I may not have always so religious about checking food labels and sometimes things get past me, but now that I have to be more aware for my own sake, I am surprised to find High Fructose Corn Syrup lurking in things I wouldn’t expect!
I found out last week that my son loves to eat his sweet peas cold, fresh from the refrigerator. It seems a little strange to me, but I am not going to deny him if it means he will eat more! I decided to get out some applesauce for him to eat as well since I knew his poo was a bit hard this week (I know this is too much information and kind of gross when talking about food, but with kids, you just get used to talking about their poop like anything else). I got down a couple of the pre-packaged applesauce cups from the cupboard, thinking to try him on the pear-flavored applesauce since pears and apples were his favorite as a baby (still is a baby but more of a toddler now). I waited for him to get his fill of the peas and noticed one of the ingredients on the applesauce label “High Fructose Corn Syrup.”
What?! What is High Fructose Corn Syrup doing in applesauce? It’s applesauce! Apples have their own sugar, why are you adding something like High Fructose Corn Syrup to that?! Ugh! So I didn’t give him the applesauce. In fact, all of the pre-packaged flavored applesauce that my husband’s mother and sister had brought for him had High Fructose Corn Syrup in them.
This makes me feel trapped. I hate feeling trapped. I can’t feed my son the flavored applesauce, bought by family with the best intentions because they didn’t carefully read the food label. And it wasn’t like I had specifically said at any point not to feed him High Fructose Corn Syrup–I didn’t even know it was in the applesauce until I looked! I am also not trying to waste food, but I cannot knowingly have my child eating something with High Fructose Corn Syrup in it. I have grown to be more diligent about checking not just the nutritional information but also the ingredients because even wheat has a way of being sneaky! So generally, this isn’t a problem in our house. The applesauce that we buy for my husband doesn’t have any added sugar outside of the sugar from the apples, so I was able to feed my son some applesauce that night.
But I am still going to have to have that talk with my in-laws. Every time I have to have a talk about food and watching food labels, I feel like the bad guy. I used to not care about these things when it came to how I ate or my husband ate. His family saw us eat what we wanted for years, and now in this last year we have changed how we eat and what we eat. It probably doesn’t make sense why we have suddenly become so much more cautious and aware of what we eat and what we feed our son to them or others.
As an adult, I can read not just food labels but also abstracts of studies and can understand the difference between correlation and causation. If I have educated myself about what foods have High Fructose Corn Syrup and eat them anyway–that is on me. I am making that decision, knowingly. I will have to deal with the consequences. But in our house, I can make sure my children don’t have an opportunity to eat things that are bad for them. And High Fructose Corn Syrup is not healthy for anybody. Outside of our house, I have to try but they are going to get it at some point, and I know that. But that doesn’t mean I give up on healthy eating habits inside our home.
Now I have heard that High Fructose Corn Syrup is unhealthy for years, but I also know there are people who will try to tell me it is only unhealthy if you go above and beyond “eating in moderation.” Well, what the Hell is “moderation”? Really? Can you give me an amount like so many ounces or grams or since it is a syrup, how many tablespoons is considered “in moderation”? Well, I found someone who seems to have the qualified background in biochemistry and nutrition and understanding how our bodies work to really comment on this. His article on High Fructose Corn Syrup is bad for you can be found here. It is an easy read and doesn’t require an advanced degree to understand and among other things brings up the point of “in moderation.”
But let’s say you still don’t believe that High Fructose Corn Syrup could really be unhealthy for me, my son, or anyone else. I did some math as a comparison because there are those who claim that because the fructose is bad for you, fruit is just as bad since it contains fructose too. Well, ok, so assume I have one cup of High Fructose Corn Syrup measured out for you. One cup of High Fructose Corn Syrup has 871 Calories, 236g of Carbohydrates, and 82g of Sugar. Now I don’t really have a cup of High Fructose Corn Syrup to demonstrate my point–it would be a waste of money, but I do have frozen red raspberries in my house. They are sweet an delicious all by themselves. One cup of raspberries has 64 Calories, 15g of Carbohydrates, and 5g of Sugar.
If I do the math, then I would have to eat:
- 13.6 cups of raspberries to get the same number of Calories in one cup of High Fructose Corn Syrup
- 15.7 cups of raspberries to get the same number of Carbohydrates in one cup of High Fructose Corn Syrup
- 16.4 cups of raspberries to get the same number of Sugar in one cup of High Fructose Corn Syrup
But I think because of all the fiber in raspberries, I would get full before I could eat three cups of raspberries. Even though fruit has fructose in it, it also has fiber and the fructose isn’t isolated, so my body has more time to break down the fructose and get insulin in the game to handle the sugar.
Let’s say I did decide to eat three cups of raspberries, that’s about 45g of Carbohydrates, 15g of which are sugar, right? If I decided to drink a can of soda instead, say, Mt Dew, that has High Fructose Corn Syrup in it as the main source of sweetener. It has 46g of Carbohydrates and 45g of which is sugar. That is if I am just comparing Carbohydrates–three cups of raspberries to one can of soda. Which one is more filling? The raspberries of course! If I were to compare sugar, I would need nine cups of raspberries to get the same amount of sugar in that same can of soda!
Now, I know no one has been giving my son Mt Dew or any other soda, but the problem with High Fructose Corn Syrup as an ingredient is that we can only guess how much is in the food we’re eating. Ingredient Lists are supposed to list all the ingredients in order by how much there is in the product, but it doesn’t say how much is in the product. Why guess? Why not look for a healthier alternative? And that doesn’t always mean a more expensive alternative. My husband buys a cheap brand of applesauce without any added sugars that is often time cheaper than the brand name stuff with added sugar!
I want people to be healthy and make smart decisions about how food affects their body because I see how it affects mine, but if they want to eat what they want, I am not going to stop them. When it comes to feeding my child, they have to check food labels and find alternatives that are healthy. I wish there was an easier way of explaining this to family because so often people resort to picking out foods with cheap sugar substitutes that aren’t any healthier! We usually have plenty of fresh or frozen fruit around out house if anyone looks hard enough. It might be a pain to have to go out and buy more, but I would rather know my child got some fruit without added sugar than the unhealthy alternative out of convenience.
Furthermore, if I respect your decision to eat whatever you want, then I deserve the same respect and consideration when it comes to my family not eating wheat, High Fructose Corn Syrup, and any other foods that we consider unhealthy. We listen to our bodies and do our homework when it comes to these things.
More information about High Fructose Corn Syrup: