diets · eating · eating disorders · food

Sugar free September? Good God no?


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We’ve thought a lot about sugar here on the blog. There was Tracy’s plan to dump sugar, your reaction, and her change in plans. See her posts Dumping Sugar: this is not a detox. and Dumping the Sugar Dump: critical follow up.

I’m officially leery of quitting sugar entirely. See Six reasons this feminist isn’t giving up sugar and Sugar on my tongue: In defence of the sweet stuff.

And I think I can safely say, for me at least, I don’t want to open up that particular can of worms again for awhile. However, our experience of blogging about sugar convinced me that it’s controversial and complicated. This issue isn’t easy.

That’s why I was super surprised to see the Canadian Cancer Society advocating Sugar Free September.

About Sugar-Free September

Fancy a month off the sweet stuff to help raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society?

Sugar-Free September challenges you to go sugar-free for 30 days to raise vital funds for the Canadian Cancer Society to create a world where no Canadian fears cancer.

Commit to quitting the cookies and brownies, lock up the doughnuts, ditch the candies and kick the sugar habit by signing up to Sugar-Free September and raise money for life-saving research and vital services for people living with cancer.

Most Canadians consume diets high in added sugar, which can lead to excess weight gain. Research shows that being overweight or obese increases the risk of cancer.

Get your health and body back on track by reducing your intake of food and drinks with added sugars from your diet for an entire month! It’s a great way to learn how easy it is to moderate consumption while also feeling the benefits of healthier eating.

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I worry that this feeds into food fear and that very little good can come of it. I worry that people who want an excuse to adopt a very restrictive diet will find this appealing. And I worry it will hurt people with a history of eating disorders.

But that’s me. I’m the over-thinking worrying sort. Pretty much an occupational hazard!

What do you think? And if you’re doing sugar free September, how’s it going so far?

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10 thoughts on “Sugar free September? Good God no?

  1. Wow– sugar really is the new bogeyman. Among the many reasons for not promoting wholesale the idea that everyone immediately go off all sugar is that doing so can provoke a bunch of side effects. Among these include fatigue, dizziness, moodiness, cravings, depression, headaches, more moodiness, insomnia, and moodiness. And I agree with you that this kind of promotion can trigger problems in people who suffer from a variety of eating disorders. And of course, it’s more jumbled-up food moralism. We tie going sugar free to raising funds for cancer. How about we urge daily pogo-stick use in concert with learning a new vocabulary word a day? Argh.

  2. I had bloodwork done and results showed pre-diabetic. Soooo – I am reducing sugar in my diet after binging on it to celebrate my partial retirement. Honey is a better alternative than sugar & most fruit has a lower glycemic load than table sugar baked goods. It is a state of mind to skip the “treat” each day for nuts and protein. I did it once before so I will do this again!

  3. It can be bad for the already health-aware because they know what added sugars and natural sugars look like. And I agree that this can cause food anxiety and disordered thinking.

    I can see it being good for those not very aware, though- those who don’t know that “-ose” means sugar or that dried fruit isn’t the same nutritionally as fresh fruit. Maybe it will spark interest in improving their health?

  4. I taught a personal training workshop a few months ago at a YMCA and they were talking about how they were asked to promote a no sugar challenge as staff members of the facility to the patrons. This is a big no-no in the fitness industry because (in the US) personal trainers are not allowed to write meal plans or promote specific dietary restrictions outside of MyPlate and basic nutrition information. It’s outside their scope of practice. They were all shocked at this and I reminded them that they are not A-Registered Dieticians (who you have to be in the US in order to do that kind of meal planning) nor B-The individual’s healthcare provider. I hate these types of “challenges” because some people do not know what the outcomes of restricting sugar can be….

    1. Has there ever been a study that showed restricting or giving up added sugar was harmful to the body? I doubt there is any danger in giving up added sugar. The Canadian Cancer Society would not be so careless with people’s health. Is giving up added sugar in order to raise funds and cancer awareness more dangerous than running 10k’s or marathons in order to raise money and awareness for causes such as breast cancer?

      1. I’m not worried about the health effects of giving up sugar. But I am worried about the effects of dietary restrictions like this on people with eating disorders.

      2. This particular place was not advocating for specifically added sugars, but all sugars. Including limiting intakes of fruits and vegetables that had “too much sugar”. I see a problem with restrictions nutrients like carbohydrates as well as entire food groups.

  5. Im all for cutting down on sugar wherever possible but saying I’ll never eat a foodstuff – however bad or unhealthy it is – is a step too far for me. Nice article.

  6. I am just very lost with this anti sugar thing. I agree, that making a food so “bad” it is to be completely off limits is counter productive and leads to unhealthy food obsessions. In some circles, even fruit is on the “bad” list because of its naturally occurring sugars. I mean really? Avoid fruit? Come on! Having said that……I have so very recently thought of doing a short no sugar thing myself. (but I would eat fruit) Why? Because I do feel I get too much of it and I ‘m curious how it would fee to be without it. I already don”t eat a ton of sweets…..but the thought of giving up the sugar in my coffee makes me want to cry honestly. I have some “no sugar” people in my life, and honestly, after talking to them sometimes…..I just want to rebel and pour sugar down my throat directly. See? The disordered way of thinking about food can sometimes be worse than any “bad” food. *sigh*

    1. I did the no-sugar thing once, for one full year, back in 2006. I still ate fruit so maybe wasn’t “authentic.” I kept it to processed sugar. I did feel more energetic, I admit it. I also stopped thinking about eating sugary treats after a while and fruit started to taste super sweet and really delicious. So there’s that. But in the end, you know what: I like a good dessert as much as the next person. And I hate the idea of demonizing foods. And I’m way less of an extremist than I was 11 years ago. I think it’s another fad, and food fads don’t help us with disordered eating. They exacerbate it.

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