So you have decided it is time to make a change. The media storm of anti-High Fructose Corn Syrup publicity (lots being scientifically-based, but admittedly, some propaganda-based as well) has inspired you to eliminate foods with HFCS from your diet. Now you are searching for advice on how to execute on your inspiration. Congratulations, you’ve found the right blog.
Before we start digging deep, we MUST all acknowledge an inconvenient truth – simply replacing High Fructose Corn Syrup with table sugar is not the answer. While it is true that HFCS has some uniquely unenviable biological consequences (which I chronicle in detail here), consumption of ‘added sugar’ in general presents NO health benefits (understand what is considered an ‘added sugar’).
The average American consumes 22 tablespoons (355 calories) of added sugar daily, whereas the American Heart Association’s recommended consumption is no more than 6 and 9 tablespoons for women and men, respectively. Clearly the issue is general over-consumption of sugar, with High Fructose Corn Syrup being the secondary concern. With that said, in addition to limiting our daily injection of these not so innocuous drugs we call sugars, specifically eliminating HFCS from our diet is a great idea. Lets discuss how!
1. Raid your kitchen & identify foods with HFCS.
HFCS can be found in most processed foods, so this may be a time-consuming ordeal. Start with the freezer. Any dessert (ice-cream, cookie dough, pie etc.) is likely to have it added. Then move to the fridge. Sugar-sweetened beverages are the largest dietary source HFCS, so most processed beverages (soda, fruit juice from concentrate) will contain the stuff. These are the easy targets. Unfortunately, many grain-based products in the pantry also contain HFCS, and so do some beloved condiments like ketchup.
2. Make the tough choices: which foods with HFCS can you live without, and which can’t you?
So you’ve identified your kitchen’s culprits. At this point, it is time to step back and remember why you are going through this process. Are you relatively healthy, but trying to improve for your long-term health and for the sake of your kids? Or are you overweight, and trying to slim down?
If the answer is closer to the latter, then you need to decide which foods you should be cutting out all together. Desserts and sodas, even if they contain cane sugar or an artificial sweetener, are not going to help your fight. Do your best to make the right choice!
3. Make the necessary replacements.
Once you’ve made the tough decisions, it’s time to hit the grocery store and find HFCS-free substitutes. For the record, this goal can be achieved without hitting up an over-priced Whole Foods. Most large-scale grocery stores now contain HFCS-free alternatives for almost all foods. To make this easier, I encourage you to check out this awesome list of HFCS-free foods: List of Products with no High Fructose Corn Syrup.
4. Beware of eating out!
For most of us, reality mandates that we eat out on occasion. Furthermore, not all of us live in organic-crazed cities like San Francisco & Portland, so finding HFCS-free foods can be a challenge. In facing this challenge, the best advice I can give is to use logic and ask questions. If this fails, just remember that the occasional encounter with HFCS isn’t going to kill you!
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