Sugar addiction – think it cannot happen to you? Think again. Sadly, most people alive today have an addiction to sugar and may not even know it, or realize how badly it has taken over their life. To make matters worse, chronic diseases are present in epidemic proportions in many parts of the world. People are suffering in numerous physical, mental, and emotional ways at a time when our health should be thriving, given our modern medical and technological advances. Yet, very few connect the state of their physical and psychological state to their diet, which, as we know today, has the power to create for us states of health or disease.
We are told to eat more fruits and vegetables and whole plant foods in general, but still, too few people turn this advice into meaningful action in their daily lives. We are told to cut back on animal foods and ultra-processed foods, yet here again, we have a hard time changing our ways. If we just consider ultra-processed foods, there are numerous reasons why these alone should not be a part of our diet; that is, if we are interested in enjoying good health and wellbeing. However, there is one thing that stands out when it comes to these foods that has the power to have one of the most harmful effects on our health, energy levels, and weight. This being sugar.
To bring awareness to the detrimental effects of sugar on our health, Dr. Scott Olson ND has written an entire book about this entitled Sugarettes – Sugar Addiction and Your Health. I had the pleasure of reading this newly released book in the fall of 2008 and wanted to share about it with you because it contains a wealth of information that can change and even save your life. Thus, in this review article, I will provide an in-depth review of Dr. Olson’s new book and give you some food for thought where sugar and your health are concerned.
Sugarettes: The Origin
Sugarettes – Sugar Addiction and Your Health is written by Scott D. Olson, who has an undergraduate degree in History and Government and a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) degree from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine. He began his health journey early, being fuelled with a passion for the health sciences. His journey was interrupted twice due to illness, which Dr. Olson not only overcame but which also fuelled his passion in the natural health field even more. He became a naturopathic doctor who regularly saw patients in his practice and also wrote articles and books.
Dr. Olson’s primary area of study has mostly been focused on sugar and its impacts on our health. Through much of his research, he has discovered many links that all point to the fact that our ill health today is substantially influenced by the vast quantity of sugar and sugar-like foods that we eat. Out of these findings, the book Sugarettes was produced.
As you may have already noticed from the top image, the front cover of Sugarettes has a hand holding a box on it that resembles a package of cigarettes. This is how seriously Dr. Olson takes sugar in this book – comparing it to cigarettes in terms of the health damage that people suffer from it. The seriousness of sugar and its comparison to cigarettes also explains the title he chose for the book – Sugarettes.
Sugarettes: The Structure
The first thing to note about this book is that it is easy to read for two main reasons. First, the book is only about 150 pages and organized into well-thought-out sections of information. Second, regardless if you have any background in science or health, you will find the book very easy to understand thanks to the language, explanations, and analogies that Dr. Olson uses. The majority of the book is quite exciting but may also be very shocking for some, which keeps the reader on their toes. It is an engaging book that is sure not to bore.
Instead of formal chapters, the book has sections, which are as follows:
- The History of Your Dinner
- Let’s Talk Carbs
- Sugar Magnet
- Sugar Meets Body
- Foods That Act Like Sugar
- Artificial Sweeteners
- Sugar-Disease Connection
- Surviving in Carbo-Land
Throughout the book, Dr. Olson also includes a few graphs and diagrams that act as helpful tools to strengthen his message and illustration of the topic.
Sugarettes: The Content
Sugarettes – Sugar Addiction and Your Health begins with, what maybe for some, a very controversial introduction. Right off the start, Dr. Olson explains that sugar is not only comparable in its harmful effects to cigarettes but is even worse for our health than tobacco. Through various excellent analogies, he eloquently proves his point about how and why sugar is not only very damaging to your body but also just as addictive as alcohol, nicotine, or opiate drugs.
In the introduction, Dr. Olson provides a history of both cigarettes and sugar. Here, he shows the unmistakable links that existed between the marketing and medical consensus about the two substances, which influenced their mass use in our society. He then takes the reader on a journey about the history of our food. He traces for us the events that have led to the food that we have come to eat and accept today as normal and nutritious.
Dr. Olson also gives a brief but excellent overview of what carbohydrates are and how they act in the body. This is a valuable part of the book as few people understand what carbohydrates are and how they function in our bodies. The result in our society is misguided messages that cause people to fear carbs and avoid many healthy foods while continuing to eat unhealthy foods. As with the other macronutrients, there are healthy and unhealthy forms of them, and it all depends on the source and type of food that contains them. Dr. Olson takes some time to explain foods that act like sugar and the whole idea of the glycemic index, pointing out its strengths and weaknesses.
You can also expect to learn in this book the numerous ways that sugar damages your body. Of particular importance are its links to weight problems, diabetes type 2, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and poor health in general. In addition, there is a section on artificial sweeteners, which is one of the worst groups of chemicals humans are putting in their bodies as a sugar replacement.
Finally, the book finishes off with more proof of how sugar harms our body and leads to the many common diseases we have today. Dr. Olson identifies three possible paths for the reader to take on their health journey. Each path is outlined with pros and cons to help us trek through a very sugar-rich society. For this, he provides helpful hints and tips on what to do to overcome sugar cravings and addiction. It will give you lots to think about where sugar and the compelling evidence against eating it are concerned.
Personal Thoughts About the Book
Having already been exposed to research about sugar’s effects on our health, my first impressions upon reading the book were very agreeable. It confirmed much of what I had come to know to date. It did shock me a little, though, to learn about its drug-like addictive properties. What it made me realize, as well, is how many people in our society DO NOT apprehend just how destructive sugar is to their health. It was also surprising to hear Dr. Olson explain that the medical and scientific communities officially only link sugar to be harmful to our oral health and nothing else. This was disturbing to know because I really thought that in our day and age, it was apparent, at least to medical professionals, how harmful sugar is to all parts of our body and health.
The part that I most enjoyed about the book is the urgency with which Dr. Olson spoke when it came to waking society up from its sugar-induced coma. He points out what I have been earnestly advocating for over the past year. This being that all of our holidays revolve around sugar and are constructed in a way to make it almost impossible to avoid sugar. Sweets for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, birthdays, and any other occasions you can squeeze in there. You are almost made to feel like there is something wrong with you if you do not have a traditional cake on your birthday or do not wish to participate in any gift exchanges that involve chocolates and other such sweets.
What made me laugh, and largely proved the above point, was that while I was reading this book one day on my break at work, a co-worker came over offering me some baked sweets. I politely declined, and my choice was met with a confused response. I joked and shared how funny it would be to be eating sweets while reading a book about sugar addiction. The dialogue continued, however, with the other person trying to convince me to try the desserts since they had baked them themselves. The conversation ended with the following statement from them: “You’re depriving yourself of such goodness.” I found this amusing and a perfect example of how unconscious our society is about its sugar addiction. I have to tell you, though, that I do agree with them in part; I am depriving myself, but not of goodness, instead of health problems caused by sugar.
What I did not resonate or agree with was Dr. Olson’s advice to remove from the diet even whole, unprocessed grains like quinoa, oat bran, amaranth, and others, as well as potatoes. These are whole, healthy plant foods, which do not create the problems that isolated sugar and refined carbohydrates do. They are, thus, often incorrectly understood by those who follow the Glycemic Index too closely. His theories about sugar and diabetes are also outdated, as leading research has shown that it is not a high-sugar diet but a high-fat diet that poses the most significant risk to the development of the metabolic syndrome and diabetes type 2. Other than that, it is a good, sensible book that will no doubt inform and empower people who read it to make better dietary choices.
If you are eating sugar or any refined or processed carbohydrates, this book will be a valuable read that will hopefully awaken and inspire you to make dietary changes to protect your health. The book is well researched and documented with many studies to examine both sides of the story. One has to remember, though, that it is a book about sugar and its link to health. It does not address other major nutrient groups like fats and proteins, their quality, sources, and effects on your health. As Dr. Olson also states, “It is not meant to be a diet, meal plan, or recipe book, but a book to educate you on the addictive qualities and harm that sugar can cause.” I emphasize this, specifically, because all too often, when people read books like this, they throw out reason and common sense out the window and adopt rigid and unnatural dietary practices. Remember, holistic nutrition and a holistic approach to health means that we always aim to see the whole picture and not get lost in isolated details. The latter only causes confusion and contradiction that causes people to bounce around from this diet to that diet without any effective long-term or sustainable benefits.
Ultimately, Sugarettes – Sugar Addiction and Your Health will be a most valuable read for those who consume large quantities of sugar and sugary foods in their diet and are hooked on society’s misrepresentation of what a treat means. When it comes to sugar, its real effect on us is nothing like a treat, and instead very much like a drug.
To learn more, I invite you to read the related articles on this topic below or get a copy of Dr. Olson’s book Sugarettes – Sugar Addiction and Your Health from Amazon.
Related Reading on Evolving Wellness
- Cravings: When Sugar Calls Do You Come Running? by Dr. Scott Olson
- Sugar Controversies and Natural Sweetener Problems by Dr. Scott Olson
- What is a good substitute for white sugar? by Evita Ochel
- Sugar Wars: Are Any Natural Sweeteners Healthy for Us? by Evita Ochel
- Health Effects of Sugar on Your Body - The Bitter Truth by Evita Ochel
- Supplements, Sugar & Healthy Holiday Eating by Evita Ochel
- Fruits: Perfect Food for Humans by Evita Ochel