Avoiding sugar may seem straightforward, but there are hidden sugars in some unexpected foods. Read more about corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and hidden sugary surprises in foods.
On the surface, it may seem easy for me, a person living with type 1 diabetes, and others to restrict sugar. However, once you turn to the labels of the more standard food items in your refrigerator, as I did, you will find sugar lurking, along with the evil twin and its variations, high fructose corn syrup or corn syrup.

"High Fructose Corn Syrup was introduced into the American Food Supply in the 1970's, at roughly the same time as partially hydrogenated oils. Since then, we've had epidemic levels of obesity, the highest rates of disease, and the lowest life expectancy of any industrialized nation. Those facts are not a coincidence."

The preceding statement and others like it strike fear in me. Here is a short list of the aforementioned items, along with their sweet ingredients and place amongst the product's composition:

  • Peanut Butter: sugar, 2nd ingredient
  • Ketchup: high fructose corn syrup, 3rd ingredient; corn syrup, 4th
  • Strawberry Jelly: high fructose corn syrup, 2nd ingredient; corn syrup 3rd; sugar 4th
  • "Lite" Syrup: high fructose corn syrup, 1st ingredient
  • Light Mayonnaise: sugar, 6th ingredient
  • Thousand Island dressing: corn syrup, 2nd ingredient; high fructose corn syrup, 5th
  • Low Fat Italian dressing: high fructose corn syrup, 2nd ingredient
  • Four Cheese spaghetti sauce: sugar, 5th ingredient
  • Apple Juice: high fructose corn syrup, 1st ingredient

The USDA recommends no more than 10 teaspoons of added sugar daily for the average person eating a healthy 2,000 calorie diet (http://www.cspinet.org/new/sugar.html). However, most people consume twice the recommended amount of sugar. This should come as no surprise when you consider the myriad products chuck full of sugar that we apply to our otherwise healthy choices.

I can read labels and find less sweet alternatives to the offending products, but I shouldn't have to. Why does ketchup need that much corn syrup? Is it really impossible to make mayonnaise without sugar? The real question is why does this practice of unnecessarily sweetening foods continue? In our society that is so ironically obsessed with health while dramatically unhealthy, why can't we make reducing our caloric intake easier?

I'm certain the answer lies somewhere in the bottom line and economics. That is an unfortunate consequence of capitalism, but not one I feel is worth paying with our lives. Rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes among children have reached epic proportions in our society, and in the seemingly innocuous containers lining our fridge is the answer to why.

I suggest you raid your fridge, not armed with hunger, but rather a keen eye. Throw away anything with sugary ingredients and start fresh. Your waistline and your overall health will thank you.

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