Sodium and Saturated Fat: The Proposed Dietary Guidelines

myplate Fat, sodium and sugar will be hot topics this year. They are reviewed in “Chapter 6″ of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines proposal (Cross Cutting Topics of Public Health Importance), and there is quite a bit of disagreement among doctors, dietitians, and self-proclaimed nutrition experts.

Luckily, the Dietary Guidelines Committeen(DAC) is a smart bunch, who are aware of all of the strong evidence that exists (randomized controlled trials) about these nutrients, as well as systematic reviews and metaanalysis on the topics. So despite what you may read about adding butter to your coffee or extra salt to your food, the DAC has evidence that this continues to be a bad idea.

  • Sodium. Since 30% of Americans have high blood pressure, sodium is important to address. There is strong evidence that relates sodium to blood pressure, a reduced sodium diet is recommended. Also recommended: A DASH Diet pattern of eating for those with heart disease risk or high blood pressure.
  • Saturated Fat. Saturated fat should be limited, but while there is evidence that subbing polyunsaturated fats (corn, soybean, sunflower oils) helps lower LDL cholesterol, there’s less evidence for replacing them with monounsatured fat (olive, canola, peanut oils) to reduce cardiovascular risk.


What is the relationship between sodium intake and adults? The DAC concluded that there’s strong evidence (including DASH clinical trials) that most adults benefit from a lower sodium diet. There’s moderate evidence showing that the lower the sodium intake, the more significant the blood pressure lowering (1500-2400 milligrams daily). There’s also moderate evidence that children have a similar benefit. The average sodium intake in the U.S. is 3467 milligrams daily.

Conclusion: If you have high blood pressure, reduce your sodium and salt intake. Read labels, eat less processed foods.

On the other hand, there are limitations to the evidence that sodium plays a role in heart disease itself. But, the DAC also recommends a reduction in sodium added during processing stating ‘“The FDA should expeditiously initiate a process to set mandatory national standards for the sodium content of foods”.

Potassium: What effect does the interralationship of sodium and postassium have on blood pressure and cardiovascular disease outcomes?

While popular thought is that potassium is an important part of heart health, the evidence is limited that potassium helps reduce stroke or lower blood pressure. Hopefully food companies will eventually respond with lowering sodium levels, so that healthier convenience foods can be enjoyed.

Saturated Fat

What is the relationship between saturated fat and heart disease? The DAC found strong and consistent evidence that replacing saturated fats (butter, animal fats, trans fats from processed baked goods) with unsaturated fats (especially PUFA – corn, soybean, sunflower oils), significantly reduces total and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates also reduces total and LDL cholesterol, but significantly increases triglycerides and reduces HDL (good) cholesterol.

Since much of the monounsaturated fat contributed to the average American diet comes from animal fats, there’s only limited evidence that plant sources of monounsaturated fat (olives, olive oil, avocado, nuts) reduces risk. The overall recommendation is to maintain an upper limit of 10% of total calories from saturated fats.

A sensible goal would be to include a variety of plant oils in your diet, as well as nuts and avocados, and limit the amount of animal fats used.

Bottom Line

“Individuals are encouraged to consume dietary patterns that emphasize vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and nuts; include low- and non-fat dairy products, poultry, seafood, non-tropical vegetable oils; limit sodium, saturated fat, refined grains, sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, and are lower in red and processed meats. Multiple dietary patterns can achieve these food and nutrient patterns and are beneficial for cardiovascular health, and they should be tailored to individuals’ biological needs and food preferences.”


Next week – I’ll review the sugar and artificial sweetener aspect of the committee’s review.



How Bad Headlines Can Hide Good News

sugarbowlSensational headlines rule the press, always have. Many journalists sprint to their keyboards with the latest science report or medical press release, without speaking to any experts about it, or even reading the full reports. And other times, there’s just a bad headline that goes viral, sometimes misleading the public. This is especially of concern when the press attempts to interpret information that, in the days before the Internet, was only intended for professionals.

The American Academy of Pediatric’s abstract: “Snacks, Sweetened Beverages, Added Sugars, and Schools” was published online on February 23rd. Afterward, headlines read: “Sugar can be a ‘powerful tool’…” by Food Navigator. Probably not the best headline, although reading on you’ll see “moderation is key” in the article. They were bringing to light the idea that flavor-enhancing sugars, sodium and fat, can be used “strategically” to enhance the palatability of foods for a healthy diet, but many only read the headline. The US News headline was a little better with “A little fat and sugar is ok if diet is healthy…”. healthy-food

It’s unfortunate that consumers read these headlines and get caught up in all of the hype about them on social media. I miss the days when lay people turned to their doctor, and trusted him, for medical advice. Now they trust anyone who tweets.

As the most recent issue of National Geographic poses – Is there a war against science? Instead of just listening to your pediatrician or dietitian, or some other highly trained expert on any given science-based topic, people seem to want to take matters into their own hands. In my opinion, the popular press has encouraged this mistrust by printing sensationalized, and often misleading, headlines.

One thing’s for sure – added sugar remains a hot button and misunderstood issue. I’ve heard everything from “I highly disagree!” to “parents shouldn’t put sugar on broccoli” in response to the AAP statement. I don’t think anyone’s putting sugar on broccoli, but there are other ways sugar does enhance the flavor and enjoyment of food.

Sugar in My Family’s Diet

For instance, my kids enjoy Key lime and Vanilla yogurt. They burn lots of calories, they are not overweight, they were highly active as youngsters, and they don’t need or want plain yogurt. But they still benefit from the calcium and protein, and other nutrients the sweetened yogurt delivers. Another example – Only 2/5 of us like carrots. I’m not into juicing, but I could make a delicious carrot soufflé to go with dinner. They’ll gobble it up, benefiting from the fiber, beta carotene, etc.

I’m sure that’s one reason someone invented carrot cake – “Hey I have all of these carrots from the garden that nobody’s eating!”. Autumn Carrot Cake (alt text)

I put some sort of sweetener (white sugar, brown sugar or maple syrup) on my oatmeal, because I prefer the taste that way, and I’m not worried about the 8 grams of sugar and 32 calories that I’m adding. The oats outweigh them.

Breast milk is sweet. It’s human nature to accept sweet over sour. (A reason we always suggest offering vegetables before fruits to infants- to get them used to the bitter, bland flavors. But anyone who has fed a baby knows they love those bananas the first time!). Its my professional opinion that a parent’s role is to offer variety, not withhold, so children can learn to self-limit. The AAP is not suggesting we offer added sugar with abandon.

Read More About It

If you are really interested in what the AAP is saying about added sugars in children’s diet, read more about it the whole report, not just the newsy headline. Here are some key points:

  • The paper was written with the intent to “offer a perspective promoting nutrient-rich foods within calorie guidelines to improve those foods brought into or sold in schools.” Do we remember what perspective is? Do we have room in our minds for considering other viewpoints of the facts? Sugar (as an “empty calorie” but safe ingredient), should be viewed with respect to other nutrients in the diet. What Robert Murray actually stated:
“A good diet is built on highly nutritious foods from each of the main food groups,” said Robert Murray, M.D., FAAP, lead author of the policy statement, “Snacks, Sweetened Beverages, Added Sugars, and Schools,” published in the March 2015 Pediatrics (released online Feb. 23). “No ingredient should be banned. A small amount of sugar or fat is ok if it means a child is more likely to eat foods that are highly nutritious.”

Final Word

“Children, like adults, often want their own preferred flavors and textures during meals and snacks,” Dr. Murray said. “It’s no secret that brown sugar on oatmeal, or salad dressing with cut vegetables, can make these healthy foods more palatable to children, and increase their consumption. This is not a license to give kids anything they want; we just need to use sugar, fat and sodium strategically.”


Now is the Future: What Should You Eat?

earthappleSometimes when I’m out, or at the gym, I secretly enjoy overhearing conversations about what people are eating (or not eating). Anyone who knows me knows that I love food, enjoy eating, and indulge in rich or fried food or desserts from time to time, while also preparing veggies and snacking on fruit.

But so many people seem to create rigid rules for themselves about eating and food choices. It’s wonderful to have a choice, and I guess “food rules’ have replaced “diets” for some, but in my world, eating is part of the enjoyment of each day, and it is also purposeful – to sustain the energy you need to function at your best and be productive.  In some cases what you eat is not always as important as how you eat; but a healthy diet is good medicine for a healthy body – enter the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The New Rules (well, not so much rules as they are guidelines)

The USDA just released their report for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs). Every five years these guidelines are reviewed, taking into account evidence-based data and new research about diet and epidemiology. There is always some argument or disagreement about them, but overall, in my opinion, they have always served as a good framework to provide balanced, disease-prevention advice about what to eat. And a lot of work and thought, from a panel of experts, goes into them.

The report that is now available is still open to written public comment beginning sometime in March, and through April 8, 2015.

What I am pleased to see in this executive report, is a focus on so much more than simply a list of food rules. They’ve addressed other behavioral, social and cultural factors that impact how you eat, and this recognition is long overdue. Here are a few new aspects of this new release that’s caught my eye thus far:

  • At the core of better eating, there is a need for behavior change. While past guidelines summed up what you should eat more of or less of, this addition recognizes that without purposeful behavior change, no dietary therapy will have a positive impact. Recognizing the way Americans live (for instance 33% of meals are eaten away from home) is key to helping people develop new strategies for healthier choices.

“Individual behavior change lies at the inner core of the social-ecological model that forms the basis of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for American Advisory Committee (DGAC) conceptual model”

  • The roles that sedentary lifestyles, poor sleep habits, food security, family meals, and cultural backgrounds, play in how you make your food choices every day, is addressed. The 2015 guidelines recognize that your environment affects your choices, and the fact that very few Americans have been able to meet previous guidelines.

“Improving dietary and lifestyle patterns and reducing diet-related chronic diseases, including obesity, will require actions at the individual behavioral and population and environmental levels. Behavioral strategies are needed to motivate and enhance the capacity of the individual to adopt and improve their lifestyle behaviors. Specific behavioral efforts related to eating and food and beverage choices include improving knowledge, attitudes, motivations, and food and cooking skills. Environmental change also is important because the environmental context and conditions affect what and how much people eat and what food choices are available.”

  • Given the growing interest in a sustainable food supply, the 2015 DGAs are examining this important issue. Their definition:

“Sustainable diets are a pattern of eating that promotes health and well-being and provides food security for the present population while sustaining human and natural resources for future generations.”

 More to Come

One thing is for sure: you have to keep trying to eat more vegetables, drink more water, exercise, reduce your sodium intake, reduce saturated fat and added sugars. There’s a lot more to it, and I’ll be reviewing them and following the final outcome over the next few months, so stay tuned.

New Dietary Guidelines, Cholesterol and Your Heart

The upcoming US Dietary Guidelines for Americans (currently under review for release of the 2015 version) are eliminating the guideline to limit dietary cholesterol. Interestingly, most dietitians have never focused on this guideline, so this is not news to us.

Photo courtesy of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Photo courtesy of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Often when a person receives a diagnosis of high blood cholesterol, the first thing that comes to mind is something like “I have to watch my cholesterol”. However dietary cholesterol does not have that big of an impact on blood cholesterol. The overall quality of the diet (particularly fiber, and the amount of plant-based foods), as well as total fat, are more important.

The idea that new guidelines are no longer considering dietary cholesterol as a “nutrient of concern” does not mean that your overall diet has no impact on your blood cholesterol and fat levels. The Dietary Guidelines recommendation for daily cholesterol had been 300 milligrams a day (and lower for DASH Diet guidelines). The average man consumes about 340 milligrams. So on that point, the idea of a recommendation may be a moot point – people generally aren’t over-consuming cholesterol in their diets. They never really have.

As these new guidelines continue to form, keep these tips in mind:

  • As I often tell patients, it’s easy to limit dietary cholesterol, but it’s more difficult to limit dietary fat.
  • Dietary cholesterol only comes from animal products.
  • Dietary fat may be delivered by animal or plant based products. Vegetable oils or vegetable-based margarine spreads are “cholesterol-free”, but are sources of fat. Some salad dressings may also be cholesterol-free but a source of fat. Meats can have varying amounts of fat. And of course, many snack foods and fried foods contain various sources and amounts of fat.
  • While there’s some debate about the link between saturated fat and heart disease, many news outlets publish headlines that often exaggerate or misinterpret studies they report on. A heart healthy diet limits the amount of butter, cream, cheese, and fatty meats consumed. You don’t have to avoid these foods, but it’s prudent to limit the portion of them, choose lean meats and fish, and balance out your plate with more vegetables and whole grains.
  • One benefit to the limiting guideline for dietary cholesterol is that this guideline helped encourage the intake of more plants. Adding more vegetables, fruit, and whole grains to your diet ensures that you include adequate fiber (which helps keep blood cholesterol levels healthy) and also adds important antioxidants and other minerals and vitamins to your diet.

Enjoy Some Eggs

Unfortunately, the previous dietary cholesterol limits seemed to target eggs. Over the past 70 years or so egg consumption has gone down, although egg intake has been increasing over the past several years as dietitians and clinicians have relaxed the weekly egg rules. Eggs are a great inexpensive source of protein (the white) and other important nutrients. Eggs are a great addition to your breakfast, or even as a high protein, mid-day snack.

  • Remember that the cholesterol in eggs come from the yolks, so if you do have heart disease, diabetes, or high blood cholesterol, you should probably not go overboard and have a 3-egg omelet every morning. You can create a delicious high protein omelet using 2 whole eggs, and 2 egg whites. Fold in fresh spinach, onions, mushrooms and some shredded cheese for a delicious breakfast or lunch.

Vegetables, Grains, and Beans

CerealADA-Stock-56_LODietary fiber from plant products is an important part of a healthy diet. Sources of fiber, such as fruit and vegetables, provide important nutrients including antioxidant vitamins A and C, as well as B vitamins. Whole grains such as brown rice, wild rice, barley or quinoa also contribute some fiber to the diet. Grains mixed with beans and vegetables can offer up a high fiber, high nutrient, high protein, low fat meal or side dish.

Of course, the DASH Diet incorporates all of these foods with guidelines to ensure your heart stays healthy, and your blood pressure or diabetes is well managed. While cholesterol is not a focus of the DASH Diet, the diet limits portions of meats and therefore cholesterol, and also some fats, while encouraging a high intake of fruits and vegetables, and low fat dairy products.

Bottom Line

While the government’s committee to revise the Dietary Guidelines for Americans may have removed a guideline to limit cholesterol, keep in mind that it’s still a good idea to be aware of the amount of animal fats in your diet. Incorporating the goals of the DASH Diet will help you add more medicinal nutrients and fiber to your diet, and limit the dietary components that aren’t.


Pamper Your Heart – Modify Your Behavior

February is Heart Month – not only a time to treat your Valentine, but also a time to learn more about heart health. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is common, and a major risk factor for heart disease. These eight factors play a role:

  1. Diet
  2. Obesity
  3. Exericse
  4. Smoking
  5. Alcohol
  6. Stress
  7. Family History
  8. Age

HeartmonthStraweberriesWhile you can’t stop the clock nor change your family history, you do have some control over six of these eight factors. Think about what you eat each day, and work on adding more nutrient-rich, fiber-rich foods. Fruits, vegetables or nuts are a good place to start for fiber. Most people respond well to a sodium reduction. While many of the recipes in our books have no added salt, it is okay to add a pinch here and there, but be aware of the sodium added to your diet from highly processed food (keeping in mind that a daily goal for sodium is around 2300 milligrams).

Note that exercise is on the list. Improving your fitness level helps your heart and simply makes your body more functional. Talk to your doctor before beginning a new exercise program, and start slowly. If you can, consider hiring a personal trainer to get you started, or join a group exercise class with a friend. Having some accountability helps.

Modifying Your Behavior

Just a few modifications in your behavior can result in improved health by the end of the year. Everyone is an individual, and the possibilities are endless, but consider choosing from these simple changes to a healthier you in 6 months:

  1. Eat oatmeal for breakfast 3 or more times a week. The fiber in oatmeal can help lower your cholesterol.
  2. Take a 20-45 minute walk 3 times a week. Or use a fitness tracker to add more steps daily.
  3. Have a green salad with lean protein (grilled chicken, fish, cottage cheese, beans, or nuts) on it for lunch twice a week
  4. At dinner twice a week – skip the bread and starch, and enjoy lean meat and vegetables
  5. Do 5 or more push ups every morning, and work up to 45 abdominal crunches
  6. Replace your vending machine candy bar/chips with a 6 ounce yogurt or a fresh piece of fruit every afternoon.


Easy Superbowl Fun

With much of the Northeast covered in snow, Superbowl Sunday is an even better than usual excuse to gather together with friends and family and have a party. I’m a Steeler fan, so I’ll mostly be watching the commercials, but I still love having friends over and serving them fun food and drink during this yearly ritual.

Entertaining doesn’t have to be difficult, and the more often you do it, the more at ease you’ll be. You can easily make up some fancier finger foods ahead of time, that are healthy, but still delicious:

  • Try these Zippy Zucchini Bites. You can make them ahead, and reheat them in the oven at game time.
  • Try a white chili instead of the usual recipe.
  • One of the simplest ways to balance out a party spread of snack foods, is to be sure to offer a simple fruit and vegetable tray. Sliced apples or just clusters of grapes on a bowl or platter, will get eaten up. Raw veggies such as carrots, celery, bell peppers, cucumbers, broccoli or cauliflower, pair up nicely with your favorite dip (yes, dipping is okay!)
  • Mix up this nutrient-packed Sweet Potato Salad as a healthy side for your chicken wings.
  • Serve this Mexican Bake or this Salsa with baked tortilla chips

You can enjoy snacking while watching the Superbowl, just be sure to have some healthy options available. While I usually don’t recommend skipping a meal before a party, since kick-off is at 6:30, if you offer a variety foods, you can count this as dinner.

Don’t Forget About Liquid Calories

Calories from beer and wine add up. Remember that a 12-ounce beer or a 5-ounce glass of wine provides about 150 calories, as does a shot of liquor. You can save some calories by using diet drinks for your mixer. Drink some water as well, and limit your libations to just two.

Guest Blog: Boosting Plant-Based Foods for Kids and Adults

We all know the importance of eating lots of plant-based foods throughout our lives for good health. Plant-based foods are chock full of vitamins and minerals that help fight disease and are good for our whole body, from our hearts and brains to our hair and skin. Research shows that adults who regularly consume vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes are generally those who consumed those foods while children, so be a role model for your family and improve your own health by finding ways to make eating healthy fun.

Why Plant Foods?
Plant foods are an important addition to all diets. Plants contain unique compounds called phytochemicals that maximize our well-being and keep our bodies functioning at their best. Plant foods can also be fantastic sources of protein. Nuts, beans, and legumes are just a few examples. Eating a variety of these protein sources every day maximizes our intake of the variety of nutrients. The almond butter and beet hummus recipes below are a great way to fuel up with plant protein.


In a Nutshell
Nuts are a great source of a wide variety of nutrients, including healthy fats and plant protein. Almonds, for example, provide folate and calcium and are an excellent source of vitamin E and magnesium. They are full of fiber and antioxidants and offer cholesterol-lowering benefits. These nuts are also rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which can promote heart health. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the claim that, “Eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.” Try making homemade almond butter to take advantage of these great benefits without the added preservatives and additives often found in store-bought varieties. Use nut butters as a spread on graham crackers and top with a few chocolate chips for a healthy but delicious dessert instead of a cookie. Add a dollop of nut butter to your morning oatmeal or a spoonful to your favorite smoothie. In addition to all of the disease-fighting nutrients, the protein and fats in these nut butters will help you stay full longer!


Going with the Beet
Beets are one of the many nutritious and readily available red vegetables. Red foods are great choices due to their anti-inflammatory properties that keep our hearts beating strong. Beets contain a phytochemical called betanin that supports healthy blood pressure. Try roasting and steaming beets to make peeling these little gems easier. For a delicious, colorful twist on hummus, puree roasted beets and chickpeas. For a slightly more complex version, see the recipe below. Make a beet pesto by combining roasted beets, walnuts, olive oil, garlic, and Parmesan cheese in a Champion Juicer for a consistent texture, or use a food processor.

An added bonus of snacking on nut butters and dips is that you can use other colorful veggies–such as bell peppers, cucumbers, and carrots–as a vessel for eating them! Crunchy chips like red or blue baked corn chips are great ways to boost color and plant-based foods.


These recipes are made with the Champion Juicer for a smooth consistent texture but you can use a food processor or blender. The best part is the Champion Juicer does all the hard work, so you don’t need to scrape out the side of the blender, start, and stop again. The nut butter or hummus comes out 100% smooth and ready to eat!

Almond Butter


  • Almonds, raw or roasted –roasted will come out creamier than raw
  • Optional: Add a drop of honey or maple syrup if desired

Use raw almonds for a sweet delicate taste or roasted almonds for a more savory flavor. Fit the blank screen of the Champion Juicer (or use homogenizing body) onto the juicer body and fill feed spout about half way with almonds. Turn the juicer on, and continue to feed the almonds into the machine. Be sure to add almonds slowly. Run through twice for a creamier product.

Roasted Beet Hummus


  • 1 can Chickpeas
  • 2 beets, roasted and cut into chunks
  • 1 Garlic clove
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 Tsp of Olive oil and 2 tsp of tahini sauce, or tahini butter
    Optional: fresh herbs (dill or basil) and sumac for topping

To make green hummus, replace beets with 2 handfuls of fresh spinach. Fit the blank screen (or use homogenizing body) onto the juicer body. Alternate chickpeas, garlic clove, and beets for best flavor melding. Mix in olive oil or tahini until you have your desired taste and texture.

Melissa Halas-Liang, MA, RDN, CDE is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with a Masters in Nutrition Education who is a nationally recognized childhood nutrition expert. She is founder of SuperKids Nutrition Inc. where she is “saving the world, one healthy food at a time.” Read more about her Super Crew children’s books and discover how good nutrition can help you live your best health potential through her on-line courses blog, Melissa’s Healthy Living.

This post is sponsored by Champion Juicer.




7 Tips to The Path of Least Resistance

How can you be sure you will be successful this year with diet and exercise? Make it easier.

As mammals, humans are drawn to the path of least resistance. The more steps, the more difficult, the less likely that you’ll make the best choice. Have you ever noticed deer on the hillside? Or even mountain goats? They will always take the dirt path, the easier route, as opposed to walking through the tall grass or rocks.

freezerFoodPeople are like this too. Keep it simple and you will likely make better choices day after day. You gravitate to the easiest and routine thing. Here are some ideas you can incorporate into your life right now to make eating healthy easier:

  1. Keep fruit on the counter or in an easy bin, ready to grab every day.
  2. Cut vegetables like carrots, bell peppers, and broccoli into bite-size pieces and bag them into small snack bags. Keep these in the refrigerator to grab for work or to grab as a snack while you get dinner ready.
  3. Keep your walking shoes by the door, with socks, so you can put them on anytime and head out for a short walk. If you live in cold weather, keep a special set of “exercise hat and gloves” there too.
  4. Put your treadmill in your office or home space as a cue that it’s time for a 20 minute break.
  5. Buy lean meats (boneless pork loin, beef sirloin, skinless poultry) and put them into quart freezer bags when you get home from the store, or sometime that day. Package them with different preparations in mind – slice or cube some so they are ready for soups, stews or a stir-fry, and freeze others in 2-4 per pack. This makes it easier when dinner time hits. It also helps you maintain smaller portions of meat by portioning it out ahead, and using smaller portions of sliced or cubed meats to add to pasta or rice and bean dishes.
  6. Keep frozen vegetables on hand to save time and for days that you can’t get to the store. I love keeping peas, broccoli, “fajita veggies” (plain frozen sliced onions, red, green and yellow bell peppers), and spinach in my freezer.
  7. Fill a large water bottle or lidded cup with water and keep it with you through the day to make hydration easy.


How to Ruin a Date with a Dietitian

My colleague LeahMcGrath recently pitched a question out to a few registered dietitians on Twitter using this hashtag: #5wordstoruinadatewithadietitian Knowing Leah, we all were aware it was a tongue and cheek question and got a kick out of it.

While we didn’t quite follow the 5 words rule, we easily rattled off a myriad of responses. Here are just a few of them:

“I quit sugar”

“I don’t eat food with chemicals”

“I’ve got this gastrointestinal problem”

“Is this good for you?

“Is this bad for you?”

“detox, cleanse, clean eating,”

“I don’t eat carbs”

“Thought dietitians only eat salad.” (“YOU are going to eat THAT?!”)

“I’ll have the Paleo Cheesecake”

“I’ve gone gluten-free”

“Don’t artificial sweeteners cause cancer?”

“Sugar is as addictive as cocaine” (or “Sugar is the new heroine”)

“Do you watch Dr Oz?”

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 10.14.28 AMWe got quite a kick out of our exchange and I know I laughed out loud a few times. You see, as I often share, eating for good health should be enjoyable. Yes, you should choose healthy foods to sustain your body and keep it working. Yes I believe in adopting a diet such as the DASH Diet (since it’s sensible, includes a variety of foods, and is proven to improve health) but it’s okay to enjoy a meal.

The dietitians that chimed in with this #5wordstoruinadatewithadietitian hashtag, are science-based RDs. We are very aware of the most recent research about diet and health, as well as the historical research. We are aware of the clinical data collection tools used for diet research as well as the subjectivity of many of them. We generally want people to eat more plants, but we don’t tell them which ones to choose (there are alternatives to kale), nor do we expect you to absolutely exclude pleasurable foods (foods that may be high in fat or sugar).

There are however some dietitians, doctors, naturopaths, and nutritionists who make claims based on emotion or opinion, not science.  They don’t like an ingredient, so they claim it’s unhealthy or unsafe. They may only be concerned with book sales or they want a big spotlight, so they’ll “say anything” (Think: Dr Oz or Dr Hymen).

Check out the hashtag for a laugh (and to follow some science-based dietitians who have a sense of humor). And remember that your body has it’s own unique set of nutrition requirements. See a registered dietitian to find out what they are before ruling out entire food groups or using a “detox” approach that isn’t necessary or valid. Cheers!

DASH Diet #1 for Fifth Year!

DASH#1Honest, I am not paying US News and World Report to rank the DASH Diet as the number one diet year after year. But seriously, being voted #1 for the 5th year straight? They are trying to tell you something, the DASH Diet is good for you, there has to be something to it!

The DASH Diet is based on research. It’s proven. Originally studied to lower high blood pressure (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension – DASH), this diet is well-balanced, and also effective for weight loss and diabetes control. It is a combination of low fat dairy products, lots of fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, and smaller portions of lean meats, fats and sweets. It is easy to follow, allows for treats, but is focused on plants.

The most difficult part of changing your diet, is coming up with a plan that you can actually stick with. If you are allowed to eat a variety of foods, then it’s likely that you will enjoy eating, and therefore sustain that diet over time.

The DASH Diet is that diet. It is good for your health. It is enjoyable, easy, and therefore sustainable.

Go on, give it a go.