Why I don’t eat High Fructose Corn Syrup

HFCS Mosaic

My second eating rule is to eliminate all High Fructose Corn Syrup from my diet.

Although the jury is still out about the deleterious health effects of HFCS, I’ve decided nevertheless to avoid it completely.

Many respected nutrition experts (including Marion Nestle and Michael Jacobson) are now saying that HFCS is no worse for you than any other form of refined sugar.

Okay, fine.  But here’s the thing: 

HFCS is added almost exclusively to processed and unhealthful food products.  By refusing to eat it, you immediately remove those bad-for-you junk food products from your diet.

(Note the distinction between “food” and “food products.”)

I believe that eliminating HFCS from your diet is a powerful yet simple-to-follow strategy.  (Granted, I didn’t say “easy”).  It all ties into my philosophy of making one, critical decision, and therefore removing willpower from the equation.

When I’m at the grocery store, if I see there’s HFCS in the ingredient list of a product, I put it back on the shelf without a second thought.  There’s no decision to be made when I’m shopping; I made up my mind long before I stepped foot in the store.

This isn’t carte blanche to eat foods with lots of other sugars, of course.  The 2005 US Dietary Guidelines tell us that we should limit our discretionary calories — and they’re absolutely right. (Though that verbiage is awfully vague, fuzzy, and confusing.  Hopefully that will be fixed with the new guidelines coming out later this year).

This eating rule may need to evolve as manufacturers start to respond to the consumer-driven marketplace and replace HFCS with other sugars.  Neverthless, I currently find it a very helpful way to make healthy eating much simpler.

Also, while we’re on the subject, be sure to check out Marion Nestle’s article in Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle for a terrific discussion of sugar guidelines and how we got where we are today.

As always: If you’ve gotta have that HFCS-loaded junk food, go ahead and enjoy it as part of your cheat meal.  But just once a week, and savor the experience — make it count!

Image by KG Studios Oakland

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One Response to Why I don’t eat High Fructose Corn Syrup

  1. Joncie December 8, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    I dont lick the the sugar either. It’s like Mcdonalds fries.

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