Thursday, September 6, 2012

High Fructose Corn Syrup is Evil and It's Taking Over the World

The problem: More and more evidence is cropping up showing that high fructose corn syrup is dangerous, and it's in nearly every processed food on the market.

The solution: Read ingredient labels and choose products with no sugar or at least with more natural forms of sugar. Please DO NOT buy anything containing artificial sweeteners such as aspartame. Look for maple syrup, molasses, or if you must, plain old cane sugar.

The corn syrup producers just recently tried to change it's name to the more innocent sounding "corn sugar," but luckily, the FDA said no. They are full of lies about how HFCS is not bad for you. Don't fall for it!

Not only is HFCS suspected of contributing to obesity, diabetes, and heart also often contains mercury! As if that weren't enough, it is almost always made from genetically modified corn.

HFCS is obviously used to sweeten colas, cereals, and cookies. It's also lurking in places you would never expect like ketchup, bread, canned soup, and boxed stuffing! The average American consumes 12 teaspoons of HFCS a day. Now that's scary.

I'm not going to reinvent the wheel here, many articles already exist explaining the dangers of HFCS better than I can.  Here is one of my favorites.

An Egg a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

It seems like a new study comes out every other day either for or against eggs. Are they good or are they bad? The answer depends on where they come from. Truly free range chickens who are allowed to wander around and eat naturally produce eggs that are packed with many nutrients. Chickens kept in cages and fed chicken "feed" produce less nutritious eggs which are often contaminated with antibiotics. These chickens are raised in very unsanitary, sad conditions. Not only do you not want to eat their eggs, you also don't want to support the industry that exploits them for profit.

Typical set up of egg-laying hens. They live in these cages their entire lives, never able to spread their wings and never ever see sunshine or touch grass.

You have to be very careful when buying eggs because the labels are purposely deceiving. "Free Range" legally only has to mean the chickens are allowed out for one hour per day, and this is rarely, if ever, enforced. "Cage Free" often means the chickens all live crammed in one giant building with no room to get away from the others. This often leads to horrible fights and even canabilism.

"Cage Free"-As you can see, they are not much better off than the caged hens. Eggs from these ladies could be labelled "Free Range" if the owners claim to let them outside once a day, even if that is a lie.

Eggs from happy chickens truly are good for you. They are excellent sources of protein for people who don't eat meat (like us!) because they contain many vitamins, such as B12, which are often lacking in vegetarian diets.

So, how do you find happy chicken eggs? Find a local farmer! Some small grocery stores carry "farm fresh brown eggs" from locals. Here in Athens we have them at the farmers' market, the health food store, a beauty parlor, and the drive thru coffee stand, just to name a few places. Find out where your eggs are coming from, don't just trust the package. It's best if you can form a personal relationship with your egg supplier so you truly know you can trust him/her.

Of course, you could start raising chickens yourself! It's not as crazy as it sounds. Lots of people are doing it these days, and we plan to as well once we find a place with more land. Check your local library for books on raising happy chickens. :)

Why I'm Always Hatin' on Sugar...Plus, Healthy Ice Cream

Our version of icecream is simply blended frozen bananas. This particular concoction is two frozen bananas and about a half a cup of blueberries.

The bananas are what give it the ice cream texture but any other fruit can be added for different flavors. Get crazy and add some spinach in there. You won't be able to taste it.

Don't forget to peel the bananas before you freeze them. Just trust me on this.

Does Evie know this is not "real" icecream? Heck no, and she loves it. Am I saying she will never get "real" icecream? No. I hate to break it to ya, but that crap on the grocery store shelves is not real icecream either. Take a look at the ingredients.

When she gets older we will have real homemade icecream. Why not now? What's the big deal about letting her eat sugary snacks?

We all learn our taste preferences. Taste buds are trainable. If I give Evie really sweet things at this age, she will develop a sweet tooth. The longer I can hold her off from tasting things like whipped cream, cookies, cake, etc. the more likely it is she will find the these things to be too sweet. Same thing with whole wheat stuff...I hope the day she tastes white bread she thinks "Ewww it's so mushy and bland!"

Her dad and I both have major food addictions and we have both struggled with our weight our entire lives. I was very obese from about 2nd grade through high school. I remember the humiliation of shopping and not being able to find clothes that fit, being twice the size of all my classmates, and feeling like everyone was staring at me and keeping track of how much I was eating at lunch. We only had gym 3 days a week in elementary school and I would lie awake every night before gym and worry. Sometimes I cried. I hated my body and I was mortified to have people look at me while I tried to maneuver it. I also remember devouring sweets as a way to deal with my feelings. It breaks my heart to look back at myself in those days.

I'm not saying you can't be fat and happy or fat and healthy or fat and sexy, because you definitely can. But I wasn't.

I want Evie to be healthy and enjoy nutritious foods for all the obvious reasons, but I also don't want her to ever feel like I did as a fat kid. I don't want her to grow up to struggle daily with "I want to eat that but I shouldn't." I want her to love and enjoy her body.

She already has genetics against her. She comes from a family of overweight over-eaters. I don't know how much of that is inherited and how much is learned, but I'm going to do everything I can to help her have a healthy relationship with food.