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?

10 thoughts on “You Are What You Eat

  1. You need a bread machine. They are dead easy. Dump in ingredients. Press button. 4 hours later, fresh bread, with no HFCS.

    I know I should get rid of it too. I’ll start paying attention for a bit first. When I get scared enough, it will be gone.

  2. Good for you!

    I don’t think you sound picky at all–you sound like you are doing what I strive to do. My gut absolutely tells me that HFCS is nasty stuff. Have you read Omnivores Dilemma? Definitely a book worth reading. The first section is entirely about corn, and how it enters our diet without (most of) us even knowing it.

    I make my own bread about 1/2 of the time, and all it takes is about 1/2 TBS sugar just to get the yeast going. Flour, water, yeast, salt…easy peasy. And Kim is right about a bread machine making it much easier.

  3. I hear you, DPM. It is a challenge to find things that do not have HFCS. Bread was the biggest shocker. We have a pathetic variety of breads at our grocery stores and it pains me to pay Whole Foods Prices for bread. There are only a couple of organic brands at our closest store, but Ella hates the “seeds” and begs for white bread. Arnold whole wheat white has been a god-send. Thomas’s English muffins are actually puting on their label that they do not have it.

    I did finally try the bread machine and I am LOVING it. I made an oatmeal honey bread yesterday that Ella helped me make and I am getting ready to make a sweet potato bread.

    It’s just a matter of time before you start making your own fabirc softener and laundry soap. Let me know when you ar ready for that! You will die at how easy and cheap it is!

  4. Sounds like all you are doing is good… I feel OCD sometimes with all the label watching I do with my little man going gluten and dairy free. I have been watching for HFCS for awhile, too…spaghetti sauce is another place I have found it (although you make your own, don’t you?)

    I can’t wait for summer…so many more fruit options, especially organic!

  5. Allison, ClumberKim, and Misfit: I would not turn down a bread machine, although obviously I haven’t shopped for one. I hear they are “dead easy” which definitely appeals. I do hesitate also because I have kitchen counter clutter issues.

    MH: Woah. Are you telling me you make laundry soap and fabric softener?? Spill the beans, sister!

    Hope: I cannot even imagine. I didn’t make an entire week trying to get the girls off dairy (chiropractic recommendation re: ear infections). I’ll have to check sauces — I usually make my own marinara, but I like to have a jar to hand just in case I need a quick meal.

    thanks for the comments, ladies!


  6. I know you mention the time of shopping, but if you are looking for a less expensive alternative to Whole Foods, I’ve heard that there is now a Trader Joe’s in Pittsburgh. I love that store! Great nuts and cheeses (and cheap wine). Much like WH, the store is not HFCS free, but you’re likely to find more options that at the Iggle.

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