Sure, I did not have enough energy to carry myself through the day, and with those commercials on TV screaming about energy drinks for America’s tired masses, I always believed I wasn’t alone who was suffering. And sure, all my family members feared the arrival of cold and flu season, but again, I brooded arrive January everyone develops some degree of germophobia.
At least, that’s what I believed till I came across some confusing new information regarding effects of sugar. As per many experts, sugar is the thing that is turning lots of Americans fat and sick. The more I pondered over it the more this made sense to me — a lot of sense. Every seventh American has metabolic syndrome. Every third American is obese. The rate of diabetes has gone through the roof and cardiovascular disease is America’s serial killer.
As per this theory, all of these ailments and more can be traced back to a single gigantic toxic presence in our diet… sugar.
A Bright Idea
I soaked all of this newfangled knowledge and framed an idea. I wanted to experience what would happen, supposing me, my husband, and our two children (ages 6 and 11) — eat food devoid of sugar for the entire year. We’d cut back on anything by using an added sweetener, be it table sugar, honey, molasses, maple syrup, agave or fruit juice. We also avoided things made with fake sugar or sugar alcohols. Except that the sweetness was strapped to its original source (e.g., a piece of fruit), we didn’t eat it.
Once we began exploring we discovered sugar in the most strange places: tortillas, sausages, chicken broth, salad dressing, cold cuts, crackers, mayonnaise, bacon, bread, and even baby food. Why toss in all of this sugar? To turn these foods more palatable, add shelf life, and make packaged food production ever cheaper.
Call me mad, but staying clear of added sugar for a year was a sort of grand adventure. I was excited about, like what would happen. I had many questions floating through my thoughts: how hard it would be, what interesting things could happen, how my cooking and shopping would change. After carrying my research on, I was convinced avoiding sugar would turn us all healthier. One thing I didn’t expect was how removing sugar from my diet would bring on a feeling of wellness in a very real sense.
A Sugar-Free Year Later
It was ultra-fine, but detectable; continual eating without added sugar, made my energy levels to shoot up. If I suspected the connection, something occurred next which would prove it to me: my husband’s birthday.
In that year of no sugar, one rule our entire family followed was we could eat one actual sugar-containing dessert per month; if it was your birthday, you were the one to pick the dessert. By the time September arrived we observed our palates taking a u-turn, we now began relishing our monthly “treat” less and less.
But when we ate the indulgent many-layered banana cream pie my husband had ordered be served at his birthday party, I sensed something novel was happening. Not only did I not relish my slice of pie, I was not even able to finish it. It was like sickly sweet to my now sensitive palate. An it hurt my teeth. My head pounded and my heart raced; I felt terrible.
After a full hour lying on the couch clasping my head in my hands that I began to recover.“Geez,” I thought, “has sugar always made me feel bad, but because it was everywhere, I just never noticed it before?”
After our year of no sugar was over, I got down to counting the absences my kids had in school. Then I weighed it up with those of previous years. The difference was striking, my daughter, Greta, went from skipping 15 days the year before to skipping only two. I now have enough energy — and rarely feel tired, PLUS have no fear of flu season, rather we all feel that our bodies are better equipped to fight it. We fall sick less often, and get well faster.