Bitter towards Sugar?

I read an article published on the LIVESCIENCE webpage highlighting nutritional implications of Stevia consumption.  (Click here to read the article —-> What Is Stevia?.)

I believe that artificial sweeteners (aspartame, saccharin, sucralose) are regarded as safe for consumption; however, the claims that associate artificial sweetener consumption with adverse health effects remain in the proverbial gray section (for me at least).  The article linked above regards Stevia as a superior alternative to artificial sweeteners and sugar given that it is made from a plant.  However, sugar comes from a plant also.  We just enter the red zone when we go overboard with it.  Personally,  I think any substance that is consumed in unreasonably large amounts is harmful whether it was harvested from a plant or manufactured in a lab.

About 2 months ago, I stopped using artificial sweeteners in my coffee and started using sugar again.  Now, before you fall out of your chairs, please note that although I am using sugar again, the way that I use it is quite different.  What was my motivation to change you may ask? Was I afraid of gaining weight? Was I afraid to overeat? Was I afraid of being diagnosed with cancer? In all, no.

Mainly, I felt that using the artificial sweeteners would condition me to become more accustomed to sweeter foods and beverages over time since many of them are up to 200x sweeter than sugar.  This is very true; it was like night and day the first morning I put sugar in my coffee instead of reaching for that little pink packet.

Since I have climbed back on the sugar-bowl bandwagon, I have limited myself to no more than 2-2.5 teaspoons per day in my coffee which is much better than the 2 tablespoons I was used to. Especially considering the risk of diabetes and heart disease that seems to affect so many Americans.

All of that being said, what I choose to sweeten my coffee with is a tiny piece of what influences my health status.  I guess that’s why I don’t split hairs about artificial sweeteners.  On a positive note, there’s nothing wrong with Stevia, but since I don’t care for it’s taste, I’ve learned to practice more restraint with using sugar.

What are your thoughts about artificial sweeteners? Feel free to comment below!

 

 

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Top Ten Reasons to Visit a Registered Dietitian

Happy New Year, everyone! I pray that your new year is off to a great start.  I’m still working on the blog for the supplements, so please keep sending your requests to me, you might be surprised what you find out about some of your favorites.

Okay, I’ve held it in long enough.  Every year brings a new opportunity to improve and do things more/less consistently whether it’s the ever-present goal to “be healthier” or the more specific “lose 25 pounds”, whatever it is and regardless of your readiness to change, I encourage you to seek professional nutritional advice from a registered dietitian (RD) especially regarding your health status.

Please understand, I’m not here to stamp out your fire, but I’d like to arm you with the best information out there especially concerning your health and well-being.  So, let’s get into this, shall we?

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Top Ten Reasons to Visit a Dietitian

1. You have diabetes, heart problems or high blood pressure. This is a biggie.  If your doctor has diagnosed you with any of these diseases, it’s important to really evaluate your current eating and exercise habits.  A dietitian in addition to your doctor can help you to make necessary changes to your diet and daily physical activity regime.

2. You are thinking of having or have had gastric bypass surgery. The complexity of weight loss surgery and it’s after effects are often not recognized at first glance.  Weight loss surgery is not an instant fix.  It’s important to understand the associated risks involved with surgery, recovery and more importantly, the immediate post-operation lifestyle changes.

ask dietitian         3. You have digestive problems. Okay, this topic may be a bit embarrassing for some.  I mean, not everyone feels very comfortable about talking about gas, constipation, or diarrhea and that’s okay.  However, please don’t be afraid to bring these issues to the forefront, there is no such thing as a silly question or concern and often, changing how/what you eat can give you some relief.

4.  You’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant. I’ve worked with countless pregnant women who always ask: “What should I eat?”. What a great question! A registered dietitian can support you with making good choices during your pregnancy to reduce your risk of anemia, gestational diabetes, and ways to lower your newborn’s risk for low birth weight, neural tube or spinal cord defects.

5. You need guidance and confidence for breast-feeding your baby. Personally, I believe that breastfeeding your baby is best.  Breastmilk is the perfect food for your new little one (I can write a whole separate blog about that), but I digress.  A registered dietitian can support you with meeting your breastfeeding goals and make sure that you are getting enough iron, vitamin D, fluoride and B vitamins for you and your little one.

6.  Your teenager has issues with food and eating healthfully. Becoming a teenager and a young adult was a bumpy ride, wasn’t it? Did you know that registered dietitians can specialize in certain areas? Seek out an RD that works specifically with clients who are challenged with disordered eating patterns such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder, etc.

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7. You need to gain or lose weight. I think this is the primary reason that people seek RD advice.  Weight loss/gain involves a lifestyle change and it’s not an overnight change either. Seek advice of a registered dietitian who can give you practical, small daily changes that eventually become your new lifestyle.

8. You’re caring for an aging parent. Caring for an elderly friend or relative can be challenging.  An RD can give guidance specific to food or drug interaction, proper hydration, special diets to manage chronic disease or swallowing difficulties.

9. You want to eat smarter. We are flooded with nutrition (mis)information daily.  Please note, there are no such things as “fat burning foods”, fat-free is not always the healthiest option (that’s right, I said it), and portion size is not always equal to serving size.  RDs can help you to decipher what that nutrition fact label really means so that you can make smart choices that fit into YOUR lifestyle.  We won’t tell you to eat salad three times a day unless that’s what you want to do.  Trust your RD, not all of us are control freaks in white coats.   what do I eat

 

10. You want to improve your performance in sports. Whether it’s sports, weight lifting, or training for the next Iron Man, set yourself up for success by eating appropriately for your physical activity level.

Bottom line: our bodies work the best when they have the right kind of food–good thing for you; RDs specialize in food.

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Before You Spend

According to the USDA, the average monthly cost of food for an American family of four ranges anywhere from $600-$1200 USDA Food Plans Cost of Food at Home.  Given the rising cost of food, it is imperative to spend money wisely each time you visit the grocery store.  Below, you will find several money-saving tips to manage the rising cost of food.

Plan, Plan, Plan

Make a plan before you set foot through those automated double-doors. Whether it’s a hand-written list or the sales flyer, determine which items you need to purchase beforehand and stick to it.  It doesn’t have to be anything extensive, you can jot down a quick list before you get out of the car.

Go In To the Aisle; Look Up and Look Down

Food suppliers pay top dollar for their products to be placed where consumers are more likely to see them.  Where are these prime areas? The edge of the aisle and at eye-level.  Take a few steps to the middle of the aisle and look for items that are placed either above or below eye-level and you will find better bargains.

Shop Alone

This can be difficult if you have little ones or even an overzealous spouse :) When you are alone, you are more likely to be  focused and spend less time in the store.  The quicker you shop; the less you spend.

Do Not Shop When You Are Hungry

We have all been there– it’s 7pm, you just left the office, you are starving because you skipped lunch and you know that you need to stop by the grocery store because you have been eating sandwiches and soup for dinner for the past two days.  Shopping while hungry is a sure fire way to increase your likelihood of impulse buying.

In particular, when you are hungry, you are more likely to purchase more expensive, convenient items such as frozen meals, pre-cut fruits and vegetables, and higher calorie foods and beverages that have little to no nutritional value.  Do your wallet and your waistline a favor, keep a snack in the car to take the edge off of that hunger before heading into the store.

Plan Your Meals

Now, you don’t have to have a fancy, dancy menu board with 3 weeks worth of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners planned and posted on the fridge door, but do what you can.  Often, it helps to stock your kitchen with ingredients that you often use to prepare meals such as canned beans or other lean protein sources, dry pasta, canned soups, etc.  When these items go on sale; stock up!

Eat Your Leftovers

If you don’t like to eat the same thing more than once in a week (like I do) prepare entrees and sides that can easily be converted into another dish or prepare smaller amounts of two different dishes that require similar base ingredients. For example, prepare a basic tomato sauce which can be converted to either chili or spaghetti sauce during the week.

Eat At Home

Yes, I know we can go through the drive-thru and spend less than $5 on lunch or dinner and there is nothing wrong with eating outside the home, but it can get expensive.  If you spend $5-7 per day buying lunch, that is at least $25 per week that you are using to purchase only 5 meals (assuming that you buy lunch Monday-Friday).  All other things constant, that’s $100 per month; $1200 per year! You can stretch your dollars further by purchasing foods at the grocery store and preparing more meals at home.

I hope these tips were helpful, I’d love to hear how you manage your household food costs, please leave a comment below!

~KP

Everything in Moderation

See, this is why I love this webpage.  In the link below you will find great tips and information about shaping healthful eating patterns for children.

Fat, Salt, and Sugar; Not All Bad

Remember, you are your child’s best teacher concerning what to eat and how much to eat at a time.  I believe that there is no such thing as “bad foods”.  I do believe that there are foods that we should eat less frequently; however, never offering a cookie or a potato chip is not necessarily the best decision.  Often, the mystique that we place on (restricted) sweets/salty snacks intrigues children and shifts their focus to pursue these foods even more.

Offer these foods in moderation as a part of a healthy, balanced daily intake.

Nutrition for Young Children

I work with parents and caretakers of small children daily and the most common concern about this age group is: “is my child eating enough?” I assure you, despite the appetite fluctuations and occasional picky habits; offering routine, healthful meals and snacks will ensure that your little one gets enough to eat.

Here are some tips for managing picky habits:

1. Eat with your child.

Family meals are a great opportunity to model healthy eating behaviors.  Children will copy your behavior, if you refuse to eat green beans or drink milk, there is a good chance that your child will do the same.

2. Try to offer meals and snacks at routine times.

Children thrive off of routines.  If your child is not willing to eat their snack because they are not hungry, knowing that they will have another meal or snack in a few hours will help them (and you) to feel less pressured to eat.

3.  Respect their appetite; enforce boundaries and consequences during meal times.

It’s 6:30pm, you’ve prepared a balanced dinner and your child refuses to eat. They are now throwing a tantrum because you haven’t prepared nuggets and tater tots.  What do you do? This may sound harsh–but if you stand your ground despite the tears, excuse them from the table, and continue with the meal without them, they will be fine.  Picky habits are often a child’s way to exercise their newfound ability to make decisions.  Allow them to practice this skill, but be aware that providing consistent consequences will help them to refine their ability to make choices.  You do not have to surrender to being a short order cook.

4.  Offer age-appropriate serving sizes.

Remember, small children have small tummies.  Too much food can overwhelm a child, offer small amount of foods that are easy for them to eat and offer more if they would like seconds.

5.  Stay encouraged; picky habits and food jags usually improve over time.

It can be nerve-racking when your 2 year old has eaten half of a graham cracker and a cup of milk and refuses to eat for the remainder of the day.  Trust me, you are doing your part.  You are offering nutritious, foods at routine times and allowing your child to decide how much to eat.  Don’t try to force a child to eat; making the entire meal center around their picky habits will make the problem even worse.  Try to relax, they will eat when they are hungry.

See link below for more advice to manage children’s eating patterns.

Size-Wise Nutrition for Young Children from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.