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Book Review: YEAR OF NO SUGAR - Eva O Schaub

Sunday, March 11, 2018

On a recent trip to the library to work on my resumé and job search, I took a break and walked through the book stacks. This book just popped off the shelf and caught my eye. It follows Eva Schaub and her family through her one year "family project" of a year with NO SUGAR. It all started with a YouTube video with Dr. Robert Lustig, who caught her attention when, after sharing a number of statistics about the current state of weight in our over-developed nation, he laid out his intent...to show that FRUCTOSE...one of the "basic natural sugars" is actually poison to us.

Now many of us have heard about High Fructose Corn Syrup and all the bad press that goes along with it, but Dr. Lustig posited that it's not just the corn syrup that is the problem. It's Fructose itself. At least any time that fructose is not occurring in its pure natural state--in a piece of fruit--with all the pulp, fiber and other micro-nutrients it is born with!

As a writer and a blogger, the idea of a year completely without sugar would yield plenty of fodder for her to write from, and she imagined her reading audience would certainly appreciate the adventures and misadventures of keeping herself, her husband, and her two daughters (age 6 & 11) on the "no sugar" path. But along with that was a real desire to LEARN and understand the role of the way we eat and how it affects our minds, bodies and culture.

She says,"I knew we didn't go so much as a single day in our house without having some form of sugar or other, perhaps not even a single meal, so this experiment was pretty much guaranteed to wreak all kinds of unpredictable havoc with our lives. I loved it." (pg 11)

Her family was pretty "average" before they started the Year of No Sugar...they ate a wide range of typical fare, and took a moderate amount of care in choosing their foods...aware of the many concerns about our food supply (hormones in meats, GMO products, pesticides in farming, organic V's. traditional farming, buying local) but pretty balanced in not going to extremes in their choices of foods.

They were pretty well educated about foods, nutrition, and many different diets and food plans. Overall, her viewpoint was, "I wanted my family to eat healthily but in a way that was psychologically sustainable". (pg 14)

So what's the big deal about fructose anyway? As Eva shares with us in an abbreviated format, all sugar contains fructose, which the body processes leaving behind uric acid and fatty acids, both of which cause illness and toxins in our body to rise.

Most sweeteners we use have a combination of glucose and fructose in them. The body loves and utilizes glucose perfectly, but fructose--which occurs in very small amounts naturally--causes some real problems in our bodies when it is extracted from its natural sources and added to our foods. It DOESN'T suppress the hunger hormone (grehlin) and it doesn't activate insulin and leptin which tell us when we are feeling full. So we get all that sweetness...and we keep on eating.

Eva shares the stories of what happen during the Year of No Sugar with lots of humor and a very readable writing style. She shares what happens when fast food restaurants, and even most major restaurant chains are off limits, and how Waitresses Hate Us in another chapter. She divulges how they made a couple of rules to "survive" a year with no sugar as a family, such as ONE dessert night per month, and the "Birthday Party Rule" for the kids. She extols the virtues of her "experimental" foods that ended up making life not "miserable" in a chapter called Everything Tastes Like Bananas and Dates.

And the adventures of the children add to the humor and the angst as you follow the circumstances and situations they encounter. The older daughter is encouraged to keep a journal so she can vent and release her feelings. Oh, the perspective of kids! And just how DO you get through Halloween and Christmas without sugar?

Finally, the author shares the end of the Year of No Sugar...what they learned...what changed. How they felt when they started eating sugar again (although in much lesser quantities than before). And at the end of the book are some recipes...some of her old family favorites as originally made, and instructions for cutting down the fructose and still keeping a dessert that everyone still enjoys...

I picked this book up because I was really interested in the science behind her choice to take her family on this "journey". But the book was so interesting, so humorous and so readable, that I read the whole thing in one day.

Still, the statistics and the science presented in a readable and understandable fashion are convincing and credible. In addition to the work of Dr. Lustig, the author also frequently references a book by author David Gillespie entitled Sweet Poison. I think I may be looking for that one on my next trip to the library!
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