Wednesday, August 17, 2016

book review: Year of No Sugar

I related to so much of what Eve Schaub wrote in her memoir, Year of No Sugar. She is funny and smart and real, and her book was a pleasure to read. This memoir follows her family through their "year of no sugar." For one year, they avoided all added sugar, specifically, anything with fructose in it (aside from whole fruit). That means no table sugar, no corn syrup, no honey, no molasses, no agave, no evaporated cane syrup, no maple syrup, no artificial sweeteners, and no fruit juice. She writes about the science behind her decision in a way that is easy to understand. And then she relates their experiences (sometimes funny, sometimes tragic) as they navigated this culture which is so saturated with sugar.

Her family had a few rules for their experiment: Every month, as a family, they chose one sugar treat (like a birthday cake, or a favorite seasonal pie). Each family member had one exception (jam for her girls, diet soda for her husband, and white wine for herself). And they instituted the "birthday party rule", which was that when her children were at school or at a party without parents, they were able to choose for themselves whether or not they ate any sugar.

She talks about how hard it is to eat out, and how making almost everything from scratch is sometimes the best way to avoid added sugar. And she describes how after you haven't had sugar for a long time, your body doesn't want the sugar even though your brain still does. It's a weird conundrum-- your brain wants all of the comfort and good feelings our culture assigns to treats, but your body no longer knows how to deal with it. I've seen that in my life, too. I so look forward to my weekly treat at Sunday dinner, but it inevitably gives me an immediate headache and makes me feel yucky. I also love that she addresses the fact that choosing to not eat sugar is totally a first world problem. Sometimes I feel so silly thinking about food so much, when really, I should just be grateful that I have food to eat!

Anyway, this is a great book to read if you are at all considering reducing the amount of sugar your family eats. While I am not about to embark on a project like this, Ms. Schaub and I have kind of come to the same conclusions: We will avoid added sugar whenever possible, but we aren't going to obsess over it.

The only thing I didn't really like about the book is that the author started substituting powdered dextrose for the sugar in her baking. While dextrose doesn't contain fructose, this still sort of felt like cheating to me. I'm not even sure what dextrose is, but I'd rather just not have the baked goods, you know?

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