A lot of people seem to think so. They’ve stopped eating and drinking so much C-R-A-P and report feeling better and losing weight. What are they talking about?

C is for caffeine
R is for refined sugar
A is for artificial sweeteners
P is for preservatives

What’s the problem?

Caffeine is a stimulant, increasing your heart rate and blood pressure. It can irritate your stomach, cause headaches and insomnia. Caffeine makes it harder for your body to absorb iron.

You’ll find caffeine in coffee, tea, colas and other sodas, and energy drinks.

To cut caffeine, go the gradual route. Reduce your caffeine by a half cup or so each day. Substitute water. Don’t go cold turkey or you’ll likely have withdrawal headaches.
Refined sugar is a big contributor to weight gain. The problem is that we’re hard-wired to like sugar. And so we eat way too much of it—consuming more sugar in one day than our ancestors ate in their entire lives. If you’re in the average range, you eat about 22 teaspoons of sugar per day. The American Heart Association recommends getting this down to 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men. dried fruit

You’ll find sugar in almost every manufactured food product.

To cut back to the recommended levels, eliminate sodas and energy drinks. Make sugary snacks and treats an occasional indulgence—and keep the serving size small. And get rid of the sugar bowl.


Artificial sweeteners have been around since 1879, when a Johns Hopkins scientist working on coal-tar derivatives got something on his hands that tasted sweet. Saccharin was born. Although the jury is still out on artificial sweeteners, many people believe that they stress the liver, making it harder for your body to process fats and harder for you to lose weight.

You’ll find artificial sweeteners in most diet products. They will be listed on the label.

To cut artificial sweeteners, read labels and avoid diet sodas and other beverages.


Preservatives are generally tolerated by most people. But if you have asthma, stay away from benzoic acid and BHT. Both can trigger attacks. Benzoic acid is used in condiments and sauces. BHT is used in shortening and cereals in the U.S. (Many other countries have banned it.) A lot of people have problems with sulphites: headaches, itching skin, tiredness. Sulphites are used in red wine, fruit juices, and products that contain dried fruits and vegetables.

You’ll find preservatives in almost every manufactured food product. They will be listed on the label. Some people follow a simple rule: if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it!

To cut back on preservatives, read labels and go for fresh, instead of processed, foods when you can.