Saturday, May 9, 2009

Thank God for the Throwback!

I don't smoke. Haven't since I was 16.

I hardly ever drink. I can't remember the last time I used beer for anything other than as an ingredient in chili or marinara sauce.

Easily, my biggest vice is my sweet tooth. And my drug of choice is Mountain Dew.

I wasn't always crazy about Mountain Dew. I made it through most of my 30's without drinking any caffeine. But as I got older, I found that I sometimes need a little something to get going. As I never acquired a taste for coffee, I developed a taste for highly caffeinated soft drinks, particularly, Mountain Dew in its various flavors.

And in recent months, I've come to learn that I was doing greater harm to my health than my usual consumption of cookies. I've come to identify a new food-based enemy.

Two words - corn syrup.

The local listener-supported radio station, WMNF, had a number of shows recently about the effects of corn syrup, how it is harder to digest than other sugars. It's possibly one of the biggest culprits in the modern-day scourges of obesity and diabetes.

What's more, the corn industry has been pushing corn syrup as a cheap alternative to sugar. Corn syrup turns up in everything from ketchup to salad dressings, but one of the biggest users of corn syrup is the soft drink industry. Because it is so much cheaper than other sugars, it is the reason restaurants and convenience stores are pushing those monster-size, bladder-busting cups of soda.

Wanting to do something about my own weight, I decided to try to reduce or eliminate corn syrup from my diet. I'm researching recipes for barbecue sauces and salad dressings, as well as storage methods so I'm not having to cook a new batch every time I make dinner.

I'm also looking for products that don't use corn syrup.

Enter the new Mountain Dew Throwback. Unfortunately, it's available for a limited time. But I've been using it instead of the regular Mountain Dew. I have to admit. Natural sugars do taste better. It's much sweeter going down and it doesn't have the aftertaste other sodas have.

I realize that switching soft drinks may not seem like something so outstanding when it comes improving my health and watching my weight. But it's a start. As Lau Tze once said, "The journey of 1,000 miles starts with the first step."

After recently abstaining from red meat for nearly two months, I'm looking forward to this next health challenge of reducing, and hopefully eliminating, corn syrup from my diet.


  1. They used to call refined sugar "White Death", but corn syrup is much worse. In fact(they probably said this in the radio show) corn syrup is not a food, it's a chemical.
    Have you thought about herbal teas? The one I use a lot is milk thistle. It is the best liver detox tea there is, and is very light and slightly sweet. Green Tea is also said to be useful in controlling weight.
    I heard a NPR piece on one of the places in the world where the oldest people live. This one was in the mountains in Greece. One thing they said was that the herbal teas were a key to long life and health. Lots of medicinal qualaties.

  2. I might try it. I'll do some research on herbal teas to see if I can find something that works good as an energy booster.

    Switching to Mountain Dew Throwback is a small and symbolic step in eliminating corn syrup from my diet. For example, I've been researching salad dressings, barbecue sauces and other condiments to learn to make them myself. Or, failing that, I'll bite the bullet and pay extra for a product at the health food store that doesn't contain corn syrup.