Sweet Tooth

It is no surprise that candy, soda, cereal, juice, and baked goods are among some of the most common foodstuffs that contain sugar. But there are also many other foodstuffs that contain sugar (oftentimes an abundance thereof) that one might not know about. These secret sugars commingle in condiments, crackers, baby food, and even lunch meat. Case in point, sugar can be found in nearly everything, making it difficult to decipher what healthy alternatives remain.

Photo courtesy of, 2014.

Photo courtesy of Sourcebooks, 2014.

However, in Eve O. Schaub’s memoir, Year of No Sugar, she discusses her foray into life without sugar — an experiment that begins as a health challenge, only to grow into a life-altering experience regarding her addiction to that sweet, white substance. The journey opens with a flashback, Schaub discussing where her love for sugar was initiated — with baking.

However, after realizing the connection between sugar and its addictive qualities, Schaub was then led to the actual negative effects of sugar on physical and mental health. As a result, Schaub challenged herself to say goodbye to sugar for an entire year. Soon Schaub’s whole family joined in, becoming pillars of support. “I knew I’d never get everyone on board for this project unless the experiment had a definitive beginning and a definitive ending. A yearlong timeline was long enough to really mean something, to represent a true commitment and shift to a whole different way of doing things.”

Schaub offers many funny moments throughout the memoir, especially in chapters: “Waitresses Hate Us,” “Poop Doesn’t Lie,” and “You’re Ruining My Life…Merry Christmas.” Complementing the humor, the work also includes a conversational, but serious discussion about Schaub’s experience with the diet, information about the effects of sugar, and health-conscious recipes ranging from dressings and sauces to dinners and desserts. Of course, it is important to note that the work focuses on sugar substitutes — in particular, dextrose — rather than a more traditional anti-sugar diet. In keeping a daily journal, Schaub shares every challenge, beginning with cravings and mood swings and ending with a knowledge that she, not food, was in control.

Schaub’s search to eliminate sugar-based foods leads her to a better understanding of how we not only consume food, but also how it affects us, looking more deeply into food processing, nutritional ingredients and values, and caloric intake. While the work chronicles Schaub’s transformation, as the title suggests, she eventually returns to a life with sugar — entering the world she once left behind better informed and, above all, with less of a sweet tooth.

[Published: 16 April 2014, The Weekender]