Healthy Eating Misconceptions: Eat This Not That

Many misconceptions are made about healthy eating.  Some common foods are easy to mistake as a healthy option when in reality, they don’t have any nutritional benefits & negatively impact a person’s diet.  Some of the most common misconceptions are revealed below, along with a healthy alternative to replace them with:


Most cereals are solely sugar & carbohydrates. Even though cereals appear to be low in calories, these are empty calories that do not have enough nutrients to sustain the body for a breakfast and will cause cravings throughout the day.  However, if your heart is set on cereal for breakfast, there are other cereal options that have a lower sugar content & contain beneficial nutrients.

As far as milk to accompany your cereal, Dr. Susan Swadener, registered dietitian and professor at Cal Poly, said that fat free milk is better than whole milk (starting after the age of two).  Unsweetened almond milk is another healthy option and it still has the creamy consistency of whole milk.


Eat this: Kashi® GOLEAN® with Unsweetened almond milk, topped with strawberries
 Other cereals
(Photo Credit: Carly Haneke)

  • Replace cereals with: A Kashi cereal such as Kashi® GOLEAN Crunch!®
  • Kashi contains less sugar than other brands and is full of protein, fiber & whole grains to keep you fuller, longer & it is just as tasty as other cereals
  • 1 cup serving size:  Fiber- 10g (40% daily value), Protein- 13g (20% DV), Whole grains- 16g, Sugar- 9g, Cal- 160 (Kashi® GOLEAN® contains even more protein and fiber, but is not quite as flavorful)
  • Try adding your favorite fruit on top of your cereal
  • Also avoid: Granola which is high in fat & sugar, Replace with: Hemp granola with flax

Sauces & Dressings

Many overlook how such a small amount of sauces & dressings are full of fat, sugar & salt. Some examples include: Barbecue sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise, ranch dressing, caesar dressing etc.

My homemade chimichurri with: Olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette, parsley, garlic, and other spices. Recipe coming soon!

Eat this: My homemade chimichurri with Olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette, parsley, garlic, and other spices. Recipe coming soon! Chimichurri is a great marinate for meats
Dipping sauces
(Photo credit: Carly Haneke)

Dr. Swadener said olive oil is beneficial to a person’s diet because it is high in monounsaturated fatty acids which are good fats that aid in digestion.

  • Replace sauces with: Salsa, spices & rubs for flavoring
  • Replace creamy dressings with: Vinaigrette dressings; try to get a natural brand for dressings such as Annie’s or Briannas (some other brands contain high fructose corn syrup)
  • Also avoid: Creamy soups which are high in fat, Replace with: Broth-based vegetable soups

White Bread

White bread is made from refined white flour (where the good parts of the grain: The husk and bran, are removed) it has very little nutrients, such as dietary fiber, that are essential for a stable metabolism.

Trader Joe's loaf of 100% Whole Wheat Pain Pascal, better than any white bread you will ever taste. This is just one option for 100% whole wheat bread (Photo credit: Carly Haneke)

Eat this: Trader Joe’s loaf of 100% Whole Wheat Organic Pain Pascal, better than any white bread you will ever taste. This is just one option for 100% whole wheat bread
Not: White bread
(Photo credit: Carly Haneke)

  • Replace white bread with: 100% Whole Wheat Bread instead which stimulates the metabolism
  • Also avoid: White rice, Replace with: brown rice & white pasta, Replace with: Quinoa pasta or whole wheat pasta

Coffee Drinks 

It is easy to overlook the extent of sugar content in flavored coffee drinks.  Many people, including myself have made the mistake of thinking that just because it’s a liquid, it can’t be that bad for you.  This assumption is incorrect.  After working at a coffee shop for over a year now, I have learned what really goes into these drinks.  Many flavored coffee drinks have a higher amount of sugar than a person is supposed to consume in a full day.

Drink this: Plain Latte
Not: Flavored coffee drink
(Photo credit: Carly Haneke)

  • When ordering: Fat-free does not mean the drink has 0 g of fat, it just means it’s made with skim milk, there can still be fat in the flavorings used; sugar-free uses artificial (cancer-causing) sugar
  • Exercise moderation & customize your drink with a small amount of flavor or skip the sauces, powders & syrups altogether
  • Starbucks nutrition info of Grande Caramel FRAPPUCCINO®: 47.9 g sugar381.8 calories, 14.9 g total fat
  • Starbucks nutrition info of Grande Whole Milk Latte:                     16.0 g sugar, 223.1 calories, 11.5 g total fat
  • Replace flavored coffee drinks with: The pure & simple plain latte with whole milk or almond milk (iced or hot), you can start by adding one pump of your favorite flavor to it, but eventually you will learn to love it just the way it is

Other Misconceptions:

These are just some of the most common misconceptions regarding healthy foods.  Many other misconceptions are made regarding certain foods, certain diets, and how often to eat.  Dr. Swadener brought up misunderstandings about non-dairy & gluten-free diets.

Dairy: Dr. Swadener says, “[Dairy] is a good source of protein, calcium and riboflavin.” Mark Pazell, general manager of the Arroyo Grande Kennedy Club Fitness, emphasizes dairy in moderation.  He warns to monitor your amount of dairy intake because it adds a significant amount of fat to the diet.

Carbohydrates: Dr. Swadener also disproves of gluten-free diets unless necessary: “Eating gluten-free is not good for you unless you have a celiac disease.” Although it’s important to limit your carbohydrate intake, Dr. Scott Reaves says, “Carbohydrates are essential to the diet.” Carbohydrates are an important energy source before an intense workout. Dr. Reaves says, “Since oxygen is limited, more carbohydrate glucose is used.  Carbohydrates are necessary for energy to sustain a workout.” Dr.  Swadener also agreed that “Before [a workout], high carbohydrates is good.  Fat and Protein will slow down digestion [before a workout].”

Determining what’s fact & what’s myth:

 All we can do is to educate ourselves and do our best to follow what we learn along the way.  Dr. Swadener advises to beware of the source when reading or hearing about nutrition: “Look for peer-reviewed articles and evidence based information.” Although it’s important to beware of these misconceptions, there are always alternative options that will satisfy the body more because of their nutrition content.   It is not necessary to completely remove these foods from a person’s diet however, they should be eaten sparingly, for a treat.  As Dr. Susan Swadner said, “Moderation is the key.”

Abundant Food for an Abundant Lifeheart-iconCarly


One thought on “Healthy Eating Misconceptions: Eat This Not That

  1. Pingback: Food Philosophies | Abundant Food for an Abundant Life

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