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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Water it, flavor it and consume fewer calories

Do you drink sweetened beverages? If so, do you keep track of what you drink? If you don't, you may be consuming more "sugar" and calories than you realize.  We try to stay away from too much sugar and too many calories means putting on the pounds.

Many of us have switched to "diet" beverages but that may not be the best answer. While it will help to curb your calories, many advise to stay away from excessive levels of artificial sweetners. Others may have switched to juice but we really should limit our juice consumption to approximately 8-10 ounces. Juices (100%) are full of natural sugar and very caloric; drinks contain many added sugars. (Do you know all the ways sugar is labeled on packaging?)  Many tell us just to drink plain water and milk but realistically that might not be appealing to most. So how do we get enough to drink?

Often you will be guided to drink water, perhaps unsweetened tea and milk, no more than 8 ounces of juice daily . With so few options, realistically, how will kids comply? Get used to adding water to your non-carbonated drinks. Try 1/2 water to start. Start with your 8 ounce serving of any non-carbonated beverage and each time you drink it add a little more water. Challenge yourself to skew the balance to be more water than non-carbonated beverage. Go to the store and notice how many beverage products have water as the first ingredient on the package. If you were to add water to a beverage yourself, you'd save money too. So now if you could save calories and money, why not try it.

Now think about water as a beverage. Most of us who don't drink more think of it as too plain. So why not add something to the water? Lemon, oranges and other fruits are great to add. Even powdered drink mixes if you use a quarter of the package instead of the whole package.

What about milk? You can add unsweetened chocolate drink mix or blend in any kind of fruit for a smoothie.

Now that you have some ideas, I'd love to hear some ideas of your own. Contact me on Twitter @ foodfitter.

Friday, July 2, 2010

What's in a Name? Is a rose a rose by any other name?

Would you pay more for Friskies or Fancy Feast brand food for your cat? Meow Mix or Wholesome Goodness? Fun names are memorable but names that describe or suggest a desired benefit are likely to be perceived as more "valuable" and command a higher price.

You would expect that a higher priced product with a "premium" name was higher in quality but do you really know? Consumers who choose these products will certainly convince themselves that the higher price is justified and the product is better. It's human nature to do so.

What irritates you?

Do you always know what irritates you? When you are irritated, do you avoid the irritant or try to confront it?

Now think about this in the context of foods we eat. Sometimes we don't even know what is irritating us. Is the irritant a whole food or ingredient? Can it be easily isolated? If identified, can it be avoided or do we need to treat the symptoms caused by the irritant?

Finding irritants in our diet can be difficult. Irritants cannot always be isolated. At this time, there is no test available to identify irritants and so we need to do the best we can by observing what we eat and listen to how we feel.

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First trained as a food chemist and nutritionist, my career began enriching a Twinkie, comparing the nutrition of a Twinkie to an apple and studying the role of sugar in the diet. With an M.B.A. and years in food and pharma understanding consumers and manufacturers led back to where I started - food should taste great and serve to keep us healthy. To do so there needs to be consumer awareness. Consumers need to vote for what they want by buying what they really want. They need to practice balance and responsible choices. That's when change will come. Please engage me with your conversation so that I can help you make better food choices that you enjoy and gain a deeper appreciation of food not only from farm to table but farm to health. My vision is to promote solutions to marketing healthful food and food practices.