These foods pack on the pounds, damage blood vessels, trigger inflammation, and zap energy. It’s no wonder they made the top of my do-not-eat list. Erase these foods from your diet and you’ll do your body a world of good.
Most brands of stick margarine are loaded with trans fat—the toxic fat that increases bad cholesterol, lowers good cholesterol, promotes clotting, and damages blood vessels. And, at 100 calories per tablespoon, this heartbreaker isn’t doing your waistline any good, either. As an alternative to stick margarine, you might use a “soft tub” variety of one of the reduced-calorie, trans fat-free brands. Or, if you prefer the taste, use a small amount of whipped butter (more air means less fat and calories).
One hundred percent of the calories in regular soda come from sugar or high-fructose corn syrup—that’s why I call it “liquid candy.” Sadly, these empty liquid calories are fueling our nation’s obesity epidemic. Drinking soda also damages your teeth and promotes cavity formation—and some studies show cola may weaken your bones. Instead of guzzling soft drinks to quench your thirst, try good old-fashioned water or naturally flavored seltzers (which have the same bubbly pop as soda)!
Whole milk is loaded with saturated fat, the type of fat that raises bad cholesterol levels, promotes inflammation, and may contribute to clogged arteries. Thanks to that extra fat, it’s also higher in calories than lower-fat milk. Do your heart and waistline a favor and switch to skim (fat-free) or 1% low-fat milk—it’s one of the easiest changes you can make for a healthier diet. Skim and low-fat milk minimizes the bad stuff, while still delivering all of the good stuff (protein, calcium, vitamin D, and potassium).
White bread is made with refined wheat flour, which has been stripped of the fiber and nutrients that give whole grains their health benefits. Swapping your loaf of junky white bread for 100% whole wheat is another simple but significant improvement you can make to your diet. Eating three servings of whole grains per day has been linked to lower blood pressure and reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and each slice of 100% whole grain bread contributes one serving to your daily tally.
Breakfast Toaster Pastries
Toaster pastries are one of the absolute worst breakfasts you could choose to start your day. They’re made with junky white flour and tons of added sugars (and, not surprisingly, the fruit flavors have almost zero real fruit). A 2-pack of toaster pastries can flood your system with almost 10 teaspoons of sugar! That’s a sure recipe for a mid-morning energy crash. If you’re looking for a convenient, healthy replacement, try a mini whole wheat pita pocket spread with a thin layer of peanut butter and stuffed with sliced bananas or strawberries.
Up to 80% of the calories in regular hot dogs come from fat, and much of it is the unhealthy saturated type. Regularly eating processed meats like hot dogs has been linked to increased risk of heart disease and colon cancer. Swap out your hot dogs for lean chicken or turkey sausages—you get far less fat and more high-quality protein.