Diet Fraud: Sensa/HCG Fined $34 Million for Fraudulent Health Claims

Oh happy day! Finally the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is hammering down on companies with misleading claims about their products body-slimming capabilities. Four companies, L’Occitane, Sensa, LeanSpa LLC and HCG Diet Direct, will all receive hefty fines for using deceptive language and fraudulent claims marketed towards diet-driven consumers. I was thrilled to appear on FOX News Your World with Neil Cavuto yesterday to discuss this issue.

Will an additive found in candy really make you less hungry? 

Not only are these companies claiming unrealistic weight loss results but they are also making false claims about their product ingredients.  Products like Sensa which claim to reduce hunger and melt away the pounds when sprinkled on foods primarily contain maltodextrin, a starch-based food additive commonly used for the production of soda and candy. HCG (made from human placenta) is supposed to be taken with a very-low calorie diet of less than 800 calories per day. Maybe that should be front and center on the label, instead of just in the fine print.

Will a slap on the wrist make them change their tune?

While these companies have agreed to refund many of these mislead consumers, $34 million in fines is a drop in the bucket for the $60 billion plus diet industry. Sensa and L’Occitane will continue to stand by their products and bogus health claims, selling desperate consumers hopeless creams and powders that will result in nothing more than a slimmer pocket book.

Click below to see my appearance on FOX News defending consumers’ rights in the need for government involvement in this matter.

Here are a few highlights from my segment :

  • People argue that consumers’ own common sense should be the judge versus the Federal Government in this dieting matter.
  • As a Registered Dietitian I believe that every consumer deserves to have accurate information about the products they purchase.
  • Consumers are desperate for quick weight loss fixes, but the truth is diets don’t work.  95% of all diets fail and most dieters will regain their lost weight in 1-5 years.
  • FAT CHANCE: There is no magic powder, cream, or pill that is going to make you skinny, yet consumers continue to buy into the multi billion dollar diet industry each year.
  • It’s about lifestyle choices. Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day.

The Hard Facts About Dieting:

  • 35% of “occasional dieters” progress into disordered eating and as many as 25% advance to full-blown eating disorders.
  • Dieters typically make four to five attempts per year.
  • Only 5% of women naturally have the body type advertisements portray as real.
  • 90% of Americans eat more sodium than is recommended for a healthy diet
  • 75% of American women surveyed endorsed unhealthy thoughts, feelings or behaviors related to food or their bodies.

Weight-loss Frauds top FTC survey — excerpt from Consumer Health Digest

I’ve been an advocate for intuitive eating and take a weight-neutral, non-diet approach with all my clients. I’d rather help someone make changes they can maintain forever instead of promising a “quick fix” that would likely lead to weight cycling. It’s about self-care after all.

I saw this article in a recent Consumer Health Digest e-newsletter and wanted to pass it on. It sheds light on fraudulent marketing claims that many weight-loss products make, and the author suggests measures that can be taken to avoid this. Read on and let me know what you think.

Consumer Health Digest #13-16; April 18, 2013 
Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.

A major FTC survey conducted in 2011 has found that consumers were victimized by fraudulent weight-loss products more than by any of the other marketing frauds covered by the survey. [Consumer Fraud in the United States, 2011: The Third FTC Survey. April 2013]

The products included nonprescription drugs, dietary supplements, skin patches, creams, wraps, and earrings. They were considered fraudulent if

(a) they were promoted as enabling users to easily lose a substantial amount of weight or to lose weight without diet or exercise and

(b) users lost a little of the weight anticipated or lost no weight. The study estimated that 5.1 million people age 18 or older (2.1% of U.S. adults) bought and used such products However, if purchasers who didn’t use the products were added, the percentage was 4.1%.

The survey also examined correlations between education, economic status, and risk-taking propensity and the extent of victimization. Overall, the study found that 10.8% of U.S. adults—25.6 million people—reported awareness of at least one incident of victimization.

The other areas noted in the report included prize promotions, buyers’ clubs, work-at-home programs, credit repair, debt relief, credit card insurance, business opportunities, mortgage relief, advance-fee loans, pyramid schemes, government job offers, counterfeit checks, and grants.

Fraudulent marketing in our society cannot be reduced unless scams are made less lucrative. Dr. Stephen Barrett believes that the following measures are needed:

  • Appointment of a task force whose members include regulators, consumer advocates, and legislators who can develop and promote model laws and regulations to combat fraud.

  • Finding ways to hold credit card companies, media outlets, and communication channels that enable and profit from the frauds responsible for the losses suffered by victims.

  • Multiplying government regulatory power by authorizing state attorneys general to obtain court orders that apply to the entire country instead of just their own state.

  • Forcing multilevel companies to disclose complete and truthful information about income prospects.

What do you think?

Leave a comment below and let me know if you think these marketing practices are ethical.

Attune Probiotics: Delicious Dark Chocolate!

By Carlene Helble- Elite Nutrition Intern

Whenever I see bars touting health claims in a chocolate flavor…I become a bit skeptical. If I buy this, is it really going to taste good? Should I just eat a high sugar candy bar if it makes me happier?As I tested an Attune probiotic bar from Rebecca’s Healthy Living Summit gift bag, I was totally blown away. The Dark Chocolate Raspberry bar was amazing. So amazing, I didn’t find myself wishing I was eating a candy bar.

Here are the highlights of the Attune Bar:

  • Dark chocolate with 68% Cacao (dark chocolate has more benefits for your body than milk chocolate.)
  • 4 g fiber
  • 90 calories
  • 5 times the live active cultures in yogurt
  • Very rich: Although the serving size is one bar, I had a friend try part of it, and they couldn’t manage more than 1/4 of the bar because it was so heavy. I could see myself having half of a bar as part of a mid morning snack with a banana.

What are probiotics anyway?

According to NIH “Probiotics are live microorganisms (in most cases, bacteria) that are similar to beneficial microorganisms found in the human gut. They are also called friendly bacteria”. Probiotics are generally used to offset any side effects of antibiotics or for general digestive well-being. You don’t need supplements to get probiotics though! Some yogurts, tempeh, and miso carry strains of ‘good bacteria’.

Read more about the other products I tried, like some delicious fruit leather you can make yourself!

Celiac Disease & Why the Gluten-Free Diet is No Joke

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of speaking with Shelley Case, RD, a dietitian from Canada who is an expert in Celiac disease and Gluten-free eating. I became interested in this subject due to the popularity of Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s book, The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide, and the way it had taken over the public by storm. In the hospital where I work, I noticed an increasing amount of people interested in Gluten-free options, and not because they had Celiac disease or a wheat intolerance.

I began to wonder why so many people were opting out of eating Gluten. I came to the conclusion that many people equated Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s physique with her Gluten-free diet. What people need to realize is that she suffers from a specific disease in which she cannot digest Gluten. The Gluten-free diet is not recommended for individuals that do not have Celiac disease or a similar intolerance to Gluten. Gluten-free eating can lead to nutritional deficencies, weight gain, more expensive groceries, and disordered eating habits.

source: WatchingTheView.com

Celiac disease is a serious disease that has many different consequences and varied symptoms that are hard to diagnose and treat. The majority of individuals have iron-deficiency anemia (approximately 66%), which is a non-GI symptom for a GI-specific disease. Sufferers of Celiac disease face certain issues that disappear once Gluten is removed from the diet. However, without the removal of Gluten, Celiac disease can cause many problems. Gluten is seen by the body as a foreign substance that the body attacks via antibodies. Celiac disease is an auto-immune disease and the antibodies attack the body, specifically the villi on the surface of the small intestine. This leads to problems with nutrient absorption and can also lead to intestinal lymphoma.

There is also non-Celiac Gluten intolerance and wheat intolerance – two disorders that are not Celiac disease and do not have the same long-term consequences. Individuals may feel better once they removed Gluten or wheat products from their diet. However, anyone who believes they may have Celiac disease should speak with their doctor about being tested for this disease before starting a Gluten-free diet. This is because once the Gluten is removed from the diet, the body stops making antibodies. The antibodies are used to determine through a blood test or gastric biopsy whether the individual has Celiac disease.

The bottom line is that Celiac disease is a major disorder that specifically responds to the Gluten-free diet. Those without this disease should not attempt to eat a Gluten-free diet, no matter which celebrities are endorsing it. It is also wise to do more research into a diet book and understand its message before diving headfirst into its recommendations; Hasselbeck’s book is for fellow sufferers of Celiac disease – not for every woman in America who wants to look like her.

Interview with Shelley Case, RD: Celiac and Gluten-Free Diet

I recently had the opportunity to speak with North America’s Gluten-Free Nutrition Expert,  Shelley Case, RD who is a dietitian in Canada  specializing in Celiac disease and Gluten-free eating. She is also the author of The Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide. I had the pleasure of interviewing her about the Gluten-free “trend” and what it means for individuals who mistake Gluten-free eating as an effective weight-loss diet.

source: sgvceliac.org

  • Can you give a brief explanation for our readers of what gluten is and how it affects those with Celiac disease?

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which the body recognizes gluten as a toxic substance and reacts by developing antibodies when gluten is consumed. The body attacks the lining of the GI tract and destroys the villi, which are responsible for absorption of iron, calcium, Vitamin D and other nutrients. Over time, more and more damage will occur, and gluten can also damage other organs in the body besides the GI tract.

  • What percentage of people currently have Celiac disease?

Currently 1 in 100 people have Celiac, but it is estimated that only 5-10% are officially diagnosed at this time. Many individuals are misdiagnosed with other conditions such as acid reflux, ulcers, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and ulcerative colitis. The current delay in diagnosis is approximately 12 years, according to research from 2007 in Digestive Diseases. Research by Peter Green from New York indicated that the delay is more than 10 years in the U.S. Doctors are not picking up this rare disease. Celiac is a multi-system autoimmune disease that affects other organs and is hard to treat. The most common non-GI symptom that presented in 66% of Celiac patients is iron-deficiency anemia. It is hard to treat and diagnose because it looks like other diseases.

  • Can you differentiate between Celiac disease and wheat intolerance?

There are 3 different conditions that must be differentiated. There is Celiac disease, non-Celiac gluten sensitivity (with similar symptoms but patients do not develop seizures, infertility, or intestinal lymphoma), and then wheat allergy. Gluten sensitivity and wheat allergies are not auto-immune and do not damage the villi in the small intestine. Patients should be thoroughly tested for Celiac if they present with conditions such as anemia, bone issues, thyroid and liver dysfunction, and arthritis.

  • What implications or affects are there for individuals who eat a gluten-free diet? Is there a risk of nutritional deficiencies or disordered eating with this diet?

There are many challenges with the Gluten-free diet. Many products on the market are not enriched with iron and Vitamin B. They are made with white rice flour or tapioca flour, which are low in nutrients. There are many fiber issues and deficiencies in trace minerals on the Gluten-free diet as well. Those on a Gluten-free diet should look for enriched products as well as using nutrient-rich sources of gluten-free grains, such as amaranth, sorgoum, flax, quinoa, and brown rice. Also be conscious of fiber intake, getting Gluten-free whole grains, flax, and iron-rich foods. It can be difficult for vegetarians on a Gluten-free diet because of the lack of iron.

  • What tips can you give to individuals who want to begin a gluten-free diet?

First of all, the diet is very overwhelming. You should shop the perimeter of the grocery stores and work your way into the middle aisles wisely. Read all labels and work with a Registered Dietitian. Gluten-free products are approximately 2-3 times more expensive, which can be very frustrating for Celiac patients.

  • Do you have any thoughts or concerns about individuals without Celiac disease who adopt the Gluten-free diet? Can it be helpful or detrimental for weight loss?

Many who start a Gluten-free diet will gain weight. Once you remove the Gluten from your diet your body is able to absorb nutrients and gain weight again. Gluten-free items also have twice the amount of carbohydrates from added sugars as well as extra fat. Many of the Gluten-free products you see are items like cookies, brownies, and desserts that are already high in fat and sugar, and which Celiac patients used to avoid because they contained Gluten. Eating these again, with additional fats and sugars than their Gluten-containing counterparts, can easily contribute to weight gain.

  • Have you noticed an increase in consumer interest in using Gluten-free eating as a way of dieting or restricting calories? In your professional opinion, does a Gluten-free diet guarantee weight loss? Why or why not?

Due to Elizabeth Hasselback’s book and celebrity endorsement, it seems to be the latest trend. But many gluten-free products are high in fat and sugar, and unless you have Celiac disease this is definitely not an ideal way to reduce calories or weight. A lot more people are interested in Gluten-free dieting, either from the publicity from this book or because they have noticed that they feel better when they remove Gluten from their diet.

The problem is that if a potential Celiac patient was to get on the Gluten-free diet before being tested and diagnosed, the test will not return positive. Once you remove Gluten from the diet, the body does not attack itself they way it does when Gluten and the antibodies produced from Gluten consumption are present. Blood tests to test for Celiac disease are 90% accurate, and only if the person is consuming Gluten, because the antibodies will be in the blood. A gastric biopsy is 100% accurate but more invasive.

Those who suspect they may have Celiac disease or an intolerance should first be tested to be sure. And those interested in Gluten-free diets for weight loss should be careful about what they are consuming. Because of celebrity endorsement, the diet has become more popular, but it is not recommended for weight loss or people who do not have Gluten sensitivity of Celiac disease.

Fruit Juice: Health or Hype?

Every time we turn on the TV, listen to the radio, drive down the road, we are bombarded with advertising from food marketers proclaiming that their product is the secret to weight loss, longevity, and pleasure. With over 200 food choices to make every day it is difficult to sort through claims produced by food manufacturers to make the best choice for your health. Today we’ll tackle the issue of fruit juices: health or hype

As part of its ongoing efforts to uncover over-hyped health claims in food advertising, the Federal Trade Commission has issued an administrative complaint charging the makers of POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice with making false and unsubstantiated claims that their products will prevent or treat heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction. David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said:

Any consumer who sees POM Wonderful products as a silver bullet against disease has been misled. When a company touts scientific research in its advertising, the research must squarely support the claims made. Contrary to POM Wonderful’s advertising, the available scientific information does not prove that POM Juice or POMx effectively treats or prevents these illnesses.

No one can argue that Pomegranates are a wonderful and healthy food, full of vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants, but a line must be draw as food marketers push their products to the extreme. According to Self Nutrition Data, pomegranates are a good source of dietary fiber (11 grams each), 5 grams of protein, folate (107 micrograms), calcium (28.2 mg), vitamin C (28.8 mg), and vitamin K (46.2 mcg). Since POM is made from 100% pomegranate juice, one would think it would have many of the same great nutrients.

Not so. A $3.99 16-oz bottle has 320 calories, 72 grams of sugar, no fiber, and no vitamin C, calcium, folate or vitamin K. Yes, the only ingredient many be pomegranates, but by stripping away the fiber and nutrients, you just have sugar-water. Nutritionally speaking, these aren’t much different from a soda. This isn’t unique to pomegranate juice. All fruit juice loses much of the original fruit’s nutritional value when the juice is extracted, but POM is going a bit overboard with their health claims. A glass of POM a day is not going to prevent heart disease if the rest of your diet is laden with trans and saturated fat. It is important to look at your diet in its entirety, rather than trying to gain benefits from a single serving of fruit juice.

So let’s get over this hype and get healthy! Swap out the juice and reach for a piece of fruit! Aim for 2-4 servings of fruit per day. If you enjoy fruit juice, try diluting it with sparkling water to make your own spritzer. Next time you are at a grocery store, take a closer look at the health claims the manufacturer proclaims. Turn the package over and take a look at the actual nutrition panel and judge the food for yourself. Knowledge is power, and make sure you are well-armed!

What are your thoughts on this Fruit Juice Debate? Do you have any other health claims that you are confused about?

Do Packaged Foods Need a Fiber Boost?

Dietitians have been trying to get people to eat more fiber for a long time. It is recommended that we get 25-30 grams per day. Dietary fiber is found in foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans.

Fiber helps with lowering cholesterol, stabilizing blood sugar, and promote digestive regularity. Also, when you eat fiber, you are more full and satisfied. You tend to eat fewer calories and maintain a healthy weight. Despite these benefits, many people don’t eat enough of these foods. In fact, 70 percent of Americans do not meet recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake. There’s a good chance they may not be getting enough fiber either. This is why one of the reasons companies are adding fiber to food products.

The fiber that is popping up in our toaster pastries, yogurt, white bread, juice, and granola bars is called inulin. Inulin is a versatile isolated fiber naturally found in plants (asparagus, jicama, onion, leeks, and garlic, to name a few). It is very versatile. Food processors can morph it into anything from a fat substitute to a prebiotic fiber.

Inulin has not been proven to lower cholesterol or even help digestion. But, according to package labeling regulations, isolated fibers (inulin, oat fiber, maltodextrin) are allowed to be included as “dietary fiber” on food packages.

Here’s the bottom line: give priority to fiber from natural sources. Make sure you get a blend of soluble and insoluble fiber.

  • Eat more fruits and veggies (especially the skin when appropriate)! A single pear has five grams of fiber.
  • Look for “whole grain” or “whole wheat” on the label of bread and other baked products.
  • Oatmeal is filling, fiber-packed, and delicious!
  • Popcorn is a great naturally fiber-packed snack (seven grams in four cups).
  • Choose wheat pasta, brown rice, and other whole grains like quinoa and cous cous.
  • Fill up on beans and legumes, leeks, garlic, onions, and jicama.

A product with a little inulin added here and there won’t hurt you, but you should know that adding in too much fiber too quickly can cause GI upset and gas. Assess your pantry and your plate. If there are lots of boxes with lots of ingredients serving as your main fiber source, reconsider what else you may be missing that is in the foods that naturally contain fiber and inulin.

Is KFC’s Double Down Calorie Count Accurate?

The newest culinary celebrity to hit the red carpet is a cute little sandwich called the Double Down, courtesy of KFC. A fast-food chicken lover’s dream and a health foodie’s nightmare, (DIR actually called it “frightening”), the Double Down is cheese, sauce, and baconbetween two pieces of chicken, either fried or grilled.

The Original Recipe (read: fried) Double Down has 540 calories, 10 grams of saturated fat, 1,380 mg of sodium, and one gram of fiber. The grilled Double Down (for the health conscious, of course) is 460 calories, nine grams of saturated fat, 1,430 mg of sodium, and zero grams of fiber.

Not sure what those numbers mean? Well…  its over a half day’s worth of salt in a palm-sized sandwich (if we can call it that, considering the lack of a bun).

A blogger has recently disputed the above info, calling “bulls***” on KFC, claiming the fast food chain is not being truthful about the (ahem) nutrition facts. They came up with their own calorie counts, which pins the grub at upwards of 1,000 calories!

I actually have to respectfully disagree with that blog critic, however. This “double down” is pretty small and I bet that the blogger overestimated its portion size. The only way to really test if KFC is being truthful would be to burn it up in an incinerator and measure the kilojoules of energy burned. Not very practical. I guess you could also buy a sandwich, weigh and measure the ingredients and look up the info in a database, but that’s a lot of work!

Some eateries have, in fact, been off with their calorie counts. The sad truth is restaurants don’t have to be accurate with their nutrition facts, unlike food you buy off the shelf. But if you take a look at a video of the Double Down, you’ll see that the pieces of meat are barely larger than your hand.

So big deal, a fried chicken, bacon, and cheese sandwich may have errors in their nutrition info. Would you really think you are eating healthy if that palm-sized fast food sandwich took up a half day’s worth of saturated fat and sodium?

If your goal is to eat healthy, then this sandwich, regardless of any potential for errors, is not exactly the way to go about it. Not a health food. There is a serious lack of veggies, no carbs, and no fiber.

But far be it for me to tell you what you should put into your body. If you have a burning desire to try it, split it with a friend and pair it with a salad. You’ll get to taste a “double down” without doubling over.

Pepsi’s New Designer Salt: Healthy or Health Hazard?

You may have heard in the news recently that PepsiCo created a salt for its Lay’s potato chips (and other Frito products) that will reduce salt content. At first glance, it seems like a gimmick. You might even think they are trying to make people think that their snack products are healthier. But, there’s actually more to it than that.

I talked with the Director of Public Relations and Marketing, Aurora Gonzalez, about the new salt and got some interesting health-related information.

Frito-Lay cares about making a good product. They were the first company to remove trans fats in favor of sunflower oil. They are thinking about sodium in terms of “if there is something we can do, we should do it.” They know people are concerned about salt intake. They also know that people like seasonings, and products with seasonings tend to have higher salt. So they’ve been looking into sodium and playing with the structure to reduce the total sodium content. They’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do. Frito-Lay realizes consumers struggle with salt intake. Basically, they are trying to make a small dent, while keeping up the integrity of the quality ingredients.

They already have a line with 50 percent less sodium – the “lightly salted” line of Lay’s, Ruffles, Fritos, and the soon-to-come Rold Gold pretzels. These are just made with less salt. Nothing new.

As a dietitian, this is what I would recommend to people who are actively trying to reduce salt, but still want to enjoy chips or pretzels in moderation: It’s up to you to make sure you get your fruits and veggies. And, if you like chips, it’s also up to you to eat and enjoy a small portion. I will often tell chip eaters to avoid eating them alone. Make a sandwich with whole grain bread, lean protein, and veggies. Add a side of crunchy veggies, such as sugar snap peas, and then a handful of chips.

Savor the bites. If you’re the kind who eats chips out of the bag in front of the TV, it’s important to acknowledge that it’s not the chips, it’s how you are choosing to eat them.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the original version of the potato chip actually doesn’t have much salt. If you turn the bag around and read it, the salt is not that high (compare it to a cup of tomato soup, which can have 5 to 10 times the salt). Read the ingredients. Not a lot there. The best thing you can do is control the portion.

As far as the designer salt goes, don’t expect it to make a serious dent in your sodium intake. Instead, cut back on eating out at restaurants. Or, when you go, ask for your meals to be prepared without salt. There are many examples of meals that have 1-2 days worth of salt in one serving. No amount of “low salt” product can reverse those abnormally high numbers.

Next time you go out, start with a garden salad and share an entree of whatever you want with someone else. Eat slowly and mindfully and stop when you feel full, regardless if there is food left. Skip the alcohol, bread, appetizers, and desserts, and even the “worst” meal won’t be a bad. Make that small change and you should see some great results.

Stevia: A Sweet Sugar Substitute

Every few years a new sugar alternative hits the market. People who prefer to get their sweeteners’ calorie-free rush to buy up the local supermarket’s stock and eagerly tout the benefits of the latest and greatest sweet invention. About a decade ago sucrolose (aka Splenda) gave Sweet ‘n Low and Equal a run for their money.Agave nectar has received a “health halo” among some people, despite the fact that it is nearly all fructose and may be worse for your health than table sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Most recently, another non-sugar has made a splash in our coffees.

Stevia (sold at health food stores as Truvia, PureVia, Sun Crystals, among others) is made from the sweetest part of the South American stevia plant. The human body cannot use these steviol glycosides as fuel which means the calorie and carbohydrate count is zero.  It also tastes 200-300 times sweeter than sugar.

As with any new product, there are some questions that you may want answered. So, I got ya covered:

Is Stevia Safe?

Stevia has been used safely for a long time in South American and Asian countries. Stevia has been the subject of quite a bit of rigorous research assuring the safety of the sweetener, and has been approved by the FDA. Other calorie-free sweeteners such as saccharin (Sweet ‘n Low), aspartame (Equal), and sucralose (Splenda) have also been approved as safe.

Can I Bake with Stevia?

Unlike saccharin or aspartame, which denature (change molecular structure) under high heat, you can bake with Stevia! Check out these Truvia chocolate chip cookies as an example.

Is it Worth Switching My Sweetener?

It depends. While Stevia may be natural, and fits in with the current trend to consume less processed foods, it still should be used in moderation. It can be a great alternative to caloric sweeteners (sugar) as part of a balanced diet if you like the taste.

Here’s how I’d assess the sweetener issue:

  • If you are someone who is drinking soda, sweet tea, or other sweetened beverages, start to make the transition to water or lightly sweetened water-based beverages. You may be gulping down gobs of added sugar, which leads to diabetes and weight gain. If you already have diabetes or have been told that you are pre-diabetic, take heed now to cut back on foods and beverages with added sugars.
  • Take a look in your pantry… are you addicted to diet foods? Do you have a lot of packaged low-cal stuff that you snack on and no real food to speak of? Maybe there’s a problem. A few artificially sweetened treats may be fine, but if you are loading up on packaged snacks all day, you lose a chance to get good nutrition. Have a fat-free Greek yogurt with fruit instead of a sugar-free pudding.
  • Retrain your sweet tooth. If you really feel like you overdo it on all things sweet, maybe your whole eating plan needs a makeover. You’ll find by eating healthy, whole foods that your need for sweets goes down over time.
  • As with anything you add to coffee, cereal, or baked goods, taste makes all the difference.  Use what tastes good to you – just because Stevia comes from a plant doesn’t mean it’s any better (or worse) for your health. You have to enjoy your food. If you prefer sugar, fine. If you prefer Stevia, fine. If you prefer artificial sweetener, fine too. As long as you don’t think you are overdoing it. If you aren’t sure, you can always have your eating habits evaluated by a dietitian.
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