I’ve been reading a book called Barbarians to Angels: The Dark Ages Reconsidered by Peter Wells, and it is brilliant (I’ll review it when I’m done). He reports some fascinating information about the health of ancient Londoners (gleaned from extensive examination of their bodies):
“The bones indicate that overall nutrition was good. Remains of foods recovered through archaeological excavation indicate the extraordinary variety of foods available…Dental health was generally good, corresponding with the good diet and some degree of dental hygiene.”
This point about dental hygiene is notable. We have a modern myth that prior to scientific dentistry human beings – unlike every other species – had terrible teeth. Yet again and again in my reading I seem to find that the evidence indicates that the only premodern Europeans who had bad teeth were the rich.
Why the rich? Well, take Elizabeth I for example, who reputedly had terrible teeth. England was raking in the cash partly through the sugar trade. The rich therefore had access to vast quantities of the stuff and it ruined their teeth. This is rather analogous to the Roman nobility who got lead poisoning from their water pipes – their privilege ended up working against them.
If we didn’t eat so much sugar in modern times the dental profession would probably shrink dramatically. They’re an inadequate intervention against a problem that is nutritional first, a question of hygiene only second. Weston Price found in his survey of traditional cultures that not only was their teeth excellent but, for example, their jaws even had enough room to comfortably accommodate their wisdom teeth!
The fact that we moderns have to get our wisdom teeth removes reflects the poor quality of our nutrition compared to various supposedly backward peoples, including our own ancestors.
In that vein, Price also found that when isolated traditional cultures started eating modern processed food their good dental health declined dramatically and almost instantly (and in fact their health in general).
All of this just reinforces my argument that being Heathen should probably mean being anti-refined sugar. I mean, everyone should be anti-sugar regardless of their spiritual affiliation really, but for Heathens it seems especially important because of our emphasis on reconstituting the old wisdoms of Europe.
Despite how strongly I feel on this subject, I still find it very hard to overcome my sugar addiction – even knowing how bad the stuff is I still get tempted, for example in situations where I don’t expect to be offered some evil sugar-based substance.
I worked out that I need to have a blanket no-sugar policy established in advance. So a couple of days ago I set myself a dare – for the next 30 days, no refined sugar. I can assuage my addictive voices with the promise that this isn’t a permanent break, just an experiment.
At the end of my 30 days I’ll be able to take stock. Already my allergies are getting less severe (though this is also due to high consumption of Eyebright, Camomile, and Licorice root teas, and rubbing them on my eyes and forehead, which is incredibly effective against even the worst hay fever migraines). I seem to have more energy and be less irritable, too.
It is quite likely that after 30 days I’ll choose to keep going for another 30 days, and keep doing that ad infinitum. Sounds good to me! 25 months ago I quit smoking cigarettes and that was hard – it took years and years of struggle and effort. But now I know I can overcome any addiction, because nicotine is powerfully scored into my personal and family orlogs as a deadly foe. I’m sure many readers could find similar sources of inspiration to fire up the anti-sugar quest.
Here comes the part where I lay down the challenge: join me on the 30 day no-sugar challenge! Think of it as an act of devotion to your body, your life, your spirituality. I’ve already managed to inspire two people to commit to a similar project and I want to spread the no-sugar disease!
It takes a little advance preparation, and you’ll find it necessitates a few big changes, for example only eating very high quality bread (or none at all) – because most white bread is just sugar; and also you might want to cut back on fruit juice (actually, orange juice is much nicer when cut with water anyway – smoother and more refreshing).
Trading white rice for brown is also a part of “no sugar”, because this extremely simple carbohydrate is basically sugar. You’ll never get over your chocolate and candy cravings if a third or a half of every meal is white bread or white rice.
When I first tried to move away from a carbohydrate overloaded diet I couldn’t imagine what I could eat instead. Then I discovered vegetables! The less white bread, white rice, and refined sugar you eat, the more you realise that vegetables actually taste really good.
Also, traditional cookery offers a myriad of creative ways to make them even more mouth-watering than they are in their natural state. My homemade sauerkraut is so good that people ask for second helpings when I serve it to them. Note that I am not advocating an extreme anti-carb diet, just a balanced diet with “real” carbs rather than refined wheat and sugar poison.
If you want to Take the Elhaz Ablaze 30 Day No Sugar Challenge then please, post a little comment to that effect, and let us all know how you are going with it. This has to be one of the most constructive and fun ways to express our Heathenry that I can think of. See you at the other end of the big Three Oh!