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Eliminating high-fructose corn syrup

One of the toughest parts of my new diet is eliminating high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Sugar is fairly easy to spot and eliminate, but high-fructose corn syrup shows up in the strangest places — even in some supposedly “healthy” foods. Here is my (growing) list of foods that, surprisingly, contain high-fructose corn syrup:

  • Ritz crackers, Wheat Thins, and saltines. Strangely enough, several varieties of crackers contain high-fructose corn syrup. Also, watch out for it in breads, including some “healthy” wheat breads. Alternative foods: Find crackers/breads in a store near you that advertise “all-natural.” I found a line of Annie’s brand crackers that advertises itself as “totally natural” and does not contain HFCS. Other smaller brands typically do not contain HFCS.
  • Yoplait yogurt. Another bizarre place for HFCS to show up — not quite as unexpected as crackers, but strange for a product that bills itself as health food. Look for yogurts advertising “natural” or “organic.” I found Clover organic strawberry yogurt, which is about the same price as Yoplait. It’s definitely not as sweet, but it still tastes good and it does not contain sugar (except for the natural sugar found in the fruit) or HFCS.
  • Heinz ketchup. This one really stymied me. There are natural ketchups out there, but they do taste different and my body has adapted over the years to thinking Heinz=ketchup. For now, I’ve decided to stop eating ketchup — or to eat it in very small quantities when I do eat it. As I try out different ketchups, I’ll blog my results.

So why give up HFCS and sugar? Well, for me, it’s eliminated the crazy blood sugar highs and lows I had as a result of my hypoglycemia (as described in my previous blog entry.) Also, it’s forced me to really think about what I eat instead of just stuffing food into my mouth. As a result of my new diet, I have lost 3 pounds in the past month. Since I wasn’t overweight to begin with, 3 pounds was a significant change — people noticed and commented. I’m curious to know where a long-term application of this diet will put me in terms of weight.

I also feel I should point out that I do allow myself 1 dessert a week – typically on a weekend. It’s important to not feel completely deprived on a diet like this. I don’t want to develop a bitterness or a resentment toward how I eat. The 1 dessert a week allows me to reward myself when I want to, while keeping in mind that my overall strategy should be toward less sugar.

Here is a more complete list of foods containing high-fructose corn syrup. If you would like to remain healthy, I suggest you avoid these foods — particularly those where there is an easy substitute.

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