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!