Weight loss tips based on the best research

Weight Loss Tips: Can SPLENDA® Sweeteners Help with My Weight Loss Goals?

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

If all you ever hear is “diets don’t work,” it’s easy to become discouraged about trying to lose weight. You even may have tried a few fad diets yourself and gained first-hand experience with their long-term ineffectiveness. But that doesn’t mean there is no hope in controlling your weight. What it may mean is you’re ready to forget about fad diets and turn to the research on what does work for weight management. Here’s a short recap of some of the latest findings that can help.

Weight Loss Tip: Replace Sugar with No-Calorie and Low-Calorie Sweeteners

Research published in the May 2015 Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reviewed 10 studies on the impact of replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with alternative lower calorie beverages, including water and diet drinks made with no-calorie and low-calorie sweeteners, such as SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. The researchers found this simple substitution was associated with lower calorie intake and lower weight gain in the long term. Based on the available evidence, the researchers concluded there is a potential benefit on body weight by substituting water and other low-calorie beverages for sugar-sweetened ones.

The above results were reinforced in a larger systematic review of the evidence from 90 animal studies and 245 human studies in adults and children on the effects of low-calorie sweeteners on energy intake and body weight. The findings were published in the International Journal of Obesity in November 2015 and found no evidence from the many short and long term studies in humans that “low energy sweeteners” increase energy intake or body weight. In fact, the review concluded that use of no-calorie sweeteners in place of added sugar, can help one to lose weight and that research should now be focused on how we can best use no-calorie sweeteners for the most effective weight loss strategies.

And just in case you’ve heard that consuming low-calorie sweeteners might backfire by increasing your preference for other sweet tasting foods and drinks, another important study put that myth to rest. In a paper published in Current Obesity Reports in March 2015, researchers analyzed the data from several types of studies to determine the effects of no- and low-calorie sweeteners on appetite for, and intake of, sweet tasting products. What they found was there was no consistent relationship to support a heightened appetite for sweet foods, and some studies actually showed no- and low-calorie sweeteners were associated with consumption of fewer sweets. In studies involving both children and adults the research showed the use of no- and low-calorie sweeteners can reduce the intake of caloric sweeteners and support weight loss efforts.

Weight Loss Tip: Text Your Way to Better Health

The Annual Review of Public Health in March 2015 published a review of dozens of studies that looked at the use of text messages to assist people in reaching their health goals. One of the first things the researchers found was there is a wide range of app features and types of messages available. Some apps allow for interaction, offer personalized messages or can be programmed to customize the frequency of message delivery. General messages offer advice, motivation, encouragement, tips and/or support to users on a regular basis. The researchers found the majority of the interventions were effective when addressing weight loss and some other health goals including smoking cessation and diabetes management. In short, it’s like having a support group in your smartphone.

Weight Loss Tip: Rearrange the Kitchen

The foods on the kitchen counter in your own home can have an impact on your weight, according to a study published in Health Education and Behavior in October 2015. The researchers found the more visible and convenient foods such as cookies, cereal and soft drinks are in the kitchen, the more likely household members will have a high Body Mass Index. On the other hand, the food most often found on kitchen counters in homes of people who are not overweight was fresh fruit. These results are consistent with other research done by this team that found office workers ate more candy when it was on their desks than when it was in the desk drawer or on a filing cabinet. According to lead researcher Brian Wansink, PhD., the visibility and convenience of food has a greater influence on how much we eat compared to hunger.

Putting the Latest Research on Weight Loss into Action in the New Year:

  •  Switch to no-calorie and low-calorie sweeteners, like SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, in place of sugar in your drinks and use diet beverages and water instead of full-calorie drinks.
  • Download a coaching app to your smartphone, tablet or computer to support and encourage you to reach your weight loss goals every day.
  • Remove high calorie, high fat snack foods from the kitchen counter (and office desk) and keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter.

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.


Avoiding sugar is not the key to weight control

Avoiding Excess Calories

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are Cheat Days a Helpful Diet Strategy?


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

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

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

The Power of Words

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

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

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

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

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

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

Practice Being Normal

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

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

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

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

There is No Need to Diet! Try This Alternative Instead

If Diet Means Don’t Eat to You, Don’t Diet!


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.

Diets just won’t go away. A perennial new year’s resolution, a guaranteed way to make money and a perpetual source of hope – dieting will remain a constant in our continually changing world as long as diet means don’t eat.

The only alternative is to eat! That’s right, if you don’t like the way it feels to be on a diet and want a way to abandon all diet plans and the diet foods that go with them forever, you must decide to eat instead.

Sound too good to be true? Let me explain.

Eating is about choosing foods that nourish your body. If done properly you can prevent most chronic diseases. And if you can prevent heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and many forms of cancer you won’t need special diets to treat them later in life.

Conversely, if you don’t eat to nourish yourself throughout your life you will need to go on a diet at some point to fix the damage. That’s when diets are prescribed to reduce fat, sodium and sugar and control calories, serving sizes and snacks.

The end result may be the same at this point – whether eating or dieting – but the attitude is not. Eating gives you the freedom to choose what you eat. Dieting gives you the rules about what you cannot eat. Even if you follow the same rules, by choosing them you defeat the need for a diet.

Why not begin eating today to nourish yourself and abandon diets forever? No matter what your weight or medical condition, it is simply a change of attitude. But that change in attitude may help you succeed where all diets have failed.

Signs of an eating disorder need to be evaluated regardless of age

Eating Disorder in Midlife Often Overlooked


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, so the post has been reproduced here.

The recent sudden death of a 65 year old woman I know made me wonder if she wasn’t one of those women who struggled with an undetected eating disorder in the final two decades of her life. She had become “painfully thin” and looked so frail I couldn’t imagine how she stood up on her own. When I saw her at social gatherings, she never had a plate of food. And although she had some medical problems, her death came as a shock to everyone who knew her.

There’s plenty of evidence to show women do not stop caring about their weight as they age. How they deal with it separates the perpetual dieters from those with anorexia, bulimia or other disordered eating. Unfortunately, the societal pressures on women to be thin have become so persistent that women over 40 are just as likely to have eating disorders as those under 40.

The appearance of an eating disorder in an older woman is often the resurfacing of a problem that started in her youth. Anyone who learned at a young age to cope with stress by controlling her appetite is susceptible to resuming those coping mechanisms when life gets difficult. For women over 40, the trigger may be a trauma, such as the end of a marriage, loss of a loved one, or onset of menopause.

But even a woman who never dieted in her 20s can resort to unhealthy food restriction in her 50s when she realizes her tummy is not flat as it used to be. A study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders in June 2012 found 62% of women age 50 and older said their weight negatively impacted their lives.

The danger for older women is that they are not as readily diagnosed as young girls. Changes in the eating habits of a teenager are noticed by her parents, as is a sudden drop in weight or the absence of menstruation. Since weight loss and a diminished appetite are common side effects of many illnesses and medications, they are not as surprising when seen in an older woman.

Yet the health risks of eating disorders are just as great for older women as young. The heart muscle is weakened, cognitive function declines and bone loss accelerates. If left untreated it can lead to organ failure and death. The goal is to get treated before these problems begin.

Signs of Possible Eating Disorder

  • Excessive concern with dieting and losing weight
  • Dissatisfaction with body weight, shape, size
  • Weighing oneself more than once a day
  • Denial of hunger
  • Excessive or compulsive exercise
  • Self-induced vomiting after eating
  • Binge-eating followed by guilt, shame, regret
  • Use of laxatives, diuretics or diet pills without medical supervision

Even though eating disorders look like food issues on the outside, they are rooted in unresolved psychological issues. The American Journal of Psychiatry reports almost 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression. Focusing on how much you weigh can be much easier than dealing with low self-esteem or feelings of worthlessness.

It is important to remember that the behavior of someone with an eating disorder is an expression of their pain. They do not need to be told to eat more or exercise less. What they need is recognition of their pain, and an offer of help to get some relief.

Do you recognize the signs of an eating disorder in anyone you know?

Care packages from home can contribute to college weight gain

Tips to Prevent College Weight Gain

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Family Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.


Now that everything has been purchased and packed to send your recent high school graduate off to college, what’s left to do? For many parents and grandparents, it’s time to start worrying about the notorious freshman 15.

College weight gain is a bigger concern today than ever before because so many more young people are arriving on campus overweight. Packing on five or ten pounds between now and winter break and another five or more by the time they move back home in the spring can saddle them with excess weight they may never lose.

The health risks of starting adulthood overweight should not be ignored. As anyone who has tried to lose 15 pounds – and keep it off – knows, it’s not easy. Taking steps to prevent gaining those unwanted pounds in the first place is far easier.

As the author of Fighting the Freshman Fifteen, I can show you how you can help your college student do just that.

What Causes College Weight Gain?

Life on campus is filled with opportunities to eat, drink, and party too much. The rest of the time is often spent sleeping, sitting in classes (sometimes both at the same time) and studying. That combination of overconsumption and under activity is all it takes for some kids to gain a pound a week, which happens to add up to 15 pounds at the end of the first semester.

Yes, the school has a state-of-the-art fitness center, a campus that stretches over several acres or city blocks, and round-the-clock recreational activities. But somehow all of that opportunity to burn calories is underutilized. It’s sort of like all the home exercise equipment and gym memberships that go unused.

Another source of unneeded calories are those care packages that come in the mail filled with all their favorite foods. Bags of Twizzlers, boxes of Cheez-Its, and tins of homemade chocolate chip cookies arrive one day and are gone the next.

Repackaging those care packages from home can eliminate the temptation, and extra pounds that go with them. Try some of these instead.

Care Packages That Prevent College Weight Gain

Hair Care

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Gel or Mouse
  • Spray or Spritz

Dental Care

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Mouthwash

Laundry Care

  • Detergent
  • Bleach
  • Dryer sheets
  • Stain remover

Body Care

  • Bar soap
  • Shower gel
  • Bath powder
  • Deodorant
  • Body lotion

Appliance Care

  • Printer cartridges
  • Computer paper
  • Batteries
  • Gift cards for apps

And whatever you do, don’t keep reminding them of what it was like when you were in college!

Learn the habits of those who are successful at managing their weight

Weight Loss Success: Lessons Learned from Successful Losers

Posted on

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.

Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight knows the work isn’t over once the pounds are off. Keeping them off can be an even bigger challenge. That’s because so many people still think all they have to do to lose weight is go “on a diet,” and once they lose weight they can get “off the diet.” Sadly, it’s often just a matter of time before their weight is right back where they started, or even higher.

If this sounds familiar, there’s a group I want to tell you about who have beat that system. They are members of The National Weight Control Registry and they have all lost weight and kept it off – and for most of them, for more than five years!

Whenever I read about this amazing group of successful “weight losers,” one of the first things that always stands out is how few of them credit their success to having gone “on a diet.” Instead, what most of them have done is adopt a new lifestyle. And as we all know, diets have many stops and starts, but lifestyles just keep plugging along.

How to Successfully Lose Weight & Keep it Off

This lifestyle approach is reflected in most common traits used by the Registry members to maintain their weight loss. For example, 78% report they eat breakfast every day of the week and the majority of them follow the same meal pattern on weekends and holidays as they do any other day of the year. Eating meals on a consistent schedule is just an everyday occurrence. They also monitor their weight on a regular basis and deal with any weight gain quickly so it doesn’t get out of control. Stepping on a scale once a day is all it takes. Another routine they’ve built into their daily lives is getting some physical activity, which they apparently have the time to do because they watch less than 10 hours of television per week.

When it comes to what they eat, keeping tabs on the caloric and fat content of their diets is a winning strategy for Registry members. Of course this involves reading food labels, being aware of portion sizes and not eating out too often, but that’s just a way of life for them.

A recent study on the use of low-calorie sweeteners (such as SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener) and fat-modified foods by weight loss maintainers (WLM) found these are helpful tools. When compared to normal weight (NW) subjects who reported consuming a low calorie, low fat diet, WLM used more low fat strategies, such as reduced fat dairy products, spreads and sauces, than NW, and they drank more sugar-free beverages and water than those who had never been overweight.

This may come as a surprise to those who have heard about the studies reporting an association between low-calorie sweeteners and increased weight, but it wasn’t a surprise to these researchers. They said their results are consistent with those found in several other randomized clinical trials on obese individuals that found greater weight loss among users of low-calorie sweeteners than non-users. In fact, the authors concluded that the use of sugar-free beverages may actually assist the weight loss maintainers in adhering to their reduced calorie diets when faced with the many triggers to overeat that are all around us.

If you’re trying to lose weight and keep it off, take a look at the successful people in the National Weight Control Registry for inspiration. What you’ll see is it takes more than a diet, and that the use of low-calorie sweeteners, like SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, can be a helpful part of your new 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.


  • Wyatt HR, et. al (5). Long-term weight loss and breakfast in subjects in the National Weight Control Registry. Obes Res.2002;10(2):78-82
  • Phelan S, et. al (3). Use of artificial sweeteners and fat-modified foods in weight loss maintainers and always normal weight individuals. Int J Obes. 2009;33(10):1183-1190
  • Wing R, Phelan S. Long-term weight loss maintenance. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;82(1):2225-2255
Hunger and appetite are not the same

Hunger versus Appetite: Learning the Difference is Key to Weight Management

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.

When I hear people say they don’t use low calorie sweeteners because they believe they’ll lead to food cravings, I’m always surprised. When I want something sweet and chocolaty I just reach for a dish of sugar free chocolate pudding or cup of no added sugar hot cocoa because they always satisfy me, and with far fewer calories than if I went for the full sugar version!

I have used a number of different no and low calorie sweeteners in my life, and continue to use them, and have never experienced anything close to a craving when eating a food or drink containing them. My experience is confirmed by studies that show people did not report increased appetite when given food and beverages sweetened with sugar substitutes.

All of the discussion over whether these sweeteners can really make us eat more, or want to eat more, got me thinking about just how complex our eating behavior really is. After reading this brief summary I think you’ll agree there are more triggers to food cravings than sweeteners.

Learning to Eat

Human beings come into the world with two basic drives that control when we eat: hunger and satiety. Hunger makes us seek food and satiety keeps us from thinking about it again until we are hungry again. You can see these innate mechanisms at work in any healthy newborn baby.

We do not start out life knowing what to eat. We must be taught what is edible and how to feed ourselves. These lessons are shaped by many things. Think about how your own food choices have been influenced by your family food traditions, religious dietary practices, health beliefs, food labeling, cost, advertising, peer pressure and serving sizes, just to name a few. Our exposure to the many factors that shape our own eating behavior begins at birth and continues throughout our lives. These influences are part of every food decision we make.

Separating Our Wants from Our Needs

Now let’s get back to those internal signals, hunger and satiety. When a wide variety of good tasting food is readily available virtually all of the time, external forces can easily override the internal signals that tell us when to eat and how much. If that happens often enough we soon have a difficult time telling the difference between our hunger (a physiological need for food) and our appetite (a psychological desire to eat). If you’ve ever ordered a delicious dessert right after eating a three course meal then you know how your appetite can get the best of you!

Ignoring our internal signals of hunger and satiety can also explain why some people think drinking a diet soda can make them overeat. Here’s what may really be happening: if someone is hungry and grabs a can of diet soda instead of getting something to eat, they will still be hungry soon after they finish the soda. Since a serving of diet soda has little or no calories, it’s like drinking a glass of water. The longer they ignore the feeling of hunger the greater the likelihood that they will overeat when they finally get some food because by then they are really hungry. But that is not the fault of the diet soda; it was hunger all along!

These are just some of the examples that illustrate how complex human eating behavior is compared to other animals. Our individual eating behavior is also unique when compared to other people, whether family members, friends or folks we’ve never met around the world. You could say no two people eat in exactly the same way.

That is why I do not believe low calorie sweeteners, such as SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener (sucralose), can make us eat more or crave sweets. But it’s reassuring to know there’s plenty of scientific evidence that shows low calorie sweeteners do not stimulate appetite or food intake and don’t cause weight gain. In fact, millions of people use them every day to help with weight management, but when people overeat, there are a million other reasons why.


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 SplendaLiving.com. 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!

Weight management is about moderation, not elimination


This post was written as a guest blog for TheSkinnyOnLowCal.org on May 23, 2014. You can read the original post here.

The last thing we need in this world is another fad diet, but I must confess I did coin “The Redemption Diet.” To be perfectly clear, I did not invent this diet, I just named it after seeing it practiced by so many people and not knowing what else to call it.

What is The Redemption Diet?

A person wants to lose weight or improve their health, but isn’t ready to make all of the changes needed to establish better eating habits. Instead, they decide to eliminate a single food, beverage or ingredient from their diet as a sign of their commitment to self-improvement. To be worthy of redemption, they must first decide that something they now eat is evil or bad for them – maybe chocolate, French fries or diet soda. By avoiding the temptation of that food, they rationalize they will be “saved.” That’s the basic premise behind The Redemption Diet.

If this sounds familiar, then you know how the story ends.

Giving up something you love is hard to do, so most people don’t last very long on The Redemption Diet. More importantly, if that something is a food or drink that is perfectly safe, readily available, and highly enjoyable, why bother? This is especially true for diet soda, which has no calories, making it even harder to imagine why anyone would think giving it up will help them lose weight.

I have seen numerous accounts of people who have waged a personal battle with diet soda in the belief they would be a better person if they stopped drinking it. They tweet and blog about their struggle living without their favorite diet drink and count the number of days they’ve been “abstinent” with misplaced pride.

I am always left thinking they were looking for a way to punish themselves by taking away something they really enjoy in life. If I’m right, then The Redemption Diet is a sign of another problem. I also can’t help but wonder how much they were drinking in the first place, because if they felt they were drinking too much, that is more easily dealt with by moving toward moderation, not elimination. In fact, if you want to know how much low calorie sweetener is in your diet soda and how much is right for you, just can check here.

Bottom line on The Redemption Diet?

Fad diets and food elimination don’t work as a weight management strategy. Learning to balance the calories in all of your food and beverage choices with enough physical activity do.

Registered dietitian and nutrition expert Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN has more than 30 years of experience counseling patients and teaching at the university level. She is also the author of two books on nutrition. Follow her on Twitter @EverydayRD and check out her other posts here.