I have the distinct pleasure of being surrounded by other parents in my community that have similar goals in mind. Some are just hoping to make nutritional changes and others are actually walking the walk. I have learned a lot about food and dead calories verses live calories and how there is really a difference in my behavior (moody, tired, etc) when I make (and eat) poor food choices.
Live calories are foods that give you life - energy and a strong immune system, like fruits and vegetables and dead calories are foods that well... tear you down and make you feel sluggish - prepackaged and processed foods.
What is High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)?
HFCS in its basic sense is a sweetener and a preservative. It is cheaper to make than using sugar and that's the main reason so many [manufacturers] are using it. The other reason is because it keeps you hungry (or thirsty) after consuming the item for which HFCS is found in.
There are conflicting results in the research that has been conducted on HFCS. Most say it causes obesity and it contributes to diseases such as diabetes, cancers and diagnoses like A.D.H.D. and Autism. I do believe that HFCS is a contributor to the aforementioned but so is eating a poor diet overall which in many cases are processed food laden with HFCS and other unmentionables.
Bottom line, I believe that environmental factors (how you're brought up - what your parents ate, ingredients found in our foods, lack of education about health and wellness, lack of resources to teach this ever-so-needed topic, etc) are the real reasons why we are slapped with a label from the doctor's offices.
Whatever your diagnosis may be... you don't have to let it consume you. Many of the times, if we correct (change) our eating habits, we tend to feel better and are healthier.
Dr. Bill Sears, pediatrician and father of 8, has published more than 30 books many of which discuss the importance of eating right. He has 3 simple categories of foods: Green (eat every day all day foods), Yellow (eat sometimes foods), and Red (don't eat). He believes and has seen in his practice that many of the diagnoses as mentioned above, especially ADHD / ADD are misdiagnoses. It is really N.D.D. (Nutrition Defecit Disorder).
Examples of green foods are all fruits and vegetables. Examples of yellow foods are lean meats, legumes, butter, whole wheat breads and pastas, and healthy fats like olive oil and coconut oil. Examples of red foods are beverages presweetened with sugar or corn syrup (HFCS too), dyes (red, yellow, blues #s), foods with hydrogenated oils, and foods containing nitrates/nitrites (sandwich meats).
Though the results from the research on HFCS don't lean one way or the other, one thing that's factual and can be observed from any angle is that everything you eat or drink that has HFCS has high calories and has very little to no nutritional value in it. One major culprit and the best example is soda, which is a red light food.
When shopping for food, read the labels. If it has HFCS or any of the names HFCS is known by like Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Iso Glucose, and Fuit Fructose and if anything has been hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated find a replacement.
In my next week's post, I will share some quick tips on label reading. You'll be surprised at how easy it is to remember the main things to look for. Your grocery shopping trips may take a little longer initially until you know which foods to avoid and which ones to replace what your family has been used to eating. You may also find that your grocery bill for one trip may be more than what you're used to spending but what you will notice over time is that at the end of the month your grocery bill expense may either remain the same or even be lower than what you budgeted for. The main reason is because when you eat healthier, you tend to not overeat and you stay satisfied longer in between meals and snacks.
Another tip to avoiding HFCS is go organic. If you don't have a Whole Foods (Sprouts, Trader Joe's, Henry's, etc) store nearby, you can shop at a Target or Amazon. They carry Archer Farms and most of these foods have the USDA Organic label on the packaging.
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Choose, eat, and live well! =)