Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


3 Comments

Pretty Much Everything We Eat Is Full Of Sugar, And That’s A Major Problem

Additives sure aren’t adding to your health.

A frighteningly large portion of the calories and sugar North Americans eat comes from ultra-processed foods, which are tinkered with even more than regularly processed foods and may contribute to serious health issues like Type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.

Researchers from Tufts University and the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil found that ultra-processed foods are responsible for almost 60 percent of all the calories North Americans consume and about 90 percent of all added sugars they eat.

“The content of added sugars in ultra-processed foods was eightfold higher than in processed foods and fivefold higher than in unprocessed or minimally processed foods and processed culinary ingredients grouped together,” they write in the study published Wednesday in BMJ Open.

Added sugars should make up only about 10 percent of a person’s total caloric intake, the researchers note – however, they found that more than 80 percent of North Americans typically exceed this recommended limit.

Processed foods generally have added oils and salt. Ultra-processed foods are different because they’re enhanced with other additives, including colors, artificial flavoring and sweeteners, the study says.

Researchers say the top ultra-processed foods that North Americans consume are:

  • Breads
  • Cakes, cookies and pie
  • Salty snacks
  • Frozen meals
  • Soft drinks and fruit drinks
  • Pizza
  • Ice cream
  • French fries

For the study, researchers conducted at-home interviews and health examinations with 9,317 people of all ages, who also provided them with information about what they ate for a 24-hour period. The researchers say their study is the first to examine the relationship between ultra-processed foods and sugar intake in the U.S.

Eating excess amounts of added sugars is “most likely” contributing to health issues such as obesity, high blood pressure and coronary heart disease, the study warns.

The best thing to do is to entirely cut out these foods from your diet, the researchers say. That may sound easier said than done – and maybe even impossible, especially when life gets really busy. One way to do this is to avoid replacing water, pasteurized fresh milk and freshly squeezed fruit juices by soft drinks or flavored fruit drinks, said Professor Carlos A. Monteiro, one of the study’s authors.

Preparing at least some fresh foods at home rather than buying a lot of packaged meals will help decrease sugar intake, Monteiro added. And when you do buy packaged foods, be sure to look at the ingredient labels – even items like deli meats often contain sugar.

 
By Willa Frej         HuffPost US        03/10/2016
 

It’s Not Your Fault That You Eat So Much Sugar

Consumers don’t even want all this cloying sweetness. Manufacturers made the decision for them.

Consumers’ most common complaint about taste? “Too sweet.”

Americans tend to associate our health problems with sin. It’s hard to find a health story in the press that doesn’t blame greed and lack of willpower for our ongoing epidemics of obesity and diabetes as well as a recent upturn in the rate of heart disease. But the problems stem more from a greedy food industry than from any weakness in consumers. Our supermarket shelves are filled with items made with cheap ingredients, especially sugar and corn syrup, whether people want it or not.

A fascinating new study out of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia showed that among 400,000 food reviews on Amazon.com, the primary complaint was that food was too sweet. People used terms like “syrupy, overwhelmingly or cloyingly sweet,” said behavioral geneticist Danielle Reed, who led the research. She and her colleagues used a machine- learning program to sort through the thousands of reviews covering 67,553 products.

The finding was a surprise; she had designed the study to add to her body of work on the way people vary in the perception of bitterness. Genetic differences make some people much more sensitive to bitter tastes than others, and this can affect whether we love or hate vegetables such as broccoli and kale. She was surprised, she said, that on Amazon reviews, consumers rarely complained about bitterness, or saltiness for that matter. They complained about sweetness. Manufacturers may think they are sweetening things to suit a common taste, in which case they are getting it wrong – but the market is full of oversweetened foods, so the manufacturers mostly don’t lose customers to better-tasting competitors.

Or the problem may be that manufacturers are trying to use the cheapest possible ingredients in a way that consumers will still tolerate. Sugar is cheap, and corn syrup even cheaper. In his book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” author Michael Pollan recounts the way the introduction of corn syrup in the late 20th century tempted manufacturers add as much as possible to many processed foods and to lure consumers with giant sodas and other supersized products that felt like bargains but came with hidden costs. Later, the medical dogma that fat was deadly lead to an explosion of extremely sweet low-fat products as well.

However we got here, it’s clear that the empty calories are contributing to epidemics of obesity in the U.S. and elsewhere. The food police should rethink chastising consumers and turn their attention on the true culprits who are dishing it out.

By Faye Flam           July 10, 2019
 
   Faye Flam is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. 
She has written for the Economist, the New York Times, the Washington Post, 
Psychology Today, Science and other publications. 
She has a degree in geophysics from the California Institute of Technology.
 
Advertisements


Leave a comment

Prenatal And Early Childhood Fructose Tied to Asthma in Kids

Grade school kids may be more likely to develop asthma if they consumed lots of drinks sweetened with sugar and high fructose corn syrup or if their mothers drank these beverages often during pregnancy, a recent study suggests.

To assess the connection between childhood asthma, sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages, researchers examined data about eating habits from about 1,000 mother-child pairs as well as information on kids’ health, including whether they had an asthma diagnosis by ages 7 to 9.

After accounting for maternal obesity and other factors that can also influence kids’ odds of developing asthma, researchers found that women who consumed the most soda and sugary beverages during pregnancy were 70 percent more likely to have a child diagnosed with asthma by mid-childhood than mothers who never or rarely had sodas during pregnancy.

Women who had the most total fructose during pregnancy were 58 percent more likely to have kids with asthma than women who had little to no fructose.

“Previous studies have linked intake of sugary beverages with obesity, and obesity with asthma,” said study co-author Sheryl Rifas-Shiman, a researcher at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute in Boston.

“In addition to influencing asthma through increasing the risk of obesity, we found that sugary beverages and high fructose may influence the risk of asthma not entirely through obesity,” Rifas-Shiman said by email. “This finding suggests that there are additional mechanisms by which sugary beverages and fructose influence asthma risk beyond their effects on obesity.”

What kids ate and drank also mattered. Even after accounting for prenatal exposure to sodas, kids who had the most total fructose in their diets earlier in childhood were 79 percent more likely to develop asthma than children who rarely or never had fructose.

Once researchers also factored in whether children were overweight or obese, kids with the highest fructose consumption were still 77 percent more likely to have asthma.

Mothers who consumed more sugary beverages tended to be heavier and have less income and education than women who generally avoided sodas and sweet drinks. But the connection between sodas, sugary drinks and childhood asthma persisted even after accounting for these factors.

“We don’t know for certain the exact pathways by which sugary beverages and fructose lead to asthma,” Rifas-Shiman said. “We believe at least in part they act by increasing inflammation, which may influence the child’s lung development.”

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how sodas or sugary drinks might cause asthma.

Another limitation is that researchers relied on women to accurately recall and report on soda consumption for themselves and their young children, which may not always be accurate, researchers note in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Even so, the findings add to the evidence that women should avoid sodas and sugary foods and drinks during pregnancy and also limit these things for their young kids, said Dr. Leda Chatzi, a researcher at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles who wasn’t involved in the study.

“Pregnant women should stay away from sugar sweetened drinks and foods with added sugars,” Chatzi said by email.

“Healthy eating during pregnancy is critical to their baby’s growth and development of chronic diseases such as asthma later in life,” Chatzi added. “A healthy dietary pattern during pregnancy contains a variety of food groups, including fruits and vegetables, breads and grains, protein sources and dairy products.”

 Lisa Rapaport   DECEMBER 18, 2017
SOURCE: bit.ly/2BaEVOI Annals of the American Thoracic Society, online December 8, 2017.    www.reuters.com


1 Comment

Relationship Between Sugar And Cancer Is Now Clearer, Scientists Say

Belgian scientists say they’ve made a research breakthrough in the relationship between sugar and cancer.

Researchers found yeast with high levels of the sugar known as glucose overstimulated the same proteins often found mutated inside human tumors, making cells grow faster. The finding, published in Nature Communications on Friday, aims to shed light on how cancer develops.

Johan Thevelein, Wim Versées and Veerle Janssens started researching sugar’s link to cancer in 2008 to try and better understand what’s called the Warburg effect, when tumor cells make energy through a rapid breakdown of glucose not seen in normal cells. That energy fuels tumor growth.

The research “is able to explain the correlation between the strength of the Warburg effect and tumor aggressiveness,” Thevelein, from KU Leuven in Belgium, said in a release. “This link between sugar and cancer has sweeping consequences. Our results provide a foundation for future research in this domain, which can now be performed with a much more precise and relevant focus.”

While it’s a monumental finding for the research team, it’s not a medical breakthrough. It also doesn’t prove that eating a low-sugar diet could change a cancer diagnosis.

“The findings are not sufficient to identify the primary cause of the Warburg effect,” Thevelein said in a release. “Further research is needed to find out whether this primary cause is also conserved in yeast cells.”

Victoria Stevens, a cancer researcher with the American Cancer Society who was not involved in the study, said this research is great, but it comments only on “about one product made during the breakdown of glucose to produce energy.” In other words, it’s a small step in a long process.

“They are providing a potential way (the Warburg effect) could be a cause of cancer, but they are a long way away from saying this could actually happen,” Stevens said.

VIB, KU Leuven and Vrije Universiteit Brussel researchers conducted the study. VIB is a life sciences research institute that works with five universities, including KU Leuven, and is funded by the Flemish government.\

USA TODAY NETWORK     Ashley May, USA TODAY     Oct. 18, 2017
 


Leave a comment

Dementia Linked To Beverage Consumed By 50% Of People Every Day

Half of North Americans use a drink linked to dementia on any given day.

Both sugary and artificially sweetened ‘diet’ drinks are linked to dementia by two new studies.

People who drink sugary beverages tend to have poorer memories, smaller brains and a smaller hippocampus (an area vital for learning and memory).

Diet sodas, though, don’t seem much safer.

A follow-up study found that people who drink diet sodas are three times more likely to develop dementia and stroke, compared to those who drink none.

Both studies show associations, so it doesn’t prove cause and effect.

Professor Sudha Seshadri, who led the research, said:

“These studies are not the be-all and end-all, but it’s strong data and a very strong suggestion.
It looks like there is not very much of an upside to having sugary drinks, and substituting the sugar with artificial sweeteners doesn’t seem to help.
Maybe good old-fashioned water is something we need to get used to.”



Excess sugar intake has long been linked to obesity, diabetes  and heart disease.

Its effect on the brain is more of an unknown (although what are the chances it’s going to be good for us?!)

More surprising is the link between diet sodas and dementia.

The researchers suggest it could be down to the artificial sweeteners used.

Sugar is toxic to the brain

This is certainly not the first study to link sugar intake with dementia.

A recent study linked excess sugar intake with Alzheimer’s disease.

It suggested that too much glucose (sugar) in the diet damages a vital enzyme which helps fight the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

High blood sugar levels have also been linked to memory problems.

The researchers in this study think that sugar could have a ‘toxic’ effect on the brain.

The studies were published in the journals Stroke and Alzheimer’s & Dementia (Pase et al., 2017; Pase et al., 2017).

source: PsyBlog


Leave a comment

Does Too Much Sugar Lead to Depression?

Previous studies have shown that sugar can be just as addictive as cocaine, but recent research suggests the sweet stuff may not be doing any favours for our mental health, either.

According to a recent report by the University College London, published in the Scientific Reports journal, men who consumed a high intake of sweet food and drinks were more likely to develop common mental health disorders like anxiety and depression after five years.

“Our research confirms an adverse effect of sugar intake from sweet food/beverage on long-term psychological health and suggests that lower intake of sugar may be associated with better psychological health,” researchers wrote.

Looking into the research

To find patterns between eating sugar and developing mental health disorders, civil participants in the U.K. were monitored between 1985 to 1988, and then were asked to filled out questionnaires ever few years until 2013. The experts studied more than 8,000 people, but a majority of them (around 5,000) were men.

Researchers noted men who consumed more than 67 grams of sugar a day had a 23 per cent increased chance of experiencing a mental health disorder — compared to those who ate less than 39.5 grams per day, the Guardian reports.

But the study has also received some criticism, including the fact that consumption was self-reported, and sugar intake from alcohol was not included.

“The dietary analysis makes it impossible to justify the bold claims made by the researchers about sugar and depression in men,” dietitian Catherine Collins, a spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association, told AFP. “Reducing intake of free sugars is good for your teeth, and may be good for your weight, too. But as protection against depression? It’s not proven.”

 

A new study claims high sugar intake
can lead to depression and anxiety among men.

But previous research also points to similar results — sugar was not good for your mental health. One 2004 report published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information found a high intake of refined sugar and dairy increased the risk of depression and was even worse for people who had schizophrenia, Psychology Today reports.

The site adds The Standard American Diet, which is full of fat and sugar, didn’t increase the likelihood of developing anxiety but made anxiety symptoms in individuals worse.

Digging deeper into sugar

Abby Langer, a Toronto-based registered dietitian, says we should take studies like these with a grain of salt.

“[There are] always limitations with a questionnaire,” she tells Global News. “Depression is subjective and the reporting could be subjective.”

She adds the study also didn’t look at the consumption of straight sugar. She says if participants were mostly eating sugary foods, it could have also been the saturated fat, for example, affecting their mental health. “[Research has shown] people who are mentally ill tend to eat more sugar, there is a link for sure, but this study doesn’t prove that sugar is the cause.”

Langer argues instead of focusing so much on sugar, a highly processed diet high in sugar and refined carbs can result in low energy levels. “A diet high in protein, veggies and fruit can help your energy levels,” she says.

Cutting back on sugar this summer

And while criticisms of this particular study doesn’t mean you should load up on sugar, Langer says summer can be a tricky time to limit consumption.

“It is very important to avoid sweetened beverages,” she says. “I know you may want Gatorade, but if you aren’t running a marathon, you don’t need it.”

Iced hot drinks (think iced coffees) and the increased consumption of alcohol during warmer months, can also add up in the long-run. And instead of reaching for ice cream or another trendy summer dessert, opt for seasonal fruit instead.

“Just have frozen desserts less often,” she continues. “Limit the treats to once or twice a week.”

 

 By Arti Patel     July 28, 2017      National Online Journalist, Smart Living      Global News
source: globalnews.ca


Leave a comment

Added sugar often found in Canadian products marketed as ‘healthy,’ researchers find

Why ‘you really need to be a detective’ when reading food labels

Two-thirds of food and beverages tested by a group of Ontario researchers, including baby foods and products marketed as healthy, were found to contain added sugar.

The researchers, from Public Health Ontario and the University of Waterloo, examined the ingredients of 40,829 products sold in March 2015 at a national grocery retailer.

In a study published in Thursday’s issue of CMAJ Open, Erin Hobin and her team searched for 30 different added sugar terms, ranging from sugar to dextrose, high-fructose corn syrup, glucose, fructose and fruit juice concentrate.

Dietitians say added sugars are a concern because they tend to be consumed in much larger quantities than naturally occurring sugars found in foods such as bananas or milk.

Added sugars are a sign of more food processing, which has health implications, including weight gain and high blood pressure. The World Health Organization and Heart & Stroke now recommend that people limit their sugar intake to no more than 10 per cent of overall calories, or about 12 teaspoons a day

“It definitely is tricky,” Hobin said in an interview. “You definitely need to know what you are looking for when you are scanning the ingredients list, and you really need to be a detective and take your time.”

Added sugars are defined as all sugars added to foods by the manufacturer plus the sugars naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices.

Examples of names for sugar include fruit juice concentrate, dextrose and high-fructose corn syrup. For more, see “Sugar’s on the food label, but …”

 

Products you might suspect contain the most added sugar, such as candy or chocolate, showed the highest sugar content.

per-cent-of-products-tested-with-added-sugar

Fruit juice processing

“What we also found was that some of the products that are marketed as healthy also frequently contain added sugar. So that included breakfast cereals, granola bars and a lot of fruit juices,” Hobin said.

Sarah Nowak of Toronto is the mother of three girls, ages six, three and 18 months.

“These, I thought, were just dried fruit,” Nowak said as she examined the front of one box. “Once again, where are the ingredients? Apple puree, concentrated juices, more juices, blueberry juice, carrot juice.”

When whole fruits and vegetables are processed, nutrients are stripped away, Hobin explained.

“You are just left with the fruit juice concentrate that is used as a sweetener, so it is put back into products to sweeten up the product.”

Almost half of all infant formulas and baby food studied also listed added sugars as part of their ingredients.

Nowak said she wished the labels were more transparent. “It makes me feel a little bit duped,” she said.

The researchers suspected a large proportion of products on grocery store shelves contained added sugar, but there was little empirical data. Now, they have a snapshot.

Some evidence suggests that if you feed sugary food to young children, then their palate adjusts, and they grow more attracted to that in the future, said Bill Jeffery, executive director of the Centre for Health Science and Law in Ottawa. “It may be cultivating a lifelong market.”

If food labels indicated products weren’t very healthful, then sales would decline.

“They have a strong vested interest in making sure that the nutrition labeling is as useless as possible, to be candid,” Jeffery said. 

In December, Health Canada announced changes related to the list of ingredients and nutrition facts table — the information boxes on the back of food products.

The federal government won’t require labelling of added sugars.

Group added sugars together

Asked why, a departmental spokeswoman said, “Added sugars are ingredients that manufacturers add to their products and that must be declared in the list of ingredients.
“The Nutrition Facts table declares the amount of nutrients, rather than ingredients. On the Canadian Nutrition Facts table, the amount of added sugars in the food is included in the amount of total sugars, which is consistent with the approach to all other nutrients. Laboratory tests cannot distinguish between naturally occurring and added sugars.”

Health Canada is requiring manufacturers to group all added sugars together in the ingredients list.

Food & Consumer Products of Canada, an industry association, did not immediately respond to requests for comment from CBC News.

The analysis did not include fresh fruits or vegetables, fresh meat, raw ingredients (water, baking ingredients, coffee, tea, fats and oils, etc.) and non-food items (such as natural health products or nutrition and protein supplements).

CBC News      Jan 12, 2017  
source: www.cbc.ca


Leave a comment

Outsmart The Food Companies To Become A Healthier, Savvier Eater

Like many people, I crave something sweet after every meal, no matter how full I am, to the point where it feels like an addiction. A colleague told me it wasn’t an addiction, but a habit.

Still, the thought lingered: Do we experience true food cravings, perhaps as a result of an “addiction,” or is it simply out of habit? And who’s driving that habit — me or the food companies?

It’s actually both: It’s human nature for consumers to develop habits and seek out foods that satisfy our intense cravings. And so companies create products that meet people’s sensory needs.

“Food companies are interested in selling products that people want,” said Gail Civille, founder and president of Sensory Spectrum, a consulting firm that helps companies learn how sensory cues drive consumer perceptions of products.

“They run tests with consumers and ask them, ‘How much do you like this one? Or that one?’ The companies are trying to figure out what consumers want, and then they do testing to make sure the product has those elements in it – and people like salt, fat and sugar.”
It’s no surprise that food companies would aim to give consumers what they want in an effort to optimize sales. But the process behind product development is quite sophisticated. For companies, the key is finding a food’s “bliss point.”

Discovering the ‘bliss point’

The key for companies is finding the “bliss point” of a food, or the product formulation you like most, according to Howard Moskowitz, an experimental psychologist who did pioneering work on bliss points and their role in product development when he was optimizing menus for soldiers in 1971. He’s since helped major food and beverage companies such as Dr Pepper and Prego find bliss points for their products.

Starbucks’ menu, as selected by a nutritionist

He offered this example: “Let’s just look at coffee with milk. Make some coffee, and pour it into seven cups. Start with no milk, and add a certain amount,” such as you’d find in the tiny plastic containers at a diner.
“Do this so you have zero, one, two, three, four, five and six added containers. The one at the left has no milk; the ones to the right have six different but increasing levels of milk. One of these is the ‘tastiest’ for you.” This is your bliss point.

How does bliss point play out behind the scenes, when it comes to product design and development? For new products, like pickles or pasta sauce, the company may systematically vary the ingredients and test these variations. It’s not just one ingredient alone, but a set of them. Some ingredients appear at different levels. Others appear in different types (such as flavoring A or flavoring B).

“The careful product developer makes the combinations, tests them and builds a mathematical model showing how the ingredients interact to drive liking,” Moskowitz said. “The bliss point — that’s at the top. Sometimes, there are different bliss points, or ‘optima,’ say for people who like strong ‘dark roast (coffee) brews’ and those who like the regular or weaker ‘lighter brews.’ “

Bliss points have been discovered for many foods – even hummus and orange juice – in order to appeal to consumers’ sensory preferences. And this can help explain why, over time, foods evolve to have more sweetness.

The mindful way to distract you from your cravings

“Each generation of food marketers wants to increase acceptance, and the easiest way to do this for many foods is to add sugar,” Moskowitz said. But it’s a slippery slope.
“You add just a little bit each time, so over the course of a decade, there’s a bigger change.” Thus, foods like condiments, tomato sauce and bread – foods that we might not necessarily think of as sweet – often contain added sugars.

Tomato sauce can have 12 grams, about 3 teaspoons, of sugar per half-cup. That’s more than you would find in a chocolate mini doughnut. Barbecue sauce can have 16 grams of sugar – or 4 teaspoons in a 2-tablespoon serving – more sugar than the amount in four chocolate chip cookies or eight sugar wafers. It’s no wonder our palates have evolved to the point where we don’t necessarily know what natural sweetness is anymore: Our taste buds have been, to some degree, externally manipulated over the years.

Heading off food burnout

Although bliss point may be used to find how much pulp an orange juice should contain or the optimal amount of fat for the tastiest ice cream, it has other applications, too. Bliss point has also been used to figure out at which point during a consumption period a person is most sated. But the two applications don’t necessarily work together, because the same sensory characteristics that make your taste buds most excited can run the risk of burnout with each additional bite.

The concept, known as sensory specific satiety, refers to a temporary decline in pleasure derived from consuming a certain food. The result, according to a study in the journal Appetite, is a decrease in a person’s liking and desire for a specific food after eating it.

“The more powerful your experience with the first couple of bites, the less satisfying each additional bite is,” said Brian Wansink, director of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab and author of “Slim by Design.” The result: You get bored of eating relatively quickly. “When you eat salted caramel ice cream, the first two bites are incredible. But then there’s a big jump by the time you get to bites six and seven. … By then, you may be saying, ‘Eh, this wasn’t as good as it was initially.’ ”
Interestingly, sensory specific satiety can be thought of as a human protection element – and a way the body adapts in order to avoid sensory overload, according to Civille, of Sensory Spectrum. Imagine stepping slowly and carefully into a very hot bathtub. “At first, you feel HOT, HOT, HOT! But then your body adapts to the hot temperature in order to protect itself from having too much stimulation, as the brain cannot process all of the messages at once,” Civille said. “In the case of food, adaptation results in fullness.”

Despite this scientific reality, the notion of sensory specific satiety doesn’t stop companies from prioritizing taste experience, with the hope that you won’t be able to stop after just one bite.

“Companies are developing products for that initial ‘Oh, my goodness!’ with the first couple of bites,” Wansink said. And even if the level of sensory satisfaction drops, if you start high enough, it won’t necessarily matter.
“The seventh and eighth bite of the salted caramel ice cream will still be pretty good,” he said. “You’re still far ahead of the grapefruit.”

 

coke-obesity

How the sugar industry sweetened research in its favor

In order to extend the amount of time it will take before you get bored of eating a food, its maker may include ingredient variety – for example, making a raisin bran with yogurt puffs or oatmeal clusters. Wansink explains how: “If you mix popcorn with M&Ms, you can eat a lot more than you would if you ate either food alone, because the M&Ms counter the salty flavor of the popcorn, and the buttery popcorn counters the sweetness of the M&Ms.”

Civille agrees. “Without texture and flavor variety, you become full or burnt out. Any new input is not interesting.” This phenomenon helps explain why kids – and adults – can say “I’m so full” after a meal but still have room for dessert. “Dessert is sweet and interesting.”

No wonder I need my sugar fix, even when I’m stuffed from a larger-than-usual meal. Perhaps I’m not truly addicted to sugar, but rather, my body has succumbed to the science of sensory specific satiety.

Becoming an empowered eater

The psychology that goes into finding a “bliss point” and coping with sensory specific satiety is significantly helpful for companies’ bottom lines, but the practical takeaway can have implications for consumers’ health, particularly when foods and beverages are consumed in excess.

Changing kids’ palates – which already prefer sweet tastes – toward sweetness can lead to weight gain, obesity and other health problems. In a world of such abundance, how can consumers become more educated and make the right choices? Here are some tips and tricks to help become savvier,

1. Find a food mantra. “What if we could find the messages to repeat to ourselves, almost like self-advertising, to get us to eat healthily?” asked Moskowitz. In fact, that’s what the bliss point pioneer is working on now: messages that work for consumers. “The science is of words, but it’s still looking for the bliss point. But now the bliss point is the combination of messages that a person will find compelling.” You might ask yourself, “Am I really hungry? Do I really want this food? Or am I bored or stressed?” External motivation works too, he says. “Many people will remind themselves of goals, like, ‘I want to look good in a dress for my daughter’s wedding.’ ”

2. Have a decent breakfast. It will help you avoid cravings, especially sugar cravings. “If your blood sugar is low (from skipping breakfast), you’re going to start eating anything and everything,” Civille said. But a bagel with nothing on it? You’ll be hungry again by 10:30. “The key is to manipulate your own body’s cravings by giving it the right kinds of foods to start with,” she said. And different foods may work better for different people. “If I eat a bowl of oatmeal at 6:30, I’m not hungry until lunch.”

3. Wean your palate. You can change your palate to crave less sweet, salty, fatty foods. “Once people learn to like skim milk, whole milk is too much for them,” Wansink said. One of the ways you can make it happen, he says, is to make sure you pair the product that contains less sugar, salt, fat, whatever – with something that you do like.

“Let’s say you drink way too much Coke. You tell yourself you’re going to drink Diet Coke instead, but you hate the taste of diet soda. So you pair it with something you do enjoy, like taking a walk.” By doing this, he says, you don’t experience the switch to diet soda as such a sacrifice, and eventually you will like it more. Or try making the switch from a sugary cereal to a more protein-rich breakfast. Something as simple as pairing cheese or ketchup with eggs can make a protein-rich breakfast more appealing, and eventually, you won’t even crave the sugar.

4. Add fat. “You should have some fat in your diet, because fat is interesting and satiating. It holds flavor and releases the flavor in a different way than a water-based system,” Civille said. Consider the difference between a teaspoon of vanilla extract in heavy cream (that’s so good!) versus skim milk (awful). The satiety and satisfaction that the fat offers will ultimately allow you to eat less. Spread peanut butter on apple slices or top a mixed green salad with a vinaigrette dressing.

5. Choose portion-controlled snacks. Here’s a case where package design (think 100-calorie packs) may be more costly, but they help you eat less, because they slow the pace of eating. “Having to open up three 100-calorie packs to get 300 calories of chocolate takes a longer time to eat and makes you less sated than if all 300 chocolate calories were in front of you,” Wansink said. The result: People usually give up — and consume fewer calories overall. To save money, buy snacks in bulk and make your own portion-controlled snacks at home using small plastic bags.

6. Drink a glass of water. “Having a glass of water with you all the time is one way of dealing with sensory specific satiety,” Civille said. “The sense of fullness reduces hunger and keeps us hydrated. Often, we eat when we, in fact, are thirsty or dehydrated.”

7. Choose cheese over chips at a party. “People immediately go to the bowl of chips, but you should be looking for the more protein-rich appetizer, which will give you more satiety,” Civille said. A cube of cheese, shrimp or even a slider is a good choice.

8. Don’t go food shopping on an empty stomach. “When you go to the supermarket hungry, you buy things that you crave … and those are typically not good choices, like ice cream, doughnuts and cookies, as opposed to buying more vegetables,” Civille said. Wasnick agrees. “You buy more of the ready-to-eat convenience food, the stuff you can eat in the parking lot,” he said.

Here’s food for thought: Simply eating a piece of fruit 30 minutes before going into a grocery store can significantly change your purchasing habits for the better. “Even just a piece of an apple before you leave – or even a sample of one – dramatically increases how much fruit you buy and decreases the amount of junk food,” Wansink said.

9. Divide your cart in half. “An easy thing that we’ve discovered is the half-cart rule,” Wansink said. “Divide your cart in half with a coat, purse or briefcase. The front half of the cart is reserved for fruits and vegetables. The back half of the cart is for whatever else I want. Simply doing this increases the amount of fruit and vegetables people buy by 25%-30%.”

10. Distract yourself. “There’s a really neat study we did: We had people only eat a quarter as much of a snack as they usually eat in the afternoon,” Wansink said. “So let’s say you usually eat eight Hershey’s Kisses, and we gave you two. We found that 15 minutes later, people rated themselves as equally full, satisfied and happy – and less guilty!” But here’s the important part: “After they had their first two bites, they had to put the food away – they couldn’t stare at it – and they had to do something (active) for those 15 minutes to distract themselves, like cleaning the office or returning phone calls. They could not sit at the computer.”

The results were encouraging. “All they could remember is that they still tasted that chocolate, apple pie or potato chips — and they realized they didn’t deny themselves anything.” But getting their minds off of the food was key. “They realized they can have what they enjoy — as long as they can distract themselves enough to not think about it.”

By Lisa Drayer, CNN           Mon November 21, 2016