion sizes.

  • Air-popped popcorn, roasted and seasoned chickpeas, melon cubes, unsalted nuts, citrus sections, dried dates or figs, steamed edamame, bowl of berries, banana chunks dipped in light yogurt, nut butter on whole grain crackers or frozen seedless grapes.
  • Select portion-controlled versions of your favorites, like Coca-Cola mini cans, packs of almonds or pre-portioned desserts for a meal that won’t break the calorie bank, helping you manage your weight for better heart health.

Know Your Numbers

Maintaining a healthy body weight can reduce the risk for heart disease, and this requires knowing how many calories you eat each day. But aside from weight and calories, it’s important to know all the factors that contribute to heart health. Be sure to talk to your doctor about lipid levels (cholesterol and triglyceride), blood pressure, fasting glucose (blood sugar), Body Mass Index and weight circumference numbers, and discuss any changes to your routine that can improve your heart health this February and beyond.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN is a registered dietitian and cultural anthropologist with a focus on the societal forces continually shaping eating behavior and food trends. Her 30+ year career includes maintaining a busy nutrition counseling practice, teaching food and nutrition courses at the university level, authoring two popular diet books (The Wedding Dress Diet and Fighting the Freshman Fifteen) and numerous articles on diet and health and her high-traffic blog, TheEverydayRD. Today she is multimedia spokesperson and consultant to global food and beverage companies, including The Coca-Cola Company.

Compounds in raw cocoa can be good for the ehart

Does Chocolate Deliver Health Benefits?

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.

Have you ever stopped to think about why the iconic heart we see everywhere for Valentine’s Day is the symbol of love? I did, and after a little research I learned that in ancient times people believed the heart was the center of all human emotions because it was in the center of the chest. That isn’t a very scientific explanation, but I can’t argue with it since we still don’t have a better answer.

Then I started to wonder how chocolate become part of the “love story.” If you love chocolate, you’ll be happy to learn there is a scientific connection!

The Benefits of What’s in Chocolate

First, a brief anatomy lesson. The heart is a pump that pushes blood through a network of more than 60,000 miles of blood vessels made up of arteries, veins and capillaries. Together the heart and blood vessels are referred to as the cardiovascular system and its job is to deliver essential nutrients and oxygen to every cell in the body.

As we age our blood vessels become less flexible, making it harder for them to expand and contract with changes in blood flow. This can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.

Flavanols are naturally occurring compounds found in many plants, including the cocoa beans used to make chocolate. Research has shown that when we eat certain types and amounts of these “cocoa flavanols” they can have effects on blood vessels that may help keep them more elastic and therefore make the cardiovascular system work better.

Is Eating Chocolate Good for the Heart?

Just like any other food, all chocolate is not created equal. Differences in the seeds that are planted to grow a cocoa tree, to differences in the way the cocoa beans are fermented, dried, roasted, liquefied and combined with other ingredients to make the chocolate we know and love can affect the flavanol content of the finished products. And contrary to popular notions, the darkness of the chocolate, or percent cocoa, is not an indication of flavanol content.

At present there is evidence that cocoa flavanols can be good for our hearts. Studies have shown these flavanols can reduce the clumping of platelets that create plaque in the arteries, and may help protect against higher blood pressure and reduce levels of harmful oxidized LDL-cholesterol in the blood. And further research indicates that what’s good for our hearts is good for our brains!

The only problem is that the science is still evolving on how much cocoa flavanol we need to eat to be sure of benefits, and products made with cocoa don’t always have a meaningful amount of flavanols.

Delightful Chocolate Recipes from SPLENDA® Brand

We can still enjoy the undeniably delicious taste of chocolate just for the pleasure it brings us while following the Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations of the American Heart Association to help keep our cardiovascular systems strong. And when we prepare chocolate treats using a no-calorie sugar substitute, like SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, we can enjoy that chocolaty-sweet taste with fewer calories and carbohydrates from added sugar.

My all-time favorite chocolate recipe is this Chocolate Pudding Cake because it combines the comfort of a mug of rich hot chocolate with the decadent satisfaction of a warm chocolate cake. You might also want to try these Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes. They’re made with ½ cup cocoa powder and are so moist and flavorful that the Rich Chocolate Frosting is optional.

For those who like their chocolate creamy and smooth, this Chocolate Pudding with Strawberries is the way to go. It’s made with skim milk and fat free whipped topping to help with reducing the calorie and fat content. And if you prefer a little crunch with your chocolate, you can whip up a batch of these Chocolate-Almond Biscotti. They’re perfect with a cup of flavored coffee at just 60 calories each.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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:

  • Food Timeline: Valentine’s Day Candies.
  • Bultrago-Lopez A, Sanderson J, Johnson L, Warnaakula S., Wood A., Di Angelantonio E., Franco OH. Chocolate consumption and cardiometabolic disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ.2011;343:d4488
  • Corti R., Flammer AJ, Hollenberg NK, Luscher T. Contemporary Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine: Cocoa and Cardiovascular Health. Circ. 2009;119:1433-1441
  • Brickman AM, Khan UA, Provenzano FA, Yeung LK, Suzuki W, Schroeter H, Wall M, Sloan RP, Small SA. Enhancing dentate gyrus function with dietary flavanols improves cognition in older adults. Neuro. November 2, 2014; 17:1798–1803 doi:10.1038/nn.3850
  • American Heart Association. The American Heart Association’s Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations.
Research shows people eat less of a snack they crave when they delay eating it.

Research Offers Simple Way to Snack Less on Foods You Crave

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

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

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

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

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

Why Postponing Works?

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

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

Delay Trumps Denial

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

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

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

“I think I’ll pass!”

Calories, nutrients in food, physical activity and more can all be tracked using new online tool

Keeping Track of Food, Calories & Fitness Just Got Easier!

CALORIES, NUTRIENTS IN FOOD, PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND MORE CAN ALL BE TRACKED USING NEW ONLINE TOOL

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.

Have you been eating more fruits and vegetables? If so you can credit the USDA and its private sector partners for getting out the message to “Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.” That campaign began in September 2011 following the release of the ChooseMyPlate icon, designed to help reshape the nations eating habits.

Now it’s time to take it up a notch.

From January through April 2012 the key message is “Enjoy your food, but eat less.” I love the message because it reinforces the fact that eating is meant to be enjoyed – not something we hear too often from a government program!

The best part about this new campaign is that it comes with a great line up of online tools to help you plan and keep track of your food, fitness and health. It’s called SuperTracker and includes:

Food-A-Pedia – Includes over 8000 foods you can look up to see their nutrient content and make comparisons to other foods

Food Tracker – Lets you enter the foods you eat each day to track your intake and compare it to your nutrition goals

Physical Activity Tracker – Lets you enter your daily activities and tracks your progress

My Weight Manager – Get weight management guidance by entering of your weight and tracking your progress

My Top 5 Goals – Select your personal health goals then sign in for tips and support from a virtual coach

My Reports – Get reports to see progress towards goals and trends over time

All you have to do is login and create a personal profile to take advantage of all these valuable tools and resources. I can’t think of a better way to learn how to “enjoy your food, but eat less.”

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.

 

Use these simple eating tips for form good eating habits in the New Year

Eating Tips for Good Health and Weight Loss in the New Year

USE THESE SIMPLE EATING TIPS FOR FORM GOOD EATING HABITS IN THE NEW YEAR

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

Anyone old enough to stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve will probably make a resolution to drop a few pounds in the coming year. It’s one of the top resolutions made in the first minute of the first day of every new year. If it’s on your list, I have a few eating tips that can help you reach your health and weight loss goals in 2013.

The key is forming good eating habits so the preferred behavior happens automatically. A habit is a habit whether good or bad, so swapping out your old way of eating for something new, and better, solves the problem for good.

The biggest challenge is interrupting the status quo. It’s like switching off the cruise control in the car when we’re driving on a highway. Once we do, we’ve got to think about maintaining the speed limit again. The same is true when we‘re making food decisions. It’s not that we dislike every brand of high fiber cereal on the shelf; we just keep selecting the same low fiber one over and over again because that’s what we’ve always done.

But that does not mean you should skip the resolutions when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st. If you’re really willing to leave the old year behind, let this be the year you ring in good health and weight loss for the very last time.

Top 10 Eating Tips For 2013

  1. Pick a start date that works for you. There’s nothing magical about January 1st, or the 52 Mondays in the year, or your birthday. There’s also no reason to wait a minute longer if you’re ready. You can start right now.
  2. Be brutally honest with yourself about what has blocked your success in the past. Do you feel entitled to eat certain foods? Procrastinate about meal planning? Blame others for your food choices? It’s time to deal with those disabling thoughts and beliefs.
  3. Make educating yourself about good nutrition part of your commitment. It is much easier to eat well when you understand why it matters.
  4. Talk about the changes you’re making to those who need to know so they can be supportive of your efforts and so they’ll understand why you stopped eating the way you used to do.
  5. Don’t try to make anyone else change along with you, just be an example for them. You can only change yourself.
  6. Plan each meal and snack around a fruit or vegetable – or both – instead of thinking about the meat or starch first.
  7. If you eat out more than once a month, it’s not a special occasion. Those meals should be as well- planned and carefully selected as the meals you eat at home.
  8. Don’t worry about disappointing others if you don’t eat as much as you used to or celebrate with food the way you once did. Worry about disappointing yourself.
  9. Small changes are all it takes to overhaul your life as long as you make enough of them and you stick with each one.
  10. Make sure you never view any food as a reward, no matter how tempting or delicious. If you’re thinking, “I deserve to eat this,” don’t eat it unless you can say, “I choose to eat this.”

How many of your resolutions from last year did you keep?

Changing traditions can prevent weight gain from holiday foods and special party dishes

Holiday Treats, Party Dishes and Weight Gain

CHANGING TRADITIONS CAN PREVENT WEIGHT GAIN FROM HOLIDAY FOODS AND SPECIAL PARTY DISHES

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

If you’re worried about gaining weight during Q4 (fourth quarter) with all of the holiday treats around, it may be time to rethink your annual food budget. Not the amount of money you spend on food, but how you eat throughout the year that makes holiday foods so costly in terms of calories.

It works something like this.

You deprive yourself of foods you love all year, and then when party dishes show up at traditional year-end gatherings, you cash in. The faulty logic of this approach is believing you can have all you want of the Hanukkah honey puffs or Christmas rum balls because you only eat them once a year. If only the math worked in your favor.

The sad truth is you can’t average out the calories you ate today over the other 364 days of the year.

What Makes Some Foods So Special?

The menus for most holiday feasts originated at a time when food was scarce. Being able to celebrate special occasions with foods you rarely got to eat, or foods that had historical or religious significance, helped make the events and the foods seem more important. Over time, the two got so cemented together in our psyches that we reserved eating those foods just for those occasions, even if we could enjoy them on any other day of the year.

The problem is we now have an abundance of food all year round and endless opportunities to eat more than we need. There is no longer a shortage of eggs, oil, or sugar, yet the symbolism of these ingredients and the holiday foods they’re used in lingers on.

One way to avoid over-indulging in them may be to start preparing your favorite party dishes at other times of year. By giving yourself permission to dip into those treasured recipes whenever you like you can diminish some of the pull they may have over your self-control when you confront them during the holidays.

What Else Can We Celebrate?

Gathering extended family around the same table has become a rarity in our 21st Century lives, yet is as important to our survival as the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock was nearly 400 years ago. Maybe now, instead of focusing all of our attention on the food we serve, we can use these special occasions to reconnect with one another.

One way to do that would be to start a “tech-free tradition” that requires everyone to leave behind their smart phones and tablets. Imagine all the verbal messages and hugs that might be exchanged when talking face-to-face with hands free!

What favorite holiday food would you like to eat all year?

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.

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