Getting Healthy for Good: HFCS is the devil!

By Laurie Marshall, healthy mama

Last weekend I was telling my husband about an article that my brother sent me about a study done on high fructose corn syrup. My brother is being very supportive of my desire to get healthy this year.

images.jpgThe Hubs and I were discussing the results of the study – which showed that mice eating HFCS became obese while mice getting the same number of calories from sugar did not - and he proclaimed “let’s just get it all out of the house.”

Since my husband rarely (i.e. NEVER) readily agrees to go along with healthy changes in our family diet, I promptly wrote up an agreement, made him sign it in blood, and drug him to a Notary Public to have it witnessed. I didn’t want to take a chance that he was just buzzing on the “Throwback” Mountain Dew he recently discovered and would take it back when he came back down to earth…

Making the decision to make this change didn’t take much effort, and given my wicked lazy streak, effortless decisions are what I’m all about. However, the first shopping trip for groceries after making that decision was a completely different story. Since I was reading every single label, it took twice as long to shop. I was surprised by some of the things I found that did, and did not, contain HFCS.

In the condiment section, Clearly Organic was the only brand of ketchup I found that contains only tomatoes, vinegar, water and spices. It is about 50 cents more expensive than the more popular brands like Hunt’s and Del Monte, but since we don’t eat a lot of the stuff, it won’t add up very quickly.

Same thing goes for barbecue sauce. Most of the more common brands I looked at listed it as one of the first three ingredients, and many of them had it as the FIRST ingredient. This means that there is more HFCS in those products than any other ingredient! That kind of grossed me out. Bull’s-Eye brand was the only one I found with sugar listed instead.

I was prepared to find that all dessert-like items are effectively banned from my cart, but was surprised to find that Jello pudding cups contain sugar. Since I’m also trying to avoid having too many sweets in the house, I didn’t buy any. But I could if I want to! It’s all about the potential.

As for sweet and healthy, Yoplait yogurt has the devil juice in it – but Hiland Dairy yogurt does not. It’s a little cheaper as well, which makes up for the ketchup…

greenapple-h412.jpgYou may remember I’ve sworn off cokes for a couple of months now, but I noticed that Jones Soda says on their boxes that they are made with pure cane sugar, so I bought a 12-pack to give it a test run. I figured that if it’s not horrible it would be a good alternative when we have company over and such. It’s actually very similar in taste to regular Coke, and the 12-pack costs only 10 cents more than the same package of Coke or Pepsi products.

Jones Soda doesn’t make a 2-liter bottle, but since I’m not drinking it often, the higher price will make it more of a treat item – not something to put on the weekly list.

You might not think you need to read the labels of things like crackers and bread when avoiding a sweetener – but you’d be wrong. I checked at least half-a-dozen boxes of crackers before finding a Kashi brand variety that contained no HFCS. Isn’t that crazy? Crackers are supposed to be savory!! Seriously, I am beginning to see why the upswing in obesity in the U.S. closely parallels the inclusion of HFCS in our foods… it’s everywhere.

But crackers are tame when compared with bread. I buy whole wheat, so I checked every loaf of wheat on the shelf, and all of these have HFCS:

  • Mrs. Baird’s
  • Wonder Bread
  • Sara Lee
  • Home Pride
  • Best Choice
  • Autumn Harvest

100wholegrain.jpgNature’s Own and Oro Wheat brands both have sugar in them instead. An added bonus was that Oro Wheat’s ingredient list is smaller – meaning fewer fillers and chemicals.

The really amazing thing was that in the breads with the HFCS, it was listed as the third ingredient behind flour and water. Bread, water, high fructose corn syrup. Did grandma make bread with that stuff? I don’t think so. I’m seriously considering baking my own bread from scratch. Oh wait… I did say I have a lazy streak, didn’t I?

Next to the bread is the peanut butter, and I was happy to find that both Jif and Peter Pan have sugar in them instead of HFCS. I also found that spaghetti sauces and salsas are free of the stuff (at least, the ones I looked at were – you might want to check the label of your favorite brands first if you’re concerned).

We might have a bit of an issue when we run out of my son’s favorite cereals later this week (purchased Pre-Agreement) since they list HFCS in the top five ingredients and will not be replenished. But he’s kind of a cereal fiend, so if it’s flaky and is served with milk, he won’t complain for too long. Hopefully. He also likes waffles, and homemade ones cooked on a weekend morning and frozen in sandwich bags are HFCS free. But look out for the syrup – pure maple is your best bet. I didn’t check all of them, just the Griffin’s bottle in my house, and the first two ingredients were corn syrup and HFCS. Ack!

So, I hope some of you have already been on the Anti-HFCS kick for a while – or that you will join me to get it out of your house. If you have any other brands or items that you know are HFCS free, take a minute to share in the comments. If you think I’m losing it and will be going barefoot and singing Kumbayah at the bus station soon, you can say that too. I’m not easily offended. But keep it healthy – for good!

laurie-marshall.jpgLook for Laurie’s fitness tips and updates on her personal health-focused journey every other Friday on nwaMotherlode in Mom Blogs. Send questions or input to her at mamas@nwaMotherlode.com. Or click on the comment button below and share your thoughts right now! To see previous installments of Getting Healthy for Good, click HERE.

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Comments

  1. Laurie, I love your healthy eating blogs! Keep ‘em coming. I have a suggestion for a future subject….. organics! Specifically, restaurants in NWA that offer organic choices! I’d LOVE to know. Thanks!

  2. Thanks so much for reading, Cara – and for the suggestion. Given my recent decision to be anti-HFCS, organic options are definitely a good follow up. :) Look for it soon!

  3. Yay! Thanks!

  4. Heinz Organic ketchup is HFCS free too. It’s pricey too, unless you buy it in the big bottles at Sam’s!
    Glad to hear about Bulls Eye bbq sauce! BBQ sauce shopping had been grossing me out, so I’ve been depriving my family of springtime barbeques! Haha. I’ll have to hit the grocery store today!

  5. Here’s another mom taking on this monster – and some good news about some of our favorite brands:
    http://www.morningnewsbeat.com/News/News_Article_Detail_S.las?A=33652&Date=2010-05-05

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