If it’s naturally occuring, it probably won’t kill you

This is where it really started.  Before organics.  Before cutting out processed foods.  The focus was on whether or not the food could be classified as “real.”

Remember those commercials about high fructose corn syrup?  You know, the ones that show people enjoying a popsicle, or fruit-flavored colorful sugar water (with Vitamin C!) at a kid’s birthday party? We don’t know about you, but it’s been a very long time since we’ve seen a tree in a field, enjoying the sunlight, drinking up lots of water, and producing abundant quantities of gorgeous high fructose corn syrup just as nature intended.

What they forget to tell you, is that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) isn’t naturally occurring, even if it IS derived from plants. Allow us to introduce exhibit A:

We don’t think this is something that we could pull off in our kitchen, so it doesn’t appear to be all that natural to us. What we did learn, is that our bodies don’t process HFCS in the same way as table sugar.  It turns out that too much fructose increases your risk for diabetes.  Since diabetes runs in both of our families, we figured it would be a good idea to just play it safe and cut out HFCS from our diets. We’re not saying that it’s a good idea to eat a lot of table sugar (we’ve actually cut down on our sugar consumption). We would just rather be on the safe side. (a good side to be on, if we do say so ourselves)

Now, don’t think that we’re just picking on high fructose corn syrup. There are lots of other sweet-tasting, not-so-natural sweeteners out there, but those don’t have commercials trying to convince us of how natural they are.We’re just as picky about them, but we learned that reading labels saves us from falling victim to advertisements like the ones referenced earlier.

Now, we don’t just mean reading the Nutrition Facts. You know those people who irritate you at the grocery store? You know, the ones who stand in your way in the aisle while reading the essays on the back of everything they buy? That’s us. Yes, we love to read, but that has nothing to do with our shopping habits. What we are really doing, is reading the seemingly endless list of ingredients for each product we buy.  The front of the label says “Zero g Trans Fat!” but there is some sort of hydrogenated oil (trans fat) in the ingredients list. Aha! Another trap averted.

So, where are we going with all of this? If we need a dictionary to understand all of the ingredients, or if we need a chemist to put it together for us, then it’s probably not something that we really want in our bodies. It’s a change that took a long time for us to make, but we’re glad we made it.

The next time you’re at the store reading the nutrition facts on the back of your box of Cheerios, take a little bit more time and read the ingredients list as well.

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