October 25th, 2011

Halloween and the Truth About High Fructose Corn Syrup

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Groovy Green Livin Halloween

Candy Corn, Kit Kats and M&M’s oh my!

Every Halloween it’s those bite sized candy bars that get me. Somehow on Halloween I give myself permission and I’m able to rationalize eating those fun- sized pieces (and lots of them).  Bad news for me: the National Confectioners Association says that two 50-calorie bite-size candy bars may not seem like much, but 100 extra calories a day for a year can result in a 10-lb. weight gain.  And come on-who can eat just two?

If that’s not enough to stop you from diving head first into the candy bowl, there’s more: chances are most of the candy you are consuming contains high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). There’s nothing wrong with a little indulgence on Halloween, but better to do so with the power of knowledge.

Groovy Green Livin Halloween candy bucket

 

What is High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)?

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a man-made sweetener made from corn and can be found in foods and beverages on grocery store shelves in the United States.  It can be found in a range of products from candy, soda and Twinkies to bread and ketchup. According to Planet Green :

There’s nothing natural about high fructose corn syrup and it most certainly does not exist in nature. The process starts off with corn kernels, yes, but then that corn is spun at a high velocity and combined with three enzymes…, so that it forms a thick syrup that’s way sweeter than sugar and super cheap to produce. That’s why it’s poured into a huge majority of mass produced processed foods.

Why is HFCS bad?

  • It messes with your body and interferes with your metabolism so that a person can’t stop eating. It’s addictive and many think it’s one of the culprits behind childhood obesity.
  • According to Healthy Child Healthy World, a few years back a study found mercury contamination in HFCS.  Not good.
  • HFCS is highly processed and has been linked to all sorts of health issues including obesity, cavities and a host of other health concerns and diseases.
  • There is no nutrition whatsoever in HFCS.
  • The use of HFCS isn’t very green and the environmental impact is huge.
  • With more and more shoppers and manufacturers shying away from using HFCS the industry has gone to the FDA and requested a name change from HFCS to “corn sugar”. Even the corn industry knows that HFCS has a bad rap and there needs to be a change.  You can click HERE to help prevent the name change, which would be very confusing to consumers.

How to avoid HFCS on Halloween

A few fun-sized candy bars make my kids smile on Halloween. I’m OK with that, but I’m all for getting rid of the leftover HFCS filled bonbons. Here are some ideas to help ditch the candy:

  • Trade them.  We have food allergies in our family so this is a simple fix for us. I usually buy healthy alternatives and trade with my kids. They take the good stuff and I collect the bad.
  • Pay them. Yep, pay your kids for their candy. This works like a charm.
  • Teach them. Read the labels on the candy together and teach your children why the candy isn’t good for them. We play a game -we look for the candy that has the most sugar, then the candy with the least sugar etc… Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
  • Donate them (the candy, not the kids). Do whatever you can to convince your children that the candy should be donated. Let me know how that goes.

Do you try to avoid high fructose corn syrup?

photo credit: Pahz via photopin cc

This post is part of the Green Halloween Blog Carnival. Check out the other posts for some great tips on how to green your Halloween!

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27 Responses to “Halloween and the Truth About High Fructose Corn Syrup”

  1. Here in Comox & Courtenay, BC there is a Mom who has started a program called “Books for Treats” http://www.ourbigearth.com/top-menu/events/the-2011-books-for-treats-community-initiative/
    This is a great idea and we will be giving out books this year, but our kids want to go trick-or-treating as well. When we get home there will be some special books put aside that they can then trade candy for. :) Smart? I think so.

  2. I do try to avoid HFCS, mostly on the grounds that I try to avoid processed foods. Occasionally some slips in (most recently, it showed up in almond crackers!), but I figure small, occasional amounts aren’t a problem.

    My parents limited the amount of candy we collected in the first place (small pumpkin pails, shorter excursions) and the amount we could eat right away. But maybe there was just less HFCS around when I was a kid. I like the idea of swapping bad candy for better stuff, or non-edibles. I would totally have swapped most of my candy for stickers or books!

  3. I’ve been trying to mostly avoid this one for quite a while, but it is hard sometimes finding an alternative. I had no idea how it was made! I will have to check out the link to prevent the name change because right now it is easy to scan the ingredients quickly to see if it has the HFCS. And I remember when I first saw a commercial that talked about how HFCS was getting a bad rap I was really surprised that they could say that. We do talk about sugar grams in cereal, I like the idea of doing that for candy too. I think we will try that this year. Thanks for the great information!

  4. I do try to avoid them. But like you said – Halloween comes and they are so fun and little…I struggle.

  5. It is hard to find alternatives Marsha-especially around Halloween time when the kids expect the traditional candy bars etc….There are alternatives that don’t have HFCS -we just have to search. Some companies have started labeling their products HFCS free. Hopefully more brands will follow! We talk about sugar in cereal too…they kids love to read the labels and compare.

  6. Almond crackers-an interesting place for HFCS! It’s definitely in some bizarre foods. I agree Jennifer-small doses in moderation are just fine. I like your suggestion to use a smaller pumpkin. That would certainly limit the amount of candy brought home. We are using pillow cases this year-I’m afraid to see what ends here. My kids actually like trading the candy and counting it more than eating it! I’m with you-stickers and books over candy any day.

  7. Hi Lisa-thanks so much for sharing the “Books for Treats” program. What a great concept! I think your idea to swap candy for books is fantastic. Very smart :) Have a happy Halloween!

  8. Hi Andrea-I struggle too. That’s why I’m OK with Halloween and letting go of most of my healthy habits for one night. I have so much fun watching my kids collect candy, count it and trade it. Most of it doesn’t get eaten-just a few pieces that night and maybe a piece or two during the week. Then back to our regular ol’ habits. Happy Halloween :)

  9. Lori, thanks for creating a safe place where I can reveal my distaste for Halloween treats. Urgh. Every year I have hand wringing. And so many other parents think my view is ridiculous–that there’s something wrong with me for wanting to “spoil the fun.”

  10. Hi Sarah-so glad you feel safe here! You will never be judged for your views-especially when I agree with them! I’m OK with the Halloween treats for one night, but then it’s time to dump them.

  11. Oh my goodness I love the tips especially on the one about just paying them to rid of the treats. We could weigh then pay per pound topping off with a simple donation. Love it. Great incentive for my youngest to save her money towards new skates. Great articles and happy reading.
    ~Becki

  12. Thanks for stopping by Becki! My kids are definitely motivated by cash for candy. Does your youngest ice skate?

  13. I make my own candy and cookies to make sure HFCS is absent from our diets. But, once a year, on Halloween, I lift the ban and let my son eat whatever he collects.

  14. Hi Mari! We lift the ban on Halloween too. It’s also lifted at birthday parties and other special occasions. How wonderful that you make your own candy and cookies. That’s the only true way to know what’s actually going into your food!

  15. We absolutely lift the ban on Halloween–I’m not that far gone. But even so, we make the kids stick to chocolate and remove some of the real teeth-cracking nightmare candy.
    This is interesting–two years ago when I took the boys to a new dentist (we’d moved) he admired their teeth, which have no cavities (yet.) I said “yes, we’ve been very lucky.” He said: “It’s not luck, it’s diet.”
    Surely there’s also luck / genetics / whatever at work, but it’s nice to know that the dentist thinks our choices have *some* effect.

  16. Great post, Lori. It’s scandalous that HFCS even exists. Sugar is by no means healthy, but it almost seems that way compared to this new stuff. And so few people know about it! Thanks for helping to share the info.

  17. Thanks so much Andrea. HFCS is in so many processed foods-things we would never think of like ketchup and bread. It’s just cheap and easy for manufacturers to use and no one has put up a big fight….until now!

  18. Hi Sarah-Glad to hear that you met a health care professional who is buying into the facts! There’s no question that our diet plays a huge roll in our dental and overall physical health. Hopefully those pearly whites will stay cavity free for a long time. It’s those chewy candies that stick in your teeth (filled with HFCS!) that cause cavities. Everyone needs to do a good job brushing after Halloween.

  19. […] “Halloween And The Truth About High Fructose Corn Syrup” by Lori of Groovy Green Livin’ […]

  20. […] found on the shelves at the market are filled with processed sugars or sugar substitutes such as high fructose corn syrup or Aspartame. So I decided to make my own. HERE’s the recipe if you want to give it a […]

  21. […] But are they healthy?  Most granola bars are high in sugar and salt and in many cases, contain high fructose corn syrup.  Lots of granola bars contain soy ingredients, and most, unless they specify it or are certified […]

  22. […] frozen section of the grocery store are filled with processed sugars or sugar substitutes such as high fructose corn syrup or Aspartame. Artificial sweeteners are known to cause numerous health issues ranging from […]

  23. […] to indulge. But I know the real deal. Most of the candy that many of us love to eat is filled with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and […]

  24. I totally agree with you concerning HFCS. This stuff is simply poison – no two ways about it. I do have a question, though. I currently work overseas so I do not have access to certain info at this point in time; however, I was wondering if the Mallo Cup candy bar produced by Boyer contains HFCS? I used to eat them as a kid and would like to order some through Amazon, but not if they’re contaminated with HFCS. If you could find out for me, that would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  25. Hi Frank, I just did a quick search on their site and the ingredients aren’t listed anywhere! I’ll try to reach out through social media and let you know what I find.

  26. […] A typical 20 ounce bottle of soda contains about 16 teaspoons of sugar from High Fructose Corn Syrup. […]

  27. […] found on the shelves at the market are filled with processed sugars or sugar substitutes such as high fructose corn syrup or Aspartame. So I decided to make my own. HERE’s the recipe if you want to give it a […]

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I hope you'll join me as I embark on a journey to live a healthy life. Along the way I might make a few pit stops to fight for issues that affect the health and safety of our families. Come along with me as I work hard to make the world a little safer for each of us. Together we'll discover that simple, small changes can lead to a healthier lifestyle and a greener planet.

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