Sometimes you just can't avoid a sucker punch. And that can happen to your system when high fructose corn syrup sneaks into food in ways you would never expect, including in "healthy" frozen entrees. Really!
HFCS messes with your appetite-control hormones, encouraging you to overeat, and it adds body fat, increases your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, and boosts uric acid levels that age your arteries.
HFCS has become so widespread that the Center for Science in the Public Interest estimates that Americans eat 69 pounds of corn-based sweeteners a year. And that's because it's turning up in these unexpected places:
Your best bet: Read each label each time you buy food, and don't put it in your cart if it has corn syrup or HFCS in it.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." That proverb was a creepily obsessive phrase in the 1980 movie "The Shining," and look what happened there! Yet, its simple observation has gotten lost in our modern scramble to make kids smarter. Recess, that time-honored tradition that lets kids work off their restless energy and teaches them everything from being part of a team to negotiating conflicts with classmates, has virtually disappeared from many school districts. In some cities instituting recess can be a challenge; in Chicago, for example, nearly 100 elementary and middle schools have no playgrounds.
But people who run school districts are beginning to realize that it's a mistake to eliminate playtime from the school day and the creativity of playing made-up games. The benefits include stimulation of imagination; improved physical health; control of obesity; building friendships; and improvement in classroom attention and learning. Kids who have an hour of play, first thing in the day, learn better.
So if your child goes to an elementary school that does not have recess or you have school administrators who do not think recess is important, speak up and step up. If you have no outdoor space for recess, then help school teachers find creative ways to make the gym or a classroom recess-functional. If you have to take the issue up at parent-teacher meetings or the PTA, do it. Your child's health, happiness and success depend on it.