Resources for Dietitians

With so many people concerned about added sugar and calories, stevia offers the perfect solution for a wide range of consumers: adults seeking to manage weight, parents who want to give their children less sugar, people with diabetes as well as anyone who is concerned about controlling calories.

Here are some resources, particularly for dietitians, helping to explore the world of stevia.

Discover the advantages of stevia through the video, “Stevia: The Science Behind The Sweet,” featuring Dr. Keith Ayoob, a renowned expert in nutrition.

In this video, you can learn about the health benefits of stevia, a zero-calorie sweetener, with a focus on its safety, regulatory status, and its influence on essential health metrics such as blood glucose, insulin levels, blood pressure, and gut microbiota.

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Promising new markets open for stevia technologies after CODEX published framework in GSFA

Brussels, 11 October 2022 – The International Stevia Council (ISC) praised the recently published Framework for Steviol Glycosides in the Codex Alimentarius (Codex) General Standard for Food Additives (GSFA). The publication of the Framework in the GSFA is the final step in the overall process. The Framework and the associated production technologies open doors to new generation stevia ingredients for food & beverage producers worldwide. It further assists to tackle challenges in creating better-for-you products with less sugar and calories.

New technologies are transforming the stevia industry by enabling the sustainable production of steviol glycosides with a better sensory profile and a cleaner taste. These include highly sought-after sweeteners such as Rebaudiosides M and D. These ingredients give product developers greater flexibility in creating food and beverages with a healthy profile and a sugar-like sweetness. Furthermore, they provide alternatives to sugar and other sweeteners.

In 2021, the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), an international scientific expert committee, adopted the ‘Safety Framework and Specifications for steviol glycosides’ encompassing four production technologies: extraction from the stevia leaf, fermentation, bioconversion and glucosylation. JECFA reviewed and ensured the highest level of safety, purity and quality of the final steviol glycoside ingredients produced by these technologies. The JECFA framework provides a path towards harmonization of the global regulatory landscape for steviol glycoside and streamlines the market approval processes in individual countries.

‎“The Framework is a major milestone for broadening the options on the use of stevia ‎and gives brands the flexibility of using stevia from different production technologies depending ‎on formulations,” said Maria Teresa Scardigli, ISC executive director. “The Framework supports any future manufacturing modifications providing they align with rules on food additives while delivering a streamlined safety evaluation approach for changes outside of the Framework.”

The use of stevia is becoming increasingly popular, with the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) recently confirming the safety of all steviol glycosides based upon their common metabolic fate. As a result, modifications to the production of steviol glycosides that still meet the current JECFA definitions and specifications will require no further evaluation.

The consumer appeal of natural ingredients drives the trend for stevia use in new product launches and the reformulation of classic favorites. According to a 2022 Innova Market Insights report on sweetener evolution for sugar reduction in the U.S.[1], stevia accounts for approximately 30% of product launches globally and is just as equal in the U.S. alone. Sports nutrition leads at 21% globally in food and beverage launches made with stevia in 2020-2021. The fastest-growing subcategories with stevia are non-dairy ice cream, yogurt, and baby drinks, with non-dairy ice cream and frozen yogurt leading to food and beverage launches at 59%, followed by baby drinks at 57%[2].

Over 65% of global launches with stevia showed major growth, with North America, Asia, and Europe on top with higher market penetration, according to Innova Market Insights in a 2021 report on stevia[3]. Consumers are driving the trend for stevia use in products, as 3 in 5 global consumers find stevia healthy, natural and sustainable.

“ISC is optimistic about the growing number of countries that will adopt The Framework to help mitigate serious health concerns and challenges in consumer behavior toward calorie reduction in diets,” said Scardigli. “With the adoption of the Framework in multiple countries worldwide, food and beverage producers can expand their sugar reduction toolkits to inspire new products and reinvent regional favorites.”

“Stevia has a tremendous potential to positively impact the consumers’ quest for better health and wellness by actively addressing calories from the sugar in their favorite foods and beverages,” said Scardigli. “The ISC will continue to raise awareness about the benefits of stevia and support advanced technologies for producing steviol glycosides as safe and trusted sweeteners.”

[1] Innova Market Insights, “Ingredients Insider: Sweetener Evolution for Sugar Reduction in the US”, 2022.

[2] Innova Market Insights , “Sugar Reduction Trends”, 2021.

[3] Innova Market Insights , “Hot Topics Stevia”, 2021.

Press contact: 

Laurence Castaigne – Communications Manager – [email protected]

International Stevia Council Announces the Approval of the Framework on Steviol Glycosides by Codex Alimentarius

Brussels, 19 January 2022 – The International Stevia Council (ISC) is proud to announce that Codex Alimentarius (Codex), the international food standard safety authority, recently adopted the Framework for Steviol Glycosides encompassing four different technologies for the production of steviol glycosides.

The Framework and these production technologies will enable greater access to the full range of stevia ingredients to a significant portion of the world and will continue to answer consumer demand for healthier products.

The four steviol glycoside production technologies approved by Codex now include stevia leaf extract, steviol glycosides from bioconversion, steviol glycosides from fermentation and glucosylated steviol glycosides.

Over the last five years there have been many great advancements in the stevia ingredient space leading to the development of the next generation steviol glycosides with a reduced bitterness and licorice aftertaste and an increased clean taste similar to the taste of sugar. 

New technologies have revolutionized the stevia industry by enabling the sustainable production of those steviol glycosides – such as Reb M and Reb D – which have a better sensory profile and a cleaner taste but are found in smaller amounts in the stevia leaf. These ingredients have proven to be safe alternatives to sugar and other sweeteners for all populations.

“ISC was instrumental in getting this new framework approved, which benefits the entire stevia industry,” says Maria Teresa Scardigli, ISC executive director.

“The Framework approach ensures that business operators can put steviol glycosides produced through their various technologies on the market without submitting new dossiers, provided they fulfill the defined criteria and specifications per technology,” said Scardigli. “This is based on the authorities’ review of the production technology, ensuring the highest level of safety, purity and quality is achieved for the final steviol glycoside ingredient put on the market.”

It broadens the options on the use of stevia and gives the flexibility of using stevia from different production technologies depending on formulations.

Consumer demand for stevia continues to grow. Data from Innova shows that global product launches with stevia have increased by 21.9% CAGR over the past 10 years (2011-2021). In the same period, the majority of product launches have taken place in North America, Asia and Western Europe.

Furthermore, there has been an increase of more than 35% of new product launches with stevia in regions such as Eastern Europe, Australasia, Africa and the Middle East in this same time period. The adoption by Codex will open more markets for the use of stevia.

Beverage continues to be the leading category for new product launches with stevia, while sports nutrition, supplements, dairy, snacks and confectionery are also seeing significant growth. New emerging categories include desserts, ice cream, bakery products and cereals.

According to Nielsen*, US retail sales of products containing stevia cut across all food categories represent USD 3.9 billion out of the total food and beverage retail sales. In the past two years, categories such as diet and performance nutrition had stronger growth rates in the US and are growing faster than similar products using other sweeteners, likely as a result of the pandemic.

Data from Innova shows that Western Europe has also experienced a significant growth of products launched with stevia from 2011-2021 with a 10-year CAGR of 38.0%. Of those launches, 62.2% occurred in five countries: United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, France and Spain.

In 2021, in Western Europe, a significant portion of the product launches were in the sports nutrition category which took the lead from soft drinks in 2018. Other leading categories include soft drinks, supplements, confectionary, hot drinks, desserts, ice cream and dairy. Given the growth of this market space, it is likely that the global trend of sugar reduction continues to be top of mind and relevant for consumers.

“As we look forward to 2022 and beyond, we are confident that our organization will continue to make strides in terms of our vision and strategic imperatives,” said Scardigli. “Our mission is to improve the diets and health of people globally by addressing sugars and calories in food, to support stevia and steviol glycosides as safe and trusted sweeteners, and to promote its wide variety of uses as a sweetener.”

*Nielsen xAOC latest 52 weeks ending 12.4.21


About the International Stevia Council

The International Stevia Council (ISC) is the authoritative voice of the stevia industry, representing all the players in the stevia value chain, from stevia leaf growers and producers, stevia leaf extracts producers and steviol glycosides producers, users of stevia and steviol glycosides in final consumer products and flavour houses. ISC activities aim at promoting the use of stevia and steviol glycosides as a sweetener so as to improve the diets and health of people globally by moderating calories in food. The ISC is a 501 (c) (6) not-for-profit global organization incorporated under the law of the State of Delaware in the United States (US). To learn more, please visit our website at:

A High-Fiber Diet Can Help Weight Loss

Common barriers for individuals that are reducing their caloric intake to lose body weight is that they feel hungry and also don’t feel like they have enough food to eat. While reducing the portion size and how often you eat certain foods may help you on your journey, there are also strategies that help reduce these barriers. High fiber foods can be a great way to provide plenty to eat. Some fibers are found in foods, like fruits and vegetables, which are not calorie-dense so you can eat more of them. Others help my making you feel full for longer.

  • If you eat a carbohydrate-heavy breakfast, look for a high fiber cereal (hot or cold) and substitute multi-grain or high-fiber waffles, pancakes, or bread for your plain varieties.
  • While eating breakfast can prevent you from overeating later in the day, people averse to eating early in the morning may be able to start the day with fiber in a great tasting beverage. A smoothie with frozen fruits and ice can also provide a largely sized beverage that can be enjoyed during a commute.
    Try some of these recipes:
  • Raspberry Peach Smoothie
    Paradise Smoothie
    Blueberry Mango Smoothie
    Mago Ginger Smoothie
    Raspberry Banana Smoothie
    Fruit Smoothie
  • Another option is to add a clear and taste-free fiber to your morning beverage or even a fiber supplement in a traditional supplement form. These can be added to your coffee, water or juice while other fibers have texture and can boost the texture of a smoothie.
  • Consider selecting the high fiber option of your favorite grain-based foods and adding more fiber to them. For example, substitute regular pasta for high-fiber pasta and make a pasta salad with plenty of vegetables. While a 2 oz. serving of dried pasta (3/4 cup) doesn’t sound like much, adding veggies like broccoli, asparagus, tomatoes, carrots, olives, and mushrooms can quickly stretch the serving and help you feel full.
  • Dried fruits can be a wonderful, portable snack to reduce the urge to eat something less filling. Freeze-dried fruits can be more satisfying because they maintain their bulky appearance but are still convenient to stash anywhere you may have the urge to eat. Fresh fruits can be a better option for those who feel they aren’t eating enough. For example, ¼ cup of raisins and 1 cup of grapes both provide a similar amount of calories but you may enjoy more bites from the fresh fruit. Frozen varieties offer availability without having to worry about wasting food that has been in the refrigerator for too long.
  • Add vegetables rich foods to your rotation of entrees. Bean-based chili, vegetable-laden lasagna, and burgers that include mushrooms and onions in the patty are all hearty entrees. Adding a serving of broiled or grilled protein, including lean beef, fish, pork, or a hard-boiled egg, to a salad of leafy green vegetables can also help provide a plate full of food that will keep you from feeling hungry.

Lastly, it’s important to focus on eating until you no longer feel hungry rather than feeling full. While that distinction may sound minor, finishing your meal or snack when you are no longer hungry can help prevent you from overeating to the point where you are uncomfortable and “feeling full”.  If you dread the potential gas from high fiber foods, simply remember that weight management is a journey and you can ease into eating a diet with enough fiber over time. Some people do not have any problems while others with particularly low fiber intakes may need a few weeks to add fiber into their diet.

When the Doctor Becomes the Coach: Helping Patients with Weight Management and their Health

By: Keri Peterson, MD —

February 28, 2018 — As a primary care physician, one of the most common issues I address with patients is how to manage their weight.  According to a Harris Poll conducted for the Calorie Control Council among over 2,000 U.S. adults, 72 percent of Americans want to lose weight and on average want to lose 38 pounds.  This presents many challenges to physicians for a variety of reasons.  Achieving weight loss and then maintaining it is very difficult.  According to the same Harris Poll, only 14 percent of people who have successfully lost weight have been able to keep it off for more than five years.  The National Weight Loss Registry notes modifying food intake and increasing physical activity as common changes made by individuals that successfully lose weight and maintain that loss.

Time constraint is one limitation for physicians.  Obtaining a food diary and reviewing it is critical to understanding and counseling a patient on where to make modifications.  This takes time and patience.  One incentive to be aware of is that Medicare reimburses a number of lifestyle and weight management codes.  A few descriptions and coverage areas include intensive behavioral therapy for obesity which is a face-to-face behavioral counseling by a primary care physician (PCP) in a primary care setting for 15 minutes for patients with obesity.  They will cover up to one visit per week in month one and one visit every other week for months two through six.  Another is intensive behavioral therapy to reduce cardiovascular disease risk.  This can be used for adults with well-known cardiovascular disease risk factors.

One of the perceptions among patients is that diet pills will help patients achieve sustainable weight loss, be it by “kickstarting” the process or getting the weight off and believing they will figure out a maintenance plan afterwards The Harris Poll found that 11 percent use dietary supplements to achieve weight management goals.  Interestingly, adults aged 18-44 are more than three times as likely to use them as their older counterparts.  This may be in part due to side effects of appetite suppressants such as elevation of blood pressure that are prohibitive to those with hypertension who tend to be older.  It may also be due to the realization that they do not work to maintain goal weight over long periods of time.

A recent editorial (“Counting Calories as an Approach to Achieve Weight Control”) in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) eloquently discussed how important it is to teach patients that by modestly reducing calories, they can lose weight.

Dr. Eve Guth, author of the editorial, points out that it takes a net deficit of 3500 calories per week to lose one pound.  (Click here to access the article – subscription required). That is a pragmatic way to explain it to patients and one that I have utilized with success in my practice as well.  It gives patients a concrete formula to follow- if I eat 500 calories less per day or burn 500 calories more per day then I will lose one pound a week.  This can be as simple as swapping out 40 ounces of full sugar sodas for low calorie sweetened beverages or water.

Another barrier is the strong cultural role that food plays in diet.  Various ethnicities routinely have certain carbohydrate laden caloric foods as part of their daily meal such as rice, beans or pasta and bread.  When the entire family sits down to a meal these foods are invariably on the table and are difficult to resist.  In this scenario, rather than asking the patient to cut out the food altogether, portion control is a more realistic option.

We as physicians can play a pivotal role in tackling the obesity epidemic for our patients through encouraging them to make healthier choices. Physicians also play a critical role in identifying other healthcare professionals such as dietitians, exercise professionals, and nursing professionals that provide critical expertise and can support a patient as they address the multi-faceted aspects of obesity and chronic diseases. The question is are we up to the challenge?

Keri Peterson, MD is a medical contributor and columnist for Women’s Health and a frequent guest on NBC’s Today, ABC’s Good Morning America, Fox News and CNN. Based in New York City, Dr. Peterson has been in private practice since 1999 and holds appointments at Lenox Hill Hospital and Mount Sinai Medical Center.   With a BA from Cornell University and a Medical Degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, she completed post-graduate training in Internal Medicine at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center and is board certified in Internal Medicine. Dr. Peterson is a member of the American College of Physicians and the American Medical Association, and serves as a medical advisor for the Calorie Control Council.

Sweet Weight Loss

How nice to know that you can manage your weight and still enjoy a sweet taste.

Researchers found that dieters who drank diet sodas lost more weight than dieters told to drink only water.[i] In separate research, scientists found that individuals successful at both weight loss and weight loss maintenance consumed more soft drinks sweetened with low- or no-calorie sweeteners than the general population.[ii] But don’t think that simply drinking diet beverages or replacing some sugar with sucralose or other nonnutritive sweeteners will magically melt away the pounds. You’ve got to make smart choices.

Enhance the flavors of naturally healthful foods.

Swap out sugar for sucralose and other nonnutritive sweeteners in smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal and other recipes for fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This way you can sweeten them to your taste and benefit from a host of health-boosting foods, explains Claudia Shwide-Slavin, MS, RD, BC-ADM, CDE, co-author of The Ultimate Guide to Sugars and Sweeteners.

Don’t justify desserts.

It’s smart to save 150 or so calories by drinking a diet drink, but that’s no excuse to have it with a slice of cheesecake or other high-calorie dessert. Limit desserts and other nutrient-poor foods to just now and then, and keep your portions small.

Don’t assume sugar-free means low calorie.

Depending on what you’re buying, sugar-free grocery items may or may not be low in calories. Always read the Nutrition Facts panel on foods labels, urges Shwide-Slavin. Be sure to check the serving size first because every other nutrition facts number relates to the serving size.

Remember that a little here and a little there add up to something bigger.

When adding a tablespoon of sugar or honey to a dish, you consume an extra 45 – 60 calories. That may not sound like much until you tally the extra calories over a week or a month. It may not sound like much to omit a tablespoon of added sugar either, but imagine the calorie savings long term. Now it seems like a smart idea to trim those added sugars.

Successful weight management takes determination, creativity, energy and tons of hard work. It’s good to know that sugar substitutes can help.Resources[i];jsessionid=3A193AFA70167B45AB2CE329DC5D106E.f03t03?v=1&t=iawopvgs&s=8022e1514d9d95d683a7459d6621c7099bcf8dba

Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND is a registered dietitian nutritionist and diabetes educator in SE Virginia and a paid contributor to Through speaking, writing and coaching individuals, she helps empower people to live healthier, happier lives. Jill is the author of three books including Diabetes Weight Loss – Week by Week and 21 Things You Need to Know about Diabetes and Your Heart (

Drinking Low-Calorie Sweetened Beverages Common Among Weight Loss Maintainers

ATLANTA (August 25, 2014) — Drinking low- and no-calorie sweetened beverages, including diet sodas, are common among people who have maintained significant weight loss, according to a new study published in Obesity.

In the study, researchers surveyed individuals in the National Weight Control Registry in which participants have maintained a weight loss of at least 30 pounds for at least one year. A total of 434 people completed the survey, answering questions related to their average consumption of low-calorie sweetened beverages and reasons for consuming these beverages. More than half of all participants reported daily consumption of low-calorie sweetened beverages, including diet sodas and coffee and tea sweetened with low-calorie sweeteners, such as aspartame, saccharin and sucralose. Additionally, over 78% of participants who reported weekly consumption of low-calorie sweetened beverages believed that consumption was partially responsible for controlling their calorie intake. Participants were also asked about whether or not they believed that changing their beverage consumption habits was important in their weight loss efforts. A majority of participants noted that such changes were important, reporting increased consumption of water and low-calorie sweetened beverages in their weight loss efforts.

The researchers concluded, “In addition to water, successful weight loss maintainers consume a wide variety of non-caloric beverages on a regular basis. In particular, consumption of LNCSB [low- and no-calorie sweetened beverages] is common with ~53% of participants consuming LNCSB once a day or more.” Further, they concluded, “The data on consumption patterns of LNCSB in successful weight loss maintainers, combined with other research showing no negative impact of these beverages on weight, might provide some reassurance to those deciding whether to consume these beverages during weight loss and weight loss maintenance.”

“This study highlights the potential use of beverages sweetened with low- and no-calorie sweeteners as tools for weight loss,” said Haley Curtis Stevens, Ph.D., President of the Calorie Control Council. “Low-calorie sweeteners allow for people to enjoy a variety of foods and beverages without worrying about excess calories. As this study shows, along with proper diet and exercise, low-calorie sweeteners can assist in weight loss and maintenance.”

Catenacci VA, Pan Z, Thomas JG, Ogden LG, Roberts SA, Wyatt HR, et al. Low/no calorie sweetened beverage consumption in the National Weight Control Registry. Obesity, 2014; doi: 10.1002/oby.20834.

High Fiber Chef: Cooking Tips to Prepare High Fiber Foods Like a Pro

Fiber is an essential component of the human diet that provides many health benefits, including digestive health and weight management. Fiber is sometimes called “roughage”, and refers to a type of carbohydrate found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that are not digested by the body. The recommended daily fiber intake is 14 grams of fiber per 1000 calories or approximately 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. Despite this, the average intake of fiber in the US is only 16 grams per day.

Fruits, vegetables, grains, and cereals are common sources of fiber. Using whole-grain products instead of refined-grain products is one way to increase daily fiber intake without drastically changing your habits. However, some high fiber grains and grain products require different cooking techniques than their low fiber counterparts for successful preparation. Use the following tips to help incorporate more fiber into your diet without changing your meals or compromising taste.


Whole-grain pasta and white pasta with added fiber contain about 5-6 grams of fiber per 2 ounces serving, or 20 percent of recommended daily fiber intake.

If you are having trouble making the switch to whole-grain, start by cooking a 50/50 mix of white and wheat pasta. White and wheat pasta with similar cooking times can be prepared together for convenience. Another way to ease the transition to whole-grain pasta is to start with one made with a white/wheat flour blend or a “smart” pasta with added fiber. These pastas are similar in texture and flavor to white pasta but are higher in fiber and often in other nutrients as well.

Cooking Tips:

White pasta with added fiber cooks similarly to traditional pastas. However, whole-grain pasta can become chewy if overcooked. To avoid this common pitfall, check the pasta 2-3 minutes before the end of the box’s suggested cooking time by rinsing a piece with cold water and biting into it. Continue to test the pasta in 15-20 second intervals until it is firm, not crunchy, to the bite.

Preparation Tips:

If serving immediately, quickly incorporate the pasta into your sauce of choice. This artichoke-tomato sauce or veggie-laden pasta salad are other ways to increase the fiber content of your meal.

To store any pasta not being served immediately, rinse the noodles and mix with a small amount of olive oil to prevent sticking.


The wide variety of rice types allows for differences in taste, cooking time and texture that can offer variety to a number of recipes. Long-grain rice has a mild, slightly nutty flavor and cooks to a firm, fluffy texture that is especially good in pilafs, rice salads, and as a bed for vegetable and bean dishes. Popular varieties include Basmati and Jasmine rice. Medium-grain rice is sweeter, tender, and has a fluffy texture that is well- suited for use in paella, casseroles, and sushi. Short-grain rice has smaller, rounder kernels and a denser and chewier texture, making this rice perfect for rice pudding, risotto, and baked goods.

Regardless of the grain size, brown rice contains more fiber than white rice with about 3-4 grams of fiber per 1 cup serving, or 12 percent of daily recommended intake. The reason brown rice has a higher content of fiber is because each kernel is covered by bran, the fiber- and nutrient-rich outer layer of grain.

Cooking Tips:

Brown rice takes longer to cook and requires a different water-to-rice ratio compared to the white version of the same rice, and is best cooked in in a wide, shallow pot with a tight-fitting lid to ensure evenly cooked grains.

Begin checking the rice about 10 minutes before the recommended cooking time to ensure the rice does not burn or overcook. After the rice is done, allow it to remain covered for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork.


Barley is an often-overlooked ancient grain, but it is just as versatile as rice or pasta. Hulled barley retains all of the layers of the whole grain kernel and is truly a fiber powerhouse. One cup of hulled barley contains 32 grams of fiber, or over 100 percent of recommended daily intake. This nutrient-dense grain has a chewy texture and nutty flavor that lends itself perfectly to soups, stews and salads. Pearled barley (sometimes labeled quick-cooking barley) has had the outer layers of the grain kernel removed, but retains its fiber content; 1 cup of pearled barley contains 31 grams of fiber.

Cooking Tips:

Pearled barley cooks more quickly and is less chewy, making it perfect for casseroles, risottos, and as an easy alternative to oatmeal. Barley isn’t the only alternative grain perfect for breakfast bowls, stuffings, and more. For the adventurous chef, the following guide offers cooking tips that make it easy to incorporate other ancient grains, such as millet, faro, bulgur, buckwheat, and others, in your diet.

No matter which grain you choose, swapping refined for whole grain is a great way to increase your fiber intake without changing your lifestyle.


  1. Dietary Reference Intakes Tables and Application. National Academies of Health and Medicine. 2016. Available at: Accessed February 15, 2017.
  2. USDA Food Surveys Research Group. Fiber Intake Of The US Population. United States Department of Agriculture; 2017. Available at: Accessed February 15, 2017.
  3. Cooking Technique: Whole Grains. American Heart Association. 2015. Available at: Accessed February 15, 2017.
  4. Shaylyn E. You’re Doing it Wrong: The Guide to Making Perfect Pasta. Smithsonian. 2013. Available at: Accessed February 15, 2017.
  5. Ruopp W. How to cook brown rice perfectly. Eating Well. 2012. Available at: Accessed February 15, 2017.
  6. Guide to Rice Varieties. Fine Cooking. 2017. Available at: Accessed February 15, 2017.
  7. Atlas N. Brown Rice: Cooking Tips and Usage. VegKitchen. 2011. Available at: Accessed February 15, 2017.
  8. Master Recipe: Brown Rice. Martha Stewart. 2015. Available at: Accessed February 15, 2017.
  9. Beck L. What’s ‘smart pasta’? Is it healthier than the regular stuff?. The Globe and Mail. 2017. Available at: Accessed February 15, 2017.
  10. Parsons M. Does Cooking Decrease Fiber Content?. Healthy Dining Finder. 2017. Available at: Accessed February 17, 2017.
  11. Velden D. How To Cook Tender, Chewy Barley. The Kitchn. 2014. Available at: Accessed February 17, 2017.

Busy Families Can Be Healthy Ones

You are not alone. We all have had those days and weeks where we have great intentions to get everything checked off our to-do lists and have a family dinner at the kitchen table, but those intentions seemed to get waylaid often. We end up eating in the car between the kid’s activities and then falling asleep before we can touch our to-do lists.

Did you know establishing healthy habits can actually give you more time with your family? It may seem daunting and less important than the other items on your to-do list, but it’s a necessary habit to start. Establishing and maintaining healthy habits is essential for every member of the family since the prevalence of obesity isn’t limited to adults. In fact, more than one third of American children and adolescents were overweight or obese in 2012 and over half of American pets have the same problem.

While it’s a better habit to eat without multi-tasking, sometimes having “go-to” items that are easy to eat during your commute can make all the difference in a day. So what can you do to make some quick meals and snacks that are pretty portable?

Here are some recommendations that are kid and adult friendly.

Breakfast Hacks:

  • Pre-portion cereal or granola along with some dried fruits and nuts. Add cocoa- or vanilla roasted nuts to an otherwise bland cereal. Diet hot chocolate gives us some calcium and vitamin D, and adults can use this low-calorie mocha recipe for your
  • Mix some peanut butter powder (found in health food stores, online, or in the peanut butter section at your grocery store) and a favorite low-calorie jelly together and spread on freshly toasted waffles, bagel, or muffin. Sandwiching the filling in the middle helps make them portable. On weekends, try to pre-make these pancakes and filling. Store the pancakes in the refrigerator for a few days or the freezer if you are making a larger batch. The filling can be stored in the refrigerator so you just have to roll them together in the morning. Wrapping them in foil can make them easily portable.
  • Microwave eggs with some frozen veggies and shredded cheese while toasting an English muffin to make a breakfast sandwich within a few minutes.

Snack Hacks:

Afternoon pick-up and evening traffic can aggravate even the most patient person, especially when you start the morning not knowing what the afternoon mood will be like.

  • A lot of pantry stable items can be stashed in the car or a backpack to reduce “hangry” frustrations. Individual pre-packaged cups of fruit, sugar-free gelatin, or pudding are the right amount of snack to be able to get home for dinner. Reduced sugar granola bars are another great option.
  • If you don’t have to worry about keeping perishable items cold consider cutting up fruits and vegetables or buying the individual bags that are easy to grab-and-go. Eating these along with some cottage cheese or peanut butter can help you feel full long enough to get home.
  • You may also enjoy freezing cups of sugar-free yogurt or yogurt tubes for an individual portion of a cold treat you can just pull out of the freezer and go. They work well in lunch boxes.

A quick snack can mean getting home in time to get a meal on the table. Afterwards, taking a family walk with the dog can make sure you everyone gets their steps in for the day.

Create Healthier Eating Habits by Adding, Not Subtracting

As a registered dietitian nutritionist I am frustrated when I see headlines like, “5 Foods You Should Never Eat” or “Avoid These 10 Foods to Lose Weight.” I’ve never been a fan of categorizing foods as “good” or “bad”. One food won’t make or break your diet, cause you to gain or lose weight or create or prevent health problems. The key to healthy eating is consuming a variety of foods in appropriate portions and balancing calories eaten with calories expended with appropriate physical activity.

I prefer to take a positive approach when I talk about nutritious eating. Rather than “foods to avoid,” I like to talk about foods you should include in your meals and snacks. By focusing on good-tasting, nutrient-rich foods you will have less room for higher calorie, lower nutrient choices. But an occasional treat can certainly still be part of a healthful diet. Read on for my list of 5 foods to add to your diet:

Frozen Fruit

Fresh fruit is always a great choice but frozen fruit can often be less expensive when it’s not in season. And frozen fruit can be more nutritious than fresh because it’s frozen immediately after harvest at its nutritional peak. Plus it’s already washed, peeled and seeded for you! I have frozen blueberries, mango and pineapple in my freezer now. Use frozen fruit on cereal at breakfast, mixed with yogurt for dessert or blended in a smoothie for a snack.

Greek Yogurt

With more protein and less carbohydrate than traditional yogurt, Greek yogurt weighs in with the same number of calories but is creamier and richer tasting. It’s great for breakfast with fruit and whole grain cereal or with fruit in a smoothie. Try the plain variety as a lower calorie, more nutrient-rich topping for baked potatoes or tacos. I like light yogurt that’s fat-free and sweetened with an artificial sweetener, for great taste with fewer calories.

Orange Vegetables

Loaded with beta-carotene, the plant form of vitamin A, carrots, sweet potato and butternut squash also deliver generous amounts of fiber and potassium. If you don’t want to wash and peel the fresh varieties, canned and frozen are equally nutrient-rich.

Brown Rice

Brown rice is a delicious way to get more whole grains – which most people don’t consume enough of – in your meals along with a healthy dose of iron, B vitamins and fiber. It’s easier than ever to enjoy rice with 10-minute quick cooking and 90-second microwavable varieties along with flavored and combination rice mixes. Eat it as a side dish, top it with a veggie and lean meat stir-fry, combine it in a casserole or even have it for breakfast with low-fat milk and fruit.


The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee gave the green light to eating eggs every day after research in the last 20 years found eggs diet don’t raise blood cholesterol levels in most people. With high quality protein and an array of vitamins and minerals, eggs are an inexpensive easy-to-prepare way to boost nutrition. Scramble them with veggies, layer on whole grain bread with a slice of cheese or opt for a hard cooked egg as a snack dipped is salsa or spicy mustard.

So rather than focusing on foods to leave off your plate, make it a goal to add nutrient-rich foods like these to every meal. Before long you will no doubt feel better, have more energy and won’t miss those “foods to avoid.”

Neva Cochran, MS, RDN, LD 
is a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Dallas. She was a freelancer with Woman’s World magazine for 20 years and currently serves as a nutrition communications consultant to a variety of food and nutrition organizations, including the Calorie Control Council and the Egg Nutrition Center. She is passionate about promoting fact-based food and nutrition information to help people enjoy nutritious eating. Follow her on Twitter @NevaRDLD and check out her blog at