I’ve been the proud owner of a serious sweet tooth for … well, probably my whole life. My mom had one too. For me, sugar is fun. Sugar is pleasure. Sugar is what you do after dinner or when you need a pick-me-up. To me, a display of beautiful pastel-frosted cupcakes looks like a fairy wonderland. As Jim Gaffigan might ask, should I sit in it or eat it?
But now, I’m trying really hard to change all that.
When my Mom was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, she read a book called Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life. Not because she thought it would cure her cancer — we knew that she had very little chance of surviving — but because it contained a lot of really important information about cancer’s relationship to what we eat. One of the big points in that book is that the amount of sugar we consume is toxic (and that it can, in some instances, sort of “feed” cancer cells.) It used to drive her nuts how Whole Foods bombards you with dessert when you first walk in.
A doctor named Robert Lustig has been making the rounds of major television and radio, answering that question — is sugar toxic? — in the affirmative. And the scary thing is that sugar is everywhere. Lustig points out in one of his lectures that, terrifyingly, even infant formula is loaded with sugar — and the sooner you expose babies to sugar, the harder time they’ll have avoiding it. There’s reason to believe that the FDA isn’t taking sugar’s health risks as seriously as it should. (Corn lobby? Sugar lobby? Are you there?)
Armed with this new acceptance that sugar really is terrible for you — and my Dad’s caring insistence that I try to cut back on sugar — I have totally changed my habits. And the really incredible thing is, after a couple weeks of greatly reduced sugar consumption, I don’t really want it anymore. Sure, sometimes I still feel like I’d walk a mile for a Heath bar, but for the most part I think my body’s chemistry has changed.
I’m no doctor and I’m not telling you I won’t have a cupcake if you make me one. But I think it would be wrong not to share what’s out there.