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    Archive for the ‘sweeteners’ Category

    A “Touch” Of Honey… And A Whole Lot More!

    ServeImageOne of Kellogg’s newest products is its Special-K low-fat granola.

    I came across it for the first time in the supermarket today and got such a kick out of its misleading advertising that I must share it with you.

    The front of the box states:

    “Touch of honey”

    I don’t know about you, but when I hear that something is sweetened with a “touch of honey”, I assume honey is the only sweetener used (and used in low amounts, no less).

    A look at the ingredient list reveals the following (I bolded certain ingredients for effect):

    Whole grain oats, sugar, corn syrup, oat bran, rice, honey, soluble wheat fiber, modified corn starch, soy grits, molasses, corn flour, natural flavor, salt, acacia gum, soy protein isolate, oat fiber, evaporated cane juice, malt flavoring high fructose corn syrup, niacinamide, reduced iron, BHT (preservative), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), thiamin hydrochloride (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), vitamin A palmitate, folic acid, ferrous fumarate, calcium pantothenate, vitamin D, vitamin B12.

    Sugar, sugar everywhere!  There are no less than seven different sweeteners — including honey — in this product.

    There most certainly is a “touch of honey”, along with a touch of sugar, corn syrup, molasses, evaporated cane juice, malt flavoring, and high fructose corn syrup.

    The sugar content isn’t anything extravagant (9 grams — or slightly over 2 teaspoons — per 3/4 cup serving), but it’s well beyond a “touch” of sweetness.  For what it’s worth, you get the same amount of sugar from a three-quarter-cup serving of Fruity Pebbles!

    Remember — and I will never tire of saying this — that the use of honey as a sweetener does not make a product healthier, lower in sugar, or less caloric.


    Say What?: Sweet (In)justice

    Although Top Chef is one of my favorite competition-based reality shows, the two previous seasons have led to blog postings in which I express my frustration at the contestants’ and producers’ misunderstanding of basic nutrition concepts.

    This current season is no exception.

    This week’s “quickfire challenge” — a 45 minute challenge that grants the winning contestant immunity at the episode’s elimination ceremony — consisted of making a sugar-free dessert.

    Before introducing the challenge, host Padma Lakshmi showed the contestants a cart loaded with the various sugars found in the Top Chef pantry — white, raw, confectioners’, brown, etc. — which she wheeled out of the kitchen once the challenge began.

    “This will be interesting to watch!” I thought.

    Well, the first red flag went up when the concept of sugar-free desserts was referenced in the context of producing healthy, low-calorie options.

    Really? Because, often times, sugar-free varieties of cakes and pies use higher quantities of fat — mainly saturated — to make up for lost texture and taste.

    Consequently, it is not at all odd to find that a slice of sugar-free cake has just as many calories — if not more! — as the traditional version.

    Although “sugar-free” can sometimes be healthier and lower-calorie (i.e.: quick-cooking plain oatmeal is a healthier, lower-calorie alternative to pre-sweetened varieties,) you should never automatically make that connection in your head.

    Then, once the challenge was underway, I saw contestants using honey and agave. Oy.

    Apparently in Top Chef land, the word “sugar” is taken very literally — it only refers to a granulated sweetener that comes in large bags.

    Honey and agave are forms of sugar.

    Yes, it usually takes less agave to match the same level of sweetness of a certain amount of sugar, but a dessert made with agave or honey is NOT sugar-free!

    One contestant even used a chocolate coin in her dish. I immediately thought she would be disqualified, since any chocolate product contains sugar. Alas, the judging panel didn’t seem to have a problem with that.

    Top Chef execs: how about consulting with a Registered Dietitian when creating rules for nutrition-related challenges?


    You Ask, I Answer: Honey

    I have heard claims that honey is an “immune enhancer” and was wondering what your thoughts are on that.

    — Dennise O’Grady
    Bay Head, NJ

    Those types of claims bother me because they are so vague.

    What, exactly, does the term “immune enhancer” mean? For example, is a fruit drink chock full of sugar but fortified with a day’s worth of Vitamin C more of an “immune enhancer” than a fruit containing a quarter of a day’s worth of the vitamin?

    It is true that, due to its antimicrobial and enzymatic properties, honey can be helpful when dealing with certain conditions, like sore throats.

    Similarly, it can be useful — albeit messy — for treating external wounds like scrapes and burns.

    However, extrapolating that information and claiming honey works wonders for the entire immune system is quite a stretch.

    Besides, I take issue with attributing health properties to sweeteners because it encourages their abundant consumption.

    I find it very irresponsible when self-proclaimed “nutrition experts” point out that honey contains vitamin C, and forget to mention that to get just three percent of the vitamin C daily value, you need to consume an entire cup of honey.

    That’s 1,031 calories!

    That cup of honey also contains five percent of the daily value of zinc and a measly two percent of the daily magnesium requirement.

    Ironically, these are two minerals that many honey-pushing “holistic experts” provide as “proof” that honey is “better” than sugar.

    I can’t bring myself to get excited over a food that barely delivers two percent of the daily value of most vitamins and minerals in a half cup (515 calories).

    In my mind, honey is simply another sweetener. If you like it in your tea in place of sugar, there is no reason why you should stop consuming it.

    If you are specifically looking to boost your immune system, though, I suggest you simply focus on the basics — get enough sleep, be as physically active as you can, and limit nutritionally void junk food.


    In The News: Can Sodas Succeed with Stevia?

    More Stevia controversy.

    This time, it revolves around two soft drink giants — Coca Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. — desperate to gain back customers after experiencing tumbling sales this year.

    “Coca-Cola Co. will begin selling products made with [the] new zero-calorie sweetener despite no official nod from [the Food & Drug Administration], but rival PepsiCo Inc. said Monday it won’t follow suit,” reports today’s San Francisco Chronicle.

    Pepsi actually has two Stevia-sweetened drinks on deck, but is waiting to launch them until the sweetener receives a “generally recognized as safe” moniker from the FDA.

    “A no-calorie, all-natural sweetener is a huge opportunity for the beverage industry,” Morgan Stanley spokesperson Bill Pecoriello said at today’s Beverage Digest conference.

    A huge opportunity to trick consumers into thinking these beverages are “healthy” and perhaps even a viable solution to the obesity problem?

    My concern is that among all this Stevia joy, the main problem is being overlooked: soda — diet or not — is usually consumed with unhealthy foods.

    Most people usually pair it up with chips, pizza, fries, hamburgers, hot dogs, and other high-calorie fare.

    Complementing four slices of pepperoni pizza with a Stevia-based, rather than Splenda-based, soda isn’t exactly that great of an improvement.

    And although stevia is the least Frankenstein-ish of non-caloric sweeteners, all sodas contain phosphoric acid, which isn’t something you want to consume on a daily basis.


    You Ask, I Answer: Stevia

    What’s your take on Stevia versus other no-calorie sweeteners (Splenda, etc)?

    I generally use Splenda, but started to use stevia since it is supposed to be more ‘natural’ and ‘unprocessed.”

    — Jean (last name withheld)
    New York, NY

    I would rank Stevia as the most controversial no-calorie sweetener.

    Although it is plant-derived (thereby less artificial than Splenda, aspartame, or saccharin) and has been used in some countries (like Japan) for almost two decades, the United States was never open to it, citing concerns over rather shoddy animal studies showing apparent mutagenic properties of some components of the sweetener.

    It was banned in 1991, and when that ban was lifted three years later, the Food & Drug Administration refused to grant it GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) status as a food additive, thereby only making it legal if sold as a supplement. Confused yet?

    I — and many others — suspect this had more to do with political motives than actual health concerns.

    Consider the fact that patented (hint: profitable) artificial sweeteners faced fewer legal roadblocks.

    Adding to that, once two multi-national bigshot corporations like Coca Cola and Cargill jointly developed — and patented — a Stevia-based sweetener (Truvia), the FDA had no problem granting them a green light.

    Although I don’t use it myself, I don’t have a problem with someone sweetening their morning coffee with a teaspoon or two of Stevia.

    What I want to point out about all these zero-calorie sweeteners, though, is that people are misguided if they think using them in place of sugar in the occasional beverage is an efficient weight-loss and overall health strategy.

    No one becomes overweight or obese as a result of the tablespoon of sugar they add to their morning coffee every day (two packets of sugar only contribute 32 calories.)

    It is the sodas, cookies, candies, muffins, and chocolate bars that are loaded with empty calories (in the form of sugar) that are more problematic. Although sodas are available in zero-calorie varieties, such is not the case with baked goods and other sweets.

    And, so, we once again come back to the concept of general eating patterns — and total calories — being at the core of health and weight goals.

    Using a non-caloric sweetener in coffee does not offset consuming too many calories throughout the day.


    In The News: Aspartame Is Safe (?)

    A few weeks ago, it was announced that an exhaustive study involving ten universities and medical schools and epidemiological studies dating back to the 1970s deemed aspartame an entirely safe alternative sweetener.

    Read the fine print carefully and you’ll notice that said study was funded by Ajinoto Company, Inc. — one of the world’s leading producers of aspartame!

    The critical thinker in me can’t say with absolute certainty that this latest study fully convinces me of aspartame’s safety.

    Let me be clear. A healthy adult having Diet Coke a few times a month does not classify as a huge concern.

    However, my personal jury is definitely still out on aspartame consumption and children.

    There may be three decades of research on aspartame consumption, but as far as I know, it all involves adults.

    Even when healthy adults are involved, I would much rather someone consume small amounts of real sugar than wolf down sugar-free products made with aspartame.


    Diets, Deconstructed: The Sonoma Diet

    Time to check in with New York University professor and Nickelodeon nutrition consultant Lisa Sasson!

    By the way, some of you have asked me what a nutrition consultant for a children’s television channel does.

    Ms. Sasson is the person Nickelodeon turns to when they need help deciding what food products to put their characters on.

    The Viacom-owned station recently decided to be more careful with the foods their “celebrities” like Dora the Explorer and Spongebob Squarepants endorse. A certain “healthy” cereal might seem okay to ad executives, but it is Ms. Sasson who has the final word!

    Today, she reviews The Sonoma Diet: Trimmer Waist, Better Health in Just 10 Days! by Connie Guttersen and Stephanie Karpinske.

    What I Like:

    This isn’t a low-fat or low-carb diet. Olive oil and nuts play a big part, and whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal are included.”

    What I’m Not So Sure Of:

    “This idea of phases. It’s very cookie cutter. I guess it’s what sells. I don’t know how necessary it is to have distinct phases with strict rules.

    What I Don’t Like:

    “I have many problems with this book. First of all, it talks about how it wants to emulate The Mediterranean Diet, but then it tells you NEVER to eat things that people in that part of the world eat: potatoes, regular pasta, white bread, jam. We have this notion that these foods are “bad”, but that’s if they are eaten in very large quantities or prepared in ways that aren’t healthy, like drowning pasta in a tub of Alfredo sauce.

    This woman is a registered dietitian, so I’m really surprised with some of the things she says. She starts by telling you to go through your kitchen cabinets and throw out anything with white flour or sugar. This includes something like maple syrup. No one ever got fat from drizzling a little maple syrup on their pancakes!

    I also don’t like the idea of eliminating fruits during the first ten days. Fruit is a great source of nutrients, and there is absolutely no evidence supporting the removal of fruit from one’s diet in order to lose weight. If anything, this can be problematic because you can not turn to fruit as a way to satisfy a sweet craving.

    This diet is just too restrictive, and unnecessarily so. And, it annoys me that the author keeps mentioning how “easy” it will be to lose the weight. I don’t think it’s necessarily an easy thing. It’s OK if you initially struggle. Telling readers how easy and fun this is going to be isn’t truthful.

    The recipes also seem complicated and expensive.

    This is definitely one of my least favorite recent diet books.”

    I have not read this book, but based on the above review, I have a feeling I wouldn’t be very supportive of it.

    I love whole grains and recommend them often (I certainly believe the large majority of your grain consumption should come from whole sources), but I would never tell someone to shun white flour and other refined grains for good.

    What for? So they can feel like they “cheated” when they went to a birthday party and had a slice of cake, or went to their favorite pizza joint with a friend and had a slice?

    I also don’t understand the reasoning behind eliminating fruit for a period of time — I can’t imagine not being able to bite into a single piece of fruit for a week and a half!

    I also know that, later on, artificial sweeteners are allowed in small amounts, yet regular sugar is not. Huh? Adding a teaspoon or two of sugar into your coffee provides, at most, 32 extra calories.

    The United States definitely needs to reduce its sugar consumption, but this idea of it as an absolute evil — even in small amounts — is hysteria.


    Better Brownie

    One thing I absolutely love about keeping up with food trends and what’s hitting supermarket shelves is that it provides me with the perfect excuse to taste-test. Many times — as is the case with most energy drinks (or as I lovingly refer to them, “carbonated cough syrup”) — one miniscule sample is enough to make my insides churn.

    However, there are those great moments when you bite into something expecting the worst and end up thinking, “Wow, this is actually pretty good!” (after finishing the entire thing).

    Today I unexpectedly discovered a tasty 100 calorie treat — Glenny’s 100 Calorie chocolate brownie (although they also offer blondies and even a peanut butter brownie, which I am sure are rather similar to what I had, this post only discusses the chocolate flavor).

    100 calories, 75% organic ingredients (not that this alters its nutrition content, but it is an appreciated touch), 7 grams of fiber, a measly 1.5 grams of saturated fat, no trans fats, and a not-so-bad 11 grams of sugar (approximately one tablespoon, or a quarter can of regular soda).

    After reading those claims, I was expecting a dry “brownie-like” sponge with a chalky aftertaste.

    Not seeing any sugar alcohol or artificial sweetener in the ingredients list initially put me at ease. When it comes to baked goods, I prefer a small amount of real sugar rather than a mish mash of sweeteners made in a lab which linger on the palate for longer than I’d like.

    I was thoroughly impressed with my first bite. A rich chocolatey taste, the texture of a homemade — and much more fattening — brownie, and seven grams of fiber to boot.

    Yes, of course a piece of fresh fruit is a healthier way to get 100 calories, but there are times when we can’t — or don’t want to — have fresh fruit.

    Besides, as I have stated before, I see nothing wrong with enjoying moderately processed food once in a while, especially if it is low in calories, pleasant to the palate, and good enough to satisfy a craving that might otherwise lead to unnecessary indulgence.

    See, when it comes to eating healthy, I like to think of dietary patterns as a dart board. There are certain foods that should be in the bullseye and consumed every day (fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes), but there is also space for foods in the outer circles which should not be consumed as often.

    Is this item a health food? No.

    Should you make this brownie one of your daily high-fiber foods? I don’t think so. I certainly wouldn’t place it in the center of the dart board, but I also would not place it in the same “junky empty calories” category as a bag of Doritos or a Twinkie.

    However, if you get the chocolate munchies at four o’clock but don’t want the 280 calories (and 11 grams of saturated fat) in a Twix bar from your office vending machine, or if you’re looking to find a less caloric alternative to the huge Starbucks chocolate chip cookie you have with your morning coffee every Friday, I give you the green light to reach for Glenny’s 100 calorie brownie and enjoy every bite.


    You Ask, I Answer: Agave Nectar/Syrup

    One of my friends swears by agave nectar.

    She says it’s the best sweetener to use because it doesn’t spike your blood sugar and isn’t refined.

    What do you think?

    — Leah Strentle
    Palo Alto, CA

    A few years ago, agave nectar became a trendy health food, mainly for the reasons you cite.

    Vegans have long known about it, as it is a plant-based sweetener used in place of honey or white sugar (which is usually filtered with charcoal made from animal bones).

    It is indeed diabetic friendly since it does not spike blood glucose levels as much as pure sucrose (table sugar).

    Keep in mind, though, that if managing blood glucose levels is a concern, you can also think about pairing “high glycemic” foods with lower ones.

    For instance, drizzling some olive oil over a potato (a food with a high glycemic index) and eating it alongside a grilled chicken breast (a food with a low glycemic index) will not spike your blood sugar as much as if you were eating the potato completely by itself.

    At the end of the day, agave nectar is a sweetener.

    Remember, all sweeteners have 4 calories per gram. So, dowsing your pancakes in 4 tablespoons of agave syrup (or any non-diet sweetener, for that matter) will add 192 calories to your meal.

    Agave nectar’s advantage, though, is that since it is sweeter than table sugar, you need less agave than you would sugar to achieve the same level of sweetness.

    When baking, I find that when a recipe calls for a certain amount of table sugar, I can instead use half that amount of agave nectar without sacrificing taste (resulting in a finished product with several hundred fewer calories.)

    It is also worth pointing out that the reason why agave nectar ranks so low on the glycemic index is because it is mainly composed of fructose.

    Earlier this summer, researchers at the University of California at Davis compared the effects of drinking fructose-based versus sucrose-based beverages over a 10 week period on overweight adults.

    The results? Those drinking fructose-based beverages had higher triglyceriude and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels than those drinking beverages with a higher percentage of sucrose.

    I am not “knocking” agave nectar (again, I use it often when baking) but rather evening out the sweetener playing field.

    At the end of the day, keep this in mind: humans have been eating white table sugar for thousands of years. We know very well what sugar does to the body, since we’ve had the chance to study it for so long.

    Sugar in and of itself is not the devil. After all, it has been around for much longer than skyrocketing obesity rates, so rationalizing a strict avoidance of it as a “health issue” seems extreme to me.

    The problem is that people are eating too much of it!

    My thoughts? If you like the taste of sugar and have it in small amounts (no more than 30 or so grams a day), keep enjoying it.

    Similarly, if agave is your sweetener of choice, go ahead and enjoy it — but always be mindful of how much you use.

    It should not get the label of a “health food” simply because it is less refined than table sugar.


    You Ask, I Answer: High Fructose Corn Syrup & Weight Loss

    For the past three months, I stopped eating any food that contains high fructose corn syrup.

    The only kind of sugar I eat is is in the form of cane juice.

    Sounds healthy, except that I’ve actually gained eight pounds.

    What am I doing wrong?

    — Anonymous (per the writer’s request)
    Providence, RI

    I can tell you exactly what you’re doing wrong — trying to make a connection between weight loss and the type of sugar you eat. That’s like trying to figure out why your headache won’t go away no matter how many shots of Pepto Bismol you take.

    Remember, weight loss ultimately comes down to calories in versus calories out.

    Sugar — whether it’s brown, white, or in the form of raw honey — clocks in at 4 calories per gram. In other words, a slice of apple pie containing 30 grams of sugar will contribute 120 calories from this source of sweetness, be it granulated sugar or high fructose corn syrup.

    It’s very likely that your caloric intake has increased since taking away HFCS from your diet.

    Perhaps you felt like you could eat more freely as long as all your food was natural? Remember, if you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight, whether you’re eating homemade organic chocolate chip cookies or Chips Ahoy! from a vending machine.


    You Ask, I Answer: High Fructose Corn Syrup & Weight Loss

    For the past three months, I stopped eating any food that contains high fructose corn syrup.

    The only kind of sugar I eat is is in the form of cane juice.

    Sounds healthy, except that I’ve actually gained eight pounds.

    What am I doing wrong?

    — Anonymous (per the writer’s request)
    Providence, RI

    I can tell you exactly what you’re doing wrong — trying to make a connection between weight loss and the type of sugar you eat. That’s like trying to figure out why your headache won’t go away no matter how many shots of Pepto Bismol you take.

    Remember, weight loss ultimately comes down to calories in versus calories out.

    Sugar — whether it’s brown, white, or in the form of raw honey — clocks in at 4 calories per gram. In other words, a slice of apple pie containing 30 grams of sugar will contribute 120 calories from this source of sweetness, be it granulated sugar or high fructose corn syrup.

    It’s very likely that your caloric intake has increased since taking away HFCS from your diet.

    Perhaps you felt like you could eat more freely as long as all your food was natural? Remember, if you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight, whether you’re eating homemade organic chocolate chip cookies or Chips Ahoy! from a vending machine.


    You Ask, I Answer: Fruit Juice Concentrate

    I bought some gummy bears the other day. The label said, “Made with real fruit juice!” I looked at the back and the only ingredient that came close to that was “apple juice concentrate.” What is that?

    — Joanne Lubek
    Berlin, Germany

    Oh, the things manufacturers can get away with on their food labels!

    Fruit juice concentrate is the result of taking all the water out of fruit juice and then adding sugar to whatever is left behind. It is, simply put, an added sugar (not a natural one, like you would get from biting into an actual apple).

    I always find it funny when manufacturers put “nutritious” statements on food that isn’t supposed to be healthy. Even if a gummy bear is made with fruit juice, it is still candy.

    Why do we need to assuage our guilt? It is perfectly OK to eat gummy bears not made with real fruit juice, as long as they are an occasional treat and you don’t eat the whole bag.


    Shame On You: Kevin Trudeau (Part 6)

    Now that Kevin Trudeau has shared some of his “earth-shattering” secrets for warding off sickness with us, let’s take a peek at chapter eight, titled “How to Lose Weight Effortlessly and Keep It Off”.

    This was one I was anxiously awaiting and simultaneously afraid to read.

    Trudeau begins this chapter by setting up an all-too familiar tale. Once an overweight child, he was always conscious of his weight.

    He claims to have done everything under the Sun to lose weight through adulthood (even “exercising as much as five hours a day,” which sounds more like hyperbolic prose than reality), but it wasn’t until he “went abroad” that he found the answer.

    While living abroad, I ate everything I wanted, yet began to lose weight without trying,” he confides.

    While it is true that obesity in the United States is reaching unbelievable proportions, the rest of the world isn’t immune. For instance, 12% of French adults are obese and 40% are overweight, while half of Great Britain’s adult population is overweight.

    Truth is, downing croissants and hot cocoa for an entire month will add on pounds, whether you’re doing it in Seattle or the Alps.

    Over the next few weeks I’ll analyze some of the “secrets” Trudeau claims are 100% guaranteed to help you lose weight.

    Hopefully, with each passing week you share my disbelief that this man has sold five million copies of Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You To Know About.

    “Do not eat after six p.m.”

    One of the most aggravating nutrition myths. For some reason, Oprah loves to dispense this “tip” to her viewers anytime she discusses weight loss.

    The fact of the matter is, calories do not care when you eat them. A 600 calorie ice cream sundae will provide 600 calories whether you have it for breakfast or at 10 PM.

    Trudeau claims, “… the good news is you can virtually eat like a pig all day long. And if you stop eating after 6 p.m., you will still lose weight.

    Really? I dare anyone who normally eats 2,000 calories to consume 3,500 calories between 9 AM and 6 PM and drop half a pound.

    Not to mention, why is 6 PM the “magic number”? Why not 7? Or 8? Or 10? Beats me! Trudeau appears to have picked this number out of thin air. There is absolutely no research proving that eating carelessly all day and abstaining from food starting at 6 PM results in weight loss.

    Not eating after 6 PM might be plausible if you go to bed at 7:30, but if you don’t hit the sack until 11 PM or midnight, going to bed on an empty stomach does not make you thinner.

    Trudeau should be emphasizing healthy habits, not telling people to down as many calories as they want while the sun is up with the ridiculous claim that as long as they keep their mouths shut after 6 PM they’ll lose weight.

    The only thing this 6 PM rule is likely to do is decrease your total caloric intake each day, resulting in weight loss. People fall prey to unhealthy snacking late at night, so cutting that out (along with the extra calories) will obviously result in some weight being shedded.

    “Do a colon cleanse.”

    I went over this in a previous post — but allow me to repeat. This results in immediate water weight loss, but you will not burn fat or truly lose weight by flushing out your colon.

    “Eat organic grapefruits all day.”

    Uhhh. OK. The reasoning behind this? “There is an enzyme in grapefruit that burns fat. Eating grapefruits all day, as many as you desire, will speed the fat burning process.

    People are too quick to select an isolated enzyme that shows promise in a controlled lab setting and attribute it to a food. Yes, true, there is an enzyme in grapefruits that speeds up the fat burning process, but not enough to help anyone lose weight just by having some grapefruit slices.

    Remember, grapefruits still have calories. So if you are eating 8 grapefruits a day (which I guess is allowed according to Trudeau since he’s encouraging people to eat them “all day long”), that’s 640 calories added to your day.

    There is no food that, when eaten, results in negative total calories. None.

    Also, what kind of nutrition advice is it to tell someone to eat a food “all day” in unlimited quantities?

    “Absolutely no aspartame or artificial sweeteners.”

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I wouldn’t tell someone currently not consuming artificial sweeteners to start, but an occassional diet Coke or sugar free popsicle will not kill anyone.

    Regardless, this is more of a wellness/health debate, not a weight loss one. Aspartame does not contribute calories. Having it does not contribute to weight gain.

    As I have mentioned before, though, the problem with artificial sweeteners is that they are often found in foods that are nutritionally empty and offer nothing in terms of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants.

    “No fast food or chain restaurants.”

    Well, depends on what you’re eating — and how much! As Dr. Lisa Young recently told us, portion sizes in fast food restaurants have been exploding. So, yes, it is easy to consume half (or more!) a day’s worth of calories in one sitting when an order of large fries is as large as a toddler’s head.

    However, according to Trudeau, the problem isn’t the food itself, but rather the hidden dangers found in food produced by chain restaurants.

    You can actually eat French fries and cheeseburgers and lose weight, provided that the ingredients they use are all organic and contain no chemical additives,” he throws out with quite a bit of chutzpah.

    This is another huge myth. Organic food (while lacking pesticides and being environmentally friendly) is not less caloric or fattening than the same conventional product. Organic butter has as many calories per teaspoon as non-organic butter, and an organic hamburger bun is still lacking the fiber in a Wonder Bread hamburger bun.

    Trudeau contends that fast food restaurants are placing addictive chemicals into their food that keep us coming for more, which in my opinion is a provocative, yet feeble, conspiracy theory.

    I always find it funny that a food is only considered “addictive” when it is unhealthy.

    For instance, someone eating nine grapefruits a day (which Trudeau appears to be s
    o fond of) might be considered a “health nut”.
    No one would ever dream of pointing the finger at the grapefruit and accusing it of being a dirty, rotten fruit that drives people to addiction.

    However, change that grapefruit for a Dorito and suddenly Frito-Lay is suspected of throwing in a pinch of crack in their nacho cheese flavoring.

    If hamburgers and fries are a daily staple for you — whethey they are organic or not — you’ve got your weight loss goal cut out for you.

    Next week — more of Trudeau’s “secrets” (and my eye rolls).


    Five Diet Faux Pas

    Are you sabotaging your own healthy eating? You might be, if you’ve fallen prey to these five common diet mistakes.

    Leaving Out the Yolk

    THE MISTAKE: Getting an omelette sans yolk deprives you of vitamins (folate, vitamin D) minerals (zinc, phosphorus, calcium) and carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin). Additionally, an egg-white omelette (which is naturally fat-free) will not satiate you as well as one utilizing the entire egg. The longer you remain satiated, the fewer calories you consume.

    HOW TO SOLVE IT: Rather than getting an egg white omelette with cheese (a source of saturated fat and sodium), go for a regular omelette with three or four different color vegetables.

    Fearing Fat

    THE MISTAKE: Ordering salads or steamed vegetables and accompanying them with fat-free dressing is a waste of nutrients! Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble and, therefore, need to be consumed with fat in order for our bodies to absorb them.

    HOW TO SOLVE IT: Replace fat-free dressing with an oil (preferably olive) based vinagreitte. If you absolutely love the taste of a certain fat-free dressing, add avocado, almond slices, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds to your salad.

    Forgetting Fiber

    THE MISTAKE: Snacking on rice cakes, pretzels, and crackers might sound healthy, but they aren’t your weight-loss allies. The reason? They are missing fiber, which is essential for a feeling of fullness.

    HOW TO SOLVE IT: Include high-fiber snacks into your diet: boiled edamame, fresh fruit, red pepper strips with hummus, plain popcorn, and high-fiber crackers (ie: Kavli, Triscuit Finn Crisp, etc.)

    (Artificially) Sweetening The Deal

    THE MISTAKE: Sugar-free pudding, ice cream, candies, sodas, and chocolates contain fewer calories than their regular counterparts, but they are still mostly devoid of nutrition. Plus, since the artificial sweeteners used are hundreds of times sweeter than regular sugar, often leading to more cravings.

    HOW TO SOLVE IT: Instead of replacing highly caloric sugary items with ones made with saccharine or Splenda, substitute them with real food. Replace a diet popsicle with an actual piece of fruit. You’ll get more nutrition — and real taste!

    Leaving Exercise Out of the Equation

    THE MISTAKE: Eating fewer calories isn’t the one and only diet solution. For optimal weight loss and maintenance, you should engage in physical activity at least three times a week. Remember, our bodies need to work hard (aka, burn calories) to sustain muscle.

    HOW TO SOLVE IT: If you are only doing cardio, add a 15 or 20 minute weight-bearing workout. Not only are you helping your bone density, you’re also helping your body shed the pounds faster.


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