What are your kids drinking?

By Chantelle Fabre, LWDI Intern

What are Sugar Sweetened Beverages:

Are you contributing to the childhood obesity rate by allowing your children to drink sugar sweetened beverages? Sugar sweetened beverages (SSB): are considered to be liquids that are sweetened with various forms of sugars. A few Examples are sodas, fruit juices, sport drinks, and energy drinks. Sugar sweetened beverages represent the largest source of added sugars and the main contributor to calories in children’s diets.1

Health Concerns:

Sugar-sweetened beverages provide little to no nutritional benefits. Studies show intake of sugar sweetened beverages in infants and childhood years are associated with increased risks for health concerns: dental caries, weight gain, enlarged waist circumference, Type 2 Diabetes, overweight/obesity, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. Sugar sweetened beverage consumption is also linked to early puberty in children. Sugar and caffeine in sodas can contribute to poor sleep patterns and weight gain. There is also a link between sugar sweetened beverages and hyperactivity/inattention symptoms in children.1,2,3

What has The World Health Organization Discovered:

The World Health Organization (WHO) has discovered that over 42 million kids under the age of 5 years of age are either overweight or obese.  The prevalence of overweight or obese children and adolescents aged 5-19 years is now 18% globally. 1

Guidelines for Sugar Intake:

The World Health Organization  recently announced a guideline for both children and adults that sugar intake both added and natural should be less than 10% of their total energy. The American Heart Association recommends that children 2 years and older consume no more than 8 ounces of sugary drinks per week. Any child under 2 years of age should not have added sugar in their diets. The lower the amount of sugar sweetened beverages consumed by children the lower the risk of childhood obesity there is. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that children ages 1-3 should have no more than 4 ounces of 100% fruit juice a day, 4-6 no more than 4-6 ounces a day, and children ages 7-18 should have no more than 8 ounces of 100% fruit juice a day. Whole fruit should be the first choice since it has fiber and less calories compared to fruit juices that have no additional nutritional value compared to whole fruit.1,4,5,6

Sugar Sweetened Beverage Consumption:

Sugar sweetened beverage intake is not a problem just here in the United States, but across the globe.  Sugar sweetened beverages consumption has increased dramatically since 1988 with it contributing to 10-15% of total calories to the diets of children. Mexico has one of the highest consumptions of sugar sweetened beverages contributing 20-23% of their total energy intake. Between 1999-2006 Mexican children have increased their consumption of sugar sweetened beverages by 226%. Sugar sweetened beverages also contribute to over 20% of the United Kingdom children’s added sugar intake. At the current rates of consumption each child in the US ingests on average a total of 55,000kcals per year just from sugar sweetened beverages. Approximately 15% of Australian adolescents’ energy intake comes from added sugars. The Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study reported that 10.7% of infants 9-12 months and 14.3% of 12-15-month old’s consumed sugar sweetened beverages a day. 1,2,3,5

Is 100% Fruit Juice a Gateway:

Even 100% fruit juice consumption needs to be limited. Some researchers consider that fruit juice can become a gateway to children consuming sugar sweetened beverages. Increased consumption of fruit juice can decrease milk consumption in children. It can also be linked to weight gain in children. It has similarities to sugar sweetened beverages such as simple sugars being the main calorie source in juice. A study by NHANES, showed concern that when preschool aged children consumed at least 12 ounces of 100% fruit juice were more likely to become overweight compared to those who drank less than 12 ounces a day. 

Tips to reduce added sugar intake:

  • Give children water instead of juices 
  • Give whole fruit over fruit juices 
  • Read nutrition labels 
  • Avoid sodas & other beverages with added sugars 

In nutrition there is no single food source that is to blame on the obesity epidemic across the globe, but sugar sweetened beverages does represent the world’s largest source of added sugar in the diets of both children and adults. 


  1. Cantoral A, Téllez-Rojo MM, Ettinger AS, Hu H, Hernández-Ávila M, Peterson K. Early introduction and cumulative consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages during the pre-school period and risk of obesity at 8-14 years of age. Pediatric Obesity. 2015;11(1):68-74. doi:10.1111/ijpo.12023
  2. Bleakley A, Jordan A, Mallya G, Hennessy M, Piotrowski JT. Do You Know What Your Kids Are Drinking? Evaluation of a Media Campaign to Reduce Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages. American Journal of Health Promotion. 2017;32(6):1409-1416. doi:10.1177/0890117117721320
  3. Scharf RJ, Deboer MD. Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Childrens Health. Annual Review of Public Health. 2016;37(1):273-293. doi:10.1146/annurev-publhealth-032315-021528.
  4. Hardy LL, Bell J, Bauman A, Mihrshahi S. Association between adolescents’ consumption of    total and different types of sugar-sweetened beverages with oral health impacts and weight status. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. 2017;42(1):22-26. doi:10.1111/1753-6405.12749. .
  5. Macintyre AK, Marryat L, Chambers S. Exposure to liquid sweetness in early childhood: artificially‐sweetened and sugar‐sweetened beverage consumption at 4–5 years and risk of overweight and obesity at 7–8 years. Pediatric Obesity. 2018;13(12):755-765. doi:10.1111/ijpo.12284
  6. Muth ND, Dietz WH, Magge SN, et al. Public Policies to Reduce Sugary Drink Consumption in Children and Adolescents. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/143/4/e20190282?rss=1. Published April 1, 2019. Accessed January 4, 2021. 

Pros and Cons of Trendy Diets and Weight Loss

By Emily Gerrets, LWDI Intern

Weight loss is a huge trend in today’s society. Many popular diets continue to be created to help people achieve this goal. “Trendy” diets can be harmful for those who don’t have all the information before they start. Diets that claim to aid in weight loss can long-term side effects on those participating. This blog focuses on a few of those trending diets, gives a little background information, and provides pros and cons for each of them. Before starting any new diet, people should speak with their Registered Dietitian or Doctor to make sure that diet is safe for them and won’t cause any harm, especially if the person has a condition such as diabetes or heart disease.

Keto Diet

The ketogenic diet or “keto” diet is high in fat, low in carb and moderate in protein. This diet has been said, by some, to produce benefits such as help managing diabetes, improving epilepsy and Alzheimer’s, and aid in weight loss. The diet works by severely restricting carbohydrate (carb) intake, which is the main source of energy for the body. When carb intake is restricted it forces the body to use fat as an energy source. When fat is broken down it makes ketones, this is why the diet is called the “ketogenic” or “keto” diet.

Some short-term side effects could include flu-like symptoms, trouble sleeping, and constipation. Those participating in this diet should be aware of long-term effects including kidney stones, liver disease, and nutrient deficiencies. Studies have also shown that the high fat (specifically saturated fats) nature of this diet could increase the risk for heart disease and other heart problems. 

For more than a hundred years, the keto diet has been used to help manage Epilepsy, a seizure disorder. Currently, the long-term effects are being researched as well as how it affects those with diabetes or obesity1. For example, there could be a higher chance of hypoglycemia in those on an insulin regimen2. In obese patients, a high protein and high fat diet could raise LDL cholesterol levels (the “bad” cholesterol) causing heart problems. 

Carnivore Diet

The carnivore diet consists of only meat and animal products and excludes all other foods. It has been said to help with weight loss, mood problems, blood sugar problems, and others. However, there is not enough research to support these benefits.  There is also little research done on the long-term complications that could occur with this diet.

Because this diet excludes fruits, grains, and vegetables, nutrient deficiencies are likely to occur. Negative effects of this diet could include heart problems and a higher risk for heart disease because of the increased saturated fat and cholesterol. 

Constipation could be caused by this diet due to its excluding of foods high in fiber such as fruits, vegetables, and grains3.

Whole 30

Whole30 is a 30-day diet plan designed to promote “clean-eating” by cutting out certain food groups. The food groups that are eliminated include: sugar, artificial sweetener, alcohol, grains, beans or legumes, soy, dairy, and processed foods. This leaves meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, fruit, and fats. 

The diet’s claims include weight loss, improvement in health conditions such as headaches, digestive problems, clear skin, and energy levels among others. The creator of Whole30 says she chose 30 days because “thirty days is a good compromise. It takes 66 days for a habit to stick, but if we told someone to do this plan for that long, it’d be pretty intimidating”- Hartwig.

A few benefits of this diet are that participants don’t have to count calories, they shouldn’t feel as hungry as they normally would, and there isn’t a point system for participants to follow. Some negative notes of this diet are that it is a very restricted diet, it can be hard to follow in a social setting, and also participants will be required to do meal preparation which can be time consuming4.


A paleo diet is based on the eating style of people during the paleolithic era. This era took place between 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago. The paleo diet includes foods that can be hunted or gathered such as: lean meats, fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, and seeds. Dairy, legumes, and refined grains, therefore, are eliminated because they weren’t consumed during this time period. However, because of this stipulation, the diet can be restrictive making the diet difficult to follow.

The goal of this diet is to get humans to eat in a way that is closer to what their paleolithic ancestors ate. The reason for this diet is that it is believed that genetically, the human body does not work well with modern diets. This theory is called the discordance hypothesis. This hypothesis states that updates in farming changed people’s diets which caused the body to fall behind in adapting to these new dietary changes. This lack of adapting is believed to contribute to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in today’s people5. This diet can potentially lead to weight loss, and improved health conditions. Some downfalls to this diet are that it is restrictive and that more research needs to be done to reveal any long-term side effects.

Although these diets all have their pros and cons, no one diet is perfect for everyone. Weight loss should be based on an individual level and ideally be done in the healthiest way possible. This may include involving health care workers such as Registered Dietitians, and Doctors, among others. However, if someone would want to try a new diet without consulting a medical professional, ample research should be done on the diet to avoid any negative results. It is crucial that participants find reputable sources when learning about a new diet to avoid finding false information. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ website is a great resource to find articles written by nutrition professionals. It is important to avoid any diets or products that state they cause quick weight loss because quick weight loss can be due to muscle, bone, or water loss and not fat which is what most people want to lose. Other diet/product claims to be avoided are restrictive diets and strict meals. Restrictive diets are difficult to follow and hard to make a long-term way of eating. Strict meals can become repetitive and boring which makes participants lose interest. It is also not realistic for people to consume the same meals on a daily basis6. Popular diets can be very intriguing for those who are trying to lose weight; however, participants should be mindful that they are not always the safest or healthiest option for everyone.

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  1. Gordon, Barbara. “What Is the Ketogenic Diet.” EatRight, http://www.eatright.org/health/weight-loss/fad-diets/what-is-the-ketogenic-diet. 
  2. Adam, Felman. “Ketogenic Diet for Type 2 Diabetes: Side Effects, Benefits, and Alter.” Edited by Natalie Olsen, Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 29 Mar. 2019, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317431#:~:text=Impact%20on%20medication&text=As%20such%2C%20some%20people%20with,hypoglycemia%20(low%20blood%20sugar). 
  3. Streit, Lizzie. “All You Need to Know About the Carnivore (All-Meat) Diet.” Healthline, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/carnivore-diet#what-it-is
  4. Webber, Jamie. “Whole30 Diet Made Simple – Food List and Rules for Beginners.” Greatist, Greatist, 27 Sept. 2019, greatist.com/eat/whole30-beginners-guide#the-basics. 
  5. Mayo Clinic Staff. “Paleo Diet: Eat like a Cave Man and Lose Weight?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 25 Aug. 2020, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/paleo-diet/art-20111182. 
  6. “Staying Away from Fad Diets.” Edited by Taylor Wolfram, EatRight, 18 Mar. 2019, http://www.eatright.org/health/weight-loss/fad-diets/staying-away-from-fad-diets. 

LWDI Intern Spotlight: Taylor

What’s Taylor up to in her rotations?

I just finished my community rotation at a grocery store chain that employs dietitians. While I was there, I helped promote healthful grocery items and sat in on phone calls and virtual consultations with clients. Currently, I am in my medical nutrition therapy rotation at a hospital nearby. I have been working closely with a dietitian learning to interview and educate different patients on their prescribed diets. It has been quite the learning experience!

“Something Extra” about Taylor, Future RD:

I get to have the chance to help people change their perception with food into a positive relationship rather than something negative. I want to incorporate my love for cooking and working with flavorful and nutritiously dense meals of which will help pave the path into improving the overall health and wellbeing of others.

The Effects of Weight Loss in Adolescents Diagnosed with Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes

By Maria Arana, LWDI Intern

Adolescence is one of life’s most challenging transitions. This stage of life is filled with new emotions, changes, relationships, and unforgettable lessons. As if these struggles were not challenging enough, dealing with obesity and type 2 diabetes can add to the stress. A diagnosis of this magnitude can be overwhelming and scary all at once. Despite this rollercoaster ride of emotions, the most important thing to keep in mind is that individuals still have some control over their health. Understanding obesity and type 2 diabetes is a step in the right direction. 

The Link Between Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes 

Numerous journals, such as the Diabetes Care journal, demonstrate that obesity and excess weight are significant contributors to developing insulin resistance. [1] Obesity also plays a role in cognitive and social problems in adolescents. These problems can often lead to discrimination, low self-esteem, depression, dissatisfaction with body image, and many other psychosocial issues. [2] Despite these consequences, obesity statistics continue to rise in this age group. Data shows that 5% of US adolescents were obese in the year 1980. [3] By the year 2012, 21% of US adolescents were obese. [3] These numbers have more than tripled in the past three decades!

Genetics, race, and family history play a significant role in developing type 2 diabetes. However, environmental factors such as obesity most often trigger the onset of this preventable disease. [3] The American Diabetes Association states that “the earlier an individual develops type 2 diabetes, the higher their lifetime risk of diabetes complications such as heart disease, vascular disease, vision loss, and amputation will be.” [4] 

What Goes on Inside the Body with Type 2 Diabetes? 

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects how the body regulates blood glucose (sugar). [1] After eating a meal, the body turns the food into glucose, which travels in the blood system until insulin is released. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, works like a key and allows glucose to enter the cells to be used as energy. [1] However, with type 2 diabetes, the body either does not produce enough insulin or becomes resistant. [1] When this happens, blood glucose can become too high.

Lifestyle Modifications

Making lifestyle modifications is a very personal decision, and it may not be the easiest thing to do. It is recommended that adolescents with obesity and type 2 diabetes aim to achieve a 7-10% decrease in excess weight. [1] However, family members must help with this process by engaging all members in making new lifestyle changes. [1] It can also be helpful to speak to a physician before making these changes. Working with a registered dietitian can help clear up any misconceptions about nutrition and help make individualized meal plans that will properly nourish the body.  

Get Daily Exercise 

A sedentary lifestyle can lead to weight gain. Therefore, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that youth ages 6-17 get at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily. [5] Incorporating a mixture of aerobics, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening exercises are recommended. [5] In addition to weight improvements, regular physical activity decreases the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, depression, type 2 diabetes, and much more. [5]

Community centers often offer exciting and inexpensive exercise classes, such as dance and yoga, to the community. These classes can be a great way to get involved, meet new people, and a creative way to get moving! 

Use the Diabetes Plate Method

Large food portions often lead to excessive consumption of calories. With time this may lead to a significant increase in weight. The Diabetes Plate Method is a great guide to help individuals choose healthy foods and be mindful about portion sizes. [6] This guide works well for many because it eliminates the need to count, calculate, or measure food. [6] According to the American Diabetes Association, this method starts with using a reasonably sized plate—a plate that is 9 inches across works perfectly. [6] 

First, fill half the plate with nonstarchy vegetables such as: 

  • Broccoli 
  • Carrots
  •  Mushrooms 
  • Leafy greens
  •  Zucchini 
  • Cucumbers

Second, fill one-quarter of the plate with lean protein foods such as: 

  • Chicken 
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Lean pork
  • Lean beef 
  • Cheese 
  • Tofu 
  • Any plant-based meat substitutes
What is the Diabetes Plate Method?
American Diabetes Association 6 

Finally, fill one-quarter of the plate with a carbohydrate food choice such as:

  • Grains (brown rice, quinoa)
  • Starchy vegetables (potatoes, peas, corn)
  • Beans 
  • Fruit
  • Yogurt 
  • Milk 

Carbohydrate food choices are limited to one-quarter because they have the most significant impact on blood glucose levels. [6] For beverages, choose those that do not contain calories or added sugars, such as water, unsweetened tea, or any other calorie-free beverage.  

The Importance of Diabetes Self-Management Education

Youth diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have a greater risk of accelerated diabetes-related complications. Type 2 diabetes diagnosed at a younger age is also associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. [7] Therefore, diabetes self-management education is vital to successfully teach adolescents how to control and measure blood sugar levels, reduce mortality risks, and learn more about lifestyle modifications. [7] It is important to understand that diabetes self-management education will require periodic reassessment, especially as an adolescent grows, develops, and has a greater need for independent self-care skills. [7]

The Positive Effects of Weight Loss in Adolescents 

Studies show that lifestyle interventions, such as physical activity, improves insulin sensitivity independently from weight loss. [8, 9] Dietary patterns also contribute to overall health. For example, it is known that weight loss is promoted when dietary patterns are rich in whole grains and fiber. [8] Many of these high fiber foods come from fruits and vegetables. In some instances, pharmacologic interventions may be necessary for some individuals. Therefore, it is crucial to speak with a physician and a registered dietitian about these options.  In essence, whether adolescents are newly diagnosed or have been living with type 2 diabetes for a while,  they have control to redirect their lives and make the most out of those years of youth! 


1. Arslanian S, Bacha F, Grey M, Marcus M, White N, Zeitler P. Evaluation and Management of Youth-Onset Type 2 Diabetes: A Position Statement by the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care. 2018;41(12):2648-2668. doi:10.2337/dci18-0052

2. Mazloomy-Mahmoodabad SS, Navabi ZS, Ahmadi A, Askarishahi M. The effect of educational intervention on weight loss in adolescents with overweight and obesity: Application of the theory of planned behavior. ARYA Atheroscler. 2017;13(4):176-183.

3. Rao PV. Type 2 diabetes in children: Clinical aspects and risk factors. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2015;19(Suppl 1):S47-S50. doi:10.4103/2230-8210.155401

4. Galuska D, Gunn J, O’Connor A, Petersen R. Addressing Childhood Obesity for Type 2 Diabetes Prevention: Challenges and Opportunities. 2018;31(4):330-334. doi: https://doi.org/10.2337/ds18-0017

5. Healthy Eating Patterns: Dietary Principles – 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines | health.gov. Health.gov. https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/chapter-1/healthy-eating-patterns/#callout-physicalactivity. Published 2020. Accessed December 7, 2020.

6. Intechnic h. What is the Diabetes Plate Method?. Diabetes Food Hub. https://www.diabetesfoodhub.org/articles/what-is-the-diabetes-plate-method.html#:~:text=The%20Diabetes%20Plate%20Method%20is,you%20need%20is%20a%20plate!. Published 2020. Accessed December 7, 2020.

7. Care.diabetesjournals.org. https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/43/Supplement_1/S163.full-text.pdf. Published 2020. Accessed December 15, 2020.

8. Tagi V, Giannini C, Chiarelli F. Insulin Resistance in Children. Pediatric Endocrinology. 2019. doi:https://doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2019.00342

9. Mahan L, Raymond J. Krause’s Food & The Nutrition Care Process. Pages 586-617 

Intern Spotlight: Jessica interning with Hy-Vee

I am currently interning at Hy-Vee, which is a Midwest grocery store. I previously worked at Hy-Vee for four years as an assistant manager. My preceptors are dietitians that work for corporate. Some of the big projects I will be working on include hosting cooking classes via Zoom, 3 seminars for Drake University via Zoom, and writing up to 10 articles for the Hy-Vee magazine Seasons. I have also been tasked with setting up a way to be able to go virtual with the elderly population. Hy-Vee is working towards staying as virtual as possible from here on out, but this poses an issue with the older population. It is my task to find a way to make it easier for them to be able to access the Hy-Vee dietitians for their one-on-one sessions. This rotation is unique as I will not be working 40-hour weeks for a month, but rather working with them from January until May on whatever projects they deem fit for me to work on. I am loving my time at Hy-Vee and cannot wait to see what else I get to accomplish!

-Jessica Wilming, LWDI Intern

Obesity and Gut Health

By: Alexis Villaret, LWDI Intern

Ahhh… the holidays festivities have finally ceased. Family gatherings may have not inspired the finest eating moments. Usually, temptations are reserved for an occasional birthday or anniversary but with the consecutive holidays indulgences of eggnog, cookies, cakes, holiday roasts and alcohol are hardly avoidable. We are all aware by now of the guilt felt eating one too many of grandma’s cookies and of course the impact on the waistline. It makes sense right…too many cookies equals extra calories and extra fluff in the midsection. That is no secret. Now that January is here the daunting task of shedding that “winter coat” ensues. The Peloton bike that has served as a clothes rack gets dusted off, the gym membership is renewed and we begin the arduous task of losing the same ole L-B’s we gain every year. However it never has occurred to us that our gut bacteria may be playing a less obvious role. We are all probably familiar with gut bacteria and its significant role in our immune system. However an emerging body of research is exploding that suggests a correlation between obesity and gut microbes exists. 


Understanding the roles in the community of bacteria lining our gastrointestinal tract also known as the microbiota may aid in understanding the mechanisms responsible in weight gain. The microbiota is the ecosystem of bacteria that pertains to the gastrointestinal tract. 

Specifically, the five species of bugs that occupy the gut are called Bacte-roidetes, Firmicutes, Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria, and Verru-comicrobiai. Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes are the most dominate and contribute to the majority of microbiota. Collectively only 10% of the remaining microbes contributes to the overall microbiota population(7). 

These bacteria are vital for good health as they produce B vitamins and vitamin K(3) while assisting in nutrient absorption and storage(4). These microbes also aid in degrading fiber for energy, which simultaneously fuels growth of beneficial bacteria to prevent overgrowth of pathogeneic bacteria. The most well known role of bacteria in the gut is support of a healthy immune system (3).


The connection between gut bacteria and obesity is not completely understood. However several animal studies are providing clues. The gut bacteria profiles actually vary in lean and obese animal models and potentially human. Therefore the type of bacteria matters! Specifically within the microbiota, Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes are responsible for breaking down dietary carbohydrates and utilizing them for energy(10).Therefore when there is a disruption in this delicate balance of gut bugs, a condition called dysbiosis, energy production is inhibited leading to weight gain. Other animal studies have revealed depleted Bacteroidetes populations combined with increases of Firmicutes populations were present in obese mice compared to mice of a healthy weight(4). So what does a spiked eggnog over the holidays have to do with all of this? Those indulgences may have also contributed to dysbiosis or a change in your bacteria profile. Animal studies suggest high fat animal based foods coupled with sugar actually increases Firmicutes species while beneficial bacteroidetes are depleted reducing energy production from food (2). 

An additional study of obese mice demonstrated how two different diet patterns (High Fat and High Carbohydrate) common during the holiday season impact gut bacteria. A HFD (High Fat Diet) decreased gut diversity, which lead to dysbiosis. A high fat diet will 

naturally lack adequate fiber (also known as prebiotics) a fuel source for beneficial bacteria including Bacteroidetes. Bacteroidetes have a positive association with adiposity(5). This infers a reduction in good bacteria translates to decreased utilization of food for energy production and subsequently an increased likelihood of energy stored as fat. 

The HCD (High Carbohydrate-Sucrose Diet) was more problematic than the HFD since it promoted the growth of obesogenic related bacteria Acinetobacter,Blautia, and Dorea(7). 

These are all animal studies and this data may not be extrapolated to humans. However a compelling human trial also linked lack of gut diversity and chronic weight gain which was sustained over 10 years (10). 

What we can extract from this emerging data is a prebiotic rich diet is necessary to support growth of beneficial Bacteroides that are associated with lower body fat percentage. Also when Bacteroides are flourishing it does not allow for fat promoting bacteria to survive through displacement. Furthermore prebiotics or resistant starches provide an acidic environment in the gut created through fermentation. Beneficial gut bacteria actually feeds on prebiotics and this may inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria and dysbiosis (9).






brussel sprouts 
















dried fruit


In conjunction with prebiotics, a well balanced diet represented by a model such as MyPlate is essential in promoting gut diversity (11). 


It may not be a coincidence that high fat, high sugar holiday food that is representative of the Standard American diet is contributing to weight gain, especially post holiday weight gain. It potentially may be an insight into one of the several mechanisms contributing to the nations and worlds for that matter obesity rates. While this research is still in its infancy it serves as one more reason Americans need to ditch SAD (Standard American Diet) and adopt GLAD (Gut Loving American Diet) to potentially thwart weight gain. So yes, dry January is in full effect and do not let that gym membership expire just yet. However, please do focus on including more fiber rich plant sources and do not settle for SAD, get a GLAD. 


1.Aoun A, Darwish F, Hamod N. The influence of the gut microbiome on obesity in adults and the role of probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics for weight loss. Prev Nutr Food Sci. 2020;25(2):113-123 

2. Carmody RN, Gerber GK, Luevano JM Jr, et al Diet dominates host genotype in shaping the murine gut microbiota. Cell Host Microbe. 2015;17(1):72-84.   

3.Davis CD. The gut microbiome and its role in obesity. Nutr Today. 2016;51(4):167-174. 

4. Gentile CL, Weir TL. The gut microbiota at the intersection of diet and human health. Science. 2018;362(6416):776-780. 

5. Gomes AC, Hoffmann C, Mota JF. The human gut microbiota: Metabolism and perspective in obesity. Gut Microbes. Published online 2018:1-18.   

6. John GK, Mullin GE. The gut microbiome and obesity. Curr Oncol Rep. 2016;18(7):45. 

7.Kong C, Gao R, Yan X, Huang L, Qin H. Probiotics improve gut microbiota dysbiosis in obese mice fed a high-fat or high-sucrose diet. Nutrition. 2019;60:175-184. 

8. Lv Y, Qin X, Jia H, Chen S, Sun W, Wang X. The association between gut microbiota composition and BMI in Chinese male college students, as analysed by next-generation sequencing. Br J Nutr. 2019;122(9):986-995.   

9.Mahan LK, Raymond JL. Krause’s Food & the Nutrition Care Process. 14th ed. Saunders; 2016. 

10.Menni C, Jackson MA, Pallister T, Steves CJ, Spector TD, Valdes AM. Gut microbiom diversity and high-fibre intake are related to lower long-term weight gain. Int J Obes (Lond). 2017;41(7):1099-1105. 

11.MyPlate. Myplate.gov. Accessed January 22, 2021.https://www.myplate.gov/   

12.Zhang Y-J, Li S, Gan R-Y, Zhou T, Xu D-P, Li H-B. Impacts of gut bacteria on human health and diseases. Int J Mol Sci. 2015;16(4):7493-7519.t

Portion Control and Eating Your Favorite Carbs

By: Kimberly Cruz, LWDI Intern

A commonly discussed topic among many adults is diets and foods that should be avoided in order to reach a goal. What if I was able to talk to you about all of your favorite carbohydrate filling meals, the ones seen as “off limits” of your “guilty pleasure”.  For example, a few of my favorites include baked potatoes, Mexican rice, and ice-cream. It is possible to lead a healthy lifestyle while still enjoying your favorite snacks and comfort foods. Weight management can be possible through portion control and understanding the appropriate amounts of protein, fat, and carbohydrates (carbs) that an individual should consume.  

It is important to first consider the role of carbohydrates in the body, along with protein and fats. Carbohydrates supply the body with readily available energy for use in normal body functions and physical activities. It is beneficial for people to understand what carbs look like and the difference between complex and simple carbs. Complex carbohydrates are foods like whole grain bread, pasta, potatoes, or squash; they take more time to digest which will release energy slowly into the body. This is due to the slow process of the breakdown of fiber, a nutrient found in most complex carbs, which promotes extended periods of energy. Simple carbohydrates are foods like table sugar, fruit juice, or syrup. Simple carbs give the body a quick burst of energy that lasts for a short period of time.

Portion Control 

Food Pyramid Replacement - MyPlate: The USDA's Food Recommendations
Figure 1

The prevalence of obesity has doubled over the past 40 years. Rates continue to rise creating a worldwide healthcare crisis. Becoming overweight or obese usually occurs when a person’s intake of calories from food exceeds energy expenditure. Overtime, excessive weight gain can lead to other co-morbid conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.  Introducing portion control could be the start of a healthy lifestyle and provide an alternative solution rather than dieting or surgery. MyPlate is shown in Figure 1 above. This is a representation of what a plate should look like at every meal. Half the plate is made up of fruits and vegetables. 

Helpful tips to guide portion control by simply using your hands can be found in Figure 2 below. Tips and tricks like these can help an individual better understand how to portion food and make it easier to enjoy your favorite foods. If chicken alfredo pasta is one of your favorite meals but trending diets have made you think it would not fit into your diet, the chart below could be used to help with portioning. Looking at Figure 2, a good portion size for pasta noodles are about the size of your fist which can be equivalent to one half cup. The chicken used for the pasta could be measured by the palm of your hand; the sauce could be measured by using the portion size of the cheese model. No foods are forbidden! Practicing portion control allows you to still have, and enjoy, your favorite foods without feeling guilty.

Portion sizes | Daily Mail Online
Figure 2

Plate Size Matters

Figure 3

Over the last few decades, the standard size of a dinner plate has increased from 9 inches to 12 inches; this difference is illustrated in figure 3 above. The actual plate size however is not where the problem is, the problem is people fill those extra three inches with food. A lot of people are taught they need to consume everything on their plate in one sitting. So, the larger plate size, combined with this mentality, has led to an overall increase in food consumption. Plate size has the potential to reduce how much food is put on a plate and therefore consumed.  

Plate sizes have the potential to reduce how much is consumed from being self-selected. 2 Using a smaller plate is one strategy that can aid in reducing portion size. It has been shown people usually eat more when given larger portions.3 Bigger portion sizes grew over time and has been taught through family and friends. Some research has shown that an individual’s portion size may potentially be influenced by friends and others they are surrounded by when they eat. Certain people may benefit from sharing meals with a friend group or having a support system to help them on their journey to a healthier lifestyle.

Where to go from here?

Portion control can help provide an understanding that carbohydrates, fats, and protein should all be included on your plate to achieve a healthy, balanced meal. Tips and tricks used for portion control can not only help overweight and obese populations, but also those who struggle with diabetes and other health conditions related to dietary habits. It is important to build a support system with people who want to take this journey on with you and be a source of encouragement. Being more aware of how much you eat instead of what you are eating can help to see food from a healthier perspective. Eating intuitively, having balanced portion sizes, and being aware of different plate sizes are all factors that can help someone lead a healthy lifestyle.


Maartje P. Poelman, MSc, Emely de Vet, PhD, Elizabeth Velema, MSc, Michiel R. de Boer, PhD, Jacob C. Seidell, PhD, Ingrid H. M. Steenhuis, PhD, PortionControl@HOME: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial Evaluating the Effect of a Multi-Component Portion Size Intervention on Portion Control Behavior and Body Mass Index, Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Volume 49, Issue 1, February 2015, Pages 18–28, https://doi.org/10.1007/s12160-014-9637-4

Hughes, J.W., Goldstein, C.M., Logan, C. et al. Controlled testing of novel portion control plate produces smaller self-selected portion sizes compared to regular dinner plate. BMC Obes 4, 30 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40608-017-0167-z

Versluis, I., & Papies, E. (2016, May 06). The Role of Social Norms in the Portion Size Effect: Reducing Normative Relevance Reduces the Effect of Portion Size on Consumption Decisions. Retrieved October 23, 2020, from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00756/full

Publishing, H. (n.d.). Carbohydrates – Good or Bad for You? Retrieved October 23, 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/carbohydrates–good-or-bad-for-you

MyPlate Graphic Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved December 01, 2020, from https://www.choosemyplate.gov/resources/myplate-graphic-resources

Living with Type 2 Diabetes in an Alcohol-centric Culture: Simple Guidelines to Follow for Safely Balancing Cocktail Hour and Diabetes

By: Amanda Rugg, LWDI Intern

Being able to enjoy alcoholic beverages while managing diabetes often seems intimidating at first. These simple tips will guide you to safely enjoying your favorite diabetic-friendly cocktail just in time for the holiday season! 

Alcohol & Diabetes: 

Understanding Main Factors Contributing to Blood Glucose Levels:

The effects of drinking alcohol are important to consider for diabetes. Drinking alcohol alters liver function and impacts blood sugar levels. 

The main functions of the liver include producing and releasing blood sugar, storing energy, and eliminating toxic substances.1 After drinking alcohol, it is recognized as a poisonous substance. The liver is only able to perform one task at a time and too much alcohol can block production and release of glucose from the liver, causing your blood sugar levels to drop.1,2,3

Type 2 Diabetes Medication Interactions with Alcohol:

If combined with enough alcohol, the effects of diabetes medications including oral medication (sulfonylureas. meglitinides) and insulin could often result in hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.2,3,4

How to Drink: 

Tips to follow when preparing to enjoy cocktail hour safely with diabetes that help you drink smarter-not harder:

  • Have your blood sugar under control 
  • Inform your friends that you have diabetes 
  • Have some form of Diabetes identification with you 
  • Drink with a meal or carbohydrate containing snack
  • Drink slowly 
  • Continuously monitor your glucose levels: Before, during, and after the meal 
  • Come prepared! Pack a snack in case of low blood sugar4:
    • granola bars with protein, nuts, dried fruit 

How Much to Drink?

According to the American Diabetes Association’s recommendation for adults with diabetes: 

  • Women should have no more than 1 drink per day 
  • Men should have no more than 2 drinks per day4
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Ordering from the Drink Menu: 

Cocktail Favorites:

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1. He X, Rebholz CM, Daya N, Lazo M, Selvin E. Alcohol consumption and incident diabetes: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. Diabetologia. 2019 May;62(5):770-778. 

2. Steiner JL, Crowell KT, Lang CH. Impact of Alcohol on Glycemic Control and Insulin Action. Biomolecules. 2015;5(4):2223-2246.

3. Cryer PE. Glycemic goals in diabetes: trade-off between glycemic control and iatrogenic hypoglycemia. Diabetes. 2017;63(7):2188-2195.

4.Introduction: Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes-2020. Diabetes Care. 2020 Jan;43(Suppl 1):S1-S2. 

5. Diabetes and Alcohol. Diabetes Teaching Center at the University of California website. Accessed September 25, 2020. https://dtc.ucsf.edu/living-with-diabetes/diet-and-nutrition/diabetes-alcohol/