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Labelwise: Looking out for hidden, artificial sugars

Since the day I entered the huge Sainsbury at the O2 Centre in Central London, I fell in love with grocery shopping

Labelwise: Looking out for hidden, artificial sugars

Since the day I entered the huge Sainsbury at the O2 Centre in Central London, I fell in love with grocery shopping. Day dreaming through the aisles, concocting dinner menus, picking up useful kitchen gadgets, skimming through the local magazines and dumping my cart with dips, dressings, cereals, sauces, condiments and so much more.

Back then I had plenty of time on my hands (well that explains it) and I blindly trusted the food conglomerates to feed me well. The front label, eye-catching packaging and a recipe suggestion at the back put my sterlings to good use, that’s what I thought.

Things have changed now; I don’t trust the ginormous Food Corps anymore. Hence I spend even more time in the grocery aisles and treat every shelf item like a book off the library. I am sifting through the labels, trying to look out for hidden poisons that the food conglomerates may have very cleverly masked under various alibis and put in so many of our regularly consumed products.

Allow me to identify certain elements, which are added in many of our food items to improve flavour, texture and the overall look of the finished product. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is a diamond, heavily speckled by the Corn Industry in possibly 80 per cent of your shelved items. Many have also been misled into thinking that this sweetener is mainly composed of ‘fructose’, a simple sugar found in fruits and honey. However, such is not the case at all. HFCS is a corn based liquid sweetener whereas granulated sugar comes from sugar cane and sugar beet. Nutritionally and structurally HFCS and sugar are more or less the same, the body reacts to both the same way, giving you glucose spikes after you consume these empty sparkled calories!

This particular sweetener gained popularity back in 1970s in the US when food giants started using this sugar alternative for practical reasons. It is cheaper than table sugar, doesn’t mask flavours, has a lower melting point and retains moisture better – hence unabatedly used in your chewy granola bars. Since many of our daily-consumed food items, here in Pakistan, are imported we need to be on the lookout for HFCS and its various other alibis. As this diamond continues to sparkle on our grocery shelves, read the labels and BURY food items that declare any of the following:

Maize Syrup, Glucose syrup, Fruit fructose, High Fructose corn syrup, Isoglucose, Corn syrup or Added Sugars

Whilst the creative promoters of this chemical continue to promote it and come up with wisecrack alibis it is time for you to purge your kitchen, go through all the bottled and boxed food you have and if any one of them contains HFCS and its other masks, bin it! Breakfast cereals, condiments, sauces, processed snacks, granola bars, jams and jellies, nut butters, salad dressings and last but not the least soft drinks – all of them carry HFCS.

You can be almost certain that all processed snacks and food would have added and hidden sugars, and the only way you can detoxify yourself from processed sugar is to cleanse your shelf items and start reading the labels closely. Shopping mindfully comes before eating mindfully.

So see you at the grocery shop, you are sure to see me there!

(This is part I of my ‘Labelwise’ segment, be sure to look out for the next installment)

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