Shopping the local natural foods store for the healthiest choices for you and your family? Here are some often-made dietary pitfalls to avoid.
Go slow on soy milk.
"Soy milk is a good product for those who can't or don't want to drink cow's milk," says Susan Cukiernik, a registered dietitian who maintains a private practice in Manhattan and is currently working on a book about changing one's relationship with food, "but people shouldn't make it their only source of soy." Fortified soy milk is high in vitamin B and protein, but it can also be overly processed and contain a considerable amount of carbohydrates. Cukiernik recommends getting the goodness of soy plus the benefits of fiber by eating edamame, the green soybeans that are available in pods at most natural foods stores.
Don't overdo the juice.
Fruit and vegetable juices can supplement, but should never substitute for, whole fruits and vegetables. Juices do contain antioxidants, but they can also contain more sugar and calories because they are more concentrated, and they provide less fiber than their whole counterparts.
Beware of marketing hype and misleading labeling.
Don't be persuaded to buy something simply because the name sounds healthier. Spinach fettuccine, for example, is just regular fettuccine with a negligible amount of spinach added for color.
Skip the nondairy creamer.
"Many people think that nondairy creamer is a healthier addition to coffee than milk, but this just isn't the case," Cukiernik says. "In fact, nondairy creamer is very high in saturated fat because its 'dairy substitute' is coconut oil." Instead, Cukiernik recommends using evaporated milk, which doesn't have the additives and chemical content of nondairy creamer.
Don't get blinded by "organic."
"There is a tendency to equate 'organic' with 'healthiest,' and this isn't always correct," advises Cukiernik. So keep in mind that organic doesn't mean low in calories, low in fat, or low in sodium. Be a vigilant label-checker.