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****The New Sugar Busters!

Cut Sugar to Trim Fat

by H. Leighton Steward, Morrison C. Bethea, M.D.,

Sam S. Andrews, M.D., and Luis A. Balart, M.D.

Reviewed February 17, 2003.
Ballantine Books, New York, 2003.  365 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (613.2 NEW)

I read the original Sugar Busters! book over four years ago, when I first started working at the Sembach Library (and we still have a copy of it).  At the time, I thought it made a great deal of sense, but I wasn’t quite willing to give up the sweets.  Now, having had more and more problems with low blood sugar, having seen how much healthier I am after cutting out soda, and with new incentive to lower my cholesterol, I’m very ready to read this book again.

The text of the book has been updated, including 18 new chapters.  Some of these include the inevitable testimonials of people who have followed the Sugar Busters! plan for the last five years, as well as different aspects of how the plan can help you.

Sugar Busters! seems to me to be one of the most scientific eating approaches I’ve ever heard of.  The whole approach is based on the “glycemic index” of foods.  “The glycemic index is a measure of how much a specific amount of ingested carbohydrate will cause a person’s blood sugar to rise and remain elevated over time, relative to the effect on blood sugar of the same amount of pure glucose (which is assigned a GI of 100).”  To calculate this amount, researchers actually took blood samples from groups of people.  They didn’t perform some measurement on the food itself (as with calories), but actually looked at how it affected people.

The reason the glycemic index of foods is important is that foods with a high glycemic index cause the body to release insulin, “which promotes utilization of glucose but also signals the body to store fat and prevent the mobilization of previously stored fat.”  Eating foods with low and moderate glycemic indices keeps the amount of insulin circulating moderate.

The authors make the point that refined sugar is a relatively recent discovery.  As our sugar intake has rapidly increased, so have the number of cases diabetes, with some children now getting what was formerly called “adult-onset” diabetes.

It should not come as a surprise, either, that the authors claim that sugar makes you fat.  However, their claim is interesting that sugar has much more to do with obesity than the amount of fat you consume.  This is because insulin triggers the body to store fat.  They have numerous examples supporting their claim.  I have to add that simply by quitting drinking four cans of Mountain Dew per day, I’ve lost over ten pounds in two months.

They also claim that sugar is bad for your heart.  It turns out that insulin also seems to have a huge role in your body’s production of cholesterol, perhaps even more than the amount of cholesterol you eat.

Sugar Busters! is a nutritional lifestyle, not just another fad diet.”  You avoid foods with a high glycemic index.  This means cutting out white flour, white potatoes, white rice, and corn, as well as the obvious refined sugar.  It may sound limiting from that perspective, but there are still huge amounts of food that you can enjoy.  I was delighted that they actually recommend eating chocolate with a high cocoa content of more than 60%.  That type of chocolate has a low sugar content and is easy to find in Europe.  My husband and I have gotten pretty hooked on it, in fact.  Apparently chocolate has “high amounts of polyphenols and other flavonoids that are strong antioxidants.”  Unfortunately as a migraineur, I can’t overdo it on the chocolate, but the fact that it’s encouraged in the Sugar Busters! plan means that I can’t really feel deprived.

Basically, that’s all there is to the plan.  Avoid high-glycemic foods, to keep the insulin levels in your body at moderate levels.  They give you a chart to help you do so.  There is a chapter of recipes from restaurants around the country that promote the Sugar Busters! lifestyle.  I found those recipes too fancy for me, but there were also some plain and simple recipes in the chapter on “Super Foods” (foods that are especially healthy) that sound easy and delicious.  I’m going to look for the Sugar Busters! Quick and Easy Cookbook.

One nice thing about Sugar Busters! is that, practically speaking, you can follow their ideas as much or as little as you want.  There’s no timetable where you eat one thing one week and other foods the next week.  For example, I’ve seen such dramatic benefit from cutting out those four sodas per day, that now I’m willing to think about alternatives to corn and white rice as side dishes at dinnertime.  Presumably, the more closely you follow their plan, the more benefits you’ll see.  This book is well-worth reading if only for the excellent nutritional information. 

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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