At the age of 31, Shawna Schwalb began to suffer from chronic pain, and her entire body would ache after eating sweets. The pain abruptly disappeared when she cut processed sugar out of her diet. Now, as a certified health counselor and founder of Positivecaring Co., a holistic health clinic in Chicago, she will share the benefits of a low-sugar diet in a workshop at Glenview Public Library.
“Sugar is a highly addictive substance,” Schwalb warns. “People don’t realize the hazardous effects.”
Saturday’s interactive workshop, titled “Sugar: What Parents Should Know,” will educate participants about the negative side effects of sugar and artificial sweeteners. It also will offer ways to end sugar addiction.
Most processed foods today contain sugar, and traditional white sugar, known as sucrose, is not the only kind. High-fructose corn syrup, brown sugar and maple syrup, to name only a few, also are forms of sugar and can be found in common products such as canned tomatoes and peanut butter.
Sugar can increase cholesterol, contribute to diabetes and osteoporosis, cause arthritis and feed cancer, according to Schwalb.
Artificial sweeteners aren’t any better, causing a long list of symptoms including headaches, dizziness, hearing loss and swelling, Schwalb says.
However, there are some healthier alternatives to processed sugar that people can use in moderation. Stevia, an herbal sweetener, has no effect on blood sugar and comes in powder and liquid form. Sweeteners like honey and blackstrap molasses are better because they contain nutrients, unlike processed sugar, which is devoid of nutritional value.
“There’s a huge downside to consuming foods with processed sugar,” said Shawna’s husband, David. He stopped eating processed sugar and found his pants were looser after four days. “It’s one of the easiest ways to promote weight reduction and improve your health.”
Schwalb’s hope is that the workshop will help parents become more aware of the detrimental effects of sugar on their children’s health as well as their own. “We see how our children act on sugar, especially when it’s the majority of their diet.” Schwalb said. She and David have two children, ages 3 and 6.
“I don’t think we realize how hopped up we are until we take sugar out, “ said Sara Youngblood, a former client of Schwalb. She worked with Schwalb more than a year ago. “As I started cutting sugar out of my life, I really noticed a difference in how I felt, how I slept and my energy level,” she said.
Silvia Kraft-Walker, Glenview Public Library youth services program coordinator, hopes the workshop will clarify some of the myths about sugar.
“It’s really important to get this information into the hands of the people who need it,” she said.
“Shawna was a really great guide and counselor for me,” Youngblood said. “Her knowledge is fantastic, and I learned a lot from her.”
The workshop will begin at 3 p.m., and childcare will be available for children ages 3 to 7 during the lecture.
To register, call the Glenview Public Library or visit it online at http://www.glenviewpl.org/index.htm.