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Healthy Eating - High Fructose Corn Syrup is EVERYWHERE!

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Monday, January 08, 2007

I mentioned a few weeks back that one of my goals for the year was to get a little healthier on the drink front. My goal is to eliminate calorie containing beverages (except for special occasions) though I am allowing myself one glass of milk a day. Since we don't consume artificial sweeteners, that limits me to non-sweet tea and water with a bit of lemon or lime in it. Thankfully, we have really good water here, so it's not been a huge issue. I also switched Greg and I to organic milk. (Nora's been on organic milk since she weaned.)

My next step was to start working on eliminating high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) from our diets.

It's pretty tough. I mean I knew it was present in a lot of beverages (soda, fruit drinks, etc...) but I only buy 100% juice and milk now, so that's not an issue. I also knew it was present in some breads (but there are good bread options, so no biggie) but I really never realized how many cereals it was in. I went all down the cereal aisle looking at our "usuals." (Frosted wheat, raisin bran crunch, crispix, cheerios) EVERYTHING has HFCS in it! I ended up with Kashi Honey Toasted Oats and a low-fat granola with raisins. (Incidentally, the organic honey nut morning O's from Whole Foods Market is super tasty!)

Next I hit the yogurt aisle. We LOVE yogurt here. Once again, HFCS in everything! Meijer brand, Dannon, Yoplait...Stoneyfield Farms was the only brand of flavored yogurt that didn't have it. I can only afford Stoneyfield Farms if I'm buying the BIG container and they didn't have it in strawberry. Started to buy the vanilla and noticed that Meijer sells their own brand of "natural" vanilla yogurt that has no added sweetners. I figure I can add my own fruit or granola to it, so that covered my yogurt needs.

After snagging yogurt I headed over to the pasta aisle. Now I know that Chef Boyardee is NOT a "healthy" food, but when you have a 20 pound 2 year old that simply does NOT eat...well, you feed them what you can get in them. As I picked up a can I took a look and once again, HFCS. Come ON! Who needs added sweetners in freaking pasta? So back on the shelf it went. Thankfully I've got a good homemade spaghetti sauce recipe that freezes well. Easy enough to heat up a bit of that and add it to whole wheat pasta, so I can live without Chef Boyardee in the house.

Finally, I went down the condiment aisle. I was planning on doing some BBQ ribs this week. You guessed it...I could not find a single BBQ sauce in Meijer (not even the expensive specialty ones) that didn't have HFCS in them. NOT EVEN ONE. Guess I may have to find a recipe for BBQ sauce, or check Whole Foods the next time I'm there. Same went for salad dressing. Went to get my Wishbone Balsamic Vinaigrette and the first ingredient...HFCS. I have balsamic vinegar and olive oil at home though, so I guess I'll just mix it up myself.

How does this happen? How do we get to the point that every single "convenience" item has HFCS in it?

I ended up doing pretty well though...I didn't bring home a single product that had HFCS in it. I did realize that I'm going to have to cut cereal out of my diet. Good organic cereal just costs too much. I'll buy it for Nora because she'll actually eat it, but I eat too much cereal to justify the cost for me. Guess that means I'm switching to toast, grits or fruit for breakfast. Thankfully goldfish crackers don't have HFCS (or transfats) so I could still buy those for Nora.

Other than that, I'm really starting to abide by the "stick to the outside aisles" philosophy. Lots of fresh produce, fresh meats, organic dairy and things like whole wheat pasta and long grain rice.

By the way, yes I know that this doesn't really have much to do with breastfeeding...but it does have to do with parenting and health and lifestyle choices. So yes, that's a signal that I'm going to expand the topics here a bit again. The site is still going to be focused on breastfeeding, but I figure I might as well also share my experience as I work to figure out ways to get us all eating more healthy without breaking the bank.

I'm giving myself a few months to adjust to this HFCS-free life. Then I'm going after PHO's. (Partially hydrogenated oils)


  1. Blogger Leah | 6:20 AM |  

    I lost 8 lbs in 6 weeks by cutting out hfcs. It's a great idea. Why is it everywhere? The government subsidizes corn so too much is produced so they turn it into other things (hfcs, ethanol, etc.) and it is also far cheaper (supply and demand - supply goes up, price goes down). The government puts tarrifs on sugar cane, so those prices are artificially inflated and passed on to the consumer (or the food processor, who switches to something cheaper like hfcs).

  2. Anonymous Melissa | 12:40 PM |  

    There is a way to tackle the HFCS and PHO in one shot - start shopping at your local natural foods store. You mentioned Whole Foods in your post so why not do most of your shopping there? We all know that buying organic and health conscience foods are likely to be more expensive than your local Safeway, but I consider the expense to be worth it for the long term health of my family and for the planet as a whole. Think of it as being a planet activist! As more become aware and start supporting these businesses the more competition there will be leading to wider availability and (hopefully) lower costs.

    I am feeding a family of four (3 with teeth as the 4th is 5 months old) with one income (dad is stay at home dad) so I don't shop or go out to eat (often) or buy anything but necessities yet I am adamant about buying organic produce and organic everything else whenever possible. It is that important!

    But enough ranting (gets off high horse). :-) I will also recommend Trader Joes if you have one in your area. They have a mix of stuff but I've often found very reasonably priced items such as sauces and pastas that are organic and/or do not contain those dreaded ingredients you mentioned. Check out their cereal too - often their own brand is healthy and cheaper than items you'll find at Whole Foods.

    But at Whole Foods you'll find lots of products that don't contain the bad stuff. I love Annies for things like Mac and Cheese, and the Chef Boyardee knock offs (spaghetii o's etc). I also remember searching forever for a bbq sauce that we liked that didn't contain PHO or HFCS. Took awhile but there is one out there and I don't have it in front of me but I'll post again when I get home with the name.

    And don't forget to buy bulk! Things like granola, nuts, etc will be somewhat cheaper when bought in the amount you want!


  3. Blogger Jennifer | 2:15 PM |  

    Yeah, but Whole Foods IS more expensive than Meijer. By a lot. :(

    What I need to do is just shop smarter. Whole Foods is about 35 minutes away. Meijer is 10 minutes. However, most of the things that I'd want to get at whole foods (organic cereal, bulk granola, bulk rice, etc...) could be bought every two weeks.

    I can get several brands of organic milk and dairy products at Meijer and though they cost more than at Whole Foods, it's not enough more to make it worth the drive each week.

    There's also a new natural food store that just opened about 15 minutes from me, I hear they have good produce prices. Plus, our teeny, tiny town just got a butcher shop. ;) It's not organic, but it is local and much of it is free range and hormone free. (plus it's supporting small biz and local farmers)

    For the rest of it, it's just getting back to cooking. I'm a pretty good cook and used to make fresh dinner every single night. With two kids and two jobs, that gets more complicated. (Which is why I freezer cook.) I'm more than happy to make homemade mac n cheese instead of using boxed, so it's easy enough to cut that type of stuff out.

    Also decided that salad dressing can be scrapped and I'll stick with my two homemade standbys. (I can mix balsamic vinagar and oil, or I can mix sour cream with salsa...both make yummy salad dressing.)

    Oh...to note, I did discover that M&Ms are HFCS and PHO free. ;)

  4. Blogger Anne | 11:30 AM |  

    Any hope you can post your recipe for the spaghetti sauce? I'm an uninspired cook (at best), but I'm also trying to feed my 15 month old son better.

    Also, off topic, do you know of any information out there I can take to my doctor that can aid me in this cause:
    The 15 month old Manling breastfeeds twice a day, before his single nap and before bed. I'm really trying to get pregnant but am not ovulating yet. My thyroid TSH level is borderline high, so I have to get retested in a few weeks to see if that is the culprit. My dr says most likely I'll have to completely wean, and I'm not really into that. He also has prescribed me ultralow dose birth control pills for a minimum of 3 months to "choreograph" my hormones. I'm in the middle of the 2nd month and am a complete monster to my husband (I HATE the pill for this reason). Any thoughts or ideas as to what I can do? I'm frustrated and worried and really don't want to wean my son completely. Ugh.

  5. Blogger Jennifer | 12:06 PM |  

    Spaghetti recipe (so easy it's pathetic)

    15 oz can of tomato sauce
    15 oz of water
    small size can of tomato paste
    1 T sugar
    1 T chili powder
    1 pound ground meat (hamburger, turkey, whatever you prefer)
    Garlic, oregano, salt and pepper to taste

    Brown the meat. Add everything to a pot and simmer for an hour.

    This freezer really well. :)

    On to the other stuff...I'm not a medical expert, but I would be very, very surprised if nursing a 15 month old twice a day was the cause of fertility issues. VERY surprised. If you don't want to wean, don't wean.

    Also not super sure about using the low-dose hormones to jump start your ovulation. Have you tried Provera? It's what we used to try and jump start periods and ovulation when we were TTC my oldest. I hadn't ovulated on my own, or had a period in about five years at that point. The provera would launch a period, but no ovulation. Eventually, we had to use provera AND chlomid for one round. (I got pregnant that time)

    With Emmitt, I had just weaned Nora (at 14 months) and quit pumping. We must have caught the first egg after that because I never did have a period but somehow ended up pregnant. ;)

    You might visit the Childbirth Choices debate board over at BabyCenter. There are several ladies there that really know their stuff on this topic.


  6. Anonymous Anonymous | 9:21 AM |  

    your blog inspired me to try to go hfcs free, i had already done away with the majority of partially hydrogenated fats but i had a hard time with the hfcs. anyway you said you couldn't find any cerials without hfcs, did you look at life and chex. i just went to the store today and found that the milti grain chex and reg and cinnamon don't contain any. good luck with the label reading.

  7. Blogger Jennifer | 9:25 AM |  

    Really? I LOVE Chex and Life. Life is actually my favorite cereal! (Plus you can buy it at Sam's pretty cheap.)


    Though I am finding that I REALLY like Kashi and I've always liked granola. At least that would give me a few more options to put in the rotation.

  8. Anonymous Anonymous | 6:51 PM |  


    It is so hard to find decent food on supermarket shelves.

    Have you tried making your own bbq sauce or granola?

    Here's a link for bbq sauce that's quite yummy: http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/poorwomansbarbecue.html

    And here's a link to a granola recipe that we LOVE: http://a-mamas-world.blogspot.com/2007/01/granola.html

    I love your blog, by the way! From one nursing mama to another..
    Good luck!

  9. Blogger Jennifer | 7:06 PM |  

    Ha! That's too funny! I went to check out the granola recipe (which looks way yummy by the way) and saw that it comes from Amanda, who I know as PeepsPipsandBo over at BBC. LOL.

    Small world. (by the way, I like your blog, adding it to my list of ones to check out more often!)

  10. Anonymous Anonymous | 12:05 PM |  

    You have inspired me!! and that sauce, YUM! We are going to try that. They say you can freeze a lot in ice trays to save in small amounts, is that what you do for portion control?

  11. Blogger Clarissa | 4:50 PM |  

    Oddly enough, at the local Safeway, a couple of their varieties of store brand barbecue sauce use molasses or honey instead of HFCS, but a couple of the same brand don't. It's very confusing! You have to check each variety. I'm glad I live by a Trader Joe's--lots of non-HFCS items at prices well below Whole Foods. Good luck!

  12. Blogger Jennifer | 4:54 PM |  

    Duh...never thought to check good old Trader Joe's. We have those.

    I'll give it a look. :)

  13. Anonymous Anonymous | 11:15 AM |  

    Amazing, isn't it?

    Another additive in just about everything is soy. I've had to give it up while breastfeeding since our son is allergic, and soy is in everything under the sun!

    It's getting a lot easier to just make everything from scratch.

    Love your blog btw!

  14. Blogger Judy | 9:39 PM |  

    Jen, I did some "research" for you tonight while shopping. Orlando Baking Co. bread has no HFCS, and is pretty cheap at Marc's.

    I also found some HFCS free barbecue sauce there. It's Heinz.

    I bought the Heinz for you and a couple HFCS free brands at Carfagna's.

  15. Anonymous Brian | 8:43 PM |  

    I am afraid it's more insidious than just corporations going with the cheaper options when it comes to HFCS, MSG, Aspartame, Splenda, Carageenan, etc. etc. etc. There is a big picture here that is not business as usual. I can't go into such a heavy, complex, and long topic here. But let's just say these following examples are not accidents (1)that Vaccines are deadly to children and adults(contain more mercury than ever and aluminum plus live viruses)(2) That we are spreading depleted uranium around the globe. (3) That planes can be seen most days leaving chemical trail mixes above our homes(just keep an eye on the skies) (4) That aluminum is being put in food. (5) That our water is loaded with chemicals, pesticides, and pharmaceuticals. (6) Flouride is in water and toothpaste. Flouride was used in Nazi Germany in concentration camps to make prisoners more docile.(7) GMO foods. Try to find out which foods are genetically modified? I can go on forever with this list.

    I want to be healthy and happy. We all do. Don't listen to me. Research history and what elites do to control societies. The real world is a crazier story than anything we could see on tv. Go to www.cuttingthroughthematrix.net or infowars.com to learn about many of the dangers in this world. And I am not plugging these sites. I have learned from them. And I thought these people were crazy at first. It is crazy. Don't check out the sites or do research because I told you to. Do it to learn for yourself ... and especially for the children and their future... which right now looks pretty bleak.

  16. Anonymous Anonymous | 3:51 PM |  

    I found this while looking for BBQ sauces w/o HFCS in it and would like to comment about Jennifer's recipe...

    There's HFCS in most all of the Tomato sauces out there.... Buy Tomato Puree...

    I'm a SAHD So I can't comment on breastfeeding....

  17. Anonymous Anonymous | 6:03 AM |  

    Love the conversation about HFCS...we've just discovered the problem. I started changing my shopping immediately...but WARNING: CHECK OUT CHEWING GUM...yup, HFCS is in there too. I would love to research products and write a handbook on HFCS-free products.

  18. Anonymous JoJo | 10:36 AM |  

    Kashi is great stuff! I found I can regularly get it cheaper at Target then at any grocery store I've been to.

  19. Anonymous Anonymous | 11:39 AM |  

    well all igot to say is that my mom made a barbegue sauce that dont got no hfcs in it and we are going to sell it at the health store and this is cause she gets verry sick to her stomic and she throws up

  20. Blogger RiaLucia | 8:04 AM |  

    I sat down with my cup of Kashi Go Lean and handful of blueberries and dumped half a container of Yoplait fat free vanilla yogurt on it. I turned the yogurt around to check out the label on a whim, and I was so disgusted to see that the second ingredient after the milk is HFCS. UGH! This crap is in everything! I can't even bring myself to finish this yogurt, and I have 4 more of them at home. I've been trying to avoid HFCS for awhile now. I can kinda put up with it in condiments since I don't use them that often, but I don't like it in my actual food. Thankfully in SoCal I have a plethora of options between Trader Joes and various Whole Foods-type stores.

  21. Anonymous Sara S. | 11:32 AM |  

    This is perhaps the most often heard rant in my household. It starts the minute I see one of those ridiculous HFCS organization commercials. They used to say that HFCS is "nutritionally the same as sugar, and it's fine in moderation" now they've changed it to "Has the same calories as sugar"

    How can I even have HFCS in moderation when it is (almost literally) in EVERYTHING! Gah! I just hate that so many people just buy this stuff hook line and sinker. I work with a woman that seriously asked me yesterday why soda was bad for her. (she drinks it like she breathes air) and she still doesn't believe half of what I told her.

    link to commercial i'm talking about:


  22. Anonymous Anonymous | 11:28 AM |  

    There is no HFCS in Lite House brand Ceasar Ceasar dressing! It tastes great and is thick and creamy, just like it should be. Also, try the Atkins approved salad dressings, most don't have HFCS.

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