In this week’s nutrition news: another reason to eat chocolate; acid reflux doctor cautions against late-night eating; and nutrition labels are poised for a major makeover.
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New research is giving us another reason to question the safety of artificial sweeteners. Researchers concluded that artificial sweeteners may be contributing to diseases like obesity and diabetes. It may be another reason you should swap the pink or blue packet of the artificial stuff for something more natural.
A recent study published in the journal Nature found that folks who were given saccharin (a type of artificial sweetener) over a week developed glucose intolerance, a condition that can lead to diabetes. Additionally, researchers also analyzed close to 400 people and found that the gut bacteria of those who used artificial sweeteners were really different from folks who did not use the fake stuff. The study concluded that more research should be done to really determine the safety of these calorie-free sugar alternatives.
In this week’s news: Energy drinks may not be worth the energy, or the risk; eating right and exercising during pregnancy is a big boon for your baby; and researchers find yet another reason to start eating a Mediterranean diet, pronto. Read more
Many of us are guilty, at least on occasion, of scarfing down food and swallowing large mouthfuls. Beyond that, who hasn’t heard some variation of the chew-your-food-X-number-of-times counsel? Such advice may sound like dietary superstition, but how well a person chomps actually matters. Chewing rate can have a significant impact on digestion of nutrients and may also affect hunger levels.
The Tooth of the Matter
In recent years, several studies have determined that chewing food thoroughly makes more nutrients available for absorption. Extra chewing allows compound within the food an additional opportunity to combine before they make it further down the digestive tract, which may have a positive influence on health. According to some studies, taking more time to chew also promotes a slower rate of eating, which can help with better appetite control and (in the long run) improved weight management.
Even though it would make life easier at times, I only enjoy homemade versions of certain kitchen basics. I’ve tried brands of store-bought applesauce and chicken stock but I’m never pleased. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just better (and often healthier) to make them from scratch. I posed this same issue — what ingredients MUST you have homemade — to registered dietitians (RDs) across the country and got an overwhelming number of responses. A HUGE thanks to all the RDs that weighed in on this hot topic.
Homemade Must Have #1: Salad Dressing
This was far and away the biggest pet peeve among nutrition pros – nobody cares for all the extra sugar, salt and other processed ingredients swimming in bottled salad dressings.
Janet Helm, MS, RD, blogger at Nutrition Unplugged, author of The Food Lover’s Healthy Habits Cookbook speaks for many of us when she says:
“I just can’t bring myself to buy any bottled salad dressings. It’s just so easy to make your own vinaigrette, which will always taste better and fresher. Plus, you can control the ingredients when you make your own.”
Barbara Boyce, DHSc, RD, LDN gives her homemade dressing a kick:
“My favorite is a jalapeno ranch dressing with a lot less fat and salt than store-bought. My husband and I like ranch dressing with a zip to it, so I add jalapeno peppers to the mix.”
Christine M. Palumbo, MBA, RD adjunct faculty member at Benedictine University opts for the simplest of dressings:
“I can’t stand 99% of the commercial bottled dressings or those served in restaurants. They tend to be sweetened and have a cloying “chemical” taste. No, thank you. My homemade saves money and tastes better. It’s a simple blend of extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, freshly ground black pepper, and dried oregano.”
Some barbecue foods are healthy while others can bust your waistline. We asked expert dietitians from around the country which barbecue and picnic foods they tell their clients to avoid.
The Nutrition Twins Tammy Lakatos and Lyssie Lakatos, registered dietitians, personal trainers and authors of The Secret to Skinny said, “We tell our clients to watch out when they are munching on chips since it’s hard to stick to just one serving; it always turns into many handfuls. Plus, chips don’t satiate you and the salt makes you hungrier and thirstier–so you eat more and drink more and end up consuming a lot of extra calories.”
If the struggle to get your kids to eat right is driving you nuts, there’s hope! We asked registered dietitian and (my all-time-favorite) child nutrition expert Ellyn Satter to weigh in.
Q: Why do so many parents have trouble feeding their kids? A: Because they care so much. Parents have been brainwashed about what is good and bad nutrition-wise and feel pressured to produce a healthy child.
The most important thing is the family meal. The parents’ job is to help preserve a positive attitude about eating. It almost doesn’t matter what you’re eating as long as it’s together. Once parents can establish structure and rhythm to getting meals on the table, creativity will start to kick in and deciding what to serve gets easier.
Q: When it comes to feeding kids, what’s the biggest mistake parents make? A: Parents often provide too little support and too much interference – insisting and bribery don’t work. You can’t fool a child. Parents need to trust that the child will learn to make smart decisions when it comes to what they eat. Read more
With the Grammy’s right around the corner we sought to answer questions like how do musicians keep their voice in tip-top shape, or what do musicians eat on the road? I had the pleasure of speaking with registered dietitian Wendy Jo Peterson, who provides nutrition counseling for musicians including the guys from Reckless Kelly who are up for a Grammy this year.
Q: What’s your role as a dietitian for musicians?
When working with musicians I take on the role of a nutrition coach, culinary expert and sports nutritionist. I work with musicians on the road but also music festivals, catering companies and event coordinators. Besides working with some of the guys from Reckless Kelly, I have also worked with musicians from last year’s Grammy-winning group, Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses.
Q: You counsel your musicians to eat like athletes. Do musicians really burn that many calories? Does this philosophy apply to the entire band (i.e. drummer, guitarist)?
Interestingly the current data is quite outdated in regards to calories burned by musicians, but I have measured calories burned with many of the artists I work with and yes, they burn like athletes. Whether they are banging drums, bouncing around with a fiddle, or doing a choreographed dance while singing they are all burning calories that require nutrition and sport performance considerations. In addition to calories they have major sweat losses on stage, and until they see the evidence they don’t quite get it. I employ similar principles with my athletes as I do with my musicians. The results are impressive!