Customer Review

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nice stories, no science, 28 April 2014
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This review is from: Year of No Sugar: A Memoir (Paperback)
Sure, buy this book for the cute stories. But if you are after anything authoritative on sugar and diets, steer well clear.

Of course, it all depends on what you expect. Here are some things I did expect but which the book doesn't cover properly: Is sugar addictive, and if so, did they have withdrawal? What type of sugars cause which problems and why? After a year without sugar, were they better off - other than getting a book deal? If you can't afford to cook full-time, then what? [Background: the author convinces her family to spend a year off sugar and as a result, ends up spending all her time cooking.]

Worse, some of it is seriously misleading. I'm no nutritionist (either), but it's really not that difficult to google "sugar" and find out that it is a generic name for all saccharides. In this book, in Dr Lustig's lectures and -- I gather -- in Gillespie's book, they use "fructose" (the "bad guy") synonymously with "sugar", which is simply wrong. Glucose (the "good guy" according to them) is also a sugar. Xylitol is lumped in with "poison", even though it has been proven to prevent tooth decay and is an essential "good" ingredient in chewing gum (which no-one can surely consume that much of).

Moreover, there are many reasons why labeling fructose bad and glucose good is surely wrong. I'm not advocating eating either (!), but a) fructose is sweeter, so you can use less of it, hence stocking up on fewer "empty calories"; and b) fructose doesn't cause a spike in blood sugar, so you avoid the subsequent crash later. I do believe Dr Lustig when he says that too much fructose is bad for you -- but to use glucose instead is surely not the point! A year without sugar but with lots of baked goodies made with dextrose is, in my opinion, absolutely not a year without sugar.

The book does make compellingly the argument we have heard before and which I believe in: processed food is a health problem. And another point: availability of higher-quality easy-to-access food is critical. [We are all time-poor, so cooking everything from scratch is not an option.] It is extremely clear about the evilness of juice and soda. And I agree that any kind of treats should be just that - a treat, not an every-day or every-meal occurence.

The saving grace, and the reason I felt the book deserved to be finished, is its honesty. The author shares in her soul searching about food, sugar, sweets and love. These are complex issues that each of us has to puzzle out for ourselves, and while I would have found it more helpful for the science to be more robust, I still valued hearing another perspective.
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