By Karen Secord
(Note: you can read all of Karen’s ‘food fights’ posts in the Archive)

Evidence is mounting that sugar is the major factor causing obesity and chronic disease.
~ Dr. Joseph Mercola (well-known Osteopath and natural health practitioner, founder of

I was shocked to hear the truth about sugar. It seems strange that such old news hit me so hard, was so shocking.

Probably because I grew up on the stuff. . . and out. Suffice to say that my Northern New Brunswick-raised mother knew of only a few cooking ingredients. . . bleached white flour and sugar. Raised during the Great Depression by Nanny and Pops, her adoptive parents -– jolly good cooks with little means and simple tastes -– she embraced the fast food revolution of the ‘60s with great gusto.

My caveat here should be that sugar, in all honesty, was the least of my Maritime relatives’ worries. They lived directly across from Atholville’s sole employer; a prolific pulp and paper mill that spewed toxic gas into the air ferociously 24/7. Any food was good food back then. Still, the painful reality remains that my mother died of disease at only 49 years old.

My Nan could feed a brood of more than 10 hungry fellas with little more than some lard, potatoes, carrots, and the dribs and drabs of meat scraped from the bones of some animal Pops had got the better of and skinned on the back step, just beyond the clawed-up old kitchen door. All of her meals were constructed with lily white flour and granulated sugar. These were the constants.

Dr. Mercola says that sugar, an addictive ingredient commonly used in many processed foods, “feeds cells, triggers weight gain and promotes premature aging.”

One of my fondest memories is of Nan serving up thick slices of home baked bread lathered with butter and sticky black molasses. Before bed the bread ends became part of a magical evening ritual called “taps”. Bits and pieces of the fluffy carbs, collected from the plates of inconsiderate eaters throughout the day, were then soaked in warmed milk and generously sprinkled with sugar to create the concoction I came to associate with “love”.

Feed me. Love me.

I adopted my love of brown sugar from my mom, via my Nan. As a teen I baked, albeit poorly, but always sweets, the sticky sugary substance oozing aggressively from some orifice.

My father took us on trips. I filled shoe boxes with my signature dessert squares. We camped across Canada and the U.S. He drove. I ate. Maybe the others did too. I was oblivious to their experience. For me, the oldest of the five, the idle time between and around eating was filled with singing and sleeping and dreaming.

Similar sugar-induced highs and lows followed me as I grew, er, matured.

So, is it any wonder that the Candyland that is Christmas caused me such soul-wrenching disappointment in this “Year That Was Different”? And made me vomit. When my family assembled to celebrate, my resolve crumbled. I was helpless to the horrific power of the shortbread and waldorf squares and thickly spiced apple pie. Oh my. . . I caught myself standing over the colourful tins nearly shovelling “treats” into me. But this year my body fought back. It forced my obsession to come to a screeching halt. I hadn’t had sugar in all of 2010.

One week after Christmas I noticed that I had gained five pounds. Today I am sugarless. I am 112lbs lighter than I was last year at this time.

I wanted to believe it was genetic, that I was different than the other “fatties” because I had no control over the outcome, not that I lacked control.

Damn. . . wrong again!