Monday, May 19, 2008

A feeling of calm

It's now May 19 and I've been successfully avoiding sugar for more than a week. It just gets easier as the days go by.

The difficult spots are more social than physiological -- a kind friend offers me a chocolate mint to cheer me up when I'm missing my son (he's away at boarding school); another friend has made margaritas to welcome us to her dinner party, and I rudely demand "Is there sugar in that?" However, I think I've managed to avoid seriously hurting any feelings so far! (Thanks for your patience, everyone!)

There's also an odd new feeling of peacefulness -- can avoiding sugar really make us calmer?

Medline has this to say re: children and sugar (I imagine it applies to adults too): "Refined (processed) sugars may have some effect on children's activity. Because refined sugars and carbohydrates enter the bloodstream quickly, they produce rapid fluctuations in blood glucose levels. This might trigger adrenaline and make a child more active. Sometimes, falling adrenaline levels bring on a period of decreased activity."

However, a paper from the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) references a meta-analysis of 23 studies conducted over 12 years, concluding, "there is little objective evidence to suggest that sugar significantly alters the behaviour or cognitive performance of children." Hmmm.

A book I've ordered seems to support the sugar/hyperactivity view: "Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival," by Bent Formby and T.S. Wiley. One chapter's entitled "It is all in your head: No sleep and too much sugar make you go crazy." I heard about this book through Modern Forager's excellent blog by Scott Kustes and Greg Davis -- well worth a visit!

Check back for updates on the putative sugar/stress connection once I've read Lights Out!


Virginia said...

Good for you, Anne! Stay strong!

I'll have a million questions for you soon. : )

colleen said...

Inspiring! And you've made a very nice site - oops I mean blog. I'm not anywhere as far along as you, but in my own small way I am not a fan of sugar either. When I'm getting groceries I've never bought pop for my teenagers, and about a month ago I stopped buying cookies and juice entirely. I did it because when I bought that stuff......guess what? They ate it! Especially the juice which they drank in huge quantities. Now, I don't buy juice or cookies anymore and after a little complaining they are ok with it. Instead we go through milk lots faster than we used to, but that's ok (although I'm sure there are all sorts of reasons why they shouldn't be drinking so much milk).

I have a real problem with juice because it is marketed as a healthy product and a source of fruits, but for the most part juices seem to be almost as sweet as pop. Parents give juice to their kids so often, starting at a very young age, and basically train the kids to expect overly sweet tastes. Anyway, if I was in charge, I would make sure that people really understood that juices are often not as good for us as we think.

Good luck with your sugar-free year!

Anne said...

Thanks for your great comments, Virginia and Colleen! It's great to know you're checking in!

Colleen, you make some excellent points about juice. I think it's true that juice just trains kids to become pop drinkers.