Figuring out how to eat healthy these days can be downright confusing.
One minute it’s, “Eat this, not that!” – only for it to be the exact opposite about two seconds later. Le sigh.
With the science and research around food constantly evolving, it makes sense that new information will pop up from time to time.
However, sometimes that information sticks and it doesn’t always tell the whole story, especially when it comes to healthy food swaps.
So, to cut through all the confusion, we consulted Accredited Practising Dietitian Marika Day to crack down on some long-standing “healthy” food swaps that aren’t as healthy as we’ve been led to believe:
Breakfast Cereal for Granola
We all know Coco-Pops aren’t healthy but granola is often marketed as a healthy alternative to sugary breakfast cereals.
Despite this, many granolas are toasted with oils, fats and sugar, making it not much better than the sugary cereal alternative.
If you are looking for a breakfast cereal, choose a natural untested muesli instead. Or, simply make your own granola without the added fats and sugars!
Muesli Bars for Protein Bars
Many of us know processed muesli bars aren’t the best option and swapping them for protein bars is hyped to be a great choice to help you get lean.
Unfortunately, many protein bars could almost be compared to candy bars with added protein.
Full of sugars, additives and fillers, most protein bars aren not a better choice than a muesli bar.
Baked Goods for Raw treats
It is easy to believe that a raw brownie is better than a baked brownie. And while you aren’t entirely wrong, this swap likely won’t help you lose weight.
Many raw treats are packed with nuts and oil. While they may contain more vitamins and minerals than a baked treat, they also tend to contain more calories.
Coffee for Bulletproof coffee
Think adding MCTs and butter to your coffee makes for a healthy alternative? Think again.
There is no evidence to suggestion bulletproof coffee is healthy for us and diets high in saturated fats are linked with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Many bulletproof coffees can also contain up to 500 calories in a drink – that is almost as much as a Big Mac!
Potato Chips for Sweet Potato Chips
Swapping your potato chippies for sweet potato fries isn’t the healthy swap you might believe it to be. Both sweet potato and regular potato chips are high in fats and calories.
If you are going to eat chips, eat in moderation and just choose your favourite variety, neither is healthier than the other.
Regular Ice Cream for Dairy Free Ice Cream
You would be excused for thinking swapping your Ben and Jerry’s for the dairy free variety is a healthy swap.
Unfortunately, dairy free ice cream still contains large amounts of sugar. Furthermore, many dairy free ice creams can be higher in fat and higher in calories than the dairy equivalent, due to the addition of coconut milk or coconut cream.
Olive Oil for Coconut Oil
While coconut oil has been a health trend for several years, olive oil is still the hero oil.
Coconut oil has been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease while the research for olive oil has remained consistently strong for being cardio-protective.
Pasta for Gluten Free Pasta
Swapping your gluten containing pasta for a gluten free variety might be doing more harm than good. Many gluten free pastas are low in fibre and high GI.
If you need to use a gluten free pasta the new pulse pastas made from lentils and legumes are a great alternative otherwise wholewheat or spelt pasta are great for those that can tolerate gluten.
Marika is an Accredited Practising Dietitian & Nutritionist who completed her Bachelor’s Degree of Health Science majoring in Nutrition at the University of Queensland and went on to complete her Masters Degree in Dietetics. Marika strongly believes in a holistic approach to nutrition. She specialises in nutrition for gut health, in particular Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Marika has extensive experience in nutrition for women’s health including PCOS, Endometriosis and is now also furthering her reach into fertility and pre and post natal nutrition.