Cherie Calbom, aka “The Juice Lady,” holds a Master of Science degree in whole foods nutrition, and is the author of 32 books. Her latest, Sugar Knockout, came to me at the perfect time. Everyone seems to be talking about the evils of sugar, although many of us do not seem to know why sugar (and its nebulous cousins the “sugar alternatives”) are actually bad for us. Luckily, this book is enlightening. While I’m not an authority on the topic, I have noticed in my own body, that I break out, have mood swings, experience fatigue, and feel just generally awful when I eat a lot of sugar. Unfortunately, it’s often. When I started reading this book, I was very interested to find it contained a quiz to measure whether or not you have a sugar addiction (I had a suspicion for a few months now that my need for sweets was becoming out of control). I answered each question, turned to the interpretation page, and read “If you answered yes to four or more of these questions, then you most likely have an addiction to sweets.” Well, guess how many of the 26 questions I had answered yes to? SEVENTEEN. Clearly, I desperately needed the help this book offers. (You can take the quiz online here).
What I like most about this book is the flow from introduction, to presenting the problem, and finally providing a practical solution for individuals. While it is slightly dramatic at times, the book does acknowledge areas where more research is required (for instance, when it discusses sugar’s impact on ADHD and autism, it includes “studies about how sugar affects the behavior of children are contradictory…” etc.) but if you think about it, this book has to be written in this urgent tone, to get us to pay attention. We already know that sugar is not good for us, yet “we’re a nation gone wild on a sugar binge.” If you don’t think you eat a lot of sugar, I encourage you to go take a look in your kitchen and check all the labels for sugar content; remember that 1 serving size is probably smaller than the amount you eat at once. And hey, no judgement here, I definitely eat a ton and eat more sugar than I think, too. Why wouldn’t food manufacturers pump our food (even savory food) full of sugar? Not only are our brains hardwired to crave sugar, but it’s actually an addictive substance that mirrors dangerous drugs in how it affects our brains. Unfortunately, despite its appealing taste and pleasant affect on our nervous system, there are myriad reasons why our overall sugar intake must decrease. The book outlines eleven compelling reasons in detail, but the one that most caught my attention was this: your body produces more free radicals when your blood sugar is high. Free radicals can “inflame the brain, thyroid gland, pancreas, and just about any place in your body.” Ever wondered why we are supposed to eat so many anti-oxidants? It’s to combat free radicals, which age us. Not that you would stop aging completely if you could simply eliminate free radicals, but the less sugar you consume, the less inflammation you will experience, the stronger your immune system will be. If this isn’t reason enough for you, there are many other compelling reasons to quit sugar (or at least decrease your intake) outlined in the book. If it’s weight-loss that you’re after, there’s a whole chapter on that. There is also a shopping list, a discussion of sugar substitutes and alternatives (your best options, according to the Juice Lady, are stevia, barley malt syrup and luo han guo).
Luckily, the book sets us up to first strengthen our immune systems, then detox (break from sugar completely) and finally, learn to live with healthy sweeteners, such as fruit and dried fruit, coconut sugar, etc. I think that is something we all sort of want to do, but either can’t find the time, don’t know where to start, think it’s too hard, etc. This is a great guide. If you’re too reluctant to give up beloved desserts, know that the sugar-free dessert recipes at the end include Raw Vegan “Cheesecake,” Coconut Pineapple Sorbet and Chocolate Macadamia Nut Mousse. Not bad at all for being sugar-free, eh? Of course, since it’s the Juice Lady, there are also a few great juice recipes included, mostly for when you’re working on building immunity and detoxing from sugar. While I haven’t yet attempted any of the dessert recipes (I haven’t yet tried to apply the book to my life, but I plan to shortly) I did make a couple of the low-sugar juice recipes that are included (these recipes are helpful even though I already make juice at home, because don’t forget, fruit is sugar in the form of fructose).
The first recipe I tried from the book was delicious.
You Are Loved Cocktail
From The Juice Lady’s Anti-Inflammation Diet
- 3 carrots, scrubbed well, tops removed, ends trimmed
- 2 ribs of celery with leaves
- 1 apple
- 1 cucumber, peeled if not organic
- 1 handful of spinach
- 1 lemon, peeled if not organic
- 1/2 beet, scrubbed well, with stems and leaves
Cut produce to fit your juicer’s feed tube. Juice all ingredient and stir. Pour into a glass and drink as soon as possible. Serves 1-2.
I have to admit that I messed up this second recipe; I thought that I had memorized it, but I had confused it with another. So, the original recipe is as follows:
Pancreas Helper Cocktail
- 1 large vine ripened tomato
- 8 organic string beans
- 1/2 small or medium lemon, peeled
Cut your produce to fit your juicer’s tube. Juice ingredients and stir. Drink as soon as possible. Serves 1.
Note: green beans are known to be good for the pancreas.
I accidentally added a beet with its greens, but the juice still tasted really good! My boyfriend and I split it. It was very thick and dense, so I don’t think I would have wanted to drink all of it by myself. It really filled me up and even with the beet, it was still very savory.
I am excited to try out the 10 Tips to Enhance Your Immune System (full descriptions for each are included in the book):
- Avoid sugar
- Clean up your diet
- Take fish oil
- Include a good probiotic
- Get plenty of sleep
- Ditch unhealthy fats
- Lose weight
- Drink eight glasses of purified water each day
- De-stress, meditate, pray, and relax
I LOVE how the author is not afraid to include the spiritual aspect of wellbeing. Even though her book is a food-science manual for the average person, it is by no means a one-size-fits all diet or plan, and it clearly acknowledges multiple times that eating right is just one, albeit extremely important, aspect of a healthy and fulfilling life. Yes, it provides lists of foods to avoid and supplements to stock up on, but overall, this book is telling you to get yourself healthy first (in all ways), then try to reduce your sugar intake (if you can, completely) and then learn to live in a healthier mindset where sugar is an actual treat, not just another ingredient to be used with abandon.
Have you read this book? Have you struggled with sugar addiction? Have you attempted a sugar detox or have you given up sugar completely? Please comment, I would love to hear your stories!