Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dietitians Weigh In On Thanksgiving

 May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!


Somewhere in history, Thanksgiving was initially a holiday based on appreciation and a harvest.  Then at some point in time we 'Americanized it' and 'super-sized it', maybe turducken-ed it a little.  Once you throw in family you might want to see once a year (and that might be too often for some of us) and you may begin to wish there was a National Treadmill Day instead of Black Friday.

The following is a brief compilation of dietitians from blogs and other media 'weighing in' on this holiday and the upcoming season.  

“Frugal” Feasting — Help Clients Celebrate Thanksgiving’s Cornucopia of Foods in Modest and Healthful Ways
By Christen C. Cooper, MS, RD
Today’s Dietitian
Vol. 12 No. 10 P. 66
·         “For many people, Thanksgiving brings to mind fond childhood memories. Some recall eating a favorite dish, one whose preparation was so time consuming that it was enjoyed only once per year. Others remember helping loved ones serve a Thanksgiving meal or learning how to make a family recipe. Still others recall the moments of relaxation and celebration after the dishes were washed, the political arguments ended, and attention shifted to parades and football games.”

Keeping Thanksgiving Traditions
Today, families will gather around dining room tables to give thanks, spend time together and eat. Since Thanksgiving involves food — and often lots of it — inviting many cooks into your kitchen can be a fun way to pass down family traditions. Here are few ways to keep everyone involved:
  • Invite children to partake in the preparations. Whether it's helping out with a specific dish or making decorations for the table.
  • If you are cooking a dish that has significance to your family history, tell its story.
  • Go around the table and share favorite Thanksgiving memories.
And while you are celebrating older traditions, start new ones, too. Go for a walk after dinner, watch family movies or try a new healthy recipe.
Produced by ADA's Strategic Communications Team

From The Nutrition Blog Network:

As the holidays approach, be aware of your fast food splurges
From: Eat to Compete | November 17, 2012
·         Summer brings competitions for many athletes; a well-stocked pantry/refrigerator is critical. It is hard to follow my advice of building your "plate" at meals if the right food is not available to do so. Use this list to help you get started at the grocery store. This is not all-inclusive, but is a...

Dream Thanksgiving Menu & the Right Turkey to Serve
From: Food Trainers | November 2011
·         Set ups are so risky. "There’s someone you should meet" makes me want to bolt instantly whether it’s personal or work-related. So when a good friend made an e-introduction telling me about New York Mouth, a site for "indie food" I was skeptical to say the least. My skepticism lasted about 30...

Gina Lesako RD, LD is the SCAN blog coordinator (those interested in writing for SCAN can email her directly at  She can also be found blogging at  Find her on SCAN:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fat Fighting Cola?

Fiber has been showing up everywhere.  Dextrin, a dietary fiber commonly found in fiber supplements, has made its way into Pepsi Special which is currently in Japan.

CNN reports:  "...the drink acts by 'suppressing the absorption of fat' and can inhibit the rise in triglycerides after a meal, making it, potentially, the first 'healthy' soda."

A 2006 study in Tokyo showed Dextrin blocked fat absorption in rats...but not in humans.

In addition, "Studies of humans ingesting dextrin suggest short-term risks including stomach pain, gas, and bloating," says Lilian Cheung, editorial director of Nutrition Source, the Harvard School of Public Health's nutrition website. 

The beverage hasn't hit the U.S. supermarkets yet and would face many challenges with the USDA.

To read the full article, click here

Gina Lesako RD, LD is the SCAN blog coordinator (those interested in writing for SCAN can email her directly at  She can also be found blogging at  Find her on SCAN:

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fit Bit: Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act

This article illustrates ACE (American Council on Exercise)’s point of view on the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.  It really summarizes both sides of healthy school lunches, the fact that it takes time to develop a taste for healthy food—a learned behavior, and that parents need to step it up on the home front.  It’s author, Dr. Natalie Digate MD, MPH, RD makes an excellent case.

Gina Lesako RD, LD is the SCAN blog coordinator (those interested in writing for SCAN can email her directly at  She can also be found blogging at  Find her on SCAN:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pesky Pesticide Online Databases

Pesticides and GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) are hot button topics in the news, documentaries, and books on where our food is coming from and what it might be doing to us.  Below are some links to different sources:

  • The Pesticide Data Program (PDP): "...a national pesticide residue database program. Through cooperation with State agriculture departments and other Federal agencies, PDP manages the collection, analysis, data entry, and reporting of pesticide residues on agricultural commodities in the U.S. food supply, with an emphasis on those commodities highly consumed by infants and children."
  • The Pesticide Action Network Pesticide Database:  " location for toxicity and regulatory information for pesticides. To find out more about insecticides, herbicides and other pesticides select one of the choices below."
    • Their sister site, "What's On My Food?" has a scroll down box on the left hand side to select commercially gown food and pesticides used on it. 
  • The California Department of Pesticide Regulation's website has links to uses for different pesticides, reducing the need for pesticides in English and Spanish. 

Gina Lesako RD, LD is the SCAN blog coordinator (those interested in writing for SCAN can email her directly at  She can also be found blogging at  Find her on SCAN:

Friday, November 2, 2012

Artificial Sweeteners

The below post is a brief table of artificial sweeteners (including Stevia) with pros/cons and uses. 

Sweet’N Low--Saccharin
Information: Claimed to be 300 times sweeter than sugar and was banned in 1977 when animal testing showed rats developed bladder cancer.  The warning label was dropped in 2000.  Saccharin’s molecules come from petroleum.
Pros: Can be baked with and has 0 calories.
Cons: Has been listed since the 1980’s as an “anticipated human carcinogen”.  Smoking men who use this sweetener may be at risk if they consume large yet unspecified amounts.  No extensive research has been done in pediatrics and pregnant women/children should use sparingly.
Information: Neotame is a newer artificial sweetener that is chemically similar to aspartame.
It was approved by the FDA in 2002.
Pros: It has zero calories.  You can bake with it.  It's approved for pregnant women.
Cons: Neotame is potentially as toxic as aspartame, these sweeteners break down to form methanol.
Information: This sweetener contains maltodextrin which is made from corn starch, rice starch, or potato starch (it’s gluten free), it’s been approved by the FDA in 1999 and is 600x sweeter than sugar.
Pros: No calories, can be baked with.  The FDA concluded after 110 studies it does not pose any threats to reproduction, no toxic or carcinogenic effects or neurological risks to the population
Cons: Maltodextrin does add about 12 calories per Tablespoon, this is not listed on the nutrition facts. You may notice an artificial sweetener taste if you bake with it.

Sorbitol, Mannitol
Information: Naturally occurring sugar alcohols that come from fruit.  They are made for use as artificial sweeteners.
Pros: FDA made the GRAS—Generally Regarded As Safe.  They digest slowly. 
Cons: Consuming large quantities (particularly found in ice cream and other frozen desserts) can cause abdominal cramping and diarrhea.  This can happen around 49 g of sorbitol or 19 g or more of manitol. 

Information: Comes from a South American plant and has been used in South America for the last 30 years.
Pros: It naturally has 0 calories but skeptics argue that because of the refining process to extract stevia, it should still be considered an artificial sweetener. 
Cons: This is sold as a dietary supplement and is not regulated by the FDA. 

Acesulfame-K—Sweet One or Sunette
Information: 200 times sweeter than sugar and the body is unable to digest it so to comes out as waste unchanged.
Pros: 0 calories and does not increase the risk of cancer or change blood sugar levels, it can be used in baked goods and it safe for consumption by pregnant women.  
Cons: It does present with a bitter taste on its own, The Center For Science In The Public Interest feels that the studies on this sweetener were not satisfactorily done and did not test extensively its cancer causing risks. 

Aspartame—Equal and NutraSweet
Information: About 180-200 times sweeter than sugar.  Roughly 70% is used in carbonated beverages.  The FDA has set the appropriate daily intake as 4-12 oz cans of diet drink per day and it was approved in 1996. 
Pros: One gram = 4 calories.  It has been approved for pregnant women under the aforementioned guidelines. 
Cons:  It can be baked with some people claim a food allergy or insensitivity to aspartame and may have headaches, mood changes, skin reactions, or dizziness.

Gina Lesako RD, LD is the SCAN blog coordinator (those interested in writing for SCAN can email her directly at  She can also be found blogging at  Find her on SCAN: