Exposing the truth about the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

*Update: I am more than pleased to announce that after significant pressure from outspoken, persistent, contentious dietitians like myself and thousands of others, the AND rescinded its contract with Kraft foods (although never quite explains why it was a good idea in the first place).* Read on, you should know the story anyway:

Those of you who are dietitians in the U.S. are undoubtedly aware of the entity that is the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). They both dictate the practicing of dietetics and provide the recommendations for healthy eating in America. What you may not be aware of is the myriad special interest groups hanging out in the pockets of the AND. A press release has just been made announcing the new partnership between the AND and Kraft Foods. Kraft will be added to the list of AND’s corporate sponsors, and “foods” like Kraft American Cheese and boxed Macaroni and Cheese will now be promoted as healthy food options for your children. It should also be mentioned that AND’s sponsor list already includes Coca-Cola, Pepsi, ConAgra, and McDonald’s. Meanwhile, the Academy maintains that this move is not an endorsement of Kraft foods. Doesn’t make sense, does it?

You can read the New York Times article here:
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/12/a-cheese-product-wins-kids-nutrition-seal/?_r=0

This year, the Virginia chapter of AND will be meeting in my region and I recently received the program brochure in the mail. Lunch for this conference of dietitians from all over the state is provided by none other than McDonald’s, which everyone will eat while their corporate dietitian discusses the “healthy” options that McDonald’s offers. I am infuriated and am refusing to attend this conference. I will not give my money to any organization who claims to promote health but contradicts themselves by allowing a corporation NOTORIOUS for their low-nutrition, poor-quality food to the American people. I want no part of this madness.

I encourage you to visit the Dietitians for Professional Integrity website to learn more about how you as a dietitian (and consumer) can advocate for yourselves as professionals and for the well-being of your clients or patients.
http://www.integritydietitians.org

Meanwhile, please join me in boycotting the AND and do not attend any conferences or CEUs provided by them. By doing so you are not contributing to this massive conflict of interest.

Thank you for reading. Have a healthy day!

Eat Healthy on a Budget? Yes, We Can!

First of all, I have to apologize for my absence. I have missed all of you! I just saw that my last post was over a month ago, which mortifies me. I hope you are all still out there, having EAGERLY anticipated my next post, and so I’ve made it a good one for you (I hope!!!) 🙂

I want to talk about eating healthy on a budget. I could safely say that it’s the most common nutrition-related obstacle identified by my clients. They say things like, “I can’t afford to eat healthy” or “Produce is just so expensive!” There seems to be a great deal of misconception in regards to what you can really get for your money. I decided, as both a dietitian and consumer, to help my fellow consumers save money without sacrificing their nutrition. I even did some incognito prowling of the grocery store aisles to show you some product comparisons. Read on, for my top tips on savvy shopping!

1) Think outside the box. It’s a fairly well-kept secret that discount stores can have some really great finds. There is a chain here in Virginia called Big Lots, which calls itself a closeout store. They sell overstocks, discontinued products, off-brand items, etc at a deep discount; they have everything from furniture to cleaning products to Christmas trees. The Big Lots in my town just so happens to be a treasure trove of organic and natural products. For example, they have an entire section of Bob’s Red Mill products, many of which are hard to find in this small town (think coconut flour and organic rolled oats). Not only is the selection huge, but they are something close to 40% off of retail. I have also found Kashi products, organic dried fruit, and these amazing imported Italian cookies I’ve never seen in the US. Check out this haul from my most recent Big Lots trip:

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Major score! I paid $4 for the PB2, which retails closer to $5 in most stores.

I also recommend scouring places like TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, and Ross, where I’ve found goodies like organic popcorn, gluten-free cookies, jarred roasted red peppers, and trail mix for, again, significantly below retail. It’s true! (And hey, you might even find a cute scarf or a designer dress while you’re at it!)

2) Do a little comparison shopping. Don’t write off the store brand — many big-chain grocers are even making their own organic and/or natural brands. Food Lion has their own brand, as does Farm Fresh, Kroger, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and likely others that I don’t have around here! A money-saving example:

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The ingredients were identical — I checked! Yet the price difference was a whole dollar.

While comparing name brand with store brand is a good way to go, you can also compare different sizes of the same product to see which is a better deal. Sometimes, you’ll find that buying the larger or multi-pack container is more economical. It takes a little math to determine the cost per pound or per ounce, but it’s worth it! Some stores, like Food Lion (where I did my research today) lists that cost right on the price tag so the math is done for you (no headache for you, hurray!) Today, for example, I was buying Greek yogurt for my son’s lunch.

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Note the price of the individual yogurt. The 4-pack of the same brand, flavor, and size was $3.89, making the price 97 cents per yogurt. While an 18-cent savings may not seem like much, think about how that would add up in a $200 shopping trip!

3) Look for sale items. Food Lion has a small “natural foods” section, and while a lot of the items are overpriced, I keep finding deals all over the place! Several items were marked as closeout, and some were on sale with the store’s loyalty card. See for yourself:

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This was the find of the day!! I love these single-serving almond milks for a snack at work or post-workout.

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They had my favorite crackers on sale; next to them you can see some of the closeout items as well.

4) When it comes to fresh produce, I cannot emphasize this enough — BUY IN SEASON!!! I have compared prices on foods that I know grow here (apples, for example) during their respective on- and off-seasons, and the difference is not insignificant. That being said, if it’s in season, you should be able to buy it from a local grower. Look at farmers’ markets, roadside stands, even random pickup trucks in parking lots (an enormous quantity of watermelons are sold this way around here!!!). Other fruits are always cheap, like bananas. Make sure they have the Rainforest Alliance sticker, though, for responsible consumerism! If you can’t get in season and/or feel the food item costs too much, head to the freezer section. Frozen fruits & vegetables are a great alternative — they retain the fresh taste and nutrient content of fresh without the high price tag. A word to the wise: avoid canned vegetables if possible — they are often high in sodium and the nutrient content is subpar at best. Ever put a fresh green bean next to a canned one? Yeah. No comparison. I rest my case on that one.

5) Last but not least — this part may seem obvious, but it’s absolutely worth it to clip coupons. I get coupons in the mail, troll for them online, (try http://www.coupons.com, http://www.valupak.com, and manufacturer’s websites) and look through the weekly store ads. Find out what day is “double coupon” day at whatever store(s) you frequent. Also, almost all large grocery chains have a loyalty membership card, which is always free, and the payoff is often huge! My husband makes fun of me, but I have all of the local stores’ cards on my keyring, and I am not ashamed! You can often visit the store’s website for additional coupons, as well. Many of them can even be used more than once, so the savings continue until the coupon expires. I know, couponing (is that a word?) can be time-consuming, but in my humble opinion, it’s a small price to pay (pun intended!) for the money you will save.  You don’t have to be one of those Extreme Couponers from reality TV who end up with an 80-cent grocery bill (how is that even possible?), but every little bit of savings helps!

Adding up my coupons and MVP store card, I saved $12.68.

I know it’s hard to read, but adding up my coupons and MVP store card, I saved $12.68 on my $98 grocery bill. Not too shabby, eh??

Thanks for hanging in there. This is what happens when I don’t blog for a while — I get wordy! Next entry will be full of beautiful pictures, because I’m going to feature my favorite meal —- BREAKFAST!!!! I’ve been taking pictures of my morning concoctions for weeks now, so be prepared…..and I promise to get it to you sooner rather than later.

As always, have a healthy and happy week!