15 Foods That You Should Start Eating Less Of ASAP

Before you grocery shop or order takeout, here are some foods that you probably should eat less of.

Food & Drink

Yeah. I'm not sure if this is gonna be your favorite read of all time, but what I can assure you is it can help to elevate your health if you take what I'm about to share to heart. The reality is, a lot of us spend a ton of time consuming foods that, while they may not top of the list of the worst foods on the planet, they aren't really the best things for our systems either.

Today, I'm going to share 15 'of em. Even if you decide to keep adding them to your grocery list, my hope is that you'll at least do so a little less. You ready?

1. Bottled Smoothies


Canned fruit. Cantaloupe. Watermelon. Nectarines. Fruit that doesn't have any pulp in them. Guess what all of these fruits have in common—they are low in fiber and oftentimes are "filler fruits" when it comes to the bottled smoothies that you often see at your local grocery store. Aside from that, ready-made bottles smoothies are oftentimes also packed with sugar (that raises your blood sugar) and preservatives (which can weaken heart tissues and oftentimes contain cancer-causing additives). So, if you're a fan of smoothies in the morning, your best bet would be to wake up 20 minutes earlier and make one yourself. That way, you'll know exactly what is going into them.

2. Energy Drinks 

I know a guy who is a body builder and a most-of-the-time vegetarian. But man, pretty much every time that I see him, he's got an energy drink in his hand. That's so not good because they contain a ton of caffeine and sugar. That makes them the ultimate stimulant, yes, but they can also significantly increase your heart rate, trigger feelings of anxiety and make it really hard to either go to sleep or stay asleep at night. If energy is something that you struggle with, adding Vitamin B12 to your daily regimen and eating foods like bananas, apples, sweet potatoes, salmon and brown rice are much healthier ways to get what you're looking for.

3. Wheat Bread


Bread is a carb and it's pretty common for carbs to consist of sugar and refined white flour. If you eat too much of them, you have the potential of triggering heart disease, diabetes and definitely obesity. Does this mean you can never enjoy a sandwich? No. Moderation is key. But do make sure that if wheat bread is your thing that you settle for nothing less than the brands that list 100 percent whole wheat bread as the first ingredient on its label. That way, you'll know you're not consuming empty calories only.

4. Fettuccine Alfredo 

I already know that some of y'all are rolling your eyes at this one. The thing to keep in mind is that alfredo sauce has tons of cream and butter in it. Then when you throw the "fun carb" known as pasta into the mix—well, you're almost begging to have cholesterol issues at some point.

An alternative is to make your own sauce (you can check out a recipe that doesn't have cream cheese in it here) or you can swap out pasta noodles for zucchini ones. I've done it before and zucchini noodles are absolutely delicious (you can check out a recipe here)!

5. Cheesecake


Definitely one of my favorite desserts to make and eat is cheesecake. Not that non-bake kind either. I'm talking about the kind where the ingredients have to go into a springform pan and bake in the oven for a while (whew!). Yeah, cheesecake is great. It still makes this list, though. Between the cream cheese and sugar, there is plenty of sodium and fat to go around which can easily equate to somewhere between 400-800 calories a slice. If you've got a random taste for one, maybe just crumble up a graham cracker and put some cheesecake-flavored yogurt on top. It's nowhere near the real thing, but it should take a bit of the edge off.

6. Splenda (and Other Artificial Sweeteners)

Yes, artificial sweeteners contain less calories than sugar, but it can be at a pretty high price. Things like aspartame, saccharin, sucralose (which Splenda has a good amount of) and sugar alcohol can trigger headaches, digestive problems and food cravings. Unfortunately, long-term use of artificial sweeteners is linked to cancer too. So, if you want to sweeten your food without the use of sugar, some alternatives to consider include honey, coconut sugar, monk fruit extracts, date paste and molasses.

7. Chinese Food


Who doesn't like Chinese food? I mean, really. The main issue with it is that the sodium levels of most signature dishes is totally off of the charts! For instance, I once read that a plate of stir-fried greens has a whopping 900 calories and well over 2,000 grams of sodium (geeze). Too much sodium can lead to hypertension, and since heart disease, strokes and hypertension are some of the top 10 leading causes of death for us, well…you can see why ordering Chinese needs to be done more sparingly than most of us typically do it (and why you might want to purchase a wok and make some stir fry at home).

8. Refried Beans 

Ain't nothin' like some refried beans and rice, right? While beans are pretty good for you (they are loaded with protein, iron, potassium, magnesium and fiber), when you bring lard into the mix, that makes a lot of that close to being irrelevant. Lard is loaded with saturated fat and too much of that can lead to heart disease, high cholesterol and diabetes. If you must, make your own refried beans (there's a delicious black bean recipe here) or look for the low-sodium vegetarian kind. It's better for you and, when you season it right, it almost tastes the same.

9. Meatloaf


Homemade meatloaf is a staple in a lot of homes, but between the beef, breadcrumbs and salt, it's another kind of food that can wreak absolute havoc if you don't eat it in moderation. Beef is high in saturated and trans fat. Breadcrumbs contain off-the-chart levels of corn syrup and sodium. And salt is loaded with sodium.

One way to get around all of this (at least a little bit) is to substitute the beef for turkey. Turkey is significantly learner than beef is. Oh, and crushed oats or crackers is a cool alternative for breadcrumbs (the oats more than the crackers, by the way).

10. Mayonnaise

Personally, I'm not the biggest fan of mayonnaise, so it's no hair off of my back here. But if you adore it with every fiber of your being, there are a few things you should know. One, mayonnaise is chock-full of sugar, sodium and preservatives. Two, a lot of nutritionists consider it to be the unhealthiest condiment there is. Three, have you ever wondered why, even though mayonnaise has eggs in it, the eggs never separate in its container? Eww. You'd be much better off making some of your own with the help of Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard and white vinegar. If you want to learn how, check out this recipe here.

11. Protein Bars


Are you in a rush and you want to grab something to snack on real quick? Got it. Just make sure that it's not a protein bar. Why is a protein bar not the best solution? Let me count the ways. It's got sugar. It's got preservatives. Many of them have the artificial color of caramel. It's pretty common for protein bars to have polysorbate 60 (an emulsifier that can produce all kinds of toxic compounds in your system) too. Not to mention that brands like the Nutramino Coconut Protein Bar is equal to the caloric count of a freakin' Big Mac (what in the world?!). So, are all protein bars created equal? Eh. Not totally. The key is to make sure that sugar isn't the first ingredient on the label, there are more than 10 grams of protein listed and, there are no sugar alcohols in them like xylitol, sorbitol, isomalt and glycerol; all of those are considered to be artificial sweeteners, and we already discussed why those are absolute no-nos when it comes to your health.

12. Applesauce 

This one probably seems blasphemous, right? Here's the deal—a lot of applesauce has high fructose corn syrup in it. If you don't know why that's not a good thing, high fructose corn syrup is an artificial sweetener, made from corn syrup that 1) puts way too much sugar into your system, 2) increases your risk of being diagnosed with fatty liver disease, and 3) is linked to diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

So, are there any healthy applesauce brands out in the world? A few. Epicurious did us all a solid and published "The Best Applesauce You Can Buy at the Store" that features 28 different kinds for your perusing pleasure. Or again, you can always go the DIY route (there's a recipe for that here).

13. Taco Bowl


Meat. Rice. Sour cream. A fried tortilla. Other stuff. All of this explains why taco bowls (no matter how delicious they may be) are loaded with calories, sodium and fat. If you want to take the health risks down a notch, either have the meat without the fried tortilla (consider an unfried one instead) or go without the meat. Either way, this is something that you definitely shouldn't have 2-3 days a week on your lunch break. So, when you order (or make) one, just remember to act like it's a treat rather than a staple.

14. Instant Oatmeal 

If you first looked at this one and said to yourself, "I thought that oatmeal was good for me", you'd be right. Oatmeal is a gluten-free grain that has all kinds of vitamins, minerals and fiber in it. Oatmeal is also dope because it can lower your cholesterol levels and help to keep heart disease at bay. The problem with instant oatmeal is 1) it's got preservatives in it and 2) it usually contains hydrogenated soybean oil too. What's wrong with that type of oil? For one thing, it has trans fatty acids that can increase your risk of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. Also, soybeans contain phytoestrogens (a plant-based form of estrogen). Too much of that can throw your hormone levels all the way off. Yeah, make your own oatmeal instead.

15. Bottled Water


Thankfully, bottled water is more regulated by the FDA than it used to be. Still, something that many bottled water brands contain is BPA (Bisphenol-A). The problem with BPA is it can disrupt your hormones in a way that can cause all sorts of drama. It can alter your hormones, increase the risk of cancer and have possible effects on the brain, especially when it comes to young children. In order to avoid all of this, it's probably best to put a filter on your faucet and purchase a BPA-free bottle to put the water in. That way, you can drink up with absolutely no worries. Enjoy!

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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