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Misconceptions about health foods


Many people resolve to improve their health each new year. Maybe it’s to lose weight, exercise more, or to drink more water. We start off the year with the best of intentions, but could that effort be in vain? Many health products out there aren’t as healthy as we think they are. Before you resolve to dump out your entire pantry and fridge make sure you know what foods to swap it with.

Flavored Water: If you are cutting out soda pop for the new year and increasing your water intake that’s a great step in the right direction. But, beware of the flavored waters. Some can contain as much sugar as that can of pop you ditched. Stick with plain water, and if you really want to add something to it, look for a naturally flavored sparkling water.

Gluten Free: Naturally gluten free items are great, like fruits, nuts and vegetables. But when you get an item that normally contained gluten and had to be altered to make it gluten free it isn’t always the healthiest choice. To perfect the taste, many of these items are loaded with sugar and other chemicals. If you are going gluten free stick to foods that never contained gluten in the first place, or carefully select items that you have reviewed the ingredients for.

Fat Free: Fat isn’t making us fat. There is no need to be afraid of healthy fats, in moderation. It’s a better choice to pick the butter than the chemically altered margarine or other alternatives. Many fat free items are also overloaded with sugar. When you remove the fat something needs to be added back to make it tasty and that’s usually sugar. When you have the choice to pick a whole food item with its fat, choose that over the fat free version.

Low Calorie: 100-Calorie packs are a handy snack to grab on the go. It’s great to know it’s already pre-portioned but many of the options are empty calories of simple carbs and sugars. A better way to control your portion size is to grab small packs of fruits like sliced apples or some veggie sticks. If you want your favorite treat in a small package like this just know it’s a treat and not a healthy snack.

Sugar Swaps: Eating less sugar is a great resolution. But don’t swap one for the other. If you are lowering your sugar consumption, study up on all of the sugar alternatives. Brown sugar, agave, honey, barley malt, etc. are all common sugar swaps. While these are better options than white sugar, keep in mind it’s still not a healthy item and to use it in moderation as a treat.

With all of the marketing going on in the grocery store it can be confusing and tricky to find healthy items. The key to making your health resolution stick is to go at it in small steps. Start with one food group you want to change and focus on that until it’s habit. Once you have mastered that move on to the next food group. Cheers to 2017, make it a happy and healthy one.

Emily Countryman is a board certified health coach and owner of Ideal Wellness located at 2639 172nd St. NE Suite 104 in Smokey Point/Marysville She can be reached online at


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