May 29th, 2008 I celebrated one of the biggest milestones of my adult life: 1 year of being high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) free. (You can read a little about it here.)
I know – seems kinda weird, maybe to wholesale eliminate an ingredient from one’s life, but I have motivation: my bones. I was diagnosed with osteoporosis quite a few years ago – since then I’ve taken big strides to improve my bone density – including losing a couple of hundred pounds, supplementing appropriately, getting appropriate exercise, etc. A little over a year ago it came to my attention that one of my – literally – lifelong addictions was fighting me tooth and nail for my bone density. My love for Coke. One of my orthopedic surgeons mentioned to me a couple of years ago that I wasn’t doing myself any favors by consuming it, but I kinda shrugged the comment off as some health nut type of comment! LOL!
Shortly before I took the plunge and decided to kick the HFCS to the curb my endocrinologist casually mentioned to me that HFCS and carbonation BOTH inhibit calcium absorption.
That stopped me cold in my tracks.
“WHAT?!” I exclaimed. Why didn’t I know that?
That’s when I decided I had to research and decide for myself the veracity of such a statement. I put on my researchers hat and jumped in with both feet. It didn’t take very long to find some alarming information. Timeline was also troubling – introduction of HFCS into the food chain and parallels to the obesity epidemic were difficult to dismiss. Incidence of spikes in the numbers of the general population developing Type II diabetes and that timeline were interesting, as well. And particularly concerning to me, the fact that there were many references to a correlation between increased HFCS consumption overall and declining bone density.
There were some really great resources available. As always, http://www.washingtonpost.com/ was offered lots of interesting articles – one in particular that I found helpful was by Sally Squires entitled, “Sweet but Not So Innocent?” dated March 11, 2003. I wish I could offer a link to the entire article here, but it’s now in their archives and you have to buy it to read the entire thing – the free preview gives you a good idea, tho.
Suffice it to say – there’s a lot of excellent information available for an intelligent person to make an informed choice. My choice, obviously, was to exclude HFCS from my world.
Easier said than done.
Have you ever read labels? I do a lot – one of my motivators for label reading is because I’m allergic to so much stuff, so it’s a pretty important thing for me to do. But have you ever read labels with an end to ferreting out whether or not HFCS is in the ingredient list?
It’s in almost everything! Good grief!
So why? Why is it everywhere? Why is it in Ritz Crackers? I love Ritz Crackers. Why is it in Wheat Thins? I love Wheat Thins, too! Why is it in crazy stuff that you’d never dream it would be in? Honestly, too much stuff to begin listing. It’s a little bit frightening when you start to pay attention and realize how pervasive the use of the stuff is. And then you look around at your fellow shoppers and the light bulb kind of goes on.
One of the reasons it’s everywhere is money. It’s a cheap way to sweeten stuff. Another reason is that it’s sweeter than table sugar – so your taste buds crave that super sweet sensation. Another reason is convenience – easy to add to stuff, making production costs – even marginally – lessened – which means more profit for the manufacturer.
Maybe another reason is the Corn Refiners Association really, really, really likes having the resources available to produce commercials like the ones I saw last night – over my shoulder as I was sitting at my desk working on a project.
Okay – so let me just preface this by saying – I really don’t watch a lot of TV. Just not a lot of time. Usually it’s kind of by accident that I catch stuff. Kinda like last night. So I don’t know how long these commercials have been playing, or the web site they promote has been active – but last night was the first time I saw them.
Let me just give a brief overview of the first commercial I saw. I’d give you a link to it – but I don’t want to promote the stinkers who are promoting it! Two Moms – at a party of some sort – it’s summer time – happy children playing in the background. One Mom approaches the obviously hosting Mom as she’s pouring some sort of juice into glasses for kids. Approaching Mom says something to the affect (and in an obviously condemning tone) “You must not care what your kids eat/drink. You know that has high fructose corn syrup in that, right? You know what they say about it, don’t you?” Hosting Mom responds with a very laid back persona, “No, what are they saying?” Approaching Mom responds, obviously stumped, with hems and haws… Hosting Mom interjects, “That it’s made from corn, it’s all natural, and should be used in moderation like table sugar?” To which Approaching Mom stammers, “I love your shirt!”
So bottom line – one must conclude that anyone who is opposed to the use of HFCS is:
2. Really stupid.
3. An idiot as well as stupid.
4. And a fear-monger as well.
Okay – yeah, I know, sorry. I’m mad. I shouldn’t say stuff like that. But STINK!
I know better than to ask, “Don’t they care?” Because obviously – they do – just not about the stuff that seemingly really matters to me.
Okay – I’m gonna shut up now. I’m still too mad.