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  • Back to Basics: Nutrition Education

    Carol Berg Sloan, RDN, FAND

    I grew up in El Monte, a suburb of Los Angeles and worked as a consultant to the school district there for many years, specifically in nutrition education for K-8 schools. Just after I left this position in 2012, the El Monte City Council placed an initiative on the ballot to support a soda tax. I was not surprised when it was rejected by a 77% vote. Soda tax initiatives continue to pop up all over the country, despite their failed record to actually improve public health as is their alleged purpose. Unfortunately, most tax proponents continue to ignore this fact.

    Recent “added sugar” data from the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans show that a variety of foods and yes, beverages, contribute added calories to the American diet. However, singling out one item in the grocery cart to tax just doesn’t make sense to me, as is reflected in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans report. According to their recommendations, overall dietary balance is what matters.

    We need to empower consumers with science based nutrition information so they can make their own decisions about what they choose to eat and drink- not by arbitrarily taxing their everyday food and beverage choices. Utilizing resources such as the “Calories Count” initiative, which makes calories clear and easy-to-understand, is a great place to start.


    Carol Berg Sloan RDN, FAND is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and independent food and nutrition communications consultant in Long Beach, California. Carol has served as a delegate to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a committee member of the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Nutrition Education for the Public and Dietitians in Business and Communication Dietetic Practice Groups.

  • Making Choices, Having Choices

    Carol Berg Sloan, RDN, FAND

    I recently attended a chef specific event where food service professionals from high-volume restaurants and hotels came together to learn about trends in the industry. What's hot on the menu? When health-conscious consumers dine out, they want flavorful food, good drinks but most of all, choice. They want to be able to get a comfort classic such as Lobster Mac' and Cheese but also have available legume centric Vegan Patties on Whole Grain Buns. They want a decadent dessert, but have the option to finish a meal with fresh fruit.  They like to see retro "pop", but also look for diet soda, flavored water and tropical fruit drinks on the bar menu. This sentiment echoed was across all age categories and geographic locations. When people spend their dollars on a meal they want to revel in the social, emotional and nourishing aspects of enjoying all types of food and drink together, but they also demand quality and a huge spectrum when it comes to choice.

    I had an impromptu meal last week with a friend and colleague at a popular Japanese sushi restaurant. We chose a variety of dishes, some “healthier” than others, but a mix. It was a two hour "event" where we ate and drank, laughed, talked business and walked out feeling satiated and satisfied with the choices we made.

    The bottom line is that consumers want choice. When politicians try to restrict that choice with taxes or bans, it affects everyone, from the restaurants and small businesses that are forced to limit their options, to consumers, just like you and I, who want to eat and drink what works best for us on any given day or occasion. 


    Carol Berg Sloan RDN, FAND is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and independent food and nutrition communications consultant in Long Beach, California. Carol has served as a delegate to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a committee member of the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Nutrition Education for the Public and Dietitians in Business and Communication Dietetic Practice Groups. Carol is also an advisory partner to the Food and Beverage Industry.



  • What Influences Our Food & Beverage Choices?

    Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, FAND

    Because I’m a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), my family and friends often assume I’ll always choose the healthiest menu items when dining at a restaurant. But like most people, my food and beverage choices are based on many factors, including my mood and who I’m eating with that day. What I choose when I’m grabbing a quick bite at an airport is quite different from what I’ll order when my husband and I are out for date night.

    Research from Datassential, a Chicago-based market research company, shows there are many different reasons people make certain restaurant and food choices, including how much time or money they want to spend, where they want to eat (e.g., in the car, at the restaurant, at home), whether they need a quick bite or they want to linger over a meal, and how they want to feel after eating (e.g., energized, relaxed, happy).

    As a nutrition professional, of course I want people to make the “best” choice, but I also respect the fact that the “best” choice may be based on a number of factors. My goal is to help people feel good about their food and beverage choices, and to help them find balance.

    Remember, the key to a healthy diet isn’t what you choose at a specific time or place; it’s based on the overall dietary pattern and lifestyle you create for yourself. On that note, I’m grabbing a diet soda and going for a short walk!

     

    Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, FAND, is an award-winning dietitian, farmer’s daughter, public speaker, author, and president of Farmer’s Daughter® Consulting, Inc., an agriculture, food, and culinary communications firm.Amy is also an advisory partner to the Food and Beverage Industry.

  • Don’t Buy the Hype: Soda Taxes affect the future of our communities and our personal liberties

    Americans for Food and Beverage Choice

    There’s a lot of misinformation out there about soda taxes, and politicians’ false promises are not helping cut through the confusion. In part four of our five-part series, we'll take a look at how these grocery taxes affect the communities they're implemented in.

    How will this affect the future of our communities and our personal liberties? Soda taxes can cause people to take their grocery shopping to neighboring communities. Over the long term, this harms small businesses and jeopardizes the jobs they provide. Also, when politicians start taxing common items there is no telling where the taxes will begin and end. This is a slippery slope, which can incite politicians to continue to dictate – and limit – our personal choices.

    Stay tuned for more misguided motives behind beverage taxes.

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