Beach body! Slim your tummy! Make that booty bigger! Sugar is evil!

Weeks, even months, leading up to summer, we’re bombarded with headlines on getting ready for bathing suit weather. 5 months after we set our New Year’s resolutions, we’re back at it again with the diets (yuck) and promises to eat better and exercise more. To rid yourself of this cycle, read here for my thoughts on New Year’s Intentions, which are way more powerful.

What does sugar have to do with all of this? It’s become the latest evil in the nutrition world. Maybe sugar will catch a break for a week or two with the coconut oil ‘news’ but don’t be too hopeful. (See below in the Monthly Morsel for more on coconut oil.)

Sugar

Certain articles make this even more confusing. Especially when other registered dietitian nutritionists (RDN’s – yes nutrition science experts I’ve recommended for years and a field I’ve been a professional part of for 23 years) write to sell or support what is not in the science. Every field has its different values, takes, and levels of professionalism. Which made me (and many others in our field) question a popular CNN article quoting a registered dietitian nutritionist blaming sugar for making us fat, ugly, and old! (Her actual words!) Not all of us are selling our new books. Although, I’d like to very much, just not with a gimmick or a trend. Here is the link to this article if you feel the need to read…

A wonderful RDN, Jill Weisenberger, also a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics wrote a fabulous pieces on her feelings around sugar that I have to share. She writes:

A lady from my yoga class drove a stake through my nutritionist heart!

Yes, that’s how I felt when this smart, health-conscious woman told me that she had just finished a month-long challenge to limit sugar in her diet. She was glad that the challenge was over, so she could start drinking milk and eating all fruits again. No milk? Limited fruits? My sensible nutritionist heart was broken!

There are a lot of people saying that sugar is toxic or that sugar is poison. But is it?

It’s true that both milk and fruit have sugar – naturally-occurring sugar – but these are nutrient-dense foods. We want more health-boosting, nutrient-dense foods in the diet, not less. And there is no reason to think that foods with naturally-occurring sugars are of lesser health value. Fruits, in particular, are under-consumed. And they are loaded with disease-fighting phytonutrients (think lycopene, flavonoids, resveratrol and on and on), which help shield the body from heart disease, some cancers, stroke and even type 2 diabetes!

Read on for more as Jill continues with the question: Sugar is Poison?

Here are a few more articles from more well informed RDN’s on sugar:

So who do we believe? Certain registered dietitian nutritionists over others? Doctors over dietitians who are selling their new book? One country’s take on nutrition and wellness over another’s? CNN over the Times? To me, this is the same conflicting advice we get across the board. Science can change, but we have not overwhelmingly heard that sugar needs to be the culprit of all of our woes. It’s just what’s got the monkey on it’s back right now. Same as poor coconut oil which never deserved the heyday in the first place. And you know my thoughts on gluten.

Following Jill’s piece, will taking out any food or many foods get your body ready for summer? I want my body to be ‘ready’ all the time. Ready for exercise, taking care of my kids, working with my clients, gardening, sleeping, reading, and eating – all of it. Nutrition is not a meal or a month of a detox. It’s a big picture of what your choices are – including whatever joyful movement (exercise) you choose to take part in – (not excessively).

Closing with a piece by yet another colleague on why going for a summer body is not necessarily the best idea: Eat for Your Body, Not Your Bikini.

Robyn’s Monthly Morsel

2ae280de-905d-451e-a902-c19b2bd97b25Poor coconut oil. Taken down off its pedestal. It must feel very badly about itself knowing, again, for a fact, it’s a saturated fat.

If you followed the science you knew this! I’m just SMH (shaking my head), a lot, because most consumers will say they feel like the science has changed on them, yet again. The thing is, it hasn’t.

I was in touch with a fellow colleague Kevin Klatt, PhD Candidate at Cornell University in molecular nutrition and RDN to be, who clarifies the coconut oil ‘news’ for us:

“I think there’s so little evidence on it that we can’t say too much. Based on its effects on LDL and the whole body of evidence, I think the guidelines pretty much state that it should be used sparingly relative to other cooking oils, such as extra virgin olive oil and canola oils.

Individuals at high risk of cardiovascular disease should stick to their medically advised diets, which if they’re following the AHA/ACC 2013 guidelines, coconut oil wouldn’t be used regularly. That all said, coconut oil has it places in certain cuisines and recipes and shouldn’t be looked at as ‘toxic’.

I think RDNs can still counsel patients to use it occasionally with their patient/clients’ favorite dishes, while still focusing their overall dietary fat intake on nuts/seeds, extra virgin olive oil, canola, etc. I personally err on not saying much about coconut oil, and would advise individuals that it raises LDL and HDL but we don’t know much about its impact on cardiovascular disease risk beyond that.”

Further, here are two articles on this to help you understand the facts – including one written by Kevin who was quoted above.

http://nutrevolve.blogspot.com/2017/06/aha-on-fats-and-cvd.html

https://rosieschwartz.com/2017/06/20/who-told-us-coconut-oil-was-healthy-it-wasnt-reputable-scientists/

Give that bottle of coconut oil a hug and put it back in your collection of oils for cooking or baking (use sparingly especially if you have a history of heart disease). I’m going to use this word, again, MODERATION. (Which is why I gave coconut oil the morsel section.)