As a nutrition professional who works with food, there are many unhealthy items that, truth be told, make my skin crawl. (Those bowls made out of bacon?! I’m a bacon fan, but come on!) And I’m not alone. I polled registered dietitians from across the country to see what foods drive them bonkers. Some of answers are to be expected (deep-fried carnival foods were never going to win any nutritional awards from this crowd). But on the other end of the spectrum: Foods everyone seems to think are more virtuous than they really are (sorry, organic snack chips). Here, dietitians reveal all.
All Posts In Ask the Experts
We’ve all heard the term “super food” being tossed around. But which super food tops the list? Nutrition experts around the country were asked to choose one food they consider better than the rest. Here’s what they said.
We all have our favorite kitchen gadgets and tools. I was interested to see what tools nutrition experts favor so I polled some of the top experts from around the country; it was interesting to hear what they considered to be their most prized kitchen possession.
This popular kitchen tool got two votes from the experts I asked. Lisa Eaton Wright, MS, RDN, LDN President and Media Spokesperson for the Illinois Dietetic Association said “A Microplane grater is one of the most time-saving, efficient kitchen tools out there! There are many uses for this tool, but I use mine to grate fresh garlic for sauces and vinaigrettes, for grating fresh ginger, for grating Parmesan cheese over soups and salads, for adding a chocolate garnish to my chocolate-drizzled angel food cake, for finely mincing hot peppers — like jalapenos that I add to guacamole — and of course my favorite use is grating lemons for all kinds of dishes to add flavor and zest, particularly to my homemade pesto sauce.”
Nutrition consultant and healthy food blogger Christy Wilson, RD also favors the Microplane grater. “I use it to zest limes, oranges, lemons and to finely grate fresh ginger or garlic. This infuses so much flavor into sauces, dressings and salads and the tool itself is small, easy to handle and affordable. I love it!”
A: Simply . . . no, all sugars are not created equal. But learning how to identify the different types is where it gets complicated.
Whether it’s run-of-the-mill granulated white sugar, high fructose corn syrup or something that sounds fancier, such as turbinado or raw sugar – these are all sweeteners. These ingredients are added to foods as they are processed or prepared. The distinct flavor and degree of sweetness will vary, but no matter which type you’re dealing with, these sweeteners are a pure source of carbohydrate and have about 15 calories per teaspoon. When hefty doses of these types of added sugars are eaten, it can lead to weight gain and poorly controlled blood sugar levels.
The most significant sources of added sugar in the American diet are baked goods, candy, ice cream, soft drinks, fruit drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks.
This is the question I posed to a group of my colleagues – registered dietitians and nutritionists – in the trenches coaching and counseling people in the science, and art, of eating better. So many experts responded with great tips, that I sorted the feedback into categories. In addition to the tips below, you can find additional tips in Change a Habit, Change Your Life, Part 1.
Adjust your portion sizes so you’re satisfied, not stuffed
• “To shrink your waist, shrink your plate! You’ll trick your brain into feeling more satisfied by the generous-looking portions. And if you go back for seconds, your overall portion may still offer fewer calories than if you had served your meal on an oversized platter.” – Jessica Corwin, RD, MPH
• Use smaller plates, bowls, silverware and glasses. Studies show you’ll eat less and you can clean your plate without the guilt. — Multiple experts
• “Gradually get used to being a little hungry between meals. Don’t deprive but eat 10 to 20% less (this may be two less bites at a meal, a half portion less of a side dish or one less piece of bread).” – Roseanne Rust, MS, RD, LDN
• “Eat with your stomach and not your wallet. Just because you paid for something — it doesn’t mean you have to finish it (or you’ll ‘pay for it’ in other ways!)” — Bonnie Taub Dix, MA, RD, CDN
That’s the question I posed to a group of my colleagues – registered dietitians and nutritionists – in the trenches coaching and counseling people in the science, and art, of eating better. Rather than focusing on huge overhauls that may not be sustainable (i.e. no carbs, no gluten, no dairy, no alcohol, etc.), I wanted to look for keystone eating habit changes that could have a butterfly effect through the rest of your daily routine and get you the health and fitness results you want.
I was amazed — within 24 hours I had over 60 responses. As I began sorting through the feedback, I realized that many of the recommendations fell into a seven broader categories, which I’ll be summarizing and presenting in two posts.
Buckle up, here are the first four:
Q: Does drinking lemon just help with or speed up weight loss?
A: If you’re looking to lose weight or speed up your efforts, it’s all about eating right and regular physical activity. Sipping on lemon juice or adding lemon juice to warm water isn’t the magic solution.
There are many myths surrounding lemon juice that just don’t have the scientific evidence to back them up. I’ve heard that lemon juice improves digestion and regulates sugar absorption — both don’t have enough scientific evidence to make strong claims. One of my favorite myths is squeezing lemon juice on chicken in order to melt the fat away– unfortunately, that’s an unfounded claim. Acidic ingredients like lemon juice, however, are used in marinades to help tenderize meat and poultry by breaking down collagen, a fibrous compound that aids in the formation of connective tissue.
A second myth that’s often discussed around the water cooler is that when lemon juice is mixed with cold or lukewarm water it’ll dissolve fat in your body. Again, this doesn’t happen metabolically, though drinking more water (cold or lukewarm) will help you stay hydrated.
RD and recipe developer Jackie Newgent has done it again. Read more about her new book (of 1,000, yes 1,000 low-calorie recipes!), get her kitchen secrets and find out her inspiration for creating deliciously healthy recipes.
HE: We love your new book, 1,000 Low-Calorie Recipes! What was your inspiration for creating all of the recipes?
Jackie Newgent: I take inspiration from just about everything. I enjoy reinventing foods that everyone knows and loves to fit with today’s trends. Dining out a lot, I’m often inspired by what accomplished chefs are whipping up. I’m lucky enough to travel, which enables me to bring other local and global influences into my recipes. And growing up with a Lebanese mother (who I was cooking with from the age of 3!), I always find a way to bring Middle Eastern and regional Mediterranean flavors into many of my recipes.
As a registered dietitian, my philosophy is to embrace holidays like Halloween without going overboard. This means allowing my children to go trick-or-treating and indulge in SOME treats. I’m not the only nutrition expert with this philosophy—I spoke to top experts around the country who weighed in on their favorite Halloween treats.
Ding Dong at the Dietitian’s House
Nutrition consultant Alexandra Oppenheimer, MS, RD claims “It’s not all apples and raisins at my house; I do give out candy but purchase ones that have some redeeming qualities. When picking out my Halloween offerings, I choose chocolates with nuts like peanuts or almonds and skip the sugary caramel. I choose chocolates (and lean towards the darker varieties) because of the potential heart-health benefits and antioxidants. In addition, they also provide fiber, protein and calcium. For these reasons, I prefer passing out chocolates versus candies made completely out of sugar with little to no other nutrients. Although plain chocolates and those with nuts do contribute nutrients, it’s important to remember they are still a treat and should be eaten in moderation.”
Dietitians are always trying to dispel the obscene amount of nutrition myths floating out in the world. We asked nutrition experts around the country about their favorite (or rather, least favorite!) nutrition myths and how they set the record straight.
MYTH #1: Organic foods are more nutritious
BUSTED: Bonnie Tandy Leblang, MS, RD clears this issue up by saying:
“In terms of vitamins and minerals, organic foods are generally no more nutritious than conventionally grown foods. Organic refers to the way the food is grown, handled and processed — that is without the use of pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones or, in the case of milk and meat, steroids.”
Shopping for Organic Produce? Use the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen