You Are What You Eat

I know there has been a lot of controversy surrounding high fructose corn syrup: it’s bad for you; it’s not bad for you; it’s not that bad for you; it’s actually good for you — it’s made of corn!; it’s pure and unadulterated evil.

I have been toying with the idea of eliminating it from my household. It’s not the HFCS per se — it’s the idea that it’s in so many highly processed foods. I’m a simple foods kind of person. I like cooking; I use fresh ingredients. I spend the most time in the grocery store in the produce and organic sections.

After reviewing a number of articles on both sides, I think I’m going to stick with the gut instinct that says to me: Purge it from the house. I am raising two vegetarians (I am one myself), and I would like to raise two girls who prefer real ingredients in their food, too.

So far, they do. My girls are good eaters, and they like tofu, beans, and veggies just as much as anything else. And they love fruit. Monkey would eat blueberries until she became one; both girls love apples, strawberries, bananas, raisins, grapes, pears, and so on. They are on the fence about melons — except for watermelon of course. I chalk that up to a texture thing, and figure they will outgrow it.

As you may know, if you’ve decided to eliminate HFCS, you have to become an avid label reader. Since I am anyway (see: vegetarian, above), this has been okay with me. Of course I am dismayed at the places I find HFCS — bread being my biggest disappointment, with canned soup close behind. Bye-bye, Roman Meal and Progresso Soup.

I stumbled onto this site, and I am going to use their list of HFCS-free foods to help me shop next time I go. Monkey doesn’t like any bread with nuts or seeds in it — neither does DearDR, come to think of it — so it will be challenging to find something she will eat. Making my own bread and/or shopping at Whole Foods are not quite on the agenda yet (it’s a time thing).

I’ve actually been just as surprised as where HFCS is not. Apple Jacks? No HFCS. Fruit Loops? Ditto. Now obviously, those are high in sugar (I think it’s the first or second ingredient in both), but I think on occasion, those cereals are okay.

RPM’s Food Mantra: All things in moderation. I don’t drink diet pop (or “soda” as some of you insist of calling it) — I don’t drink regular pop that often; I don’t buy “low-fat” foods, or sugar-free snacks. I believe in real ingredients, organic if we can afford it (and almost all organic dairy), and variety.

It’s funny, because as I’m reading this over I think I sound like a super-fussy eater. But really, I’m not. I like food that tastes good, and I’m not a big junk-food eater. I don’t obsess about food or about what I feed the girls. And I don’t get all worked up about what (or when) they eat, or how much. I can count the food battles I have had with them: Two, one with Bun, one with Monkey.

But I am trying to be more conscientious about food ingredients because… I don’t know. I guess it’s complicated to explain. Because I’m a mom — and a wife — who is the caretaker of health in my house. Eating well — it’s second nature to me. I do not think about it, literally. And I want Monkey and Bun to have the same relationship with food that I have, which can be summed up like this: Eat when you’re hungry; eat food that tastes good and is good for you; and everything is fine in moderation.

That sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?