By JD Rinne, SELF
Extend your organizational tear into the kitchen and kick these items -- full of salt, sugar, fat and other unhealthy stuff -- to the curb.
Photo credit: Bruce Buck
Cereal: "Most cereals are made from refined gluten and contain sugar or syrup," says Christian Henderson, RD of Pure Nutrition, none of which provide a healthy start to the day. Henderson suggests checking the label and avoiding cereals with these ingredients or choosing puffed millet or kamut instead.
Bottled Salad Dressings: So many of these lunchtime favorites are filled with sugar, salt and artificial ingredients that they simply aren't worth the calories, says Carolyn Brown, nutritionist at Food Trainers in NYC. Plus, dressing is so easy (and cheap!) to DIY. All you need is good olive oil, lemon and salt and pepper, or any vinegar of your choosing (red wine, balsamic, you name it).
Couscous: Brown says this semonlina-based pantry staple is "basically a fancy-sounding white carb." Although it sounds good on paper (no fat, saturated fat or sugar in a serving), couscous doesn't have much else to give you a nice hit of nutrition. Go with quinoa, packed with protein, instead.
Veggie Burgers With Soy: Henderson says that most of the veggie burgers on the market are made from processed versions of soy, which she says can be genetically modified and highly allergenic. Check the label on your favorite brand -- two non-soy versions Henderson likes are Sunshine Burgers or Hilary's.
"Diet" Foods: Brown's mantra? All things faux have to go. That means you should take a closer look at the ingredient list of products labeled "diet," low-fat, low-sugar and low-calorie -- often these elements were replaced by something nastier (hello, trans fats). Don't recognize something on the label? Throw it out.
And Check Your Dairy: While no-fat dairy products can be a good choice for those looking to shed pounds, the fat in staples like yogurt and milk is essential to Vitamin D assimilation, which helps build strong bones, says Brown. Also watch out for artificial ingredients in flavored yogurts, which can be acidic to the body, says Henderson.