Thursday, October 16, 2014

Year of No Sugar - Book review

What’s it like to live without sugar for a year? Eve Schaub found out and wrote about it in Year of No Sugar, an amusing book that she calls a memoir. Schaub, her husband and two daughters all took part in this dietary adventure for a year. Schaub did this after watching a You Tube video, “Sugar: the Bitter Truth,” presented by Dr. Robert Lustig. Lustig is the author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease, which explains that sugar is the reason for the worldwide obesity epidemic

Eve Schaub watched the video and said her brain caught fire. She said it changed her life. The video called sugar a poison that makes people sick, overweight, obese and unhappy. That was eye opening for Schaub, so she decided to stop eating added sugar, and her family joined in. She kept a blog about the experience. She wrote the book. The family established rules, such as don’t eat added sugar but do eat foods like fruit containing naturally occurring sugar. They agreed to eat one sugar containing dessert per month and another on a birthday. Sweets at school were optional, but the girls mostly did not eat them.

Schaub’s book covers a bit about sugar’s destructive characteristics, but most of it is about the family’s day to day experiences during a year without sugar. It’s not a long essay about the evils of sugar, but rather a chronicle of avoiding the ubiquitous sugar that they learned is in a great many foods. Schaub learned to cook without sugar but with substitutions like dates to give some sweetness. Her sugar free cookies pleased the family and others. The holidays were there, including Halloween and Christmas, with attendant pitfalls. She pointed out that the trick or treat candy was saved for consumption after the year was finished.  The family took a trip to Italy and stayed on the diet. . The family stayed with the project with no mutinies. There were times when one or another family member wanted sugar very much.

What did they learn from the experiment? They learned that sugar is everywhere, especially at school. Schaub became a label reader. Her awareness of the prevalence of sugar was heightened. Schaub became acquainted with David Gillespie, an Australian who publicly advocated about sugar’s destructiveness in his book Sweet Poison. Lustig and Gillespie are support people behind her book.

I haven’t read many books like this. It reminded me a bit of A.J. Jacobs’ book, Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection. Jacobs tried various diets and weight loss techniques for a period of time that might have been a year, and then wrote about his experiences. Like Schaub, he didn’t preach, he just told the story.

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