Posts Tagged ‘nutritionist’

As a nutritionist, this is a question that I am constantly hearing. The truth is that eating a lot of sugar DOES NOT give you diabetes mellitus (DM).

Slightly embarrassed I had Cocoa flavored cereal in my pantry...

“The myth that sugar causes diabetes is commonly accepted by many people. Research has shown that it isn’t true. Eating sugar has nothing to do with developing diabetes” (American Diabetes Association).

There you have it, straight from the horses mouth. Then why do people believe that they will develop DM from eating a lot of sugar?

  1. The greatest risk factor for developing type two diabetes is central adiposity, AKA, being overweight. If you are overweight or obese you are at greater risk for developing diabetes.
  2. It is true, that once you have DM it is important to monitor and limit the amount of carbohydrates and sugars consumed.
  3. I am a nutritionist; of course I don’t think it’s a good idea to eat a lot of sugar. However, if you are of a healthy body weight, and are metabolically healthy in terms of lipids, go ahead and eat some cake.

Of course, like most chronic diseases, there is a huge genetic component to diabetes. If anyone in your family has DM, you are at greater risk. In this case, it is even more important to maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly, and to see a registered dietitian if you need help.

I would love to hear your opinions and questions on this subject. Have you been told that eating too much sugar will give you DM?

Happy Eating,

Heather Mason, MS


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I’ve been thinking about my organic post for quite some time now. Tonight I decided it was time to knock it out  after hearing a girl in my epidemiology class say “It’s hard to eat healthy because organic food is so expensive.” ayayaya. This statement makes me cringe like no other. But its important to bring it up because I think many people believe that organic food is healthier for you and will blindly choose organic foods just because they are labeled organic, but have no real concept of what organic actually means. One part of this statement is true, organic food is more expensive. However, eating organic food has nothing to do with obesity and will certainly not help you lose weight. With that said, there are definitely some benefits to eating organic.

First, lets start with a definition. Organic farming is the form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure,  and biological pest control to maintain soil productivity and control pests on a farm. Organic farming excludes or strictly limits the use of manufactured fertilizers and pesticides, plant growth regulators such as hormones, livestock antibiotics, food additives, and genetically modified organisms.

Yep, taken straight from wikipedia, and as much as I know that wikiP. is frowned upon its the easiest and most basic definition out there. I REALLY wanted to give you the USDA definition, but it was about 5 pages long…

So now that we know that organic just means that pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemical additives aren’t used (or limited) in the production we can focus on what this means for us. Below are some facts and fiction about organic.


  • Buying organic helps support a clean and healthy environment. The production is not nearly as fossil fuel intensive as traditional agriculture.  Additionally, if the cows are grass fed they will not emit nearly as much methane as the cows being fed corn on the regular farms. BUT,  some organic farms merely force feed their livestock organic corn, in which case it really is no better.
  • Organic is beneficial for the worker/farmer’s health. Many studies have shown direct exposure to pesticides has negative consequences for the people working in the fields.
  • There are some foods that buying organic may be beneficial, for example, potatoes have been shown to have a slightly higher pesticide content in the skin. So, if you eat the skin, and I highly recommend that you do! maybe ist worth buying organic potatoes if you are really concerned about pesticides. On the other hand, there are a lot of foods, especially those with peels or shells like bananas, peanuts (I’m thinking organic PB), coconuts? where it literally makes no sense at all to buy organic, unless you are concerned about the environment.


  • Organic is better for you nutritionally. In almost all cases this is not true. If you were to compare the calories and nutrients of organic blackberries to regular blackberries it will be almost exactly the same. There is some very limited research that will show that said organic food may have higher antioxidant capacity over a regular food, but these studies are few and far between and there are many studies supporting the exact opposite. Here is a nice conclusion statement from a 12 month systematic review  “there is no good evidence that consumption of organic food is beneficial to health in relation to nutrient content”
  • Pesticides and fertilizers from the non organic foods are the cause of obesity, autism, asthma, all food borne illnesses and everything that is wrong with our society. I’m not an expert on all of these topics (well maybe obesity), but I do know that there is not a lot of evidence showing non organic foods as the main cause of these problems.

This is an important part I forgot before…

In general, animals living on an organic farm are treated better and more humanely. 1) It is required that they have access to open air and are not caged 2) They are not given antibiotics and they are not given growth hormones. At first, I did not understand why not giving them antibiotics was a good thing, I thought well if they are sick they should get antibiotics too! BUT the reason that farms have to give their animals antibiotics is because they crowd the animals soo tight and they are literally falling in and ingesting their own feces so these poor animals need mega doses of antibiotics just to keep from dying in order to have the short unpleasant life that they do have.
With that said, there are many small, local farms that treat their animals better than larger Organic chains such as O Organics buy walmart. If the organic brand is very cheap there is probably a reason, and if the organic brand is more expensive there is also probably a reason (AKA they are actually using humane practices). Being organic certified is actually really costly to the farmer and it is a huge procedure to go through so some farms simply can not afford the certification.
In conclusion, you are helping out the animals by buying organic, but the practices vary widely by farm. This is a great article by the huffington post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/05/13/organic-vs-conventional-h_n_201609.html
I would also recommend the movie FOOD INC to everyone.

Alright, I know its a lot of information to digest, but I just wanted to be as thorough as possible so you can really understand the truth. From a personal standpoint I think buying organic is great because I’m a huge tree hugger and I would like for the world to have greater social equality in terms of how we treat laborers. But, if you are mainly concerned with your own personal health and are on a tight budget then I say go buy apples from Walmart Target.

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There is a lot of talk about sugar. Especially that high fructose corn syrup variety. But whats the truth? Is one better than the other? Is brown sugar nutritionally superior to white? How about sugar that comes from corn?  Will it make me fat, give me diabetes, brain cancer? Believe it or not, I have been asked one version or another of all of these questions at some point in time. In fact, a lady in my grocery store tour program didn’t ask if HFCS gives you brain cancer; she insisted that it did. FYI- I have no idea when the actual correct time to use a semicolon is, if this is improper please feel free to let me know.

I’m going to cover the simple basics of  four different types of sweeteners: white sugar, brown sugar, high  fructose corn syrup, and agave nectar. I realize that there are many more sweeteners and sugar varieties out there, practically anything ending in -ose on your food label is one form of sugar or another.

White Sugar versus Brown Sugar. There is a big misconception out there that brown sugar is better for you  because it is “more natural.” This is false. Brown sugar is simply white granulated sugar which has had molasses added back into it. White sugar or sucrose is made from sugar cane or beets. I’ve done a random poll of my family to determine where this myth was formed, and I just can’t get to the bottom of it. My dad believed the myth because thats what his mom told him.  My mom knew it wasn’t true (she’s so smart!) but thought perhaps the myth stemmed from the fact that other brown products like whole grains and whole wheat pasta which happen to be “brown” are healthier for us.

High Fructose Corn Syrup or HFCS. This is by far one of the most controversial products on the market right now. HFCS is literally in everything! But is it a problem? In terms of pure nutrition, calories, and percent carbohydrates it is identical to table sugar or sucrose. Yes, it is slightly higher in fructose, but you know where we can also find fructose. In fruit! So, the real problem is that HFCS is soo cheap (because it is made from corn, and corn is subsidized by our government). Due to its cheapness it is being found in more and more foods and the prices of these foods can be driven down because corn is cheap. The increase in HFCS has mirrored the increase in obesity as is demonstrated in the graph below. But it’s important to remember that correlation does not mean causation and there are several other environmental and genetic factors which come into play for obesity. Agave Nectar. Last but not least is agave nectar. it can be found at specialty foodstores like Traders Joes and Whole Foods. This is a fairly new product and many of you may not have even heard of it so I’m going to keep it short and sweet. Basically, this is just a new type of sweetener, not any healthier than sugar, but if you’re a foodie type person its fun to experiment with. However, I just want you to know your not doing your body a favor by using this over table sugar. Here’s an awesome article from the LA times about agave http://articles.latimes.com/2009/mar/30/health/he-nutrition30/

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