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Food Insight Blog

Shedding light on the science behind nutrition and food safety.

By: Food Insight Blog Contributors Date: 12/31/09

As the sun sets on 2009 and we look forward to a new year and new decade, we wanted to share some new years resolutions from the many contributors to the Food Insight blog. Enjoy!

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By: Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RD Date: 12/30/09

Many New Year’s resolutions come down to two things…eating healthy and getting fit. Teaching group fitness makes me a role model when it comes to staying active and fit…and being a registered dietitian makes me a role model when it comes to eating right.  Sometimes I don’t like being a role model because as many of us know…”the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”  Why is that? 

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By: Michelle Ronholm   Date: 12/28/09

People have a lot on their minds when it comes to food and health. We want our food to make us healthy, we want it to taste good and we want it to be safe. There are a variety of factors that impact all of these wants. Looking toward 2010, there are three big areas that could have a big impact on the world of food:

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By: Kerry Robinson, RD   Date: 12/23/09

At the International Food Information Council Foundation, we host numerous interns with diverse backgrounds in nutrition, food safety, and communications throughout the year.  These interns come to our organization with a desire to learn about the ways in which we carry out our mission to communicate science-based information on health, food safety and nutrition for the public good.
I had the opportunity to talk with Lauren Morgan, one of our recent dietetic interns from the University of Maryland, College Park Dietetic Internship, about staying on track with diet and exercise during the holidays. During our conversation, she shared with me that she faces a unique food-related challenge during the holidays: attending several food-centered events with multiple food allergies.

I asked her if she’d be interested in sharing her perspective on navigating the holidays with food allergies for the Food Insight Blog, and she graciously agreed. Here’s what she had to say:

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By: Kerry Robinson, RD   Date: 12/22/09

Do you ever get that fuzzy-headed, can’t-remember-where-I-put-my-keys feeling?  Or maybe you slip into “tortoise mode” by mid-afternoon – that is, until you’ve had your daily cup of coffee or other caffeinated beverage – then you feel revived and you’re thinking clearly again.

If you are a regular coffee drinker, then you are probably grateful for the energy boost you get from the caffeine. What you may not know is that the scientific evidence supporting potential health benefits from consuming moderate amounts of caffeine is growing.

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By: Elizabeth Rahavi, RD   Date: 12/18/09 

This week I attended the Federal Trade Commission’s public forum “Sizing Up Food Marketing and Childhood Obesity.” A diverse group of experts presented and discussed the effects of marketing to children, from legal analyses of the first amendment, to recent research examining the effects of marketing to kids, and evaluation of self-regulatory initiatives that have been instituted by food and entertainment companies. However, no persons’ words struck me more than the speech given by Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius.

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By: Lindsey Loving   Date: 12/17/09

It’s that time of year when you break out your grandmother’s old cookie recipes and get into the kitchen to start your holiday baking. There are the typical ingredients that go into most cookie recipes – flour, sugar, butter, milk, etc. Then, if your recipe is like mine, after you cut cookies from the dough, you top them with colorful sprinkles and candies that make them come to life. If you’re thinking about leaving the sprinkles or icing off your holiday cookies because you’re worried that the food colors will make your kids hyper, don’t let this myth keep you and your kids from enjoying the holidays!

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By: Setsuko Kamotani, MS, RD, 2009 IFIC Foundation Sylvia Rowe Fellow   Date: 12/15/09

At what age would you consider yourself as “old?”  65? 75? 85?    The old adages, “you’re only as young as you feel” and “age is only a state of mind” certainly seem to apply today as many more people are enjoy living longer and healthier lives. Today, older adults are a diverse population and not just in terms of age but also in their health status (physical, mental and social) and lifestyle (living situations, economic circumstances, etc.).

Recently, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) held a workshop, “How to Provide Safe and Healthy Foods for the Aging Population” that brought together leading experts in food safety and nutrition.  Here are a few things those of us in the audience learned:

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By: David Schmidt, International Food Information Council Foundation President and CEO   Date: 12/11/09

This blog post called “The 7 Foods Experts Won’t Eat” was recently passed on to me and is getting a lot of attention in the blogosphere these days.  It’s a pretty shocking take on food and while some “experts” may tell you to be afraid of eating certain things, the hundreds of highly respected experts that we work with on a regular basis will tell you a much different story.

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By: Katie Burns Date: 12/08/09

While it may seem silly and unnecessary to have a whole week devoted to the importance of hand washing, findings from the International Food Information Council Foundation’s 2009 Food & Health Survey shows that the number of Americans who wash their hands when handling food (cooking, preparing, or consuming) has decreased significantly from 2008! 

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By: Kerry Robinson, RD Date: 12/7/09

We are now entering the lull between the two most indulgent holidays of the year when most of us set our weight conscious selves aside and soak up the reality of the season: limited time for exercise combined with festive and caloric culinary temptations around every corner.

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By: Tony Flood   Date: 12/4/09

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is just a little delayed from its November 2009 deadline in providing a ruling on the safety of bisphenol A (BPA).  BPA is widely used as a compound in the epoxy resins for can coatings and in polycarbonate in plastic coatings.  These coating add to the safety and integrity of food packaging.  However, misinformation and controversy about the safety of BPA continues to resonate among consumers and in the media. 

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By: Michelle Ronholm   Date: 12/2/09

Sodium, a component of salt, is essential for life and good health. Yet many people are consuming more than the recommended daily intake for sodium. You may start to hear more about this as increasing concerns about our sodium intake levels have prompted public health efforts to reduce how much sodium we consume. The International Food Information Council (IFIC) conducted consumer research to learn what people know about sodium and how that impacts their diets.

Here’s a snapshot of what we found:

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By: Kerry Robinson, RD   Date: 12/1/09

In our celebrity-crazed society, pressure to be thin hits home for a lot of women—and men, too.  Who wouldn’t want a movie star-like figure?  This type of pressure can sometimes lead to serious eating and exercise disorders that can be detrimental to one’s health.  That’s why I was happy to see this article released by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association entitled, “Health-At-Every-Size and Eating Behaviors: One-Year Follow-Up Results of a Size Acceptance Intervention."

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By: Katie Burns   Date: 11/30/09

While many of us are preparing for holiday parties, family meals, or planning trips to visit loved ones, the Fannie Mae Help the Homeless Walk here in Washington, D.C. was a nice reminder to be thankful and to be aware that not everyone will have such a happy holiday season. 

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By: Kerry Robinson, RD   Date: 11/25/09

We all cringe getting on the scale the day after Thanksgiving—but the good news is there are several strategies to avoid that post-holiday feeling of defeat.  Taking a break for the holiday to spend time with friends and family doesn’t mean you have to take a break from your healthful lifestyle. Here are some quick tips to keep those calories in check, while allowing some room for your favorite holiday treats:

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By: Elizabeth Rahavi, RD   Date: 11/24/09

With just a few days away from Thanksgiving, what better time to look at some of the benefits that are served up in some of the traditional and non-traditional Thanksgiving foods that may be served at a house near you.

Growing up, my mom and dad always put the utmost care in preparing our family’s traditional Thanksgiving meal. We always had sweet potato casserole, corn pudding, turkey and gravy, ambrosia, and green bean casserole. While my home is in Washington, DC, I have been spending the past few Thanksgivings in Long Island, New York with my husband and his Persian family. The turkey and sweet potatoes still make an appearance at their Thanksgiving table, but the side dishes, which are prepared and served with love and care, are something of another world.

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By: Katie Burns   Date: 11/23/09

Have you ever wondered how and how long to thaw your frozen turkey?  Or perhaps you’re more concerned what the proper temperature is for the turkey?  Or maybe you just want to know how long you can hold on to those leftovers?  Luckily there are several online resources available to help you with those important food safety questions.

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By: Brian Wansink, PhD   Date: 11/20/09
John S. Dyson Professor of Marketing and Nutritional Science and Director, Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University

Today, I participated in a Webinar provided by the International Food Information Council Foundation that focused on “Reversing Mindless Eating over the Holidays.”  The Webinar, video, and related resources associated with this blog have a number of useful, easy, “mindless” ideas on how to eat less and eat better over the holidays.  Most of them are from studies we've done in the Cornell Food and Brand Lab and can be found in my book, Mindless Eating.  Yet, something makes me a bit uncomfortable when people ask me for tips on how to eat less on Thanksgiving Day, in particular.

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As the holidays approach so do the celebrations, cookies and cocktails that make seasonal indulgence almost irresistable.  So how do you avoid gaining weight?  Check out some tips from Brian Wansink, PhD, Director of Cornell Food and Brand Lab and author of the best selling book, Mindless Eating:

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