15 Top Swaps

1 Pizza

Eat This
2 slices Domino’s large cheese pizza
360 calories
19 g fat

In the world of mass-produced pizza, nothing beats Domino’s crunchy thin-crust pie. This is how Italians meant for pizza to be eaten—with a crackling crisp crust and balanced cheese and sauce.

Not That
2 slices Pizza Hut large cheese pizza
560 calories
24 g fat

The average guy will consume 46 slices of pizza this year, so save yourself nearly 5,000 calories by opting for the Domino's slices.

2 Turkey Sandwich

Eat This
Subway 6-inch Turkey Sub
330 calories
8.5 g fat

A Subway 6-incher not enough to quell your raging lunchtime hunger? Double up on meat for just 50 calories more.

Not That
Panera Sierra Turkey
840 calories
40 g fat

Don’t sweat the meat in the sandwich: turkey, roast beef, and ham are all lean cuts. But Panera slathers its turkey with a thick layer of chipotle mayo and slides it into a heavy, oily wedge of foccacia, so that turkey is a porker.

3 Tuna Melt

Eat This
Einstein Brothers Tuna Salad Deli Melt
610 calories
36 g fat

Einstein Brothers' tuna melt clocks in just over 600 calories, with a respectable 40 grams of protein.

Not That
Quiznos Regular Tuna Melt
1420 calories
118 g fat

Tuna melt—with mayo and cheese—is often a deli disaster area. They dish it up with an ice-cream scoop! But Quiznos has outdone itself: It has produced the worst sandwich in America. Eat this and you are the whopper.

4 Burrito

Eat This
Taco Bell Regular Style Steak Burrito Supreme
390 calories
14 g fat

Share half of your Chipotle burrito or swap in Taco Bell's leaner Burrito Supreme. (If you must, add a taco—you'll still save more than 450 calories.)

Not That
Chipotle Steak Burrito
1,033 calories
40 g fat

Chipotle uses terrific fresh ingredients, but until the chain downsizes its football-size burritos, it will still give you a linebacker's gut.

5 Caesar Salad

Eat This
Panera Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
560 calories
34 g fat

Round out your meal with a 90-calorie cup of Garden Vegetable soup.

Not That
Chili’s Chicken Caesar Salad
1,010 calories
76 g fat

In the wrong hands, a Caesar salad can be murder. At Chili's, the innocent pile of romaine is swallowed up by a perfect storm of dressing, Parmesan cheese, and croutons, making this unnatural disaster one of the unhealthiest salads in America.

6 Breakfast Sandwich

Eat This
McDonald’s Egg McMuffin
300 calories
12 g fat

Eighteen grams of protein make this a surprisingly sound beginning to your day. In the nutritional hierarchy of breakfast breads, English muffins beat bagels and croissants every time.

Not That
Starbucks Classic Sausage, Egg, and Aged Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich
460 calories
25 g fat

As for meats, bacon tops sausage, and ham trounces them both. Replace the sausage with ham and you could save up to 500 calories a week from breakfasts alone. Case in point: Starbucks has a ham version of this sandwich that weighs in at 380 calories.

7 Cinnamon Roll

Eat This
Au Bon Pain Cinnamon Roll
350 calories
21 g sugars

Right. There's absolutely no nutritional value in a cinnamon roll. But when you just have to have one, take comfort in knowing that Au Bon Pain's sweet spiral more than halves the calories and sugar found in the Cinnabon catastrophe.

Not That
Cinnabon Classic Cinnamon Roll
813 calories
55 g sugars

8 Doughnuts

Eat This
Dunkin' Donuts Glazed Donut
230 calories
10 g fat
12 g sugars

Both are cloaked in sugar, but Dunkin's original doughnuts are light and airy because they’re made with yeast.

Not That
Dunkin’ Donuts Glazed Cake Donut
330 calories
18 g fat
18 g sugars

Cake donuts are heavy and dense because they’re made with cake batter. Remember: Cake is not a breakfast food.

9 Banana Split

Eat This
Dairy Queen Classic Banana Split
530 calories
14 g fat

Ditch the Baskin-Robbins bomb in favor of the scaled-down version from Dairy Queen and spend the 500 calories you saved on another sundae (next week).

Not That
Baskin-Robbins Banana Split
1,030 calories
39 g fat

With more sugar than four Snickers bars, it'll make your energy levels soar then plummet.

10 Milkshake

Eat This
Wendy's Small Original Chocolate Frosty
330 calories
42 g sugars

The choice here is simple: Both choco-blasts are the same size and taste the same,but Wendy’s cuts a third of the calories and sugar. Go for the pigtails on this one.

Not That
McDonald's 12 oz Triple Thick Chocolate Shake
440 calories
63 g sugars

11 Chicken Meal

Eat This
Boston Market chicken meal
300 calories
17 g fat

Boston Market slow-roasts its birds on a spit, so they're naturally juicy (but not oil-saturated) with a great balance of fat and protein. Add sides of garlic-dill new potatoes and green-bean casserole for a meal you can savor now and not suffer from later.

Not That
KFC Original Recipe chicken meal
460 calories
32 g fat

There's no secret recipe here, just a fryer full of bubbling oil and a breaded, grease-infused two-piece combo that adds 160 calories and 15 grams of fat.

12 Beer

Eat This
Guinness Draught
126 calories
10 g carbohydrates

Surprised? Most people think of Guinness as a beer milkshake: dark, thick, and rich enough to inspire guilt along with the intense pleasure. But a 12-ounce mug is as low in calories as many insipid light beers, and it can save you up to 75 calories over other full-flavored brews like Sierra Nevada.

Not That
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
175 calories
14 g carbohydrates

Drink a six-pack of this a week and you'll gain more than 4 pounds this year.

13 Fruit Smoothie

Eat This
Jamba Juice Power Mega Mango Smoothie
420 calories
97 g sugars

The Jamba version is 100 percent fruit, so there's a huge caloric discount and big antioxidant payload. Save 300 calories and 45 grams of sugar!

Not That
Dunkin’ Donuts Large Tropical Fruit Smoothie
720 calories
142 g sugars

This sickeningly sweet concoction from Dunkin' has an ingredient list straight out of a chem lab and more sugar than seven Haagen-Dazs vanilla-and-almond ice-cream bars. So this tropical excursion will be bad for your equator.

14 Cheeseburger
Eat This!
McDonald’s Big Mac
540 calories
29 g fat

In the battle of the iconic American megaburgers, the McDonald’s triplex is the surprising victor. But don’t take this as an all-you-can-eat Big Mac pass: If you add a medium order of fries and a Coke, your lunch just grew to 1,130 calories—supersize you.

Not That!
Burger King Whopper
760 calories
47 g fat

BK’s burger barons have a heavy hand with the mayo—it contributes 160 calories to a Whopper, which more than trumps the not-so-secret sauce that crowns the Big Mac.

15 Tacos

Eat This
On the Border Grilled Fajita Chicken Tacos
570 calories
9 g fat

Not That
Chevy’s Fresh Mex Grilled Chicken Tacos (full order)
911 calories
41 g fat

23 Ways to Keep Fast Food in Your Diet

Wise Drive Through

If you're like most Americans, you frequent one of the country's more than 72,000 fast-food restaurants at least once a week. After all, industry data show that fast-food accounts for 86 percent of meals taken home from restaurants.

Stick to double cheeseburgers, supersize your fries and sodas, and add a few high-fat breakfast items a couple times a month, and you could see your waistline and cholesterol levels grow like weeds in a summer garden.

But something has been happening to fast-food restaurants. As Americans have become fatter and more concerned about what they eat, the McDonald's and Burger Kings of the world have taken notice. They've added salads that actually fill you up (sales of salads in fast-food restaurants were up 12 percent between 2002 and 2003), reduced serving sizes, and added more healthful options to their menus. Here's how to take advantage of it.

1. Go for the salad, minus the fried toppings. Although most fast-food restaurants offer decent-sized salads these days, if you top them with fried chicken, fried noodles, and the entire contents of the dressing packet, you will wind up with as much artery-clogging saturated fat and calories as if you'd had the double-cheese and fries. Instead, choose broiled or roasted chicken as your protein source, skip the croutons, and ask for the low-fat dressing -- then only use half.

2. Skip the cheese. Craving a hamburger? That's okay -- just get a plain hamburger without the cheese. For instance, at McDonald's, that saves you 50 calories, 40 of them from fat, and 2 grams of saturated fat.

3. Ask for extra onions, lettuce, and tomato. Whatever sandwich you choose, it'll be healthier, crunchier, and more filling if you add these classics. And it ticks off one more serving of vegetables from your day's quota.

4. Order unsweetened iced tea or bottled water. A king-size Sprite at Burger King is 420 calories. This one change might save you the same number of calories as the meal you're about to eat!

5. Choose 1% or skim milk as your drink. At just 100 calories (less for skim), it provides much of your daily dose of bone-building calcium, as opposed to soft drinks, which can suck the calcium from your bones.

6. Always say no to the special sauce. Many are just dressed-up mayonnaise, and thus overflowing with fat and calories. The best topping for your chicken, fish, or burgers? Mustard (no calories, lots of flavor). Second best? Ketchup (no fat, but a fair amount of sweetener). Other good choices: olive oil and vinegar (in moderation), hot sauces, red pepper spreads. Worst choices: butter or mayonnaise.

7. Use hot sauce, not ketchup, on your french fries. Hot sauce is low in calories, has a big, adventurous flavor, and contains nutrients that are particularly good for your body. Plus, it gets you drinking lots of water, which reduces your appetite.

Select Carefully

8. Do not supersize. Ever. Even McDonald's has finally wised up to the evil of its ways, and is phasing out some of its supersized items.

9. In fact, order a kid's meal. A small hamburger, a small fries, and an orange juice is surprisingly filling for most adults, and much fewer calories than the adult version. Plus, you get a free toy!

10. Get a sub sandwich. A six-inch sub (or hoagie, wedge, grinder, or whatever it's called in your area) with roast beef or turkey and lots of vegetables is an outstanding fast-food choice. Choose a whole grain bread, and as we said, skip the mayo -- a little bit of vinegar and olive oil is acceptable, or choose mustard. As with the burger stores, skip the value meal -- chips and soda are no match for an apple or salad and a low-fat milk or orange juice.

11. Don't be fooled by low-carb claims. Although many fast-food outlets have added low-carb offerings to their menus, it doesn't mean the selections are any healthier for you. For instance, the Carl's Jr. Breakfast Bowl has only 5 grams of carbs, but, composed of two scrambled eggs, a sausage patty, and a slice of Swiss cheese, it packs a whopping 900 calories and 73 grams of fat, nearly half of them saturated.

12. Use a fast-food item as part of a meal. In other words, rather than buying the entire meal through the drive-through window and eating it in your car, buy a sandwich or salad, bring it home, then add to it with some raw veggies dipped in low-fat ranch dressing, a cup of yogurt, or some other healthy side dish that still doesn't involve cooking.

Replace and Save

13. Get some kind of vegetable and/or fruit with every fast-food meal. Salads are an obvious choice, and as mentioned, you could also ask for extra tomatoes and lettuce on sandwiches, tacos, and burritos. Other ways: Order a veggie burger (available at Burger King), add broccoli to your baked potato, and pick a fruit and yogurt parfait from McDonald's.

14. Get skinless chicken. This is particularly important when you're hitting KFC, home of the finger-lickin' good fried chicken. Ditch the skin -- and much of the batter -- and you'll save 240 calories and 16 grams of fat on a typical serving.

15. Order a taco salad without the shell or sour cream, and ask for only half the cheese. You still get the spicy meat and save about 300 calories and 10 grams of fat.

16. Look for ways to sneak in fiber. That means the baked potato (with skin) and chili (without cheese) from Wendy's, bean burritos and tacos from Taco Bell instead of meat (a Bean Burrito packs 12 grams of fiber -- nearly half your daily needs met!), and baked beans and corn on the cob (without butter) as side dishes (or even main dishes) at KFC.

17. Look for the word "Jr." You'll get a smaller portion. Ironically, what's considered a junior portion today used to be considered a regular size 20 years ago.

18. Avoid value meals. An oversized sandwich (fat), lots of french fries (fat), and a large soda (sugar) add up to major calories and minimal nutrition. Burger King's Value Meals are some of the least healthful among fast-food chains, says Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D., executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest and coauthor of the book Restaurant Confidential. One of the lowest-calorie value meals, he notes, is the Whopper Jr., medium fries, and medium Coca-Cola Classic, with a whopping 1,000 calories. McDonald's value meals average about 1,200 calories. In comparison, the typical woman needs to eat just 1,800 calories in a whole day.

19. Look for the words "grilled," "baked," or "broiled." If they're cooked that way, they're not fried -- and you'll automatically be reaping some savings in terms of fat and calories.

20. Have an apple, banana, nonfat yogurt, or some other healthy snack an hour before you hit the fast-food line. That way you're not showing up starving. If you're too hungry, one whiff of the enticing fast-food smells will send all your good intentions of a salad right out the drive-through window.

21. Eat breakfast at home and save fast food for lunch or dinner. At least you'll know you're getting one wholesome meal. Plus, since it's hard to eat high-fiber cereal in your car, you're more likely to order a high-fat option, like a sausage biscuit.

22. Make a supermarket your fast-food restaurant. Run in, grab a piece or two of fruit, a cup of yogurt, an energy bar, a salad at the salad bar, a turkey sandwich at the deli counter, and you're out through the express lane with breakfast, lunch, and snacks in 10 minutes.

23. Avoid processed or cured meats. We're talking hot dogs, salami, bologna, and ham. These heavily processed meats are filled with fat, salt, chemical additives, and in some cases, sugar. At a deli or a sub shop, go for turkey breast, chicken breast, or roast beef instead.

27 Ideas for a Healthier Breakfast

The Breakfast Routine

Not only is breakfast the first food and drink your body has had in more than 8 hours, but studies find that what you eat for breakfast influences what you eat the rest of the day. Additionally, people who eat breakfast are significantly less likely to be obese and have diabetes than those who don't.

The most important tip we can give you is to eat breakfast every day. Without exception. This one action alone can make a huge, positive difference in your health. But a doughnut or oversized muffin won't do it. The key is to choose energy-enhancing, health-invigorating foods. That's what we'll focus on in the tips ahead.

Sipping a cup of green tea with your breakfast may have some weight-loss benefits.

1. Be consistent with your portions. For most people, a perfect breakfast has three components: one serving of a whole grain carbohydrate, one serving of a dairy or high-calcium food, and one serving of fruit. Together, that would add up to roughly 300 calories. A high-protein serving (i.e., a meat or an egg) is unnecessary but certainly acceptable, as long as it doesn't add too much fat or calories to the mix. Here are a few winning combinations, based on this formula:
  • A bowl of high-fiber, multigrain cereal, lots of strawberries, and low-fat milk on top.

  • A granola bar, an apple, and a cold glass of milk.

  • A cup of nonfat yogurt, fresh blueberries mixed in, and a slice of whole wheat toast with a fruit spread on top.

  • A mini whole wheat bagel, spread lightly with cream cheese and jam; a peach; and a cup of yogurt.

  • A scrambled egg, a whole wheat roll, fresh fruit salad, and a cup of low-fat milk.

  • A low-fat muffin, a wedge of cantaloupe, and a cup of latte made with skim milk.

2. Have a bowl of sweetened brown rice. Consider it a takeoff on prepared cereal. Brown rice is full of energy-providing B vitamins, as well as a great source of filling fiber. Cook the rice the night before, then in the morning, put it in a bowl with a spoonful of honey, a handful of raisins, a cut-up apple, and a sprinkle of cinnamon for a unique yet delicious treat. Don't like rice? Try any of the cooking grains: barley, rye, red wheat, oats, buckwheat, quinoa, or millet.

3. Pour a cup of fruit smoothie. Simply whir a cup of strawberries and a banana in the blender, add a scoop of protein powder and a cup of crushed ice, and you've got a healthy, on-the-go breakfast filled with antioxidants. Toss in a cup of plain yogurt, and you've just added a bone-strengthening dose of calcium. An added bonus: You've just crossed three of your daily fruit servings off the list.

4. Use organic eggs. They're not much more expensive than regular eggs but are much higher in all-important omega-3 fatty acids, shown to benefit everything from your mental health (reducing risk of depression) to your heart health (reducing risk of atherosclerosis and atrial fibrillation), says Fred Pescatore, M.D., author of The Hamptons Diet and a physician at Partners in Integrative Medicine in New York City.

5. Sprinkle on a teaspoon of ground flaxseeds. It could be over your cereal, over your yogurt, over your smoothie, or over your eggs. Next to fish and organic eggs, flaxseeds are one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

6. Use Benecol, Take Control, or Smart Balance instead of butter. These newly developed soft food spreads contain heart-healthy plant stanols. Just 2 tablespoons daily can significantly lower your total cholesterol level.

Take the Initiative

7. Have lunch for breakfast. Instead of butter or cream cheese, top your morning (whole wheat) toast with 2 tablespoons tuna prepared with low-fat mayonnaise. The tuna is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and an excellent source of energy-boosting protein. For the same healthy boost with a bit of variety, try lox or canned or smoked salmon (they also seem to go better at breakfast).

8. Sprinkle a whole wheat burrito with 2 ounces grated, low-fat cheddar cheese and broil for 3 minutes. While it's cooking, peel and eat an orange for valuable vitamin C. In this one small, quick meal, you're getting vitamin C and other antioxidants, calcium, fiber, and enough appetite-satisfying protein to sustain you for hours.

9. Make your own granola. Most store-bought brands are filled with sugar and fat. To make your own, mix 2 cups rolled oats with 1 cup dried fruits and seeds and a little brown sugar. Toast 3-5 minutes in a warm oven and store in an airtight container. Not interested in do-it-yourself? There are a few store-bought brands with reasonable sugar and fat levels, including Nature's Path and Familia.

10. Pour a bowlful of Kashi GOLEAN Crunch! With 10 grams of fiber, it will put you well on your way to the 25-30 grams of fiber you should be eating every day. Plus, studies find that people who regularly start their day with a bowl of cold cereal get more fiber and calcium, but less fat, than those who breakfast on other foods. Another study found that people who ate two bowlfuls of high-fiber cereal every day spontaneously cut the amount of fat they ate by 10 percent. Don't like Kashi? Other high-fiber cereals include Raisin Bran, Multi-Bran Chex and Wheat 'N Bran Spoon Size (8 grams), Kellogg's All-Bran Original (10 grams), and General Mills Fiber One (14 grams).

11. Eat half a grapefruit twice a week. Grapefruits are loaded with folate, found to significantly reduce the risk of stroke. However, be cautious if you're taking regular medications. Grapefruit and its juice can interact with medications that have to be processed through the liver. Check with your doctor about any possible interactions between grapefruit and any medications you're taking.

12. Sip a cup of green tea with your breakfast. In addition to its heart-protective benefits, green tea may also have some weight-loss benefits, with one study finding it appears to raise the rate at which you burn calories and speed the rate at which your body uses fat.

13. Top your cereal with soy milk. Packed with potent phytoestrogens, soy has been credited with everything from protecting your heart to promoting stronger bones. But make sure that it's fortified with calcium; otherwise you're missing a great opportunity to get some bone-building calcium.

14. Host the breakfast equivalent of "build your own sundae." Who says breakfast has to be boring? Choose a selection of sliced fruit, yogurt, whole grain cereals, and/or whole grain pancakes or toast, and let everyone mix and match to create their own toppings. Lay everything out on paper plates (for easy cleanup).

15. Add a vitamin. Take any and all supplements with breakfast, suggests nutrition expert Shari Lieberman, Ph.D., author of The Real Vitamin & Mineral Book. Taking supplements with food reduces the chance they'll upset your stomach, and improves the absorption of minerals.

16. Spread apple slices with peanut butter. The protein and fat in the peanut butter provide a good start to the day, while the apple and the quercetin it contains provide fiber and protection against some cancers and heart disease.

17. Have a breakfast sandwich. Top a whole wheat English muffin with melted low-fat cheese (part- skim mozzarella is a good choice), a sliced tomato, and a sliced, hard-boiled egg.

18. Crush cold cereal in a Baggie, add a peeled banana, and coat with the cereal. VoilĂ ! Breakfast on a banana (as well as a healthy dose of potassium, beneficial in preventing strokes).

Think Outside the Box

19. Hit the vegetarian section of the grocery. Soy bacon and sausage, gardenburgers, and soy crumbles make great sources of protein for breakfast without the saturated fat of their meat originals.

20. Make a blob. From nutritionist Alana Unger, R.D., of The Lifestyle Center in Visalia, California, comes this sounds-weird-but-tastes-great idea for an on-the-go breakfast. Mix 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk, 3 cups crushed flake cereal, and 2 tablespoons honey. Form into "blobs" (should make 10 blobs). Wrap each blob in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Grab a couple with a travel cup of skim milk and go!

21. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of blueberries on your cereal. Studies find the tiny purple berries are loaded with valuable antioxidants that can slow brain aging and protect your memory. Not into cereal? Try baking blueberries into oatmeal to create your own oatmeal-blueberry granola bar, or mixing them into whole wheat pancake or waffle batter.

22. Drink three cups of unsweetened orange juice every morning. The vitamin C in OJ not only boosts your immunity, but also improves your cholesterol levels. One study found that drinking three glasses of orange juice a day for four weeks raised levels of HDL, or "good" cholesterol, by 21 percent. If three cups is too much for you, substitute a couple of oranges. For the best effect, make it calcium-fortified juice.

23. Eat a bowl of sliced strawberries three times a week. Loaded with vitamin C, strawberries have numerous health benefits, one of them being protection for your eyes. One study of 247 women found that those taking vitamin C supplements were 75 percent less likely to get cataracts than those who didn't take it. It's better, though, to get your vitamin C from food. Other health benefits packed into berries: They're rich in a wide variety of antioxidants, low in calories, and even have a low glycemic index (shown to better maintain steady blood sugar levels).

24. Slice two kiwifruits into your morning smoothie. You may have just reduced your risk of premature death by as much as 30 percent, since a British study found that every ounce of vitamin C-laden fruits you eat a day reduces your risk of premature death 10 percent. Want an even easier way to eat a kiwi? Just slice the top off and scoop out bitefuls with a teaspoon. It's delicious, fun, and fast.

25. Get at least five grams of fiber during breakfast each morning. If you don't get off to a good start with your daily fiber intake, you'll never reach the recommended amount (15-25 grams per 1,000 calories). Plus, fiber is quite filling with no extra cost in calories. You can get those five grams in just a few bites with a large raw apple, 1/2 cup of the high-fiber cereals mentioned earlier, 1/2 cup of blackberries, or two slices of dark, whole grain rye bread.

26. Choose these toppers for your (whole wheat) bagel or toast:
  • Two tablespoons nonfat cottage cheese sprinkled with flaxseed

  • One slice low-fat cheese melted over a slice of mango

  • Two tablespoons soy butter with a sliced banana

  • One slice baked ham and one sliced tomato

27. Shave one ounce of dark chocolate over a cup of nonfat yogurt. Mix. The calcium-rich yogurt can actually help in your efforts to lose weight, while the antioxidant-loaded dark chocolate can help reduce the stickiness of "bad" LDL cholesterol and keep your arteries more pliable. Plus, who can resist starting the day with chocolate?

Annoying Body Glitches: Can We Prevent Them?

Our bodies are organized jumbles of parts and functions with specific purposes, but like any fine-tuned machine, there is room for internal error every now and then. We’ve all experienced some variation of these “issues”—hiccups, spasms, odd stomach noises, and so forth. Many are embarrassing or annoying, but so common that we don’t think much about their causes or potential solutions. However, there are reasons behind things as seemingly insignificant as hiccupping, and sometimes, there are ways to avoid them.

Charley Horses
Charley horses, which usually occur in the legs or feet, are very common and strike people of all ages and activity levels. What happens during these nighttime episodes is a muscle begins contracting and is unable to pick up cues to stop, causing discomfort and muscle fatigue. A variety of factors, including sore muscles, hormonal or mineral imbalances, and dehydration, can contribute to the onset of charley horses. Pregnancy, a lack of calcium or potassium, and improper stretching are frequently listed as catalysts.

Can they be avoided? There’s not a sure-fire method for permanently getting rid of charley horses, but by staying hydrated, stretching before and after exercise, and incorporating good sources of calcium and potassium into our diets, we can reduce the likelihood of getting them. To minimize the pain and length of a cramping episode, rub the muscle and lift the leg so that blood can flow beyond the affected area.

Pre-Sleep Body Jerks
Yet another thief of precious sleep time, body jerks—also called hypnic jerks—refer to the way our bodies sometimes “jerk” awake right before we’re about to fall asleep, usually accompanied by a panicked feeling of falling. There are different explanations given for why this happens, but the blame finger is usually directed at our brains, which sometimes get confused by our muscles easing into sleep and causes them to tense up, thinking that we’re falling. The misinterpretation could be a reaction to our brains not being ready for sleep, either due to stress, fatigue, or too much stimulation (exercise, caffeine consumption) before bed.

Can they be avoided? Since hypnic jerks have been linked to the sleep troublemakers listed above, avoiding them could lessen the prevalence of body jerks in our lives, but chances are we will experience them again at some point.

Eye Twitches
Eye twitches are very common and are usually caused by temporary faulty functioning of the part of the brain that controls muscle movement. They usually occur randomly and can be quite alarming—after all, are our eyes supposed to twitch like that? Most of the time, twitching eyes, though bothersome, are nothing to worry about, even though their technical name—blepharospasm—sounds kind of scary. With some people, it occurs after or during a bout of dry eye, and it can also be triggered by stress, lack of sleep, and eye strain.

Can they be avoided? To decrease twitching incidences, be mindful of sleep, stay calm, and regularly move your eyes away from the computer screen. However, we can sometimes inherit a higher likelihood of twitching, so they can’t always be avoided.

It seems like hiccups come at the worst possible times, like when I’m in a library or in the middle of a quiet office. Why do hiccups happen? Again, the culprit is routine body functions randomly misbehaving. The diaphragm helps the lungs get more air by contracting, but if something affects the diaphragm negatively (e.g. eating quickly), it contracts violently, causing us to breathe in quickly and make an annoying, loud sound.

Can they be avoided? By eliminating the actions that affect the diaphragm in this manner, such as eating or drinking too fast or too much, or eating something very hot, we can reduce our hiccup maladies. Everybody has a supposed foolproof method for getting rid of them (a spoonful of sugar, being scared, etc.), but the success of treatment depends on the person. Most suggested cures involve distracting the person from the hiccups or, in the case of sugar, hoping the sweet spoonful on the tongue will send a message to the diaphragm to halt contraction.

Stomach Growls
Loud, embarrassing stomach noises are another of those bodily functions that only occur when we really don’t want them to—and they’re not even limited to when we’re hungry! Borborygmi (its technical name) happens when our digestive system tries to digest food when there isn’t any food there. The sounds we hear are produced by stomach and intestinal juices mixing around without anything to work with. It can happen when we’re not even hungry because when the stomach is empty, messages are sent to your brain to signal the desire for food and restart the digestive process. Even if we ate just a couple of hours ago, our bodies want to make sure we know to replenish ourselves in the future.

Can they be avoided?
Other than constantly eating (which would probably cause a host of other digestion issues), the occasional stomach gurgles might just be a fact of life. Anything happening more frequently than that or any growls causing stomach pain should be checked out by a doctor.

Noisy Joints
Some of us purposefully pop our joints, and others can’t help but do it when we bend down or stretch. Either way, the odd sound can be caused by different things: air pockets being created and released by movement, arthritis, and tightened ligaments. Though the popping or cracking noises are a bit unnerving—and tend to make us feel older than we are—they usually aren’t cause for serious alarm.

Can they be avoided? There is no real way to avoid random gas bubbles between our joints popping every now and then, but one potential cause of them—too much strain on the joints—can be reduced by properly stretching and easing into exercise. Basically, don’t jump from walking to training for a marathon—let your body gradually make the transition to higher-intensity movements.

Ticklish Spots
Being ticklish can be annoying, especially when I’m getting a pedicure. I have to bite my lip to keep from laughing when they scrub the dead skin from my feet, yet the other patrons sit there calmly and actually enjoy the experience. Most people have certain sensitive spots, and their locations vary from person to person. Scientists postulate that this sensitivity is a defense mechanism to protect us from potentially harmful creatures like spiders crawling on us. Charles Darwin believed that there is a social link between giggling and tickling, that we laugh because we anticipate the sensitivity, but also because we trust the source of the tickles. In any event, it’s almost always a sure source of belly laughter.

Can they be avoided? Being ticklish can also be associated with anxiety—people who are more anxious or on-edge can have more extreme reactions to surprise tickle attacks because that’s how their bodies respond to potential threats. For example, if it was an actual bug crawling on the person, the uncontrollable laughs might be replaced with shrieks. Others remain unphased by tickling because they are better at keeping calm. If you want to avoid being ticklish, focus on staying cool.

High-Calorie Beverages

Burger King Chocolate Ice Cream Shake
950 calories, 29 grams fat (19 saturated), 640 milligrams sodium, 146 grams sugar

Hmmm … a milkshake, or an entire meal? You could have a burger (290 calories), small fries (230 calories), and a small soda (140 calories) for fewer calories (660) than this drink. I’d rather chew.

A better bet: Small chocolate milk.

Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino:
410 calories, 16 grams fat (10 saturated), 270 milligrams sodium, 54 grams sugar

Is it a coffee, or is it a milkshake? Although the CEO of Starbucks recently made the decision to stop selling sandwiches in their stores, I’m guessing they’ll keep selling these espresso-flavored milkshakes as long as we keep buying them. Darn, they’re good.

A better bet: Iced skim milk latte.

Jamba Juice Peanut Butter Moo’d Shake Original Size
840 calories, 21 grams fat ( 4.5 saturated), 122 grams sugar, 15 milligrams cholesterol

Jamba Juice’s logo contains a lot of colorful fruit, but there’s little of it in this shake. Instead, it has frozen yogurt, chocolate moo’d base (what is that?), soy milk, bananas, and peanut butter. With 122 grams of sugar (very few of them from the banana), it’s the equivalent of drinking five Cokes (a can has about 40 grams of sugar). Even their less obviously bad Strawberries Wild has 83 grams of sugar.

A better bet: 16-ounce Bright Eyed and Blueberry shake; it has 220 calories, and 38 grams sugar

Orange Julius’ Strawberry Banana Shake (32-ounce)
600 calories, 14 grams fat (11 saturated), 87 grams sugar, 130 milligrams sodium

It must be a first: a shake made with lowfat frozen yogurt, bananas, and strawberries that contains 11 grams of saturated fat. Truly amazing. I’d rather eat a Snicker’s bar, which has half the calories (280), less saturated fat (5 grams), and less sugar (30 grams).

A better bet: A 20-ounce Orange Julius has only 160 calories and 5 grams fat, none of them saturated

7-Eleven Double Gulp Soda
600 calories

I drank sixty-four ounces of soda on a cross-country road trip once, and it was a bad scene. My stomach didn’t feel quite right for at least a day, and my friend, who also imbibed, was so hopped up on caffeine she started giving lip to the Texas highway patrol who pulled her over for doing ninety in a fifty zone. I think there’s still a warrant out for her arrest.

Soda isn’t that bad every once in a while; unfortunately, it’s hard to find anything smaller than a 16-ouncer and really easy to get things much larger. Cans of soda seem to be obsolete. The Food and Drug Administration’s official serving size is 8 ounces (100 calories), not eight times that amount. Bigger isn’t better.

A better bet: Can of soda (150 calories) or a diet soda.

Bottled Juice
300–400 calories for 20 ounces

True, juice isn’t inherently bad for you, and can sometimes provide vitamins and nutrients. However, you’d be much better off eating the fruit from which it came rather than drinking mostly empty calories. Many store-bought juices have added sugars, and most come in a 2.5 serving or larger container, making that breakfast accompaniment as many calories as the meal itself.

A better bet: Stick to 8-ounce containers or kid’s containers; look for 100 percent juices; juice your own.

Pina Colada:

644 calories (approximately)

If you really like Pina Coladas, you may not only get caught in the rain, but in the fat farm. At around seven hundred calories, this drink, made with rum, coconut milk, and pineapples has more calories than a Big Mac. Other calorically heavy-hitting cocktails are Long Island Iced Teas, Margaritas, and White Russians. Damn, I love those.

A better bet: Vodka and soda with lime; glass of red wine; a beer

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