Confessions of a sugar junkie
Every morning I attempt to do well by the countless articles relevant to maintaining a healthy balanced diet. By the afternoon, all my good intention swirls down the throne due to a momentary lapse in judgment.
Processed sugar, the supposed poison, became something I habitually consumed to remedy the three-thirtyitis. Fine occasionally, but when I needed it every day, I began to think I had a problem.
At first I blamed boredom and a juiced up sweet tooth for my daily indulgence. This erroneous conclusion was purely based on the fact that I am one of those sorry sods who head to the gym at lunchtime to feel better about my dietary choices. And then make a bad choice because I went to the gym.
As I devoted more hours to the treadmill and pleaded with my will power to stop my obsession with sugar, I always seemed to give in to the notion that I deserved a reward, and no one gets a gold star for just being.
This rather cyclical line of thinking was obviously sending me tumbling down the hole. The strawberry-flavoured donut hole that is.
So in keeping with the idea that I may have a problem I manned the search engine and began to see if all this sugar was doing me harm, considering my shape was shifting far beyond my allotted weight and height limit.
That’s when I found former pudgy lawyer David Gillespie - author of Sweet Poison - a book which outlines the detrimental effects sugar has on the body. He was in the same boat I was, watching the scales creep upwards and miserable, but he found an answer.
Gillespie argued that by eating sugar - in particular fructose - we are blocking the ability for our three major appetite hormones that tell us we are full, which include insulin, leptin and cholecystokinin (CCK). Therefore consuming sugar sends us down the track of eating more and more which usually dead ends with some sort of first world problem.
After fashioning a quit plan and saying no to sugar, Gillespie lost 40 kilos, further contouring the dangers of a diet high in that stuff that tastes so good.
I also swung by YouTube and watched a lecture by Dr Robert Lustig, a specialist in paediatric obesity from the University of California, San Francisco. It went for over an hour, far beyond the usual minute-long attention span I regularly devote to the site, but what the hey the title, Sugar: The Bitter Truth, was rather catchy.
Lustig also summarized the poor effects of sugar in its fructose forms and how throughout the last century bad sugar has been making its way into more and more of our everyday food.
This parallel proclamation that eating too fructose was making us fat was enough for me to try to change. Perhaps it would mollify that feeling of always wanting more.
But it wasn’t just the soft drinks and chocolate that came under the category of bad sugars. As I began to let nutritional labels dictate my diet I found it to be in nearly everything I liked eating. No wonder my appetite couldn’t be pacified, my menu had been sabotaged.
So I threw out the muesli bars, chucked the colourful cereal boxes into the bin, gave ‘diet’ yoghurt the toss and replaced them with unsugared versions like quick oats, whole nuts and Greek yoghurt.
Fruit, was still in, but fruit juice was out. According to Gillespie, a glass of apple juice is equivalent to the same amount in soft drink.
I could still eat bread - certain types of bread - and I could also put butter on it because fat, does not contain sugar. In fact, a lot of cheese, avocado and bacon worked themselves into my meals as I began to see that fat-free meant it was sometimes plumped with fructose, making the marketing technique out to be hypocrisy.
It was quite the chore to keep up with what I put in my mouth but in the end I got used to it and felt better about myself saying no. But more importantly I shed a few of those unsavoury kilos within the first week, which made me feel as though I was doing something right while still keeping up with my workout schedule.
Socially, I was a bit of a loner, I didn’t realise how often gelato acted as a conversation starter and my friends watched with gapping mouths as I snubbed my usual latte with two in favour of a long black. I did, however, start to get compliments on the skinny jeans I nearly donated to charity.
In the end I wasn’t afraid of my afternoons at work and felt like I had taken myself out of the running from joining the 61 per cent of Australian adults who are either overweight or obese - there isn’t room for one more.
It’s been a month sans sugar and my appetite has been restored. Although the decision to eliminate the poison has made me more restrictive of what I eat, I now understand that too much of a good thing does more harm than good.
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