Sugar in various forms

Sugar in various forms

Will your intake of sugar make you sick?  A new book, “Year of No Sugar: A Memoir”, was written after the author watched a popular video discussing how devastating sugar is to the body.  As a result the author devoted an entire year to abstaining from eating processed sugar in nearly any form – not just for herself, but also her husband and two young children.

What is the value in such an extreme experiment?  From the author’s perspective, she appeared to be equally curious about the health effects of sugar as she was excited about an extreme challenge.  I know how pervasive sugar is, and a year without any added sugars is a lot to take on.

But it’s not without value.  From my perspective as a health coach, giving up all sugars for a period of time is extremely effective at accomplishing two goals.  First, it forces people to become hyper-vigilant, read all labels, and ask questions about the foods they’re eating in restaurants.  This provides a lot of information and great perspective about what’s really in purchased food.  My clients and participants in cleanses are nearly always amazed at how much sugar is hidden in their foods – especially foods that we don’t think of as sweet.

Secondly, as long as the experiment is done for at least 2 weeks, people get to experience the physical benefits of eliminating sugar.  Sugar affects people differently, but cutting down or eliminating it virtually always improves overall energy and mood, and can also improve your hormonal balance, reduce headaches, improve skin quality, improve digestion and immunity, and even alleviate allergies, among other individualized benefits.

It’s not necessary to completely give up sugar for a full year, however.  If you’re curious about sugar’s hold on you, I would recommend that you try giving it up strictly for 2 weeks and see what happens.  Expect some withdrawal symptoms in that first week!  But keep at it, because you’ll definitely see the benefits in the second.  At that point you can decide if you want to extend the experiment, or adjust to a more moderate approach, as the author does after her year term is up.

I’d also recommend reading the book if you’d like to learn from some one else’s journey.  One of her more surprising findings was how interwoven sugar is with social events and cultural traditions.  Her experience will likely help others investigate their more emotional ties to sugar and consider how much of their sugar addition or tendencies is physical, vs. emotional.  There is tremendous value in understanding that connect, and it’s the key for many more emotional eaters to move forward and embrace more positive eating habits.