Adventures in Gluten (and Sugar) Freedom from a southern blogger chick!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Pick your poison

This has been a pretty good week. Even since Tuesday, when i declared I'd be "cleaning up my act," I've had good success.

You have to know, though -- it is painful to reduce sugar in a diet. There's a culprit out there working against all of us.

Now, I've had people ask me how I gave up gluten. Once they figure out what that TRULY means, they're horrified to think of a life without bread. I of course don't live without bread -- I live without WHEAT. Barley. Rye. Oats, A lot of milk products. etc.
But I eat a lot of other stuff, including Snickers, the naturally gluten-free candy bar.

But I need to live without added sugar. I'd been noticing, for instance, that I had a bit of gastric distress when I ate things with a lot of sugar in them. Not to mention the reaction of my blood sugar. BAD combination for me as a type II diabetic with food intolerances.

So this week, I've been closing watching my sugar, especially my consumption of one ingredient -- High Fructose Corn Syrup.

We all know there is sugar naturally occurring in many natural things, of course -- there are about 12 grams of sugar in a cup of milk (lactose is that sugar); and there's fruit sugar -- fructose. I can have a LOT of fruit and three sevings of milk a day, so I can get ample "good" sugar without adding any. There are four grams of sugar in a teaspoon of plain ol' table sugar -- glucose. Plain on glucose. It's actually not bad in small amounts. In some forms, like honey and molasses, it has nutritional value.

When I'm on an eating plan like The DASH diet, I look for low sugar and good sugar. I do eat small amounts of honey. I would eat molasses. I will eat grade b amber maple syrup. I eat fruit-sweetened items. No, when I'm being good (as I am now) I try to keep any given serving of food under about 12 grams of ADDED sugar. OR -- a tablespoon of honey, molasses, etc.

Higher math, I know. Makes sense, though. My blood sugar can handle that.

Right now, for instance, I'm eating a lovely bowl of 2 percent plain Greek yogurt (12 grams of lactose-based sugar) with some Trader Joe's gluten free tropical granola (six grams of sugar from dried fruit, mostly), with a tiny teaspoon of some delicious honey to amp up the yogurt nutriets. The probiotic effects of yogurt are increased significantly if you add a little honey to it, and Greek yogurt...oh my. I love the stuff. Total sugar: 30 grams of all healthy sugar. And yummy.

But did you know there's a poisonous side of sugar? A really horrible sugar? There is -- High Fructose Corn Syrup. It's sugar made from corn (thus the fructose, not the sucrose). Table sugar is made from cane or beets.

I have spent this week trying desperately to ELIMINATE the High fructose corn syrup, to be exact. I don't think there's a more pervasive filler food out there today. I have met MY enemy, and it is HFCS. ACK!

For me, HFCS also seems to cause a great deal of gastric distress. It took me this week on an elimination diet to figure that out, but I see it very clearly, It tears me up, and it breaks me down.

For instance, yesterday at lunch I went to Chick FIl A and had two char-grilled GF chicken breasts. Perfectly wonderful GF food. I made the mistake, though, out of habit, I guess, to pop open a package of honey mustard dipping sauce. Guess what? No honey -- but HFCS is the second ingredient. ACK. ALL DAY I craved sugar and food. I tried to assuage it all day, and last night found myself staring down a carefully hidden can of frosting (that has since gone up to Jeffrey's house to live). It was HORRIBLE! And the bloating and stomach pain (etc.) were immediate and painful.

Nope. I've suspected that I have another food sensitivity...HFCS. It is hard to escape in our processed food today. And for me -- I'm speaking only for me today -- it is horrible. If I can get it out of my system and replace it with GOOD sugars, my blood glucose will improve, my digestion will improve, and I will be healthier.

That, my friends, is easier said than done. I'm not talking about becoming an all-organic, only natural foods person. I'm talking about ingredients I've used in some good everyday stuff.

Take my recipe a few weeks back for Sloppy Ging. if I'm going to give up the HFCS, I'm going to have to make my own sloppy joe sauce. So I saw the Neelys making this on Food Network today, and they used bbq sauce. Guess what is in the BBQ sauce in the fridge. YEP. HFCS is in that. It's in catsup/ketchup. All you have to do is READ THE LABEL and there is it.

I've been thinking about this a lot since I had lunch last week with Randy's former student, Arleen (shoutout to Marley!). While he was elsewhere in the building, she and I had a great discussion about food additives. I told her about the documentary "King Corn," which spends a year looking at the life of an acre of corn. A lot of our corn goes to HFCS production. In "King Corn," for instance, the producers try to cook a completely HFCS-free Thanksgiving Dinner. Right: Some turkey brines have HFCS in it, and don't forget the pumpkin and pecan pies. Check out that cranberry sauce in a can...oops. Cheaper ones have HFCS in it. It's tough. Read that juice label...more often than not, HFCS costs MUCH LESS than plain old sugar. So it has become the sweetner of choice in the industry.

I've read a lot about the dangers of HFCS, and for me, as a type II diabetic, it is simply deadly. This website
explains it pretty well. It also explains why kids are fatter today than they were 20 years ago, and why there is a dramatic rise in type II diabetes in young people. And it makes sense to me now -- drink cheap juice with HFCS, drink lots of it, and your body will grow fatter. Add a sedentary, TV/computer-based lifestyle. Fat kids = diabetes. That simple.

Parents out there: READ those baby juice labels. Juice is good. Fruit is better. And consider what you're cooking with you use a product with high levels of HFCS. If it is in the first three ingredients, consider finding a replacement. Make sure that daycare, camp, or church nursery isn't using a cheap HFCS juice, ok? Don't get my babies started young.

You body will thank you for it. I'm convinced of that now.

Much love, and much natural sweetness to you all!


The Petersons said...

I have been looking at everything lately that we feed Addison. I looked for HFCS in her juices early on...of course my wonderful, Japanese pediatrician says "no juice, only water..." she says "juice make baby fat."

We're trying to keep Addison healthy and not a junk food aholic like me...

Gluten Free Steve said...

I know the more I eat sugar, the more I crave it. When I first went gf, I went off my sweets and baked goods and didn't miss them. Once I found out how to bake gf, I am back on craving sugar. THE BEAST! I will post a great bbq sauce recipe for you to try. It should be low in HFCS (I'm not sure about ketchup...) Check my blog out for the recipe.

stories said...

I still need to watch King Corn, and I am looking forward to it.

Last semester, I gave a presentation for my cultural studies class about nutrition (or the lack thereof!) in America, and a few days prior, I walked around a Publix just checking for things that include HFCS. Essentially, everything on the cookie aisle contained it...even stuff like Snackwells, which shoppers usually buy when they think they're picking a healthier choice! I am ready for a food revolution here. More on that later... :)

And thanks for the shoutout! I'm so touched! :)


Sherry said...

I agree, Trader Joe's is a wonderful source for finding food with no HFCS! Here is a list I've been working on of products that don't contain HFCS. It's sad how small it is!

Sherry said...

Hi, Ginger; I got your note. Yes, it is ok to link to my No HFCS list! I want to get the word out about it, because I think the more people there are to add to it the better. Also because I don't think a lot of people realize a list like this exists. Thanks!

Joyous said...

Wow...I honestly had no idea about HFCS. I mean, I have heard of it, but I hadn't realized just how bad it is! Thanks for sharing this - I will work on cutting that out too! :) I've been doing pretty well in the last week or so - but making other changes to do even better!!! :)

Anonymous said...

I too, have recently opened my ears and eyes to HFCS. Thats how I ran into your site. Thankyou for the info on this subject. How do you know when your foods contain good sugars vs bad sugars? Is too much fruit bad?