Posts Tagged ‘American Dietetic Association’

March is National Nutrition Month. Sponsored annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association), the theme for 2012 is “Get Your Plate in Shape.” What does that mean?

The Academy adapted guidelines from the USDA brochure “Let’s Eat for the Health of It.” Those standards emphasized five areas:

  • Build a healthy plate. Cover half your plate with brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Choose fruits and unsalted nuts for healthy snacks.
  • Cut back on foods high in solid fats, added sugars, and salt. To help you do that, remove visible fat from meats, and choose those lower in fat content. Select drinks and foods with little or no added sugars. A 12-ounce can of cola has about ten packets of sugar. Check labels for sodium content in items like soups, breads, and frozen meals.
  • Eat the right amount of calories for you. To do that, 1) enjoy what you eat, but eat less, 2) stop eating when you become full, and 3) use smaller plates and bowls to help limit portion sizes. Before eating calorie-laden foods, ask yourself if the taste is worth those extra calories.
  • Be physically active your way. Choose your own type of exercise whether walking, swimming, cycling, or some other activity. If you can’t exercise for thirty minutes or an hour, ten minute cycles of exercise several times daily will pay dividends.
  • Learn to read food labels. Labels have ingredients listed in descending order of quantity in the product. Ingredients such as sugar may be listed in several forms: sucrose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, and others. Watch for sodium content and the types of fats.

Improve your foods choices this month and every day. Get your plate in shape by following the above guidelines. Find more information about healthy eating at the links below.




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Today, March 9, is Dietitian Appreciation Day. Too long society has embraced the misconception that anyone who works with foods, especially in cooking, is a dietitian. Not so. Who are these unique individuals who have their own special recognition day? Dietitians are experts in food and nutrition with specific academic and professional training. The term “dietitian” signifies definite qualifications and skills.

  • Dietitians hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree with prescribed coursework approved by the American Dietetic Association’s Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education.
  • Registered dietitians (RD) pass an approved national examination.
  • RDs maintain professional credentials through prescribed continuing education.
  • Approximately 50% of RDs hold advanced degrees.
  • The majority of RDs work in clinical settings (55%).  Food and nutrition management, dietetic counseling, or business employs 23%.  Others work in community nutrition (11%) or education and research (6%).

During the month of March, National Nutrition Month, and especially on this day, set aside time to recognize dietitians. Thank these professionals for their part in helping America eat better and stay healthier.

Hug a dietitian!

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Image via Wikipedia

Close acquaintances know of my visual impairment. Others rarely recognize the problem. Like people with different types of disabilities, you learn ways to cope. I make use of color. White pages and folders scattered over my desk all look the same. To find something quickly, I print on colored paper or place special documents or information into colored folders.

So what does that have to do with nutrition? Well, our eating should be the same. To know you are getting the nutrients you need, think color. March is National Nutrition Month. The theme for this year is “Eat Right with Color.” For more information, go to http://www.eatright.org/nnm/ .

How does color improve eating? Think about some of the meals you have eaten lately. Were they colorful or did they fall into the mundane whites or browns? Start with breakfast. What foods can you add to make selections more colorful and at the same time more nutritious. My personal favorite is a bowl of blueberries, high in vitamins and antioxidants.

I enjoy a good hamburger as much as anyone. I’m just careful what goes on it and with it. A perky spinach salad instead of French fries adds color and loads of nutrients. For dinner, try to add at least two vegetables or a vegetable and fruit.

Fill your plate daily with a colorful variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy. The American Dietetic Association suggests that a rainbow of colors on the plate serves as the foundation for a healthful eating plan. When we think color, eating more nutritious fares becomes easier.

To “Rate Your Plate” see http://www.eatright.org/NNM/content.aspx?id=5334 .

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While many tout either the positives or negatives of sugar, non-nutritive sweeteners create equal controversy. How safe are the contents of those pink, yellow, and blue packets consumed daily by millions?

Opponents of artificial sweeteners consider them worse than sugar and refer to them as toxic and dangerous. Some consider them addictive and claim that they cause the body to crave more sugar. Additionally, a few individuals may be sensitive to certain ingredients in those sweeteners. Accusations of a link between the use of cyclamates, a sugar-substitute of the 1960s, and bladder cancer heightened fear of cancer from all artificial sweeteners. According to the National Cancer Institute, evidence fails to link cancer risks to their use.

 The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved five artificial sweeteners for human consumption.

  • Saccharin, in use for more than 100 years in the United States, is generally regarded as safe (GRAS). Sold as “Sweet and Low”, saccharin is 450 times sweeter than sugar. Moderate consumption appears safe, and more than 100 countries use this sweet substance. While some studies with rats found that saccharin increased appetite and weight gain, other studies failed to confirm increased weight in humans.
  • Aspartame, accidentally invented in the mid 1960s, is 200 times sweeter than sugar. Recognized trade names include Nutrasweet, Equal, and NutraTaste. People with phenylketonuria (PKU), a hereditary disease that can cause irreversible brain damage, must avoid this sweetener because it contains the amino acid phenylalanine.
  • Acesulfame-K, marketed under the trade names Sweet One, Sunette, and Sweet ‘n Safe, is 200 times sweeter than sugar. The “K” represents the chemical symbol for potassium. However, since acesulfame-K passes through the body unchanged, the potassium provides no health benefits.    
  • Sucralose, known by the trade name Splenda, received FDA approved for use in the US in 1998. It is 600 times sweeter than sugar. This unique sweetener, made from sugar derivatives, passes through the body undigested and unabsorbed.
  • Neotame, related chemically to Aspartame, is safe for those with PKU. It is 7,000 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar. FDA approved neotame in 2002. It is not packaged under a brand name.

According to the American Dietetic Association, nonnutritive sweeteners are safe when used within the approved regulations. Although many times sweeter than sugar, they yield no calories. When replacing sugar, they lower incidents of tooth decay, lower caloric content of food, and decrease the glycemic index in food. The International Food Information Council maintains that non-calorie sweeteners aid in attempts to control weight. Studies with humans found that substituting Aspartame for sugar-sweetened products resulted in nearly a half-pound of weight loss per week.

For the majority of the population, the five approved sweeteners become a boost to those who need to cut sugar intake and lower calories. As always, use in moderation and enjoy.

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