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Hooked On Sugar

Today, the average American consumes more than 130 pounds of sugar each year, which your body isn’t designed to handle,” says Dan DeFigio, author of Beating Sugar Addiction For Dummies®. Though most people recognize the junk-food quality of obvious high-sugar foods like candy and ice cream, many unhealthy items are available in the stores that you may erroneously think of as healthier alternatives.”

Here are but a few:

diet soda

Diet sodas are sugar-free and calorie-free, so they must be a healthier alternative to sugared, “original” soft drinks, right? Wrong. Diet drinks are artificially sweetened with aspartame (NutraSweet), a chemical that causes brain damage and increases appetite. The type of caramel coloring used in many diet sodas is a carcinogen, and the phosphoric acid in sodas leeches calcium out of your bones, contributing to osteoporosis. Yikes!

frozen entrées

Because today’s brands of health-conscious entrées are low in fat and calories, many dieters believe that they’re making a smart decision by eating these handy products. A quick look at the ingredients list shows that this isn’t the case. For example, a glazed chicken entrée from the most popular line of “healthy” frozen foods contains high-fructose corn syrup, several preservatives, salt, artificial caramel color, partially hydrogenated oil (trans fats), sugar, and maltodextrin (more sugar). None of those things are going to win a healthy ingredient contest anytime soon!

bacon

Sorry, bacon lovers. Though a high-protein breakfast is desirable, you can find much healthier protein sources than bacon. Conventional bacon is made from feedlot hogs and is usually loaded with nitrites and other preservatives, sugars, artificial smoke flavoring, chemical coloring, and MSG. Ounce for ounce, bacon is mostly fat and chemicals. Did your appetite survive that description?

microwave popcorn

You may consider popcorn to be a low-calorie, high-fiber snack, but microwave popcorn isn’t a healthy choice. When microwaved, popcorn bags leak perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and other plastic residues into your food. PFOA has been linked to infertility, thyroid disease, and a host of other endocrine disorders. “Aside from the packaging, commercial microwave popcorn typically contains harmful trans fats, preservatives, artificial colors, sugar, chemical sweeteners, and other ‘flavor enhancers’ like MSG,” warns DeFigio. “Read the ingredients once and you’ll never touch a bag again.

fruit juice and juice drinks

Even though fruit juice is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, even 100 percent juice contains too much sugar to be a good choice for those who are trying to limit their sugar intake. Excess fructose (fruit sugar) causes body fat accumulation, increased appetite, liver disease, and elevated cholesterol and triglycerides.

“When you come across any of these foods in the grocery store, keep walking!” DeFigio concludes. “You can’t eat what you don’t have. And remember to make small, sustainable changes instead of trying to overhaul your eating habits overnight. The good news is, a basic knowledge of good nutrition and where to find it can have a huge impact on your well-being and health, now and in the future.”