by Connie Bennett
Publisher: Hay House
Available on Amazon.com
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview.
Can you live on five or six teaspoons of sugar PER DAY? Not per hour. Per DAY?
Well, if Connie Bennett and her anti-sugar crusaders have anything to say about it, you can and you will.
Sugar is bad for you. I think we all know that. We - or at least most Americans - consume too much sugar, which puts our health at great risk. And contrary to what we may believe, we do not need sugar to survive. Bennett tells us that we get all the glucose we need from stuff like vegetables, fruits, seeds, whole grains and nuts.
Does that sound like fun eating to anyone? Sure, I may not NEED sugar to survive, but believe me when I tell you that the people in my house are a whole lot happier when I've consumed some dark chocolate (preferably dark chocolate covered caramels, my FAVORITE, but please don't tell Connie Bennett, because she undoubtedly will tell me how awful that is for me and how I have one foot in a cardiac arrest unit and the other on a banana peel).
But I digress.
Sugar can trigger - or at least encourage - cancer, weight gain, obesity, diabetes and osteoporosis. We eat a lot of food with high fructose levels, and even I can admit that fructose is Bad. It is no mere coincidence that obesity rates rise in tandem with the amounts of fructose we consume.
So after Bennett scares you to death (or "into action," as she puts it), she gets down to the good stuff: what do we do now? She acknowledges that for some of us, the mental hurdle is as tough as the physical, as she points out that there is "no lasting comfort" in comfort foods. Sigh. But they taste so GOOD, Connie Barrett.
She lays out five stages of sugar freedom:
- Trapped in Sugar Denial: where most of us are, because we refuse to admit how much sugar we consume
- Scary or Humiliating Wake-Up Call: "something horrible, frightening, awkward, or embarrassing" that causes us to break free from the sugar shackles
- The Negative Abyss: in which we alternate between the 10 Stages of Sugar Complaints - anger, defiance, resistance, resentment, guilt, self-blame, self-pity, self-hate, self-criticism, and why me?
- Insecurity and Self-Doubt: can we succeed? Can we be free at last?
- You're On Your Way: we are filled with curiosity, we accept our sugarless fate, we have self-pride, and we are determined, confident and committed to being sugar-free.
The good news is that Connie Barrett is not a sadistic task master. She does give us weekends off, limiting us to four main steps per week during the first three weeks of our new lives. She is big on motivation, giving us little pep talks about how great we're doing and how fabulous we look and feel. Like a lot of self-help practitioners, she also has us write down all sorts of affirmations and responses, and she peppers her book with testimony from former sugar addicts, including HLN correspondent Jane Velez Mitchell.
Some of her tips include dreaming up a music playlist for yourself (I'm sorry, but that seems kind of silly to me; then again, I skipped this step entirely, so maybe I owe Connie Barrett an apology). She also provides a template for writing down your daily sugar intake - what time did you eat it? Why? How did you feel before and after, both physically and mentally? That was far more helpful for me than the playlist thing. I knew I was an emotional eater, but seeing it written down in my handwriting was sobering, to say the least.
The problem with this book, though, is that you do not get to substantive help until page 100 or so. Up until then, Bennett's advice and guidelines are typical for any weight loss book out there. When she gives you tips on sugar substitutes, though, that's helpful. Going cold turkey won't work for all of us. She exposes hidden sugars in some of the stuff we eat, and she also provides exercise tips.
As far as true, nuts and bolts help, though, I was disappointed in this book. So much of it pushes meditation and gratitude journals. That's all fine and good, but, to quote Elaine in Seinfeld when discussing The English Patient, give me something I can use. Around page 140 or so, she does give more explicit eating guidelines, focusing on the benefits of protein. Haven't we read that somewhere before? Oh, hi, Dr. Atkins.
Most of this book is common sense and offers nothing that I haven't already heard or read. Maybe for some people, focusing solely on the detrimental effects of sugar is what it will take to start their path to a "slimmer, sexier and sweeter" them. But I felt like I'd read all this before.