Editor's note: Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor and a Democratic strategist, is vice chairwoman for voter registration and participation at the Democratic National Committee. She is a nationally syndicated columnist, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and author of "Cooking With Grease: Stirring the Pots in America." She was manager for the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign in 2000. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
It's been a long time. A very long time. But I cannot forget my first school lunch.
Call it free or call it charity, but it was a good meal that provided me, and so many others, with sustenance that made our school days more delightful. Our meals honored the traditions of the time - red beans and rice with smoked sausage, bread and perhaps dessert. And of course every Friday we had fish sticks, potato salad or French fries.
We've come a long way since then. Today, most public school children get perfectly balanced meals. School chefs use food selected to provide maximum nutrition, food that will enhance a student's well-being and learning abilities. Their standards come from federal nutrition experts in the U.S. Department of Agriculture who survey what important foods are missing from children's diets.
Most people choose artificially-sweetened soda over regular soda to avoid packing on extra pounds. But what if you already choose diet? Would it be helpful to quit that too?
Dr. Jim Hill says he gets this question all the time from patients in his weight loss program at the University of Colorado's Anschutz Health and Wellness Center.
With funding from the American Beverage Association, Hill helped design a study that divided approximately 300 adults into two groups: One group would continue drinking diet, and the other group - referred to in the study as the "water group" - would go cold turkey. The study was published in the journal Obesity.
Both participant groups received intensive coaching on successful techniques for weight loss, including regular feedback on the meals they logged in journals.
"The results, to us, were not at all surprising," says Hill.
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