Yummy Fat

We’ve discussed added sugars, sugar alcohols and non-nutritive sweeteners and now it is time to switch to fats.

* Fat is essential for all bodies to run correctly.

* Fat is an important source of energy for children and for cell integrity.

* Fat makes hormones needed to regulate body functions.

* Fat is needed to dissolve and use fat- soluble vitamins in the body.

* Fat is also needed to make the myelin sheath which is an insulating layer that covers and   protects nerves, keeping them firing correctly.

Do NOT deprive your children of fat in fear of weight gain. Learn proper portions (which we will discuss next week) and how to balance fat intake throughout the day.  Learn the difference between visible and invisible fat.  Visible fat is fat you add to your foods while invisible fat are fat that is found naturally in the food.  An example would be nuts or avocado.  The fat is part of the food, you can’t take it out.  Examples of visible fat would be butter, ranch dressing, oils, dips.

3 Tips for feeding children fat

  1. Pay attention to the amount of visible fat that is put onto or into their food.
  2. Stay away from hydrogenated fats (read labels)
  3. Choose foods containing invisible fat found in the food by nature such as nuts, avocado, seeds, milk, hard cheeses, eggs, fatty fish, and yogurt.

 Fat tastes good and our palates like the creamy texture fat brings into our mouths. It is said to have a “good mouth feel.” This is why many fat free products contain extra additives such as gums, carrageenan, and starches like tapioca/corn starch to thicken the product for a yummy, creamy texture. The problem is that these additives are deceiving. Read labels for these thickeners and try to buy products without these additives.


Remember, a little bit of a delicious, wholesome fat goes a long way. The first 3 bites taste the best. Give small portions of good fats and all will be well in Whoville.

Non-nutritive Sweeteners

Non-Nutritive Sweeteners

 Non-nutritive sweeteners are virtually calorie free.

 Be careful when products use the term “natural” because “natural,” has no legal FDA definition. My doctor always says, “If you don’t pick it off a tree or a plant and eat it immediately…it’s not natural”.

 My problem with most of the non-nutritive sweeteners is they haven’t been ingested all that long, so I don’t think we really know exactly how some of them can affect us. I was a kid when most of the non-nutritive sweeteners were approved and I am not even 60 years old. We will know more when people born in the 1970’s are retired and have used these products their entire life.

 HIstorical Dates

1965 Aspartame – Equal, NutraSweet – USA approved: 1981

1967 Acesulfame potassium – Sweet One, Sunette – USA approved: 1988

1976 Sucralose – Splenda – USA approved: 1998

1879 Saccharin – Sweet N’ Low, Sweet 10 – USA approved

Stevia (Rebaudioside A, a highly purified compound of stevia plant) – Truvia,Pure Via – USA approved 2008

Neotame – USA approved 2002 – not available for consumer use

Thaumatin or Talin is approved GRAS in United States: (used mostly abroad) found in the Katemfe fruit from West Africa.

Tagalose – approved 2003 in United States 1.5 calories per gram (sold as Tagetesse)

1980 Alitame (used in Canada)

Stevioside (Rebaudiana) from leaves of the Stevia plant

      My concern is the length of time a person uses these sweeteners that are “generally regarded as safe” (GRAS), but are they? Do we know without a doubt? The only one that someone may have used for 70-80 years is Saccharin. The others are just too new. Most of these products have ADI (acceptable daily intakes) based on weight. Many of these may not be a problem for someone in adulthood or with an “adult weight” 100+ pounds, but for a child weighing 30-70 lbs., the “acceptable” level may be too much; One that I would not want to risk with my child.  

Think twice before offering your child too many products filled with these alternative sweeteners.

Kids do not constantly need to be “tasting” sweetness, thus developing a “need” or “want” for it.





Sugar Alcohols

Sugar Alcohols

• Sugar Alcohols are called nutritive sugars because they contain calories.
• Sugar alcohols are considered a low calorie food and are often found in “diet foods,” candy,   cookies, and gum.
• Sugar alcohols contain about ½ the calories as regular sugar.
• Sugar alcohols are found naturally in some foods, but most are manufactured.
• Sugar alcohols are not “alcohol” because they do not contain ethanol.
• Sugar alcohols are not converted to acids by oral bacteria so they may not cause dental cavities.
• Sugar alcohols are absorbed more slowly than sugar.

Examples of sugar alcohols

Mannitol, sorbitol, erythritol, isomalt
lacititol, maltitol, xylitol,
and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates.

You will find sugar alcohols listed on the food label under the Total Carbohydrate section if the product contains any sugar alcohols.

Total Carbohydrate
Sugar Alcohol

• Sugar alcohols can promote gas, bloating and/or diarrhea if eaten in large amounts.
• A safe limit to prevent these problems is to eat less than 10 g at a time.
• Children or adults with bowel problems such as IBS, Crohn’s, colitis, UC, short bowel, or other gastrointestinal issues should avoid all sugar alcohols.

I personally don’t like sugar alcohols because the products that contain them are usually not very nutritional and often are full of food colorings that I think are terrible for children and adults. The less food coloring the better!

Colorful Kid’s Snack

Colorful layers

Before we move onto sugar alcohols and non-nutritive sweeteners, I thought I would give you a chance to read labels for “added sugars,” over the weekend and end this week with a little story about what my children were fed for a fun snack when they were 2-5 years old.

First of all, kids like to eat out of “adult like” dishes. They don’t always like the “kid’s stuff”. I had some parfait cups from Tupperware and would layer frozen peas and frozen corn in 3 layers and let them eat the frozen vegetable “parfaits” while watching cartoons at 3:30. The colors were attractive to children and the taste was sweet. I would begin cooking dinner at this time. Peas and corn contain starchy carbs, fiber and phytochemicals. Some people think corn does not have any “nutrition worth”, but I ask you to think it over. The yellow color of the corn has many phytochemicals not found in other colors of fruits and vegetables. I believe all food has some worth and it is always the balance and portion that is important.

Have a great weekend and remember to read food labels, stick to your new house rules, try some new foods in new ways and be thankful for your food.

Ingredients & The Food Label

Ingredients on the Food Label

True or False?

The first couple ingredients listed in descending order on the food label “ingredient list,” means that the product contains the MOST of the first few ingredients. For instance, if sugar is listed first, then sugar is the main ingredient in the product.

While this used to be true, it is not so now. The food industry out-smarted a lot of us. They know people are looking out for sugar on the top of the list so they put teeny tiny portions of several types of sugars in the product so SUGAR does not show up in the first couple ingredients, but listed more toward the end of the ingredient list because of the small amounts of each sugar.

Some common words for sugar include: (this list is not exhaustive)

Organic brown rice syrup                              Evaporated fruit juice
Corn syrup solids                                             Crystallized cane sugar
High Fructose corn syrup                              Turbinado sugar
Raw sugar                                                          Maple syrup
Brown sugar                                                      Evaporated cane juice
Invert sugar                                                       Fruit juice concentrate
Dextrin                                                               Malt syrup
Date sugar                                                         Cane sugar

True or False?

To calculate “added sugar” from a food label, look for the grams of sugar listed under Sugar on the label.

Answer: True and False! It depends on the product and the ingredient list.

Example: Dates – serving size 5-6
Total Carbohydrate: 30 grams
Fiber: 5 grams
Sugars: 25 grams

Would you calculate “added sugar” as 25 g because it is listed under Sugar? NO!
Read the ingredient list and you’ll find the only ingredient in the bag is dates. Dates are a natural sugar. No sugar has been added to them. Remember, “added sugars” are sugars that have been added to a product to make it sweet that are not made up of natural sugars. Fruit is a natural sugar/carbohydrate.

Example: Plain yogurt – serving size 6 oz.
Total carbohydrate: 8 grams
Sugars: 7 grams

The ingredient label reads: Whole milk and then lists several different enzymes. No sugar is listed because the sugar that is in the milk is natural sugar made up of lactose and galactose. We do not count these as added sugars.

Example: Peach flavored low-fat yogurt yogurt – serving size 6 oz.
Total carbohydrate: 23 grams
Sugars: 19 grams

The ingredient label reads: Milk, real peaches, organic brown rice syrup, pectin and enzymes. How much is “added sugar?” This is an educated guess. You must remember in the plain yogurt example 7 grams listed under sugar is from milk, a natural sugar. So immediately you subtract 7 from 19 that equals 12 g. Now you see real peaches are in the product along with organic brown sugar. You know peaches are a natural sugar, but organic brown rice syrup is not. I typically subtract ½ of the 12 to equal 6 g from natural sugar (peaches) and 6 g from “added sugar”.

Questions? I know it can be confusing, but do your best in estimation. You get a pretty good idea how much added sugar you are eating or drinking by reading the ingredients and comparing the total carbohydrate with sugar and fiber.

Remember, sugar can be addictive and children’s intake of added sugar should be closely monitored. Stay tuned for sugar alcohols and non-nutritive sweeteners and children.

Added Sugars

“Added Sugars”

What are added sugars?
What is a carbohydrate?
What does “Total Carbohydrate” mean on the label?

These are good questions!

“Added sugars” are sugars that have been added to food and are not found naturally in that particular food.

For example:
Oatmeal is a natural “sugar” or carbohydrate.
Brown sugar would be an “added sugar” that has been mixed with the oatmeal.
A banana is a natural “sugar” or carbohydrate. It is not an added sugar.
Milk and plain yogurt are natural “sugars” or carbohydrate. They are not an added sugars. However, once companies add honey to yogurt or chocolate syrup to milk, added sugar will be listed on the label.

Females should limit added sugar from 0 to 25 grams per day
Males should limit added sugar from 0-37 grams per day

Carbohydrate means sugar. Therefore, the “total carbohydrate” on the food label means all sugars, (natural and added), combined.

Sugars listed on the label are the grams of added sugar in the the product. We will go into more detail tomorrow and list some of these added sugars you will find hidden in labels.


Read labels for Total Carbohydrate and Sugars.
Start reading the list of ingredients and look for added sugars. Count how many you find.

Think Twice

Processed verses Whole Foods

While sometimes an Emergency Meal (July 15th Blog) is needed, we must be careful in regards to processed foods as routine eating. There are times we may need to use processed foods for convenience sake, but whole foods are always best. Label reading becomes of upmost importance, even though labels can be “off” by several percentage points.

Whole foods are much better and should be your first option.

Whole food examples:
Fresh fruits – raw or cooked
Fresh vegetables – raw or cooked
Dried beans, cooked
Plain yogurt, milk, eggs, hard cheeses, cottage cheese without additives
Nuts and seeds
Fresh beef, poultry, fish

5 important “looks” when label reading

# 1 Look at the list of ingredients. If there is more than 3 or 4, think twice.

# 2 Look for the serving size

# 3 Look for the sodium (if 200 mg or more for a serving, think twice)

# 4 Look for the calories from fat (if 25% or more comes from fat, think twice)

# 5 Look for “added sugar” (no more than 25-37 g of added sugar per day)

We will discuss added sugar another day. It is too much to tackle today. Stay tuned.