Home ยป RD Q&A Vol. 39

RD Q&A Vol. 39

Good morning and TGIF!

For those of you new here or new to RD Q&A’s, this is a forum for readers to ask questions and me to give my personal, Registered Dietitian opinion. If there’s a question you’d love answered, please feel free to leave a comment here or email me: nicole at preventionrd dot com. Thanks so much! And so, here we go!

Callie: I have to have a cup of coffee every morning to start my day. I was looking through some of the recipes on your blog and I like the idea of adding coffee to a smoothie. However, as an everyday cup, what would you suggest? I really need some healthy or low calorie, low sugar add in options besides the typical cream and sugar. I was wondering if you had any suggestions. Maybe almond milk and splenda or agave?

Prevention RD: Great question, Callie! A quick disclaimer that I am an avid dairy taker in my coffee simply because of taste, but I know a lot of people find options they may prefer and that may offer a nutritional edge, such as unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk, or soy milk. Have you tried stevia as a sweetener? It comes in several forms — everything from powders to granular to liquids and the taste is great. Agave and honey are natural sugars, but they are high in calories (the same as sugar, in fact) and simply put, added sugars add up quickly (see the next question for a full explanation on that!). All that said, I take my one cup of coffee per day pretty seriously and I want it to taste….perfect. I’m completely biased in my answer, is what I’m saying 😉 Quality (of taste) over quantity for me, and due to its caffeine content, it’s not a bad thing to limit caffeine and coffee at least somewhat. Drinking less of it by default requires less milk and sweetener, so it’s a win-win (outside of our love for coffee it sounds like) 🙂 But I think almond milk and stevia would be a great place to start!


Christin: I have a question about sugar….I read an article lately that has me checking in on my sugar intake more and I use MyFitnessPal to track food. I was looking at my total nutrition for my food intake yesterday and it shows 100g of sugar. For my half cup of fresh strawberries and half cup of fresh blueberries it’s showing 7g of sugar each. I’m hoping/assuming that THOSE sugars are different than the sugar that is bad for you and makes you fat, right? Can you explain?

Prevention RD: Hi friend 🙂 Okay, good question and I combat sugar myths all the time with my diabetic patients. All carbohydrate is not sugar but all sugar is carbohydrate. When you see “sugar” on a nutrition label, it represents all sugars — natural and artificial/added. It leaves a lot up to the consumer to decide what’s a healthy sugar and what’s not. There’s more solid recommendations for sticking to a certain number of ADDED sugar grams each day, but for people who want to increase their intake of fruits (high in fructose – a natural sugar), dairy (high in lactose – a natural sugar), and vegetables, even, adding up sugar grams can be discouraging. I’m of the opinion that at least 95% of Americans probably need to be eating more fruits and vegetables and putting any type of barrier up to hinder that is more harmful than helpful. To give a ballpark figure on grams of added sugar (which would come for discretionary calories in the diet), I would recommend no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day for women and about 37 grams for men. Even some “natural” sugars should be accounted for in these totals (honey, syrup, etc.), as well as  soda, sugar itself, sweetened products, candies, sweets, etc. These added sugars are also what I refer to as “simple carbohydrates” (foods without fiber, in the simplest of terms) — they tend to quickly elevate glucose levels in the body, provide little to no satiety, and can leave individuals simply wanting more. They can also cause havoc with blood triglyceride levels which is another reason to use them in moderation. For some tangible advice with My Fitness Pal, try looking at the percentage of your calories coming from carbohydrate. For individuals who are not extremely active, weight loss may be best achieved when this percentage is closer to 45-50% of the total daily calories versus the higher end of the range which expands up to 65%. Include more healthy fats and lean proteins to strike that balance between carbohydrate, protein, and fat that can be super helpful in weight loss. Hope that helps!


Amy from No Excuses Health: I have just recently started a blog and was wondering how you got started blogging? I was wondering how you have come so far with your blog? I often feel really frustrated when I stumble upon a health blog written by someone who isn’t a dietitian, selling nutrition plans and wonder, “What can I offer someone as a dietitian, that is unique to what is already being offered?”, “What will separate me from all of these other nutrition blogs?” How do you face issues like these?

Prevention RD: I got started blogging because I was bored — no joke! In 2009 when I became an RD, the economy was in the pits and Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I lived at the time, had a very saturated market. I was so passionate about being an RD, blogging was the only thing I could think to do that would be productive and use my expertise. Fast forward nearly 5 years, and here I am. My blog has morphed from a “hot topics in nutrition” blog to a cooking and recipe blog where I seem to not bore people with the most trivial of details regarding my life. 😛

Blogging takes a lot of time and commitment…mostly time. Growing my blog was very time consuming and it was something I continued to do when it seemed like no one was reading, commenting, etc. Back in 2009/2010 (maybe even 2011), I read and commented on HUNDREDS of blogs each and every day. I formed a blog social circle and some of those bloggers I’m still in touch with today…some I’ve met in real life! I used to be ashamed and embarrassed to explain I was a food blogger, but now, I say it proudly! I am far, far from a huge blog, but I find that because I’m an RD and because I stay true to myself on my site, many of my readers have been reading for YEARS. Loyally. It’s so flattering.

There’s nothing you can do about the “non-experts” out there — just do your thing. What you can offer that will set you apart is YOU! And honestly, the type of reader you probably want to have come, read, and stay, is a reader that isn’t channel surfing infomercials and Dr. Oz for the next quick fix. For reasons like this, I have this RD Q&A series where I basically offer my RD opinion on topics readers want to know about.

I think another thing you can do is share about yourself. My husband swears I over-share, but you know, details are what let readers in to MY life. People want that. Even my boring, pathetic, lame life…they want to know I’m real. I’m sharing sound, practical nutrition advise, recipes, and a whole lot about me. Just don’t underestimate what little tidbits people will want to know. And that rapport with readers will come.


The in-laws are heading this way — excited to see them!

Be well,


Share With Your Friends!


  1. Rachel @ Fairietale Designs
    March 7, 2014 / 7:06 am

    I love reading your Q&A posts…I always learn something! Thanks so much for sharing such great information. Now if I could just shake my (rather large) artificial sweetener addiction! I’ve tried Stevia and it works great in my yogurt and oatmeal, but I still have to have those two little pink packets in my morning coffee!

    • Nicole, RD
      March 7, 2014 / 7:13 am

      Thanks, Rachel! It is tough, those sugar substitutes! Thanks for reading and I hope to post these more often – just need reader questions ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a super weekend!

  2. Brandi
    March 7, 2014 / 9:02 am


    I love your answers to these questions and that you make things applicable to daily life and easy to understand! I got your cookbook for my birthday and I LOVE it! I appreciate your outlook on balancing “good” and “bad” food as I have many friends that try to cut certain food groups out and then are back to eating poorly a few days later! (I too admit that there are days it is definitely harder to find that balance!) I check your blog daily and look forward to your funny stories and great recipes, I just am bad about commenting after I have tried them! Thanks for your continued hard work and dedication to your readers :)!

  3. Biz
    March 7, 2014 / 12:11 pm

    Yep, blogging takes time, but I view it as a living diary my future grandchildren can read someday. I wonder if they laugh that I use the word “amazeballs” all the time and use lots of exclamation points! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Sadly, the only way to get your blog “out there” is to leave comments. I had one of my blog readers start a blog in January and she’s upset that she gets hardly any traffic – she thought she’d be able to start a blog and people would magically find it. ๐Ÿ™

    Hope you are feeling better!

  4. Mary @ flavorrd
    March 7, 2014 / 12:25 pm

    Great questions, great answers!

    On the blogging front, I’ll agree that it just takes TIME to build up a site, and there’s no way around that. My blog is still quite new, so it’s growing very very slowly… but when I put in the effort, I can perceive even the gradual growth and it is encouraging! Since I love doing it anyway, I don’t have any problem being patient. Just remember that the internet is a HUGE place and our little tendrils can only spread one link at a time!

  5. Joanne
    March 8, 2014 / 7:41 am

    These were some great questions! Especially the one about the added sugar versus natural sugars! I know I’ve wondered about that on occasion.

  6. Michelle Remkus
    March 8, 2014 / 3:17 pm

    Love you blog post tips! I’m a newbie in this blogging world and there is just so much to learn. All the tips and advice from experienced RDs like you are helpful. THANKS!

    • Nicole, RD
      March 8, 2014 / 7:23 pm

      Thanks, Michelle! Love your blog!!

  7. Lizzie
    March 18, 2014 / 11:42 am

    I love these posts. You are a great teacher and writer! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Pingback: Q&A (vol. 40)

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