The diet world has its own roller coaster of ups and downs with headlines singing the praises or the evils of various food groups. Sugar is the latest food back on the chopping block, thanks to science writer Gary Taubes and his lengthy assessment of sugar in the New York Times Magazine.
His article presented some of the most current scientific information linking the surge of current health issues from obesity and heart disease to certain forms of cancer to our over-consumption of sugar. And it’s not just the overload of calories, but that “sugar is a toxic substance that people abuse.”
This is not the first time the refined sweetener has gotten a bad rap. In the 1970s, William Dufty, married to early health food advocate and actress Gloria Swanson, broke the bad news about sugar when he wrote the bestselling book, Sugar Blues. This exposé asserted sugar was as addictive as nicotine or heroin and launched a national crusade to get the sugar out of our diets.
Almost 40 years later it seems like our diets are still too sweet—with added sugars in many of the packaged foods on our shelves. Will Taubes's article help us kick our sugar blues once and for all?
Sugar detox expert, Richele Henry works with women who are ready to take control of their cravings and put their own nourishment at the top of the “to-do list.”
“In our society, people are dependent on caffeine, sugar and processed foods to get them through their days,” Henry said. “Once they hit the mid-afternoon crash, they go for more.”
Most of her clients struggle with insatiable cravings, emotional eating and have a hard time saying no to food. She said they operate out of a guilt cycle that often looks like periods of deprivation, creating a boomerang effect leading to mindless eating or binging, then a wave of guilt, followed by punishment, which starts the cycle over again.
It’s a hard cycle to break even when you understand the research.
“It may be motivating to look at the compelling research and listen to scientists and nutritionists telling us that sugar is evil, but they aren’t giving people a plan for how to overcome the ingrained lifelong habits and the emotional attachment people have to these foods,” she said. “It takes support and education to make changes.”
Henry understands the cycle well. She declared herself the “Sugar Momma” after her own battles with hypoglycemia and sugar cravings.
“Growing up in a household where healthy whole food meals were followed by sweet treats set me up for a lifelong sweet tooth,” she said. “Most of my family members are diabetic and at age 18, I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia. Being young and seemingly invincible, I ignored the foreseeable future of my health and ate whatever I wanted.”
She had her own wake up call 10 years later on her morning subway commute in New York City. She passed out after not eating breakfast and having a low blood sugar attack.
“I realized it was time to take responsibility for my health,” she said. “I knew that if I kept eating my sugar ‘in moderation’ I would end up diabetic, just like all of my family members.”
She put herself on a refined food cleanse—no sugar, alcohol or white flour products—for one month and she invited 10 friends to join her for the final week. Everyone was surprised with the results.
“At the end of that month, my skin never looked better, I shed 10 pounds, my cravings were gone and my blood sugar finally balanced,” Henry said “I felt amazing! My friends and I had such great results that I decided to begin teaching it to others.”
Henry has led nearly 300 people through her “7-Day Sugar Detox” program in less than three years and it continues to grow.
“When working with clients, I encourage and empower them to take on short-term goals, only commit to one week at a time,” she said. “Ultimately, it is up to each person as an individual to choose the way of eating that is most aligned with their highest intention and deepest desire for their life.”
Suzanne Boothby is a Brooklyn-based wellness writer who dabbles in social media and marketing. She is also the co-founder of NY Family Wellness. Visit www.suzanneboothby.com to learn more.