With a title like the one above, you probably think that my New Year's Resolution will be to eliminate all sugar from my diet for 2014. I wish. Seriously, I had a brief foray in sugarless eating a few years ago when I tried the HCG diet, and despite the fact that with this diet you were only able to consume 500 calories a day (like who wouldn't lose weight?!), I did feel really good and really clean. I did this diet between Thanksgiving and Christmas and made more Christmas goodies than ever before or since - and wasn't able to eat a single one of them. I did, however, lick the fork just once, and was totally disgusted by the slime in my mouth. It appeared that sugar had lost its appeal. I was so excited about this turn of events that I began looking in earnest for some sugar-free recipes. And that's where it all went south. And as soon as I began eating sugar again, I couldn't stop. I was an addict once more.
The Year of No Sugar by Eve Schaub is a memoir of the writer and her family's sugarless life for an entire year. Although it won't be coming out until April 2014, I downloaded a copy from Net Galley and pretty much couldn't stop reading it once I started.
I love books about food (sadly, I also love to eat and am always in a little bit of a love/hate relationship with food) and The Year of No Sugar entertained me and got me thinking.
Schaub doesn't claim to be a scientist, but she has done her homework about the dangers (?) of sugar consumption, or should I say, overconsumption. Pretty much everything we eat has sugar in it: the lunch meat that has a glaze over it which includes sugar, mayonnaise, bread....the list goes on and on. So, good luck trying to avoid sugar entirely. And yet, that's what Schaub and her family manage to do.
This is quite the accomplishment, especially considering not only did she and her husband manage to avoid sugar, but so did her two children who were just six and ten. Thinking of my own children's reaction to this plan almost makes me break out into a cold sweat. They are forever trying to get a sweet treat out of me.
Aside from the fact that Schaub intended to write about her year, there are numerous health benefits to eliminating sugar from your diet. Sugar seems to be responsible for many, many deleterious health issues - metabolic disorder, diabetes, increased risk of various cancers - those three alone should make everyone want to look at their sugar consumption.
Just this fall I taught a unit on pioneer life to my third grade students. We discussed how Laura and Mary (Ingalls - in case you can't identify them by just their first names) ate back when they were alive- lots of fresh meat, vegetables, bread made by Ma, and not a lot else. Fruit was a treat. Milk and eggs were treats, too, and only available if you owned a cow or chickens. Dessert was not offered with every meal, and sugar was used very sparingly. Not surprisingly, we don't hear much about overweight pioneers. Our diets have changed a lot over the decades, and not for the better.
I would love to say I could eliminate all sugar from my life (table sugar, stevia, agave, honey, and pretty much any other substitute Schaub could find were nixed in her year), but at this point I think I will settle for a somewhat less drastic change in my diet- reducing the number of desserts I eat, make and buy, and purchasing the sugar-free options of any ingredient I cook with.
Schaub's book is one I will be telling everyone they should read. I've already told every co-worker I visited with yesterday about it, talked at my husband about it, and even posted on Janssen's blog since she loves food books, too.
And, if you can't get enough of this book, like me, head on over to Schaub's website where she even includes some sugar free recipes (I can't wait to try her recipe for dirt cookies).