January 18, 2009

The Sugar Solution by Sari Harrar

Book #: 7
Challenges: Triple 999
Rating: AMAZING!

I just finished this book and I have to say- I am amazed at how much I learned!

I thought that I knew a lot about sugar since I am borderline hypoglycemic, meaning if I don't eat every few hours, my blood sugar drops and I become lightheaded, nauseous, and, if I wait long enough, I will get past the point of hunger and eventually pass out. Lots of fun!

So when I saw this on my mom's bookshelf (unread!), I knew I had to bust it out. My mom is pre-diabetic and she bought the book to learn more and then promptly forgot it. But a lot has been happening lately, so I understand. But the information inside is going to be so valuable to her and to me. I can't wait to share it!

Some things I learned, straight from the pages of the book:

1. The average American consumes more than a pound of refined sugar a week. It sounds unbelievable until you realize that sugar goes by more than 50 names and is an ingredient in virtually all processed foods, from your morning doughnut to the ketchup on your burger.

2. Our bodies are essentially the same as they were 40,000 years ago, but our eating and exercising habits have changed tremendously. The same number of calories it might have taken our prehistoric ancestors an entire day to hunt and gather, we can now have brought to our door with a phone call. We simply eat too much and exercise too little. The result: high blood sugar. The danger: obesity, Syndrome X, PCOS, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke, fertility and pregnancy problems, and possibly some forms of cancer. It’s serious.

3. One of the best ways to control blood sugar levels naturally is to consume 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day. While refined carbohydrates (sugars) flood the bloodstream with glucose within minutes, high-fiber foods take longer to break down. Thus, they release glucose in your blood more slowly, providing a steady amount of energy rather than a huge flood of glucose that your body must struggle to move out of the blood. One of the best sources of fiber: beans or other legumes. Research finds that eating small quantities of beans- just ½ cup a day- helps manage blood sugar levels.

4. Be smart about sweets. When you splurge, splurge little. If you choose to have 3/4 cup of peach cobbler after dinner, skip the slice of whole wheat bread and a serving of fruit. To make up for some lost nutrition, have an extra 1/2 cup of broccoli or spinach. Now you can enjoy every bite of that cobbler!

5. Learn to decode food labels. Read the "As Prepared" and "Total Carbohydrates" figures, strive for fiber, and convert sugar grams to teaspoons (divide the number of grams by 4, so a serving with 8 grams of sugar divided by 4 is 2 teaspoons of sugar per serving).

There are so many more helpful tips, too. There is an Are You At Risk? quiz, tips on helping children be healthier and grow into healthier adults, information on low-GI (glycemic index) foods, how to make smart substitutions, pick better snacks, make your personal cooking style (whether you are a trendsetter or a comfort food specialist) healthier, and even has pages upon pages of recipes to try in the back.

I was surprised to find that the book not only contained nutritional information, but also information on incorporating fitness into your lifestyle and getting quality sleep and lowering stress levels.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who has high blood sugar or high-normal blood sugar (pre-diabetic). And I recommend it to any of you who want to find pretty painless ways to cut back on the sugar in your diet to lose weight and/or just feel healthier. It is a fairly easy read, too, without a lot of nutritionist jargon (and what jargon there is is defined for the reader).

The recipes I am going to try first?
- Spicy Roasted Chickpeas (I like chickpeas!)
-Cheesy Baked Cauliflower (to answer the eternal question- will I ever be able to eat cauliflower without gagging? *shudder*)
-Indian-Spiced Potatoes and Spinach
-Curried Chicken with Coconut
-Turkey Burgers Stuffed with Chiles and Cheese
-Strawberry-Watermelon Slush (I mean, yum!)


  1. Wow, I can't believe I went all year without seeing this book! I have my own collection of "sugar books" but this one sounds right up there with the latest facts and information.

    Did you want to cut out sugar after reading it? Or, at least cut down on your sugar intake? In case you haven't read it, Sugar Blues by William Duffy is incredible. I think it's an old 60's or 70's book about sugar...it's history and influence over the years. It is ultimately what motivated me to give up sugar.

    Also, "skinny bitch" has an entire chapter devoted to sugar AND to artificial sweeteners. A fun way to read about sugar and other nutrition.

    I haven't looked all throughout your blog, so excuse me if you've already touched upon these books!

    Your love of books is contagious!

    If you try one of those sugarless recipes that you listed, and it turns out wonderful, I would love to know.

  2. Sounds yummy! It's amazing how much better our bodies feel when we fuel them properly :)

  3. My Year Without- Thanks for the recommendations! No, I haven't read them yet. I can't see myself giving up sugar totally, but I definitely am cutting back. And since this book makes it all simple by giving you all the info you need, it isn't even a question of if I can figure out how, you know? I can't wait to try these recipes. I will definitely post whether they are worthy of repetition! :)

    Chic- Yes, it is! I know that anything that gives me an easy way to help me better my delicate health is to be tried out!

  4. Okay, confession: I'm Pre-diabetic. This books sounds like it could really help, so I'll be adding it to my list.

    Thanks for the great review!

  5. Penelope,
    I do hope it helps you. It is not easy at all to change habits that we have had our whole lives. I know that you can make a few small changes, and that even these will help so much. I am encouraged by your willingness to be open and honest, and also dedicated to your health.


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