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.


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 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 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.

Swap sugar for Splenda to reduce calories and weight

Cutting Calories Every Day with SPLENDA® Sweetener Products

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

When I was a little girl I always stopped to pick up a penny in the street if I saw one. Back then it bought me a piece of bubble gum. If I saved ten of those pennies I could buy a comic book. Eventually I was collecting the pennies I found in a jar with all my other loose change to help fund more expensive things, like my college tuition. I still pick up pennies in the street because I know they can add up.

Reducing the added sugar in my diet one teaspoon at a time works on the same principle. Every teaspoon of sugar I don’t eat by using a low-calorie sweetener like SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener can add up to cups of sugar over time. And, for me, that adds up to thousands of saved calories.

It’s easy to replace sugar with a low-calorie sweetener in your morning coffee and to order a diet soda with lunch to save some calories. Using SPLENDA® Sweetener Products to make your favorite dessert recipes is another simple way to enjoy something sweet without all the calories of sugar. Speaking of desserts, here’s a great one to share with your friends and guests on the Fourth of July, especially since fresh berries are in season.

Many ideas for recipes using SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener have been shared in other blogs on SPLENDA LIVING™. But are you taking advantage of all the less obvious ways you can save a few teaspoons of added sugar in your meals? Let me show you how.

Some places to be aware of added sugars are in salad dressings and sauces. For example, if you enjoy Cucumber–Onion Salad as much as I do (especially when cucumbers are plentiful in my garden), using this recipe can save you calories from added sugar. Another favorite of mine is the Asian-infused dressing on this Layered Chicken Salad that helps make this dish high in flavor. And if you like to put a sweet and tangy glaze on your baked ham, this Rosemary-Mustard Glazed Ham does just that, with less added sugar. Remember, every ½ cup of sugar you omit from a recipe removes nearly 400 calories!

The other part of the menu where I always find sugar that can be replaced with SPLENDA® Sweetener Products is in side dishes. Two of my favorites are this Noodle Kugel, which uses SPLENDA® Sugar Blend with only half the calories of full sugar, and Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes, where either SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, 1 Gram of Fiber or SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener can be used. The kugel incorporates several lower fat ingredients as well. Once you’ve tried it I’m sure you won’t want to wait for a special occasion to serve it again!

Another way to eliminate some unwanted sugar from your meals is by using a low-calorie sweetener in your home-made tomato-based sauces. Some commercial sauces rely on sugar or other caloric sweeteners, but you can use SPLENDA® Sweeteners. This Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Bowl uses ¼ cup of SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated for a pasta sauce that anyone would be proud to serve.

For more ideas on how to make SPLENDA® Sweeteners part of your everyday cooking, visit Splenda® Recipes – and be sure to share your own special creations with me here!

Having too many food choices can result in overeating if we make the wrong decisions in the grocery store

Can Too Many Food Choices Lead to Obesity?

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 the original blog here.


The average grocery store in the U.S. now has up to 60,000 different items in stock. That’s good news if you’ve always wanted a mango chipotle salad dressing, but for most of us that’s just too many food choices. And research shows that choice overload may actually be contributing to the obesity epidemic.

I like grocery shopping since I’m in the food and nutrition business. But with the expanding number of products for sale, it now takes me a lot longer to do it. Supermarkets are where food manufacturers showcase their latest and greatest products, so everything that fills the shelves is of interest to me. How else could I possibly know there are low sodium olives and braised beef flavor with sweet potato dog treats?

But for most people, food shopping is a chore – a dreaded chore. The more people you have to feed, the more dreaded it is because the pantry never remains stocked for very long. And each trip back to the store involves another round of decision-making as you take in all those choices.

A simple shopping list is not enough to help you win the battle against too many food choices.

Food Choice and Hunger

No matter how much you may like macaroni and cheese, it would soon lose its appeal if you had to eat it over and over again (toddlers excluded). Research shows that appetite declines, regardless of physicalhunger, when limited to eating the same food day after day. This loss of interest in food is also seen in people who have lost their sense of taste.

The other side of that coin is called hedonic hunger. That is when you eat more than you physically need because you can move from one food to another to get a new taste sensation. Our enjoyment of food over-rides our sensation of satiety. That’s what happens every time we order dessert immediately after a meal.

When food shopping, we are not literally consuming everything we put into our carts, but we are “setting the table” for what we might consume once we get that food home. How well we make those decisions can contribute to overeating.

Overchoice and Overeating

Careless Decisions: Overwhelmed by having to make so many decisions you grow mentally tired of evaluating all the choices. To simplify the process you may ignore important information (price, nutrient content, health claims), make an impulsive decision or don’t choose at all, even if it’s something you really needed. That is how you leave the store with a familiar brand of cereal instead of the high fiber, low sugar one you meant to buy.

Incomplete Decisions: You make a decision but are not satisfied with it because you don’t know if you saw every possible choice, and fear there may have been something better. Your enjoyment of that food is diminished by a feeling of uncertainty about what you may have missed and you are likely to eat more of it trying to become satisfied. That is how you can polish off a half-gallon of low fat ice cream in a few days so you can go back to look for more options.

Irrational Decisions: The availability of so many tempting choices can over-ride your rational, decision-making process and make it easier to select foods for other reasons, such as to reward yourself or satisfy emotional needs. That is how you arrive home with so many items that were not on your shopping list.

To avoid poor decisions when food shopping, my advice is to:

  • always have a list
  • never shop when hungry
  • pay in cash

What works for you?

Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in surgical gear from a scene in the movie Sleeper

Question the Health Benefits of Organic Brands

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 the post here.


Remember that funny scene in Woody Allen’s 1973 futuristic movie Sleeper when they dispute the health benefits of organic food? Well it looks like the future is here because the danger of eating organic brands has now been proven, that is if all you rely on is the label.

The twist has to do with what we perceive to be true about a food based on how it’s labeled. The effect has been dubbed a “health halo” and it happens when terms such as organic, natural and free-range are found on food. Some of us are more susceptible to it than others.

According to a new study, if you’re under the spell of a health halo, you’re more likely to think a food labeled as organic tastes better, has fewer calories and is better for you than its identical counterpart without an organic label. The study even found you’re willing to pay more for the food if smitten by the benefits of an organic label.

This is the point where I’d like to insert the old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Power of Labels

Researchers from the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab recruited 115 people from a shopping mall in Ithaca, NY for their study. Each of the participants was given 2 identical samples of 3 different foods – 2 yogurts, 2 cookies and 2 portions of potato chips. One item in each pair was labeled “organic” and the other was labeled “regular,” even though both items in each pair were exactly the same.

The participants were asked to rate the taste and caloric content of each item and tell the researchers how much they’d be willing to pay for each. They then completed a questionnaire asking about their shopping habits and environmental practices.

As you might have guessed by now, the organic label influenced the opinion the participants had for those products.

Benefits of Organic

The researchers found the health halo effect of the organic label did not have a strong an influence over people who regularly buy organic foods, read nutrition labels and practice pro-environment behaviors. But for the people who didn’t match that description, they were susceptible to biases when they rated the foods. They said:

Organic cookies and Organic yogurt

  • contained fewer calories than regular
  • tasted like they had less fat than regular
  • were worth paying 23.4% more for than regular

Organic cookies and Organic potato chips

  • were more nutritious than regular

Organic yogurt and Organic potato chips

  • were more appetizing than regular
  • were more flavorful than regular

Regular cookies

  • tasted better than organic

While this study does not support Woody Allen’s premonition that hot fudge will someday be a health food, it does serve as a reminder that we should look beyond the label on the organic brands we buy. After all, organic hot fudge is still hot fudge.

Find out more on food labels here:

  • Nutrition Facts on Foods & Product Label Claims
  • Imagine Shopping Without Nutrition Facts on Food Labels
  • New Coke Ad Goes beyond the Nutrition Facts Label
People fill their grocery shopping carts with foods they like.

Obesity and What We Buy at the Supermarket

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


Do you like to check-out what other people have in their carts when doing your grocery shopping? I admit it, I do, but then I’m a nutrition expert. For me, watching what people buy at the supermarket is like looking through a microscope for a biologist.

One of the most interesting observations I repeatedly make is that having a higher income and access to better quality food does not necessarily mean you buy better groceries.

Apparently I’m not the only one who has noticed this.

Some fascinating new research has taken a look at what people eat when they live in so-called “food deserts” – typically poor urban areas with few grocery stores – and those who live in the burbs with endless choices. As it turns out, no one is filling their cart with the right stuff.

Quality of the American Diet

A study published in the February 2013 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics described how well the diets of Americans from different groups across the country stacked up when compared to the recommendations in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines. The authors concluded that regardless of socioeconomic status, the diets of everyone 2 years and older were far less than optimal.

Of interest, children in the lowest income group had higher dietary scores than those in the higher income groups due to their participation in national School breakfast and Lunch Programs and Summer Food Service program. Also of note, suburban families ate more fast food meals because they were often in the car during the dinner hour traveling between various after school activities.

Availability of Better Quality Food

Another study compared the diets of more than 8,000 school children and how much they weighed to the number of food outlets in the different residential neighborhoods where they lived. The goal was to see if there was a connection between available food sources and obesity in children.

The researchers found poor neighborhoods had nearly twice as many fast food restaurants and convenience stores and more than three times as many corner stores compared to wealthier ones, but they also had twice as many supermarkets per square mile. When they analyzed all of the data the researchers concluded that exposure to the all of these food outlets does not independently explain weight gain in school age children.

A similar study conducted with more than 13,000 children and teenagers in California found no relationship between what type of food students ate, what they weighed, and the type of food available within a mile and a half of their homes. The researchers concluded living close to a supermarket did not make students thin and living close to a fast food outlet did not make them fat.

What’s On Your Shopping List?

These studies are important because there are still people who believe the only thing keeping overweight and obese Americans from losing weight is the availability of more fresh fruits and vegetables where they buy groceries. I never believed it based on what I saw other people putting in their shopping carts. Maybe the solution is a better shopping list?

Find other ways to shop smart when you buy groceries here:

  • Imagine Shopping Without Nutrition Facts on Labels
  • Want to Save Time and Money in the Supermarket?
  • Can Too many Food Choices lead to Obesity?
  • Eating Healthy on a Budget
Add these best canned food products to your healthy food list

12 Canned Food Products On My Healthy Foods List

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


February is National Canned Foods Month, so I checked my pantry to see what canned food products would make my healthy foods list. The features they all share are that they have a long shelf life, so are a convenient and inexpensive way to have nutritious foods all year round. They can be more nutritious than fresh foods that are not used right away or prepared properly, and there’s no waste. The availability of some key nutrients is actually enhanced by the canning processing over fresh or frozen forms, while fiber content is unchanged. There are more low sodium options to choose from today than ever before and canned beans can be made lower in sodium just by rinsing. The best canned food feature of all is that the container is completely recyclable!


Tomato Paste – Best Canned Food Products

Enrich the flavor of your tomato sauce, goulash or chili with this concentrated form of tomatoes. It has no added salt and is naturally low in sodium, so you control the seasoning.


Sardines – Best Canned Food Products

I love them on crackers as a quick lunch option, but they can be featured in many parts of your menu. Try topping a salad or pizza with them or flavoring a tomato sauce.

baked beans

Vegetarian Baked Beans- Best Canned Food Products

As good as they are right from the can, I love to personalize them by heating them up with sautéed onion and garlic and mixing in other rinsed canned beans.



Pineapple Chunks – Best Canned Food Products

Whether added to a sweet and sour stir fry, a winter fruit salad or to top a slice of pound cake, the many forms of juice-packed pineapple can elevate any dish to something special.


Sauerkraut – Best Canned Food Products

Just like the cabbage it’s made from, canned sauerkraut is full of vitamins C, K, and folate and the minerals iron, manganese and potassium. It’s also very low in calories and fat free and a perfect partner for fresh pork.


Pumpkin – Best Canned Food Products

It’s not just for delicious desserts! Canned pumpkin makes great smoothies, quick breads and soups and adds a super dose of Vitamin A and fiber to everything it’s added to.

chick peas

Peas and Beans – Best Canned Food Products

All of the many different colored and shaped canned beans and peas are included in this category. I keep a huge variety on hand at all times and continually discover new ways to use them in my meals.


Evaporated Milk – Best Canned Food Products

There’s no need to use fresh milk in cooking and baking when canned evaporated milk will do. It saves money and another trip to the store for more milk, while increasing the protein and calcium if used a full strength.


Olives – Best Canned Food Products

Open a can and turn an uninspired dish into a Mediterranean specialty. Whole, sliced or chopped, they can be added to rice, orzo, or tomato sauce and blended into cream cheese or hummus for a savoring spread.


Tuna – Best Canned Food Products

Always a life saver whether called into action for lunch or dinner. I keep a jar of pickle relish in the refrigerator so I can make a great tuna salad even if I don’t have fresh celery or onion on hand.


Mandarin Oranges – Best Canned Food Products

These are a personal favorite because they add a nice touch of sweetness to a tossed salad or grain dish without overpowering it. Their bright color really stands out against salad greens and brown grains.

diced tomatoes

Diced Tomatoes – Best Canned Food Products

Fresh tomatoes are naturally rich in lycopenes, but they’re more bioavailable in the canned varieties due to the effects of heat processing. Even when fresh tomatoes are in season, I like to cook with canned and save the fresh for salads and sandwiches

Trends in Restaurant Food Service for 2013

13 Trends in Restaurant Food Service for 2013

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 my original blog here.


After researching all of the predictions by the people in the know, I compiled my own list of restaurant trends we can expect this year to complement my earlier post about food trends for 2013. There is some overlap in what we’ll be buying and preparing at home and what we’ll be ordering off menus, but overall it promises to be another year of adventurous eating!

Restaurant News & Food Service Trends

  1. Big breakfasts aren’t just for weekends. The most important meal of the day is catching on as a way to eat well for less than the cost of a lunch or dinner out. More protein will be seen on menus along with the eggs, such as beef and ham steaks, sausage and chorizo, and salmon and crab.
  2. Vegetables move beyond salads and side dishes. We’ll see more innovative uses of vegetables as entrees, such as cauliflower steak, without necessarily being part of a meat-free meal.
  3. Grown-up flavors appear on kid’s menus. There’ll be real fish in those tacos and a wholesome whole grains in the buns surrounding the sliders, and all of it will be much more nutritious than standard fare kid’s food.
  4. Small plates will be enough for adults. Tapas-style eating will allow you to order some fish or meat, vegetables and starch to make the right-sized meal for any appetite.
  5. Popcorn will be the snack-turned-garnish that is served with everything from soup to ice cream. The beauty of this whole grain is that it can be dusted with any flavor to complement a meal or be a great stand alone snack.
  6. Apps and iPads in the dining room. We’d all like to see fewer cell phones in use when dining, but using a smart phone app or tablet computer to peruse the menu and place your order is technology that’s on its way.
  7. New cuts of beef and more varietals make the grade. Expect to find parts of the cow you’ve never seen before on menu, including the organ meats, for those looking to expand their animal protein options.
  8. “Have it your way” isn’t just at Burger King. Restaurants are ready to accept your special requests for gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan, or whatever else it takes to keep you happy and satisfied.
  9. Food from the Southern Hemisphere is “Nex-Mex.” This year we’ll be moving beyond Mexican cuisine to the flavors and dishes of Argentina, Brazil and Chile.
  10. Adult beverages minus the alcohol make a splash. Specialty cocktails will feature herbs and exotic nectars while distilled ciders and homemade sodas appear on tap.
  11. Sustainable seafood is catching on. Just like knowing where your eggs were laid, cows were milked and tomatoes were harvested, diners will expect to know where the catch of the day was actually caught.
  12. “Know your grower” menu descriptions help sell food. Customers can help support local farmers, cheese-makers, bakers and other providers of sustainable and artisanal foods when they see their wares being advertised on the menu.
  13. Family-style take-out lets you eat out at home. You’ll find special menus in some restaurants for foods you can order in quantity and pick-up packaged with instructions for you to reheat and serve.
Cheap diet solutions for safe weight loss if trying to diet on a budget

10 Cheap Diet Solutions for Safe Weight Loss

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

Trying to diet on a budget can seem impossible when you see the price tags on the latest gluten-free foods and shiny new gym equipment that promise safe weight loss for those with fat wallets. As a challenge, i took a walk through the nearest discount dollar store to identify cheap diet solutions for those with good intentions, but modest means. I wasn’t disappointed. Here are ten items you can buy for ten dollars that will help you eat right and get in shape so you can lose and save at the same time!

Blank Notebook: Cheap Diet Solutions for Safe Weight Loss

The most valuable part of any healthy makeover is a blank book. Use it to record your goals, weight, measurements, and daily food intake and physical activity. If you faithfully and honestly fill the pages each and every day, you’ll soon discover the book was the most effective weight loss program you ever tried.


Tape Measure: Cheap Diet Solutions for Safe Weight Loss

Stepping on a scale is not the only way to measure your progress, or the best. A simple cloth tape measure can be used to get some baseline measurements that will help you see the loss of inches in places where it really counts. Be sure to include: waist and hip circumference, thigh, calf, upper arm and chest.


Index Cards: Cheap Diet Solutions for Safe Weight Loss

It may seem old school to write recipes on index cards, but not if you use them for a collection of your favorite fool-proof, quick, easy, and tasty dishes that are diet-friendly. Take the time to try new recipes and be selective about which ones you allow into your collection. If you just find one new recipe a week there will be 52 winners in the box by this time next year.


Measuring Cups: Cheap Diet Solutions for Safe Weight Loss

Like it or not, all food contains calories and the serving size of the food you eat determines how many calories it contains – no matter how nutritious the food may be. Using measuring cups to both prepare your food and portion it at home will help you stick to your calorie budget and train your eye for the meals eaten away from home when you have to guesstimate.


Measuring Spoons: Cheap Diet Solutions for Safe Weight Loss

Just like the foods measured in measuring cups, there are calories in the smaller things we eat that are measured with measuring spoons, like cooking oils, salad dressing, and soft spreads. It isn’t easy to free-pour one tablespoon of olive oil into a skillet, so it pays to measure it since each additional tablespoon adds another 110 calories.


Food Storage Containers: Cheap Diet Solutions for Safe Weight Loss

One of the biggest challenges to healthy eating is eating out regularly. By having a complete set of food storage containers you can take your breakfast, lunch and snacks with you to work with you, if needed. It’s a great way to use the leftovers from all those meals you’ll be preparing at home, too.


Insulated Lunch Sack: Cheap Diet Solutions for Safe Weight Loss

Now that you’ve got a set of food storage containers, you need and insulated sack to carry them in when filled with food. These sacks come in enough different styles you’ll never have to guess which lunch is yours in the office refrigerator, and they’re flexible enough to slip into your shoulder-strap bag or back pack for hands-free travel.


Freezer Packs: Cheap Diet Solutions for Safe Weight Loss

Keep an assortment of these freezer packs in different sizes in the freezer so they’re ready to add to your lunch sack. Remember, there’s nothing healthy about food that hasn’t been kept at the proper temperature.


Egg Timer: Cheap Diet Solutions for Safe Weight Loss

No matter how many features you have on your smart phone, they can only help you if you know how to use them. A simple kitchen timer is a no-brainer way to build short bursts of activity into your day. Set it to ring once every hour then, then get up and stand, walk, or stretch for 5 minutes.


Handheld Mirror: Cheap Diet Solutions for Safe Weight Loss

Give yourself some words of encouragement each and every day, you’re worth it!