Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Great and Eternal Sugar Conundrum

I used to get anxiety attacks. I was also diagnosed with clinical depression when I was 19, but that diagnosis has changed to Seasonal Affective Disorder. But last winter was actually pretty good with a minimal amount of medication.

Want to know my secret?

The anxiety attacks stopped completely when I cut sugar out of my diet. (I have since then re-introduced it, but I sure don't consume as much as I used to.)

I did have a Pepsi about a year ago when my husband and I were out at a restaurant, but the next day I had an almost-complete mental breakdown (well, I guess it was an all-day anxiety attack), so I haven't had any pop since. And I haven't had any anxiety attacks since then, either.

I've been reading "Sugar Blues" by William Dufty today, and I just have to share this great quote from it about what endocrinologists have discovered:

"The brain is probably the most sensitive organ in the body. The difference between feeling up or down, sane or insane, calm or freaked out, inspired or depressed depends in large measure upon what we put in our mouth. For maximum efficiency of the whole body -- of which the brain is merely a part -- the amount of glucose in the blood must balance with the amount of blood oxygen."

Makes sense, right? The whole book is just blowing my mind. I wish I'd read it years ago, but I've only just discovered it. I bet I could have avoided years of fatigue and depression if I'd just known what sugar does to the body.

Then again, I was so addicted to it that I might not have cared.

Seriously, when I first went sugar-free, I had three days of absolutely insane withdrawal: headaches, grouchiness, utter exhaustion. Thank God it only lasted three days!

But what happened afterwards is just what this endocrinologist, John W. Tintera, said emphatically (and which was quoted in "Sugar Blues"):

"It is quite possible to improve your disposition, increase your efficiency, and change your personality for the better. The way to do it is to avoid cane and beet sugar in all forms and guises."

In case that's unclear, "cane and beet sugar" is sucrose: white, refined sugar as well as the less-refined brown sugar.

Isn't that amazing? And totally scary for our sugar-addicted & saturated society? It's even in ketchup, in beer, in bread... It's in places we'd never think to look and places that are obvious but soooo delicious that we wouldn't want to live without them.

We even give it to our small children as treats.


So, after reading about sugar today, I've realized how much has crept back into my diet. Those delicious granola bars I've been addicted to have a huge amount of sugar in them (which I read with dread, knowing that I'd have to give them up). So even though I've been drinking my coffee -- another vice I'll have to give up someday -- without sugar, I've been filling the void with other snacks. And here I thought I was doing such a good job eating healthy.

I also give the boys apple juice to drink, which is full of fruit sugar. I bet if I do some investigating into our pantry, I'll discover all sorts of things that I'll have to quit re-stocking.

I think it's worth it, though. I'd like my boys to grow up without the extra lethargy and the inclination towards mental illness that's obviously in my family. I'd like to have some more energy so that I won't "need" my coffee anymore. I'd like to just see what life is supposed to be like -- life like I can hardly even imagine because I've been entrenched in the subtle culture of sugar since I was born.

Is it possible to "escape"? Other people have done it and lived to tell the tale of less illnesses and more vitality. I think I'd like to join them.


  1. Hi Amanda,
    I found you through . And I think what you have going here is great. You and I sound like we have alot in common. I too began my eco-education journey by switching from chemical-based to non-toxic cleaners. It has been an eye-opening yet empowering journey to say the least.

    I just love this post about the epidemic of sugar and the role it plays on our energy levels and moods. I have so many moms telling me that they experience the same things you mention here. I so appreciate your mention of Sugar Blues. I definitely think I need to add it to my "to read" list.

    I look forward to following along on your journey!

    Amy Miyamoto
    Helping Busy Moms Create Healthy Families

  2. Thanks, Amy! That's awesome. "Sugar Blues" just blew my mind. I couldn't put it down. I've only just touched on the tip of its iceberg. You won't be sorry to have read it. :)

    I notice you sell Shaklee! Isn't that stuff awesome? I especially like the dish soap and the stain remover.

  3. Oh and Amanda? Got that book too??? HAHA it's eco-friendly to let books circulate :-) You can also sneak peak at my library when you want!