You probably know that sugar is bad for you. Study after study has proclaimed that it causes damage to the body and is one of the worst things we can eat. But still, is that enough motivation to give up sugar for an entire year?
That is what the Schaub family did during all of 2011. They avoided sugar in all its forms, including high fructose corn syrup, crystalline fructose, maple syrup, honey, molasses, evaporated cane juice, and artificial sweeteners. As you can imagine, that didn’t leave them a lot of choices, meaning that they had to cook a lot of their own food from scratch.
“I made my own mayonnaise, because at our supermarket I can’t find mayonnaise that doesn’t have sugar in it,” said Eve Schaub, the mother of the family and the one who came up with the idea to forego sugar.
“I had to search far and wide to find bacon that didn’t have sugar in it. I will buy mayo and bacon now, but I still don’t buy bread. I bake my own bread as often as I possibly can, and when all else fails I will buy the one type I can buy [without added sugar]. I’m very stubborn on this issue. Same with tomato sauce — you can find it at the store but you have to look.”
The family did allow themselves to have one regular snack that contained a minuscule amount of sugar. For Eve, this exception was a glass of red wine.
They also had an agreed-upon dessert once a month.
Eve says she came up with the idea after her husband showed her a video of a pediatric endocrinologist talking about sugar and what it does in the body. Her husband was down with the idea, but the kids on the other hand…
Let’s just say it took them some convincing.
“That first day was probably the worst day we had,” said Eve. ”After that, things were never as bad as all that, although I can’t say it was always easy.”
“My younger daughter was 6 for most of the year, my other was 11. My younger daughter was amazingly flexible. At the beginning of the project she kept forgetting, and I’d remind her there was no dessert — again — and she’d go, ‘Oh, okay!’ and run off and play. My older daughter was much more, ‘Oh, woe is me!’”
After a while, the kids embraced the change, and the family even started to have a little fun with the project:
Strangely enough, Eve says her and her family did not lose any weight, but that wasn’t the goal. Other changes did occur, however.
“Our palates changed over time,” she said. “Things that were sweet began to taste different to us and really repellent by the fall. Things that normally looked very appealing looked obscene and disgusting. We felt healthier, it seemed like we got sick less, like we got better faster or got milder colds. My kids missed significantly less school.”
So what was it like to return to sugar after the year was over?
“When midnight came on New Year’s Eve 2012, we all had a little something,” Eve said. “I chose to have a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, and it was my first piece of candy in a year. I was like, ‘Yep, that’s good, going to bed!’”
Now that life has returned to normal, the Schaub family still tries to be conscious of what they are eating, but aren’t nearly as strict. They’ve written a book on their adventure called Year of No Sugar, which you can read if you’d like to know more details about how they were able to manage. Maybe it will inspire you and your family to take the challenge (or at least cut back on that third slice of chocolate cake after dinner)!
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