You have two hours before the end of the work day. Like clockwork you find yourself looking through your desk drawer for that stash of jelly beans or, even better, a chocolate bar to get you over the hump until it's time to head home. You rationalize; I'll just have one piece. But, before you know it, the wrapper is empty and you're wracked with guilt. This is a daily dance for me. Occasionally, I'm able to skate through a day successfully averting my cravings, but more often than not, especially when product samples come in, I'm a 3 p.m. workplace scavenger noshing on the nearest sugary substance.
I've always been aware that those extra midday calories were probably not so great for my waistline, but it wasn't until the much publicized Gary Taubes article, "Is Sugar Toxic?" which appeared in the New York Times earlier this year, that I finally came to terms with just how bad this daily ritual is for my overall health. In the article, Taubes interviews Robert Lustig, MD, a specialist on pediatric hormone disorders and the leading expert in childhood obesity at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine. Lustig calls sugar a toxin akin to cigarettes and alcohol, and he blames Americans' overconsumption of the sweet stuff for many chronic ailments associated with a Western lifestyle including diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and cancer.
After Taubes article came out the New Hope offices were buzzing. All sugar? Or just high-fructose corn syrup and sucrose? What's the responsibility of the retailer to inform customers about the sugary products they carry, and what could it mean for their bottom lines? Should we be advising companies like Hershey to reformulate and launch better-for-you products? It also amplified a much discussed topic between New Hope editors and ad reps concerning banners in support of the Corn Refiners Association on the 360 website.
Personally, I realized sugar had to go. I got off the crystals (and honey, and agave) for a month or two. But then the frenzy died down. I received a box of new chocolate bar flavors, jams and gluten-free cookies. As a food editor I had to try these things. Before I knew it, I was back on the beans (jelly that is).
Now, in preparation for an upcoming issue of Natural Foods Merchandiser, sugar is back on my brain and, after revisiting the research, I've recommitted to my mission to kick my habit. This time, I'm convinced I can do so for good. "How?" You may ask. That's where I'm hoping you can help. I need support from the 360 audience. If you've been successful ditching sugar in your diet, I'd love to know how you did it. Be it a book, online program or your personal wellness plan, I want to hear about it. You can email me at: [email protected] ,or submit your comments below.