top of page

"Help! How do I totally eliminate sugar from my diet?"

I see this sort of post all the time on diet and nutrition related Facebook groups. There's a saying in toxicology circles that applies here - 'The dose makes the poison'. Nearly 500 years ago, Swiss physician and chemist Paracelsus expressed the basic principle of toxicology: “All things are poison and nothing is without poison; only the dose makes a thing not a poison.”

Rather than obsess over every last gram of (name your poison - white flour, white sugar etc), look at your overall eating habits. Putting a couple of teaspoons of sugar in something isn't necessarily a 'poison' unless you do it all day, every day, every meal.

We're exposed to all manner of toxic substances daily. But brief exposures (time), or minute (amount) exposures are rarely the problem - unless where talking about Plutonium. Any chemical—even water and oxygen—can be toxic if too much is ingested or absorbed into the body. The toxicity of a specific substance depends on a variety of factors, including how much of the substance a person is exposed to, how they are exposed, and for how long.

You probably use a toothpaste with Fluoride in it. That chemical helps to prevent cavities. Many communities add Fluoride to the water for the same reason. Considering that the lethal amount of Fluoride (by weight) is between 70-140 milligrams per kilogram of a person's bodyweight, a 160 lb. person would have to eat 33 tubes of toothpaste in one sitting for it to be lethal. Ick. Ewwww.

Six liters of water (amount) - consumed in too short an amount of time (exposure) can be lethal. The idea of a WFPBNO (Whole foods, plant-based, no oil) diet is to greatly reduce your exposure to the highly refined substances. The Standard American Diet (SAD is a perfect acronym!) is filled with highly processed 'food-like substances' that make the stuff (especially in the 'snack' food aisle) cheap to produce.

Reducing these 'food like substances' in your diet is the crucial takeaway concept. We should all strive to be more mindful of our daily choices of what we put on our plates. Two teaspoons of sugar in the occasional beverage or on a whole-grain, low added sugar breakfast cereal isn't the big issue here. I make pie crust dough in the classic manner of the French pâte brisé (based on the recipe from Alice Water's famous restaurant - Chez Panisse - in Berkeley, California), and it requires butter. I have eliminated all dairy from my diet (and don't intend to reverse that - the health benefits have been too huge) but the occasional fruit galette made from that dough isn't going to have any adverse effect on my health.

So, at the end of the day, think. Take a deep breath, get your dietary information from reliable, authoritative sources. Get the big stuff right before you start 'drilling down' to the granular stuff. This isn't a quarter-mile race, it's a marathon. If there's something that needs the occasional white sugar, and it's truly occasional, go for it. The same with white flour. Or, white rice. Or, that russet potato. Or, that glass of white wine. Snort.

45 views0 comments


bottom of page