Five Junk Foods and Drinks you seriously need to cut back on

Here are a few more great health related tips from Yahoo! Health. – top junks  to cut back  on:

Kiddie cereal

Whether sitting down with a bowl heaped full of Lucky Charms keeps warm, fuzzy childhood memories alive for you or is your way of getting back at your mother for banning sugared cereals when you are a kid, you’re well aware it’s time for your breakfast (or dinner or midnight indulgence) to grow up. At least a little.

“Gobbling a bowl of sugary cereal can cause your blood sugar to spike and then crash, leaving you feeling irritable or tired,” says nutritionist, author, and “TODAY” show contributor Joy Bauer. “Plus, sugary cereals are typically low in fiber and not very filling, which means they’re easy to overeat. Not a great way to start off your day!”

If you love them, Bauer suggests you enjoy a small bowl for dessert instead of breakfast. Then choose healthier cereals for your morning meal that have a whole grain as the first ingredient, have no more than eight grams of sugar per serving, and have at least three grams of fiber in each serving.

Bauer recommends thoroughly reading the label for nutritional information and that most women stick to one serving of cereal, typically one cup, and that men and very active women eat no more than two.

Energy Bars

Energy bars are a convenient snack and can help fuel you through a long workout. But under the guise of being healthy, many people take their energy bar eating too far.

“People shouldn’t use energy bars as a meal replacement unless you really have no other option,” says Joanna Sayago Golub, a senior editor at Runner’s World who covers nutrition and weight-loss issues. “In most cases, energy bars don’t provide enough calories for a full meal (especially if you’re very active and exercise a lot), and they certainly don’t provide a complete range of nutrients, meaning you may be getting too much of one type of vitamin or mineral while not enough of others.”

Energy bars also are not a good pre-workout snack, she notes, unless you plan to exercise for more than an hour. Golub says it’s best to cut back gradually until you’re only grabbing a bar as a snack occasionally.

How can you power up your work day or workout without depending on energy bars?

“The benefit of energy bars is that they’re convenient, so if you make other healthier choices just as convenient you won’t be as tempted to reach for the energy bar. So start stocking up on healthier snacks, and keep them in convenient locations—your office fridge, desk drawer, your car, or your gym bag,” Golub advises.

Minimally processed whole foods (think fruits, nuts, and whole grains) are always a healthier option than an energy bar, and a half of a turkey sandwich, carrots and hummus, or a banana with peanut butter are better sources of fuel no matter how active you are, she says.

Fake sugar

How easy it is to become a slave to the pink and the blue (and the yellow and the white). But even if you’re careful not to put too many packets in coffee or tea, many people are still consuming large quantities of artificial sweetener that’s stashed in products like chewing gum, canned goods, breads, ice cream, and soft drinks.

“I typically advise no more than two artificially sweetened items per day,” Bauer says, “and each packet of sweetener counts as one item.”

Bauer’s tip to cut back on Equal, Splenda, and other sweeteners might seem radical to those who’ve had the habit for a long time, but she says it’s effective.

“If you feel like your sweet tooth is out of control, I recommend cutting all sugar—real and artificial—out of your diet for one week. It may sound really difficult, but many people who try this strategy tell me they feel so much better without artificial sweeteners in their diet. In fact, many decide to cut out artificial sweeteners permanently,” Bauer reports.

If you still need to cater to your cravings, Dulan says it’s wiser to choose a natural sweetener like honey and stick to the rule that if you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t put it in your mouth.


We know, we know. This is the one you really don’t want to hear. Going completely caffeine-free can be a painful process, but depending too much on coffee for energy can also mean you’re not getting nearly enough nutrient-rich foods in your body. All the good stuff you add to your coffee — cream, sugar, gobs of caramel — carry a lot of calories and can erase the work you’ve done at the gym in a few sips.

The happy medium, Dulan says, is to drink no more than two cups of coffee per day. She suggests slowly reducing your intake by a single cup each week until you get to that healthier place.

Hydrating with a few extra glasses of water a day will help get you over the hump. Forberg also notes that you can replace coffee with black tea made creamier with lowfat or nonfat milk, or green tea, which will naturally kick up your metabolism.

Diet soda

You might think that your diet drink is saving you calories, but it might actually be costing you more.

“Recent research suggests that diet soda may cause more food cravings,” says professional sports nutritionist and author Mitzi Dulan, who recommends to all of her clients that they quit drinking all types of soda.

Although kicking the can habit can be hard, it is not impossible. Cheryl Forberg, a registered dietitian and nutritionist for “The Biggest Loser,” says most of her clients find it easier to subsist on less soda if they don’t ignore the craving altogether. Forberg’s tip? Replace diet cola with carbonated water flavored with a splash of fruit juice.

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