OK, to start with, I am a hardcore sugar addict, and have been reading about my drug of choice for years, going back to Sugar Blues in the 80s, then on through Sugar Crush, Sugar Nation, Grain Brain, blah blah blah right up through Pure, White and Deadly. And yes, I admit I wanted someone to tell me how I could be like normal people who enjoy their sweet treats and then live life. Nope, that’s never been me: if I start dancing with sugar, I find myself obsessed, craving sweets, looking for excuses to go to the store for my next fix…in other words, this sounded like something I HAD to read.
Allen Carr is reputed to be a genius at helping people deal with addictions. His Easyway program (oooh, I loved the sound of THAT!) has helped tons of people in the U.K. quit smoking, quit drugs, lose weight, stop gambling, overcome fear of flying, etc. and he claims to have THE answer, a 90% success rate, and requires no willpower.
Sounded way too good to be true, but I felt open to listening to his answers. Seriously, almost every book I have read on the topic has given me SOME valuable insight. Well, no, I take that back…I remember reading Geneen Roth’s books back in the 80s and I loved the idea that my sugar thing was really a problem of me feeling that I would be deprived of sugar, so I did it. I ate everything sweet I wanted, all day long, and made sure my house had plenty of treats so there was no question of scarcity…and I did it for WEEKS. At the end, I had been sick as a dog but the craving never went away. I gained weight (big surprise), felt like crap, and never went to the place where I felt like I was secure in my ability to always find more. But that is how much I wanted to be different in my relationship with sweets. It never happened.
But maybe this Allen Carr guy had a new answer! His website seemed to promise something new: “Our approach focuses on why people continue to smoke, drink, take drugs, struggle with their weight or other addictions and fears, despite the obvious disadvantages. We aim to change how you feel about your issue so that getting free becomes easy, enjoyable and you do not miss anything.” I settled in to read.
I agree with him that “with BAD SUGAR there is no healthy level other than zero,” and that we are brainwashed from a young age to equate sugar and sweet treats with love and “see sugary foods as a treat.” To my dismay, I found that (according to his website) his “method works by unraveling the misconceptions that make people believe that they get some benefit from the very thing that’s harming them.” What, I wondered, did that even MEAN?
His answer to the issue of addiction is to “achieve a frame of mind whereby whenever you think about BAD SUGAR of a BAD SUGAR product you have a sense of freedom and relief that you don’t consume it anymore.” Carr’s own experience was as a smoker who had repeatedly tried to quit. But, as he explains it, “one day, a chance remark opened my eyes to the truth. I had gone to see a hypnotherapist…to find a cure and…a word the hypnotherapist used gave me the key. The word was “addiction.” It was like a lightbulb going off in my brain: I didn’t smoke because I wanted to I smoked because I was hooked. I knew there and then that I was cured.”
And that, my friends, was the point at which I wanted to throw my Kindle through the window. My thought was “Wow, this guy REALLY doesn’t get it!!” My opinion seems reinforced by his claim that the craving is 1 percent physical and 99 percent mental…and that the “actual physical withdrawal pangs from most drugs are actually extremely mild—almost imperceptible.” Seriously???
I dutifully read on, although IMHO, there are people who “get it” and those who don’t, and when it comes to sugar, he doesn’t. I am happy he found a way to quit smoking, and I am happy that so many people have benefitted from his workshops, courses, etc. as they have struggled with their addictions.
So, how many stars to give this book (provided to me by NetGalley and Arcturus in exchange for my honest review)? Good question! It does have wonderful information about the devastating effects of overconsumption of sugar, and it does have a positive tone and upbeat message (sort of “you can do it!!!”) so I figure those alone are worth three stars. But the actual worth of his “answer” to me, as a hardcore sugar addict, was minimal. (BTW, I am fully open to the idea that my own personal experiences are not the same as those of other sugar addicts, and I will be curious to read others’ opinions of the book and program. And I hope it provides five star answers for other people!)
Three reluctant stars.