These days everyone is looking to live a more active, healthier lifestyle. At Coca-Cola, we want to do our part – from providing easy-to-understand calorie information to offering a range of choices, including beverages with or without calories and in varying portion sizes. Like many companies in other industries, we work with health experts to help bring context to the latest facts and science around our products and ingredients. 

From dietitians and nurses to fitness experts and physicians, these health professionals regularly collaborate with us to share practical nutrition education across the country, whether on your local morning show or at a national conference. As partners, they share their own views and perspectives and always disclose this relationship with our company in every communication, article and speaking engagement.

Since nutrition and health are always top of mind, especially as we get into Spring time, we asked three of our health professional partners – Sylvia Meléndez Klinger, MS, RDN, LDN, CPT, Robyn Flipse, MS, RD, and Rani G. Whitfield, MD – to share their greatest tips on well-being and discuss why they think it is important for food and beverage companies to focus on nutrition and wellness.

Q.  Why is it important to work with food and beverage companies on nutrition and wellness topics?  Can you be objective in your perspective?

A. Meléndez Klinger:  “I would say that registered dietitians are the nutrition experts, and companies must seek the advice of experts just like people seek the counsel of a doctor when they are not feeling well. Companies want to be part of the solution to issues like obesity and health and the registered dietitian has the knowledge and expertise to guide companies to make smart decisions about the future of the food industry and to find ways to develop products suitable for a balanced lifestyle.”

Q.  What is the nutrition question you get the most from people? How do you help them through it?

A.  Meléndez Klinger: “Most often people are looking for easy ways to incorporate healthier habits into their lives. First, I tell them to be more mindful of their overall eating habits. Then, I remind them to eat a variety of foods from all food groups – especially fruits and vegetables, stay hydrated during the day, be active, enjoy their favorites [snacks and treats] in moderation and get enough rest.”

Q.  What is a simple and quick snack to power through the afternoon slump?

A.  Whitfield: “One of the most common reasons for an afternoon slump is a fluctuation in blood sugar levels. With my hectic schedule, early mornings and late nights, “the slump” usually hits me around 4pm. To combat this I keep apples and nut butter in the office. One apple with about a tablespoon of nut butter will not only boost my energy levels but also keeps me going until dinner time. The key is being prepared; so I have snacks and flavored waters close by when I need them.”

Q.   Lots of people are looking to manage their weight but can feel overwhelmed at the prospect. What’s the easiest way to kick start this?

A.  Flipse: “The kick start or “ah-ha” moment that triggers the behavior changes toward weight loss is different for everyone. It could be taking a cooking class and discovering you can make great-tasting meals in less than 30 minutes or going to a bowling party and getting the best score. My clients describe their “ah-ha” moment as a sense of relief of finally “getting it” – they understand they aren’t embarking on another fad diet, they are improving their overall quality of life.”

Q.  What is your nutrition philosophy?

A.   Whitfield: “Eating well doesn’t mean you have to forgo the favorite treats and foods you love. Though most of us could use a little nutritional improvement, it doesn’t have to be at the expense of enjoyment. My nutrition philosophy is simple: eat what you love but do so in moderation and balance. Incorporate daily physical activity that you enjoy and you will have the perfect combination.”

Q.  What’s your favorite quick and easy breakfast fix to start the day?

A.  Flipse: “That’s an easy question for me because I never miss breakfast, no matter where I am or what else is going on in my life. Most mornings I have some type of parfait made with non-fat Greek yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese, cut up fresh seasonal fruit or some thawed frozen fruit – cherry-berry blend is my favorite. I also add chopped walnuts or granola for crunch. This is followed by one of my homemade bran muffins (I make 24 at a time and keep them in the freezer) as I sip tea. It’s quick and easy because I always have the ingredients on hand or can find them if away from home.”

Q. Why did you choose to partner with a company like Coca-Cola to help share stories about nutrition and wellness?

A.    Flipse: “Since food plays such a dominant role in the story of our lives, I have valued the opportunity to work with companies like Coca-Cola that provide a diverse selection of food and beverage choices to satisfy our many needs.  It is important that we work together – both the corporate and professional community – to help provide information to consumers on how they can improve their overall wellness.”

Q. What are some nutrition trends on the horizon?

A.  Meléndez Klinger: “Food waste has gained a tremendous amount of attention in recent years. The large amounts of food waste could benefit hunger relief efforts, lower cost for manufacturers and foodservice operations, and, perhaps, help provide balanced meals for disadvantaged populations. I think we will start to see education initiatives to help reduce food waste, generating awareness of how we can all do our part by recycling and planning meals ahead of time.”

Q.  What role do companies have in promoting wellness among their employees?

A.   Whitfield: “Good health is good business and a healthy workforce is a more productive workforce. It’s not only an investment in the company but an investment in the company’s most important asset – the employee!”
 



 


Rani G. Whitfield

Rani G. Whitfield, M.D., is a board certified family physician with a Certificate of Added Qualification in sports medicine. He has become known as “Tha Hip Hop Doc” or “H2D” as he uses hip hop music as a medium to educate youth and young adults on health issues. Dr. Whitfield is a national spokesperson for the American Heart Association, board member for the organization’s Southeastern Affiliates, and a member of the American Stroke Association’s Advisory Committee. Dr. Whitfield serves as a medical consultant for the food and beverage industry and media, including MSNBC, XM radio’s Sway in the Morning, and the Tom Joyner Morning Show to name a few. He is currently in private practice in his native Baton Rouge, LA.
 
 



Robyn Flipse

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, is a registered dietitian and cultural anthropologist with a focus on the societal forces continually shaping eating behavior and food trends. Her 30-year career includes maintaining a busy nutrition counseling practice, teaching food and nutrition courses at the university level, authoring two popular diet books (The Wedding Dress Diet and Fighting the Freshman Fifteen) and numerous articles on diet and health and her high-traffic blog, TheEverydayRD. Today she is multimedia spokesperson and consultant to global food and beverage companies. She lives in Bradley Beach, NJ.
 
 



Sylvia Meléndez Klinger

Sylvia Meléndez Klinger, MS, RDN, LDN, CPT, is registered dietitian and certified personal trainer and the founder of Hispanic Food Communications, a food communications and culinary consulting company. A Hispanic native who is a leading expert in cross-cultural Hispanic nutrition and health, her experience brings a foundation of culinary and cultural expertise and introduces new strategies to maximize exposure among an increasingly health-conscious Hispanic population. Sylvia serves on several boards, including the Midwest American Heart Association, Vive en Forma, and Namaste Charter School. She works with a range of clients, including the food and beverage industry. She calls Chicago home.