No sugar-coating it

Food manufacturers have been fighting over how to hide the amount of sugar they actually put into foods for years. It’s been going on at least as long as I have been in this business of trying to make people healthier. For 18 years, I’ve been doing my best to stay one step ahead of these nefarious food manufacturers. And to keep my patients one step ahead as well.

For me, the simplest solution was to cut out packaged and processed foods altogether. But I know that can take time for some people. So once a month, I go shopping in a regular grocery store. I spend hours looking at the new products. Examining their labels. And updating my list of things to make sure my patients watch out for.

Before I go any further, let me remind you that there are no legal restrictions on what manufacturers can say on a food label. They can take packaged bacon and call it cereal and that’s perfectly okay. However, the ingredient list and the nutrition facts must be correct. (Although, there is a little fibbing in that arena too. For example, anything that has less than 1 gram of sugar per serving can be considered “sugar free.”) So that’s where you should look first, anytime you pick a product up off the supermarket shelf.

But, I digress. Back to my real point in writing to you today. Which is a recent ruling made by the FDA They decided that U.S. food and beverage makers will not be able to call high-fructose corn syrup “corn sugar” on product labels. The agency said calling high-fructose corn syrup “sugar” would mislead people–and could harm them.

That’s putting it mildly, if you ask me. I’m glad that the FDA isn’t letting food manufacturers (corn) sugar-coat what they’re really putting in our food. But we’re not out of the woods yet. There are still some major hurdles left to overcome when it comes to food labeling. And people’s perceptions of what’s good for them–and what’s not.

For one thing, the sugar industry is thrilled with this new ruling because they know that people are becoming increasingly concerned about the amount of HFCS they may be consuming. And this decision helps protect sugar from the HFCS stigma.

As if “corn sugar” sounds so much healthier?

Are people really that brainwashed about sugar? Oh wait. Of course they are.

It’s unbelievable how many people still think sugar is harmless. Which is what led to the Corn Refiners Association petitioning the FDA to allow high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to go by “corn sugar.”

They claim the two are nutritionally and metabolically equivalent. Which really isn’t saying much on the nutrition front. And as for being “metabolically equivalent”? That’s a bold faced lie. Sugar and HFCS are actually processed differently by the body.

But the bottom line here is that sugar–in ANY form–will add to your bottom line. Stay away from it any way you can. And know when you read an ingredient list from almost any packaged food, there will be sugar in it. It just may be going by one of its many aliases.