Confession Time: I’m an addict.
Well, I have an addictive personality. Once something gets under my skin I tend to do it to excess – which means I purposefully stay away from certain products and experiences because I know I could easily become a liability to my self (cf. Thomas the Tank-Gate (1983-1992), Branston Pickle-Gate (1990-2006), That-Snake-Game-On-A-Nokia-Gate (1999-2001) Carob Chocolate-Gate (2013-2015) . So even though I have never had a sweet tooth per se, I am physically unable to stop Malteasers from being drawn into the black hole of my mouth once I have cracked open the box. The thing is with sugar though, is that it doesn’t always present itself in the cute little cube fit for feeding horses. It can even come packed into the ingredients of the most unsuspecting products, like Bacon, as I learnt much to my chagrin most recently.
So knowing my own habits I decided to attempt cutting out sugar entirely, initially the reason being to lose weight. I’d come to realise that the sweet stuff was a sure fire contributor to my muffin top and/or burgeoning male cleavage. And Lo and Behold, when I cut back on sugar and sugary products I did lose weight, but it became much more than that.
Fat doesn’t make you Fat
Just to set the scene somewhat allow me to point you to a fascinating docu-film , aptly named ‘ That Sugar Movie’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uaWekLrilY This brilliant documentary was put together by an Aussie comedian who, inspired by his healthy wife and all the planning surrounding the impending arrival of a newborn, decided to find out the ‘bitter truth about sugar’. Said comedian, Damon Gameau, decided to test his body’s reaction to eating a high sugar diet, focussing primarily on ‘diet’ or ‘healthy option products’ aka hidden sugars. I absolutely loved it not only for Gameau’s wry take on his situation, nor for the shockingly real body transformation he went through but chiefly for the research that he opened my eyes to. Namely, the Seven Countries Study by Ancel Keys
The purpose of Ancel’s study was to investigate, amongst other things, the relation between diet, lifestyle and rates of coronary heart disease across a selection of countries. The result of this was the below graph:
Arguments to the tune of correlation not showing causation notwitstanding, the conclusion drawn here was that the consumption of saturated fats leads to heart disease aka Fat Makes You Fat aka, ultimately, Fat Kills. The American Health Association would later take this research as their impetus in 1961 to advise all Americans and by association the then developed world to reduce their intake of said fats/cholesterol by limiting intake of daiy, fatty meats, egg yolks and replacing them with low fat equivalents. And lo was born the ‘Diet/Health Food Industry’, radically altering the face of make up of society’s diet for the then foreseeable future. Surprisingly however, America, and the West, continued to get fatter. So what went wrong?
Sugar Coating the Truth
Around the same time of Ancel’s study there emerged an alternative research project offering quite contradictory findings. John Yudkin suggested, via his study Pure White and Deadly , that there was a far clearer correlation between the consumption of sugar and the subsequent risks of obesity and heart disease, not to mention the snowball effect of insulin spikes leading to Type 2 Diabetes. His findings however were ridiculed by Ancel and by the food industry who were doing quite nicely out of pumping their lo-fat foods with sugar so as to make them taste a little less like cardboard. Only in recent years, through the work of experts like Dr Robert Lustig, an expert in childhood obesity, has the work of Yudkin been exonerated and in fact had him lauded as the leading nutritionist of his time. . More and more work since,much to the disapproval of the Food Industry has come to the fore confirming Yudkin’s findings in that a primary cause of the obesity epidemic in the Western World is excessive sugar consumption.
So what does this mean for me?
It could well be that your sterling efforts to get your self in shape are being thwarted by what is filling your cupboards.
Now I don’t profess to be an expert here and have no nutritional qualifications so please take what I say with caution. But it is worth just checking your pantry to look at what you have there. How many items are there that contain sugar as a listed ingredient? If you’re anything like me you’ll be surprised.
At the very least I would recommend you educate your self. Check out the film. If you’re feeling inspired and want to make a positive change to affect your health, weight and quality of life I can also personally recommend the I Quit Sugar programme. If you’re wondering why you are unable to shed those extra pounds or even if you just want to find a way to live cleaner, healthier and free from impulsive food urges then it I totally worth considering.
Since quitting sugar, the fact is I have regained a truck load of energy, lost weight and developed a far healthier relationship with all things sweet. If I do fancy something these days I’ll happily partake will do but my eating habits no longer rule my moods nor my day. Wary of jumping from one extreme to another I am the last person to want to substitute one unhealthy food habit for a fixation on another hence my striving towards moderation (read: I’m trying to steer my little serial enthusiastic self in that direction.)
More than anything I am a fan of arming my self with the evidence and making informed decisions to protect my health.
I’d encourage you: get informed, make your decision and act accordingly. But don’t beat your self over the back with a thorny willow branch for having that extra piece of Yuletide Log at the Christmas table 🙂