The Wild Blue Yonder

October 1, 2014 § 2 Comments

Like a kid who has gone off to college, Year of No Sugar has gone off into the world and is having all kinds of adventures. Sometimes I just get to hear about them, like when my agent calls up to say “Congratulations! YONS is being translated into Chinese!”

Other times, it shows up on our doorstep, like this past Sunday. All day we had a cameraman and interviewer from a Russian television show follow us around, filming us chatting at the Farmer’s Market, shopping at the supermarket, cooking at home.

Interview by Russian TV

Talking about the “S” word with Sergey and Egor

I was amazed and delighted that 2-3 million Russians are interested to find out about our family and our adventures not eating sugar. And I was dismayed to learn that this is, at least in part, because Americans aren’t the only ones suffering from excess sugar intake. According to our interviewer Sergey, Russians suffer from a holdover mentality of deprivation, (much like Americans who survived the Great Depression I imagine). During the time of the USSR, he told me, it was difficult to find foods that were “tasty.”

“Now, even though things are readily available,” he told me, “When they find something good, the tendency is to always take it- and a lot of it.” For example, he said his wife almost never leaves the house with their five-year-old son without buying him an ice cream- even if he doesn’t ask for it. Sometimes, he says, his son will want the ice cream mainly for the free toy that comes with it.

When questioned about this, Sergey’s wife responded “Don’t take away his fun of being a kid!”

So you see, we Americans don’t have a corner on the unnecessary sugar market, or the unfair marketing to kids market, or even on the parental guilt market either. Unfortunately, despite cultural differences, the language of Too Much Sugar is one more and more countries are becoming are all too fluent in. And the “Western diseases” that come with excess sugar consumption- from diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome to heart disease, hypertension and liver disease- are becoming “Everyone Diseases” instead. The other day I read an article about the epidemic of obesity in Africa.

Russian TV at Supermarket YONS

We invade the supermarket for a sugar treasure hunt

You know you have to rethink the problem of obesity when you realize it so easily coexists with malnutrition. Sugar used to be so expensive that one of the diseases it caused (gout) was known as the “rich man’s disease.” Now, sugar is so cheap that poor people around the world are subsisting on it instead of actual food. They are at once malnourished and obese.

So, as Americans export our fantastic way of eating (processed, packaged, fake and fast foods), what happens? In Japan, men’s obesity rates are up by 100%. China now has the second largest number of obese people after the US. In Israel, 50% of adults are overweight.,7340,L-4491919,00.html

Are you scared yet? Kinda makes you look at that Coke can with your name on it another way, doesn’t it?

But it also makes me understand why it’s not just an American conversation anymore: it’s an Everyone Conversation. The Chinese version of Year of No Sugar will appear next year, (August 31, 2015); and a Hebrew translation is being made for Israeli release, (TBA). Sergey and Egor will be telling our story in Russia, (airs this November). And, in English, there’s now an audio version of the book as well. It’s exciting for me to know Year of No Sugar can be perhaps a tiny, little part of trying to push this global pandemic back in the other direction.

So have fun Year of No Sugar! Take good care of yourself. But don’t forget to send me a postcard- you know how I worry.

Year of No Sugar Featured in Shape Magazine

January 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

Very excited to have an excerpt from a Year of No Sugar on Shape magazine’s site, along with my list of “Top Tips to Skip Sugar.” Check it out!

Shape Magazine Article

Shape Magazine

Enter The Apologist

December 19, 2013 § 3 Comments

I guess it’s a good sign that No Sugar advocates are starting to get some push back, because it means the message is getting through, right? Nonetheless, I have to admit that I was dismayed recently, when reading a review of a new Australian book: Don’t Quit Sugar! Admittedly, I may- possibly- maybe, be just a teensy-weensy bit biased against a book of this title. But… there was something else… What was it? Was it the fact that the title made the sugar industry sound like some fair, balcony-stranded maiden? “Consumers! Consumers! Wherefore art thou, my faithful consumers? Deny thy Truvia! And refuse thy Aspartame!”… (No? Romeo and Juliet? Anyone?)

Maybe. Or was it the fact that author Cassie Platt’s title seemed a direct retort to the success of another Australian author’s recent popular title: I Quit Sugar!? (Personally, I think Amazon should make these a boxed set. They could also include: I Thought About Quitting Sugar! and I Quit Sugar (But Not Juice, Honey or Ho-Hos!) both of which I expect out any day now.)

OR… maybe it was the fact that Platt seemed to be benefiting from the terminology confusion of sugar (“your body needs sugar!” Well… that depends. Are we talking about sucrose? Glucose? Fructose? Lactose? Ollyollyolsenfree-ose? What?)

No, come to think of it, what really got me was when she spoke on the subject of the not-so-hypothetical addictive nature of sugar. Here is what she had to say: “Yes, (it) stimulate(s) the pleasure centers in our brain, but so does playing with puppies or having sex. And I don’t see anyone recommending we abstain from either of those! Just because you enjoy something doesn’t mean it’s bad for you.”

Well, of course it’s true that just because you enjoy something doesn’t mean its bad for you. However, if something activates and modifies the opiate receptors of your brain– it might mean it’s very bad for you indeed. And that’s just what sugar is now being proven to do.

In fact, the recent New York Times article (12/13/13),“In Food Cravings, Sugar Trumps Fat,” described a one of these recent experiments in which had teenagers sipped milkshakes while having their brain activity tracked. The finding was both startling and important: not only is sugar is very, very good at activating the reward-centers of our brain chemistry, but that sugar is more compelling to our brain reward system than fat. (Much to the surprise of the researchers: they expected a combination of high fat and sugar to provide the biggest reward.)

Now, just because sugar lights up our brain chemistry like a Las Vegas Christmas tree, does that mean it’s addictive, we wonder? Maybe a handful of people get addicted to sugar, but so what? I mean, there are probably people out there addicted to smelling flowers or rearranging their broom closet too, but that doesn’t mean we should do anything about them, right? Since when do the unfortunate addictions of a couple of people ruin it for the rest of us?

The answer is: when it isn’t just few people anymore… when it becomes an epidemic.  And obesity is being described as having reached “epidemic” proportions in many countries around the world, including Australia and the U.S.

The problem with addictive substances (not flowers or puppies, mind you, but things we take into our bodies) is that by definition they don’t play fair. You can’t make an informed decision about whether or not to have a drink, or smoke a cigarette, or shoot heroin if you’re addicted to it. Consequently, alcohol is regulated. Cigarettes are taxed. Heroin is illegal. None of these things started out that way- but over time our society has learned from experience that intervention is needed to moderate the use of these substances based- in part- on their degree of addictiveness.

Of course, you can probably find people who will argue with that- people who will say we should just let people do what they want, regardless. Smoke crack at the church picnic? Hey- it’s your life! But for the most part we can all agree some regulation of addictive substances is a good idea. As in: it’s your life, but we’ll try to- you know- help. Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to our children.

Kids get extra protections. We try to shield them from decisions about things like cigarettes and alcohol and drugs till they are older, presumably because they are in an analogous situation to the addict: they don’t have the ability to make an informed decision. So we give tobacco and alcohol a minimum age to buy, or make the penalties for selling illegal drugs within a school zone harsher.

But when it comes to sugar- for which it’s been proven that children have a greater propensity to be addicted than grown-ups- we don’t shield them at all, do we? In fact, quite the opposite: kids are our sugar dumping grounds. We subsidize the corn farmers, resulting in super-cheap high fructose corn syrup, which ends up in everything. We ply kids with juice and chocolate milk and fortified cereals in the name of “health.” We target them with sophisticated advertising, making sugar synonymous with cartoon characters, “being a kid” and fun. Name me a single place a kid goes where they don’t have sugar thrust at them: go on. I dare you. One.

We justify everything of course. We say there’s no proof sugar is causing the epidemic of obesity. We blame parents for not saying “no” enough, for not turning off the TV, and for buying the very products we, as a society, all tout as “normal.” We say- and I love this one- that if we didn’t put sugar in things, kids wouldn’t eat.

In fact, what the studies are telling us is the opposite: that kids would eat the right amount if you leave the sugar out. In the aforementioned New York Times article, the lead author of the study Dr. Eric Stice points out that “what is really clear not only from this study but from the broader literature over all is that the more sugar you eat, the more you want to consume it.”

Obesity expert Dr. Nicole Avena adds: people “can have all the willpower in the world. But if the brain reward system is being activated in a way that causes them to have a battle against their willpower, then it can be very difficult for them to control their intake.” Translation? Sugar is addictive. Maybe not as addictive as crack cocaine- but I’m still waiting on the mouse study to prove that one.

Here’s another thought: remember that adorable puppy Platt conjured in your minds eye? Okay, now pour a Coke in its water bowl.

If you find that thought disturbing, remember how often we offer our kids a soda. With their slice of birthday cake.

As a society, we’re disingenuous. We love to natter on about health this and health that, but the proof is in the Jell-O Pudding: look how unhinged people got when they thought Twinkies would never be made again. (Did you know this Christmas Hammacher Schlemmer is selling a Twinkie-making machine? I’m so glad our society has priorities.) It reminds me of Paula Deen’s explanation that she didn’t intend people to eat the decadent food she promoted all the time– just as treats! Right. She just forgot to mention that salient fact until after she revealed her diabetes diagnosis. And she became a spokesperson for Novo Nordisk. Whoops.

Likewise, what I found most disconcerting about Platt, and her book Don’t Quit Sugar!, was the fact that her title doesn’t really match her actual message. When you read further in the book review, you see that- despite the pictures of glazed doughnuts that the editors inevitably choose to illustrate the review- Platt isn’t promoting “sugar” as in Frosted Flakes; she’s promoting “sugar” as in apples.

So whereas the title sets the book up as a direct rebuke to I Quit Sugar!, in the end Platt’s message doesn’t appear to be really all that different at all. Sarah Wilson, the author of I Quit Sugar, agrees: “I haven’t read the book yet, but from what I understand the messaging doesn’t actually conflict with mine. I support eating whole fruit, plenty of glucose and not getting draconian with your eating.”

It strikes me as a tad cynical. But certainly it’s no more more cynical than the rest of our food industry. It’s no more cynical than putting soda machines in our high schools and then being shocked that our kids have skyrocketing rates of things that used to be rare, things that used to be adult diseases: obesity, diabetes type 2, heart disease, hypertension, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

It’s enough to make me mad: but I don’t want to be mad at Christmas. Instead, let me say this: at this time of year, when sugar is even more rampant in our culture than usual- which is saying something- choose your sugar treats with care. Have the ones you really care about but let go of the rest. Sure it’s hard, really hard… this stuff is addictive, after all- but give it a whirl. And if you find yourself having the urge to grab a pick-me-up soda or a handful of crappy cookies from a cellophane bag, do yourself a favor: go pet a puppy.

A Year Of No Sugar: Postscript 11

May 8, 2012 § 9 Comments

Okay, I’ll admit it. I don’t exercise.

I should. I want to. But right now exercise is fitting into my life about as well as an elephant in my sock drawer. Instead I sit a lot, mostly at the computer, writing, writing, writing. (My finger muscles are very toned, thank you.)

Also, I snack. I eat when I am hungry- and quite honestly, I get hungry often. And I eat foods with fat: red meat, full-fat dairy products, butter and cheese.

According to conventional nutrition wisdom, I should be a prime candidate to be overweight… maybe even obese. So why is it that I am not? How many of us know people out there who don’t seem to follow any of the rules and they’re still thin anyway? What gives?

I am thinking about this because I just finished reading Gary Taubes article in Newsweek about HBO’s upcoming documentary “Weight of the Nation.” About a week ago I saw a trailer for the program and was heartened to see this desperately important topic making prime-time… until I realized, like Taubes did, that the experts in it were pushing “the same tired advice.”

“Eat less and exercise” and “fat makes you fat” are mantras that sounds so easy, so simple, that we all feel they must be true. However, they’re not true. As Taubes details in his article, Americans have been following this advice from the health experts for decades now- eating less meat, eating less fat, exercising more- and where has it gotten us? Fatter than ever before. The latest statistics predict 42% of Americans will be obese by 2030.

Not overweight, mind you. Obese. Clearly, there’s something wrong here.

Yesterday I volunteered at a local fundraising event and I was saddened and astounded at what I saw: a significant percentages of attendees were very, very overweight.

Many were encumbered to the point that it becomes hard to move around, hard to walk, hard to find clothing. I imagined the number of health problems that must have been represented at this event and I was deeply saddened. I felt these folks had, in some way, been let down by our health establishment.

I’m imagining the overweight person who, attempting to follow professional advice, cuts out fat, cuts down on red meat, and works out at the gym. And what are they presented with on the way back to the locker room? A juice bar or soda machine. Well, why not a little treat after such a good work-out? After all, it’s not red meat, it’s not fat, and I’ve exercised, (which makes one both thirstier and hungrier, while burning off relatively few calories.) After all, it’s just sugar…

Even if they choose a diet soda, there’s new evidence saying that may be just as bad for weight gain. It’s really no wonder that so many people just give up- they’re being given advice that does not work.

So, we need a new story, a new mantra. Could we replace “Eat Less and Exercise” with “Eat Good Food When You’re Hungry, Don’t Worry Too Much About Exercise, and Above All Just Cut Way Back On Sugar”?

Hmmmm. A little cumbersome.

How about “NO Sugar Sweetened Beverages”? Still a little long. “NO SSBs” is too cryptic (NO South Sea Bananas? NO Special Spaghetti Bowls? What?).

We could try “SODA KILLS!!!” but that’s a tad melodramatic, don’t you think? And anyway, people will say: “Well- ha ha-  I just drank an Adrenaline Attack and I’m, you know… not dead!” They’ll nit-pick us to death until we end up with something like: “SODA Significantly-Contributes-to-the-Resistance-to-Insulin,-Building-Up-of-Arterial-Plaque-and-Cancer-Friendly-Environments-in-Your-Body-Which-Degrades-Your-Quality-of-Life-for-Years-and-Years-Until-it-Eventually KILLS!!!” Try putting that on a bumper sticker.

We could go simple with “Shun Sugar.” That’s kinda catchy- but too general. Maybe we should just swipe a line from the guidelines put forth in David Gillespie’s book Sweet Poison: “Rule Number One: Don’t Drink Sugar.” Hey- I kind of like that.

Rule Number One: Don’t Drink Sugar.” Why don’t we ditch “eat less and exercise more” in favor of this one? It’s worth a try.

It isn’t the answer to everything, of course, but if we could just follow that one rule, I’m betting we’d be in a whole lot better shape. Literally.

A Year of No Sugar: Postscript 9

April 20, 2012 § 4 Comments

Easter hit me like a ton of bricks last week. It shouldn’t have. After all, I had it all planned out. It was school Spring vacation and we were going to be traveling, so in anticipation of the holiday I had picked out a host of items that would fit easily into my carry-on: pretty tissue paper, tiny pencil sets, little boxes of origami paper, and brightly decorated cloth bags to serve as the “baskets”… To all that I added one small stuffed animal each, and then stopped to consider the inevitable question: should I buy a sugar-added treat? Just one?

A little plastic carrot full of jellybeans, perhaps? Or a teeny tiny chocolate bunny?

I wavered. Just for a moment. Then I thought- ah, heck with it. This is fine- more than fine. It was a pretty cute little assemblage if I did say so myself- and I love this kinda crap so I should know. Plus, I knew in the course of our travels we’d be seeing relatives- first stop Grandma’s house- and I figured, between one thing and another, there’d probably be a sugar-treat for them in there somewhere.

I had no idea how right I would turn out to be. The day before the holiday at Grandma’s, suddenly chocolate bunnies began materializing out of thin air- popping out of toasters, zip-lining in from skylights like Tom Cruise’s character in Mission Impossible. Steve appeared with two chocolate chicks; my mom had gold-foil wrapped Godiva bunnies at the ready.

For those who are counting, that’s two chicks and two bunnies, so far. Okay, I thought- there are the treats. Done.

Then we were off for the “big” part of our trip- a mini-family reunion in California. Easter, of course, was morning after our flight- so you can picture me late that first night, jet lagged and hiding in the hotel closet, desperately trying to find a way to quietly stuff crinkly tissue paper into little cloth bags. I’m pretty sure it sounded like I was trying to process ball bearings in a blender. Fortunately, after spending the entire day on the airplane everyone was exhausted and sleeping so soundly I could’ve been trying to stuff a live hippo under the fold-out couch and no one would’ve so much as rolled over.

In the morning the girls got up and -surprise!- the Easter Bunny had found us. That little guy is amazing. He must read all our Facebook posts or something.

But, as it turns out, there was more Easter in the offing. My Uncle Jim- who I adore- was incredibly thoughtful, and had arranged for each of the five kids in attendance to have their very own personalized basket with (and you knew this was coming) a chocolate Easter bunny inside, and handfuls of other candy treats. Okay.

Then it was time for the Easter egg hunt.

Now, let me just state now that I am a terrible person, and I know it. Should I be carping about the amount of sugar involved in celebrating a “normal” Easter, or should I be incredibly grateful for the the fact that my children have so many wonderful family members who love them and care enough to want to celebrate them and make them happy on such a holiday? Would I prefer they not celebrate with us? Of course not! I feel terrible even telling you about it. This, of course, is exactly the problem: love- celebration- affection, in our culture, equals sugar. Which is why I’m telling you about it.

So to sum up, our vacation week was one of sugar popping up incessantly. Beyond family and pagan rites of Spring, candy just seemed to be… everywhere! It was in our shoes! Behind our ears! Did I mention our hotel put handfuls of chocolate mints on our nightstands every time they made up the room? Did I mention that, between the Frosted Flakes, the Yoplait yogurt and Otis Spunkmeyer muffins, the hotel breakfast bar was a freakin advertisement for the HFCS industry? Did I mention that when your kid orders a blueberry waffle in a restaurant they just assume you want an entire can of Reddi-Whip dumped on top of it, in addition to your maple syrup? I thought this was California- land of the ridiculously healthy!

Sure, Californians seem a little more obsessed with antioxidants and “Superfoods” than anywhere else ( do we really need menu labels reminding us how good for us blueberries are?) but they still think the same wrongheaded things we all think: that kids somehow deserve, and even need sugar in some weird primeval way. That honey or agave is better for you than sugar. That fruit juice is good for you, and that having the occasional soda isn’t going to kill you.

But it is going to kill you. Not so very long ago no one talked about diabetes- it was considered pretty rare. Now, we all know people with diabetes- lots of them. There are enough people with the condition to support their own mainstream magazine on the subject.

People are acclimatizing themselves to this new order of things with amazing readiness- as if type II diabetes were something we just have to accept- a mysterious modern illness that everyone has a statistical chance of getting sooner of later and, to a certain extent, whaddaya-gonna-do-about-it. But people seem to forget that, although type II diabetes moves slow, it can still kill you. And they forget that we know what causes it, that it’s preventable. Heck, it’s even reversible if we catch it in time.

But unfortunately it’s easier to cross your fingers than it is to effect actual change in your life and your diet- especially when everyone around you is encouraging you to have another soda with your hot fudge sundae. Why not? What’s the worst thing that could happen?

A few years ago, my aunt died from complications of diabetes. If not for that she would’ve been at this reunion with the rest of us. I’d say that’s pretty much the worst thing that could happen.

Later on in our trip my seven-year-old looked at me. “Mommy, the Easter Bunny will still come at home, won’t he? Our regular baskets will be waiting for us at home, right?”

For a moment I was speechless. I was bewildered by the mere thought of yet another basket of candy. Potentially a fourth chocolate bunny…? (I guess they aren’t kidding about how they multiply.) I was still strategizing how I was going to make a whole lot of this stuff disappear without the kids noticing too much. Seriously???  I thought. Is this not enough candy for you!?! But then I realized that she was asking a different question. It was not so much about sugar treats per se, as much as it was about home and traditions we have established as a family. She just wanted to know the rules.

“No honey” I said. “The Easter Bunny only visits us in one place.”

Thank God.

PS- The Easter Bunny giveth, and the Easter Bunny taketh away. Although some of the Easter chocolate was enjoyed in California, the majority of it was left behind in our hotel room. I hate any kind of waste, but the trash can seems to be one of our primary lines of defense in the war to avoid frying our internal organs with fructose.

A Year Of No Sugar: Postscript 6

March 22, 2012 § 8 Comments

There’s been a good two and a half months distance now between the No Sugar project and us, and I think every day about what it all means… What were we trying to do with our year, exactly? Did we do it? Does that mean it’s “over”? What place does sugar have in our lives, if any?

Normally, I’m overly analytical anyway, but since January I’ve been pulling together what will be my book (insert trumpet call here!) about our Year of No Sugar, so consequently I’ve been doing an awful lot of backward looking and thinking, even as everyday we are moving farther and farther away from 2011. It’s kind of giving me vertigo.

Most fascinating to me is the wide variety of reactions to the end of our project from friends, acquaintances, and readers. Many people have said “Congratulations!” which is lovely, and many more seemed simply relieved that we aren’t doing “that sugar thing” anymore, just in case it might rub off on them or something. Half the people seem to expect us to now be on a permanent sugar binge in order to make up for lost time, while the other half seem to think we’re terrible hypocrites if we so much as pause to consider reading the dessert menu.

The fact is, for us it’s ever so much more complicated than “All Sugar All the Time!”or “No Sugar Never Ever!” My kids still want to get a dish of ice cream after dinner the way they always did. And me- selfish, guilty parent that I am- I often really want to give them that dish of ice cream as if it were a nice, compact serving of normality I could hand them, with a pretty cherry on top. “See!? We’re not so weird, after all!”

But, the thing is, we are weird. We were weird before- not eating at McDonalds and avoiding soda, and we’re weird now- avoiding juice and crap sugar food (donuts, cookies, free lollipops), as well as anything that’s sweetened when we know it needn’t be: dried fruit, chips, crackers, tomato sauces.We’ve become much, much more selective about the sugar we do consume- and in a culture like ours which is utterly saturated with sugar, that’s weird.

Then again, we’re much more mainstream than we were last year: we’ve stopped flipping out about things like orange juice in the salad dressing or sugar in the bread. We no longer give our waitress the Spanish Inquisition, which is nice for everybody. And anyway, after a year of questions, we also already know which items will have the sugar in them. Sometimes we have them, and sometimes we don’t.

I was also fascinated to find that for about the first six weeks of 2012, sugar actually didn’t taste good to me. It tasted saccharine, syrupy sweet, and usually resulted in a bad aftertaste as well as a rapid headache. This was a phenomenon I had particularly noticed toward the end of our No Sugar Year, when I had begun to enjoy our sacred monthly “treat” less and less. I wondered how long this would last- would I ever enjoy sugar again? Or had I inadvertently removed all the joy of sweet from my life? Given myself a tastebud-ectomy?

But after having small amounts of sugar on a regular basis- a teaspoon’s worth here and there- I have found that my taste for sugar has gradually returned: I can now order the Mango Sticky Rice at the Thai place and simply enjoy it.

Which I view as a good thing. After all, alcohol is a potentially addictive poison, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying a glass of it with dinner on a regular basis. Likewise, I want to be able to enjoy a bit of fructose- potentially addictive poison anyone?- in the occasional dessert. For me, that’s part of the joy of life.

So I’ll have my glass of wine and maybe a small dish of the amazing gelato at that Italian restaurant. But I’m walking right by ninety percent of what’s for sale at my local supermarket- row after row of sugar-sweetened beverages, snacks, candy and convenience entrees. We drink water, snack on whole fruit, rudely ignore candy and cook from scratch. It’s not as simple as “Yes Always!” or “No Never!” but that’s fair, I guess. Food is what keeps us alive, brings us together every day, and gives us the means to celebrate and enjoy. If it isn’t worth our serious consideration, I don’t know what is.

A Year Of No Sugar: Postscript 3

February 1, 2012 § 4 Comments

I feel like somebody chewed me up and spit me out. I sound like somebody who should consider giving up my three pack-a-day habit, at least while working at the coal mine. I am alternately forlorn and annoyed and impatient to be well again. I feel like I’m out of practice: I haven’t been sick in a while… at least not garden-variety-sick. Not regular, ordinary, I-just-have-a-nasty-headcold-and-deserve-to-be-grouchy sick.

Of course, I did have that mysterious, debilitating something in the fall time, (which to this day remains a mystery, albeit nearly a forgotten one as all symptoms have thankfully subsided, never to return, knock wood.) But honestly, I can’t quite recall the last time I was just plain sick. Sore-throat, chesty-cough, feel-like-a-piece-of-poo sick.

A few of the recent Steve Treats

Although everyone will say I’m crazy, I can’t help but consequently think my immunity has lowered since we went back “on” sugar. Insanity? Maybe. And for all that we’ve really only indulged this month in a fraction of what the average American family would actually consume, fructose-wise. For instance, we went out and bought ketchup and mayo. We’ve eaten at restaurants without putting the menu through the Spanish Inquisition. We’ve gotten take-out pizza and eaten at our local pancake house.

Interestingly, one thing I’ve found is that I really can’t take much sugar anymore. As I alluded to in an earlier post, it doesn’t taste right to me- it goes all funny and saccharine-tasting in my mouth. I can have the pancakes which have a small amount of sugar in the recipe itself, but maple syrup? In all but the most minute, eyedropper-dispensed quantities maple syrup no longer strikes me as palatable. I can order pizza with a tomato sauce that in all likelihood has some amount of sugar in it, but I no longer feel compelled to visit the platter of baklava strategically placed next to the cash register afterwards.

As if to compensate for this fact, my husband Steve has taken to regularly bringing me little treats- candy bars, hot chocolate cubes, bags of tiny cookies- to the degree that I have begun to wonder if he isn’t something of a pusher in this regard. I know, he wants me to relax, to enjoy myself. Especially when I don’t feel good, a little pick-me-up in the form of a Kit-Kat would once have vaporized in about a minute and a half.

Now? Not so much.

But the funny thing is, he won’t have those treats either, for a different reason: in the last two weeks he’s been on a super-strict Paleolithic-inspired diet in an attempt to shed some nagging pounds. In Steve’s deductions, not eating sugar wasn’t enough to compensate for other calorie-grabbing habits such as the nightly drink-or-three, or snacking before bed. On top of this he’s wondering if recent rumors are true that diet soda- which you’ll recall, was his one and only “exception” during our Year of No Sugar- actually can contribute to weight gain every bit as much as sugar can.

Breakfast of Champions Steve Style

So out has gone the soda, ditto the nightly drink. Out has gone the wheat and dairy. Out remains (once again) the sugar. So far he’s lost seven pounds, but it all looks torturous to me: most meals for him consist of eggs, steak or chicken, and water. I know, I know, look who’s talking, right? As a friend of ours recently put it, perhaps our family would do well to try A Year of Abstaining from Abstaining. I’m not sure we’re “meta” enough for that though.

Personally, I wouldn’t mind if we could abstain from having the Mucus Truck parked on my chest. Could we do that? Just a thought.

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