Introduce sugar free drinks to children to reduce added sugars

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Lead By Example

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

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

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

Let Children Help

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

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

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

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

Sucralose and sugar alcohols are not the same

What are Sugar Alcohols and How are They Different from Sucralose?

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.

Imagine seeing a listing for a “jumbo shrimp cocktail” on a menu for the first time. You might think it’s a huge drink made from shrimp based on the definition of each word. But anyone who has ever enjoyed this special appetizer of chilled shrimp and a horseradish-based sauce knows it’s not!

Similar confusion arises when people see the term “sugar alcohol” for the first time. Some think it’s a sweet alcoholic beverage but in fact it’s another sugar substitute.

Explaining the difference between two types of sugar substitutes – sugar alcohols and sucralose (the sweetening ingredient in SPLENDA® Sweeteners) – is what this blog is all about.

What is a Sugar Alcohol?

The best way to define a “sugar alcohol” is to tell you what it is not.

A sugar alcohol is not a sugar like sucrose or glucose and it is not alcohol like the type found in beer, wine and whiskey. Sugar alcohols include erythritol, lactitol, maltitol, sorbitol, xylitol, isomalt, and mannitol, and they are carbohydrates with a structure that partially resembles sugar and partially resembles alcohol. They are also known as polyols and occur naturally in many foods, including apples, watermelon and mushrooms.

Sugar alcohols, or polyols, taste sweet, but are not as sweet as sugar. They also have fewer calories per gram than sugar and are used in a variety of reduced-calorie and sugar-free foods. One of the best qualities of sugar alcohols is that they do not contribute to the formation of cavities so they are used in place of sugars in products like chewing gum, toothpaste and mouthwash.

How are Sugar Alcohols Different from Sucralose?

If you compare sugar alcohols to sucralose (SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener), you will find that there are many differences even though they are both classified as sugar substitutes. One difference between sucralose and sugar alcohols is that sucralose alone has no impact on blood glucose and insulin levels. Like other no-calorie tabletop sweeteners, the sucralose-based sweeteners you buy at the store contain small amounts of carbohydrate (less than 1 gram per serving) that provide needed volume and texture. These common food ingredients, which include maltodextrin and/or dextrose, add minimal carbohydrate and sugar per serving.

In contrast, sugar alcohols are considered a type of carbohydrate and sufficient intake could have an impact on blood glucose levels. Sugar alcohols also should be considered in carbohydrate counting. You can get good advice on sugar alcohols and how to factor them into the total carbohydrate content listed on food labels by reviewing Hope Warshaw’s blog Reading Nutrition Labels for Total Carbohydrate.

Another important distinction to note when comparing sucralose to sugar alcohols has to do with gastrointestinal disturbances. Research shows that sucralose has no side effects. Sugar alcohols are different. They have the potential to cause a laxative effect when consumed in excess and can be an unsuspected cause of cramps and gas for anyone consuming large amounts of products like sugar-free gum, candies or desserts made with polyols. That can be especially troublesome for children and people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

To see the differences between sugar alcohols and SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener (sucralose), just use the handy chart below.

table_comparing_sucralose_to_sugar_alcohols

*Note: Other ingredients with which they are combined may have an effect.

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.

Reduce added sugar without giving up sweet taste

The Sugar Free Diet Myth

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 noticed the movement advancing across the country to promote sugar free or sugarless diets? You can hear about it in the campaigns calling for “added sugars” to be included on food labels and in the proposals suggesting taxes on sugary drinks.

One problem with this effort is that there is no way to remove all of the sugars from what you eat.

Sugars are naturally found in fruits, vegetables, grains and milk products, so our food choices would be severely limited if we tried to eliminate everything containing them. Sugar is also added to foods for its many functional purposes, such as the ability to improve color, texture, moisture, and yeast fermentation. It’s not just used to make things taste sweet.

How to Reduce Sugar Intake

While it may be an unobtainable goal to go completely sugarless, there are a few simple steps you can take aimed at reducing sugar in your diet.

  1. Learn the Lingo: Other Names for Sugar

Check the ingredient lists on the packaged foods you buy for all possible sources of sugar, even if it’s something that doesn’t taste sweet, like salad dressing. There are many other names for sugar, so if you spot several of them, look for the product with the fewest. You can also find more tips on hidden sources of sugar here

  1. Check the Claims: No Added Sugar vs. Sugar Free

What you see is not always what you get when it comes to the claims found on food packages. For example, “no added sugar” does not mean “sugar free” according to the Food and Drug Administration. I have explained the difference and other important details about sugar labeling in my blog, Sugar Free Food Labels – What Do They Mean?

  1. Sweeten Without Calories: Use Sugar Substitutes

One of the best ways for reducing sugar in your diet is to change the way you sweeten your foods and beverages. Replacing sugar with a sugar substitute like SPLENDA® No-Calorie Sweetener gives you the chance to enjoy a sweet taste with much less sugar in your meal plan. Now that’s a campaign worth joining!

You can find delicious recipes with SPLENDA® No-Calorie Sweetener hereand learn ways to reduce added sugar at 365SweetSwaps.com.

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.

Frozen desserts made with aspartame

Sweet Frozen Treats

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

Those of us who live where there are four seasons throughout the year associate certain foods with certain seasons. A perfect example is eating frozen desserts, like ice cream, in the hot days of summer. But even if the temperature never gets too high where you live, frozen sweet treats are enjoyed any time of year all around the world.

What Makes Frozen Desserts Taste So Good?

Whether licked off a cone or spoon, the creamy consistency of frozen desserts makes them special. Their creaminess can come from dairy ingredients, like milk and cream, or from dairy substitutes, like soy, rice and coconut milks. Those without milk products may rely on bananas, fruit purees or avocado to give them a smooth texture. To prevent the formation of large ice crystals during the freezing process you may see plant-based stabilizers, such as guar gum, locust bean gum and carrageenan on the ingredient list.

The endless flavor combinations of frozen desserts means there’s one to satisfy every taste preference. Vanilla holds first place as the preferred flavor in the U.S., while Whiskey Prune ice cream is popular in Australia. If you need more choices there is a shop in Venezuela that holds the Guinness Book of Records standard for the largest selection of ice cream flavors in the world, including Spaghetti and Meatballs ice cream!

The one ingredient that all frozen desserts contain is some type of sweetener. Cane or beet sugar is the most common, but honey and agave syrup are also used. Many frozen treats also are made with sugar substitutes for consumers looking for a dessert with less added sugar, fewer calories, lower carbohydrate content or all three of those features.

It is important to keep in mind that when you see the claims “no added sugar,” “without added sugar,” and “no sugar added’ on a frozen dessert that does not mean there is no sugar in it. It means no sugar was added as a sweetener, but other ingredients may be a source of naturally occurring sugars, such as the lactose in milk and the fructose in strawberries. Sweet frozen treats with these claims often contain aspartame, sorbitol or other sugar substitutes to provide the desired sweetness.

Right next to the tubs of ice cream and sherbet in your grocer’s freezer are the frozen novelties. They are individually packaged, single serving frozen desserts, such as ice cream sandwiches, ice pops and filled cones. I still think of them as the items sold from the ice cream trucks that roamed my neighborhood on summer nights when I was a child. Just like the frozen desserts sold in family-sized containers, there are frozen novelties made with sugar substitutes.

If you want to make your own sweet frozen treats you’ll be happy to know you don’t need an ice cream machine for many recipes. These Cold and Creamy Fruit Cups are filled with the fruits of summer so a perfect way to celebrate National Ice Cream Month in July.

Frozen desserts made with aspartame

Cold and Creamy Fruit Cups

Cold and Creamy Fruit Cups

Ingredients

1 package (8 ounces) fat-free cream cheese
1 cup fat-free sour cream
1/3 cup aspartame (8 packets Equal®)
2 to 3 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh or canned and drained peaches
1 cup fresh or frozen unsweetened blueberries
1 cup fresh or frozen unsweetened raspberries or quartered strawberries
1 cup cubed fresh or canned drained pineapple
1 can (11 ounces) mandarin orange segments, drained
12 pecan halves (optional)

Preparation

  1. Beat cream cheese, sour cream, aspartame and lemon juice in mixing bowl on medium speed of mixer until smooth and well combined.
  2. Fold in all of the fruit using a spoon.
  3. Spoon the mixture into 12 paper-lined muffin cups.
  4. Garnish each with a pecan halve
  5. Freeze 6 to 8 hours or until firm
  6. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes or until slightly softened before serving.

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.

 

OPTIONAL RECIPES
Pineapple Peach Sorbet
Blueberry Melon Freeze
Peachy Cream Gelatin Dessert (could use sugar free gelatin and sugar free ice cream)
Cantaloupe Sherbet
Frozen bananas

REFERENCES
International Dairy Foods Association: Ice Cream
Coromoto Ice Cream Shop
Stabilizers in Ice Cream

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.

 

Learn new ways to prepare favorite foods without gluten and sugar

Gluten Free and Lower Sugar Baking Tips

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

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

Wheat Functions & Features

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

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

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

Wheat Substitution Tips

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

Sugar Functions & Features

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

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

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

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

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