The Perils/Joys of Being Allergic to High Fructose Corn Syrup

Back in early November, I had picked up some Toaster Strudels at the grocery store. I thought that they would be great to eat and I hadn’t had any in a while. The morning after I picked up two boxes of two different varieties, I put one in my toaster, put frosting on it, ate it and headed off to a lecture at the Newberry Library.

I then spent half of that lecture in the bathroom, feeling absolutely miserable. I headed back to my apartment, cancelled my tickets for the play I was supposed to see that afternoon, and stayed home, assuming it was the pizza I ate at a (non-alcoholic) party at DePaul. The next day, I had another Toaster Strudel (the wildberry, I think) and had the same reaction, meaning I missed one of my lectures and only went to my second lecture of that day.

I then had an appointment with my wonderful internist to check-up on my condition after I had been sick for a month. I told her about what had happened and she looked up the ingredients online.

“Do you normally not do well with high fructose corn syrup?” she asked.

“Not really, but it’s never this bad,” I replied.

She then told me to cut out high fructose corn syrup from my diet and eat probiotic yogurt. I have been trying to follow her suggestions as well as I can. I eat probiotic yogurt either everyday or every other day and as a result, I can now eat pork and beef, which used to cause gastrointestinal problems for me.

The high fructose corn syrup thing is a bit harder.

For those of you curious, I cannot consume the following: Heinz Ketchup (unless it’s organic), Oreos, Toaster Strudels, Pop Tarts, Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia Ice Cream, some jams, various breads, and popular sodas, except for the throwback soda and Sierra Mist (THANK YOU, PEPSI!). I have to check the ingredients labels on everything I buy, unless I go to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, where I’m now buying most of my groceries. And even when I pick up groceries at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods I still check the ingredients list.

So now when I go out to eat, I’m more prone to ordering pasta salads instead of french Fries simply because I can’t put ketchup on my fries unless I know it’s organic. (Although a really good french fry probably doesn’t need ketchup.) I now drink water or tea when I go out to eat, although if I’m having brunch, I’m probably having tea with my meal anyway. I even had to ask at grahamwich if the sodas were made with pure cane sugar to be able to have soda with my sandwich.

I even carry Benadryl with me because I can’t always know what’s in something I’m consuming. In short, the allergy is an inconvenience in more ways than one because things I loved (see: Cherry Garcia) I can no longer have.

But I’ve discovered other wonderful things.

Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee makes a root beer that is made with maple syrup that tastes amazing and has no high fructose corn syrup. Because of how wonderful it is and my inability to find it in Chicago, my mother brought a 12-pack of the root beer with her about a month ago. I now go to Whole Foods more often and try different things when I pick up items I didn’t/couldn’t get at Trader Joe’s. My favorite item that I’ve discovered so far are Joe-Joe’s, which are the Trader Joe’s store-brand version of Oreos. The cream for the Joe-Joe’s is made with real vanilla, and that’s what actually makes it stand out. I could list every amazing thing I’ve discovered, but that’s a different blog post. The nice thing about eating natural and organic items is that they taste better and fresher. Also, the organic apples sitting on my table are making my apartment smell quite nice.

Is my allergy annoying? Yes. Does it mean I’m starting to eat healthier? Yes. I’m actually preparing more things and eating less processed foods at the moment. And, as my internist told me today, it’s actually not that bad that I’m allergic to high fructose corn syrup since it’s not a good thing to be consuming. As I learn to get used to it, it’s something that I’ll learn to embrace even more.


4 thoughts on “The Perils/Joys of Being Allergic to High Fructose Corn Syrup

  1. Hi,
    Interesting article. My google alert for HFCS picked up your
    blog. First, I think you should sned a copy of this to the
    Corn Refiners Association. Let them “digest” your problem.
    Secondly, you might try locally brewed Goose-Island soda. It’s
    made with real sugar and is quite satisfying, though it’s a little cumbersome to carry a bottle in your purse! You might
    check out which has an extensive list of HFCS-free foods and beverages. Also check out European import stores. Many, but not all of their products have real sugar. Watch out for HFCS synonyms, “iso-glucose” and “fructose-glucose syrup”
    Finally, you may be aware that the CRA has petitioned
    the FDA to let them rename HFCS as “corn sugar”. If the FDA acquiesces consumers won’t know if the product contains corn
    syrup, high fructose corn syrup, or crystalline fructose. For you, that would certinaly be dangerous.

    Citizens can leave their comments at
    Take care,

  2. Randomly found this. I’ve been allergic to corn syrup my entire life. Check everything. Even toothpaste. Gross huh?

    There’s always an alternative. It was tough only being able to eat Hagen daez ice cream as a kid.

  3. This is an excellent article. I developed an allergy to HFCS after years of no symptoms. Before I figured out what it was, I spent two years going for allergy testing, blood tests, etc… I was getting large welted hives over my body (arms, torso, legs) and random swelling (eyes, tongue, throat). I now check everything I eat and find it scary that it’s in so many common foods! But also thankful that my body is letting me know it’s rejecting it.

  4. I, like you, am also allergic to hfcs. But unlike most everyone else, I am also allergic to regular corn syrup, and also all red food dyes. It was absolutely miserable at first. I have learned to deal with it although it still upsets me when someone eats something that I can’t have that I really want. But it’s not worth the price I’d pay. So I just deal with it. Sucks but it is what it is.

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