The Road to Sainthood

Fundy Canada“Sainthood is acceptable only in Saints.”  Pamela Hansford Johnson

The other night, I dreamt of a lovely cafe filled with colourful desserts.  A row of fluffy whipped cream covered shortcakes in different berry flavours caught my attention.  While making a selection, I noticed that each cake was named according to a different saint.  The one I had my eyes on was a fruity creation called “the death of St. James.”   I reached for a slice and woke up.

Dreams never lie and they regularly provide advice and warnings.  In the last few decades, I became allergic to dairy products and addicted to sugar so have avoided them both to regain my health.  Given my self-imposed restrictions, I couldn’t imagine eating whipped cream and cake any time soon because I’d stopped buying that sort of thing and kept no sugar or dairy in the house.   Indeed, I would never order a whipped cream cake in a restaurant so wondered if the dream was a message for someone besides me?  Perhaps a friend named Jim?

In the afternoon, my neighbour kindly invited me over for tea.  As I sat down at the kitchen table, she handed me a huge bowl of blueberries covered in sweetened whipped cream.  Though I’m allergic to dairy and addicted to sugar, I’ll almost never refuse food when I’m a guest in someone’s house.  I thought, “It’s just this once,” and happily indulged in the delicious desert while I reflected on the dream.  Surely it wasn’t about this one bowl of fruit and cream because there was no cake!  Dreams are very specific.  Regardless, as penance, I became determined to re-start my water fast the next day and told my lovely neighbour of my goal.

In preparation for the fast, I emptied my fridge.  I’d just bought some fresh “free range” eggs so decided to give them, and a few other items, to my wonderful neighbour.

Later that evening, I heard a knock on the door.  It was my thoughtful neighbour again!  This time she’d used the eggs to make a beautiful blueberry cake and had brought me an enormous piece.  The cake was still warm and covered in whipped cream.  She said, “Just a little something before you start fasting.”

Yes, I’m allergic to dairy products and addicted to sugar but have no will power when it comes to warm, freshly baked blueberry cake covered in whipped cream.  It was irresistible.  Very slowly, in tiny bites, I finished the cake but it tasted like more, which got me wondering if the little bake shop in town would be open.  Perhaps the grocery store carried shortcake.  Indeed, there’s nothing more delicious than fresh fruit, cream and cake.  I wondered how many calories were in artificial whipped topping compared to real whipped cream.  Perhaps I could cut the calories in half?  In desperation, I grabbed a glass of water and guzzled it down.  I drank a few more glasses of water then chewed on a vitamin C tablet.  Finally, I became distracted with work and was able to let go of the craving for shortcake.

Today, I’m once again dairy free, sugar free, and fasting, at least, until the next fruit & whipped cream temptation.  So much for sainthood.  Of the seven cardinal sins (gluttony, wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy) gluttony is my Achilles heel.

“Devil thy name is sugar.” 

The World Health Organization (“WHO”) says sugar causes massive health problems.  The Huffpost Living recently reported, “The most recent Canadian data, from the 2004 Canadian Consumer Health Survey, shows that on average Canadians consumed 110 grams of sugar a day that year — the equivalent of 26 teaspoons (130 ml) of sugar. Sugar calories made up 21.4 per cent of the average Canadian’s total calorie intake.”

An article by explains why sugar is bad:

“In order to understand what is so bad about sugar, then you need to understand what it is made of.  Before sugar enters the bloodstream from the digestive tract, it is broken down into two simple sugars… glucose and fructose.

Glucose is found in every living cell on the planet. If we don’t get it from the diet, our bodies produce it.

Fructose is different. Our bodies do not produce it in any significant amount and there is no physiological need for it. The thing with fructose is that it can only be metabolized by the liver in any significant amounts. Excess fructose gets turned into fat, which can lodge in the liver and cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

When people eat a lot of sugar, it can cause resistance to the hormone insulin, which can contribute to many diseases and lead to Type II diabetes. Having too much glucose in the blood is highly toxic and one of the reasons for complications of diabetes, like blindness.

Sugar can give you cancer. Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide and is characterized by uncontrolled growth and multiplication of cells. Insulin is one of the key hormones in regulating this sort of growth. For this reason, many scientists believe that having constantly elevated insulin levels (a consequence of sugar consumption) can contribute to cancer. The metabolic problems associated with sugar consumption are a known driver of inflammation, another potential cause of cancer.

Due to its effects on hormones and the brain, sugar has unique fat-promoting effects.

Sugar causes massive dopamine release in the brain and is highly addictive.

Sugar is a leading contributor to obesity in both children and adults.

It isn’t the fat… It’s the sugar that raises your cholesterol and gives you heart disease.”

Macleans Magazine’s article, “Death By Sugar” describes “How the sweet killer is fueling the biggest health crisis of our time.” The article goes on to say that “Canadians eat, on average, 88 lb. of sugar per year; the average nine-year-old boy will consume a whopping 123 lb. of sugar per year, and male teens, 138 lb. A Canadian teen’s primary source of sugar, according to the report, is soft drinks. Americans, meanwhile, have a mean daily intake of about 28 teaspoons; over a year, they’ll consume 96 pounds of sugar, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesperson.

Even for people with the best of intentions, who refrain from eating ice cream, candy and chocolate bars, sugar is almost impossible to avoid. According to Fed Up, of the 600,000 food items sold in U.S. grocery stores, 80 per cent have added sugar. Sugar and its ilk (including high-fructose corn syrup) are added to nearly everything we consume. Pasta sauce. Bread. Salad dressing. Peanut butter. One tablespoon of ketchup can contain as much as a teaspoon of sugar. “Low fat” products, especially those intended for kids, are often the biggest sugar bombs of all. Sugar-laden processed foods are everywhere: even at the local health food store, it’s truly a matter of buyer beware. Honey, agave syrup, fruit juices, and other sweeteners that often appear in “healthier” options—all are sugars.”

There it is!  Sugar, and our addiction to it, is killing humans in greater numbers.  Now, when I’m not water fasting, I’m consuming fresh vegetables, nuts, seeds, very little fruit and tons of water.  No more processed foods because of the sugar and chemicals (sugar and nitrosamines likely cause Alzheimer’s, among other things).  No more grains and processed baked goods because of the gluten and refined starch (also killers).  One nutritionist recommends no more than half an apple per day to get all the sugar you need.

I’m living on daily variations of Nicoise Salad:  potatoes, green beans, beets, cucumber, tomatoes, radishes, green/red peppers, black olives, onion, hard boiled eggs, olive oil, lemon juice, basil or thyme and dulse.  You can add sun dried tomatoes, tuna or anchovies, and countless other ingredients.

The earth is suffering from the negative impact of over-population.  Human over-consumption of natural resources, massive deforestation, and toxic pollution are fast-tracking the extinction of global Eco systems & countless species, and expediting global warming at a deadly rate.   If our addiction to sugar is killing us, perhaps it’s a self-correcting mechanism.  If I can’t kick my sugar addiction, perhaps my early demise could be viewed positively, as a small contribution to decreasing the stress on the environment.  Perhaps our collective and voluntary self-destruction by sugar will restore the Earth’s balance.  Death by sugar could be considered a form of martyrdom and sugar addicts viewed as saints in the making.  There’s always a bright side!