Carbohydrate, fructose, dextrose, candy, sweet, sucrose, sweetener, lactose....
Whatever you want to call it/ label it/ do with it, it's the same thing. Sugar.
And we love it.
Nope instead I just want to have a chat about it, my own experience and the awesome documentary that brought all of these thoughts into my head to begin with!
Here's a brief synopsis of the recently published documentary created, directed and starring Damon Gameau:
THAT SUGAR FILM is one man’s journey to discover the bitter truth about sugar. Damon Gameau embarks on a unique experiment to document the effects of a high sugar diet on a healthy body, consuming only foods that are commonly perceived as ‘healthy’. Through this entertaining and informative journey, Damon highlights some of the issues that plague the sugar industry, and where sugar lurks on supermarket shelves. THAT SUGAR FILM will forever change the way you think about ‘healthy’ food.
I thought this was such an interesting way to explore the impacts sugar has on us, as Damon doesn't go on a diet filled with lollies, soft drink, chocolate etc. rather simply eats a typical, even considered 'healthy' diet.
He filled his pantry and fridge with items like low-fat fruit flavoured yoghurt, cereals, juice boxes, muesli-bars and pre-made sauces and simply had to make sure he reached the average daily intake of sugar, the westernised world consumes (40 TEASPOONS!!).
Obviously upon learning that a serving of some fruit yoghurt with cereal on top and a glass of juice for breakfast made up around 1/3-1/2 of the 40 teaspoons, it became clear that he would have no trouble reaching this goal.
Again, none of the foods he was consuming were labelled as 'junk food' or 'bad', he was simply eating what the majority of us buy from the super markets.
What's more, he had gone sugar free for multiple years prior to this. Boy did his body get a shock.
But enough about that documentary (though you should definitely give it a watch!) let's move onto the message of the whole documentary, how we as humans fit into all this.
Hundreds of years ago humans had to hunt and gather for their own food (shocking, I know) and sometimes food wouldn't come by for long periods of time. As a result we developed a sensitivity to the sweet stuff and immediately our brain would light up and awaken at the sweet taste on our tongues, telling our bodies that we had a quick source of fuel and energy and we should eat as much as we can to restore the energy we had lost.
Not much has changed to this day, which is why our brains seem to wake up more when we have sugary foods and we find it hard to control the amount we eat (and why we are always hungry for more).
Of course, we've all read those posts, or seen those news articles outlining the damaging effects of sugar on the body (weight gain, insulin resistance, diabetes, liver problems etcs.) but how do you stop yourself from consuming something you actually crave?
If you have read my blog for a while, you may have come across the fact that I don't eat highly sugary foods (like lollies, soft drink, juice, processed cereals, ice cream, chocolate bars etc.) and if you're anything like every single one of my friends/ peers, your first question may be; 'How could you live without sugar?'
Prior to my diet change (into vegetarianism with low dairy, wheat and sugar consumption) I'd seen friends, family members and even people on tv trying and ultimately failing at giving up the extra sweets. I saw them become cranky, irritable, showing real withdrawal symptoms from something as 'harmless' as sugar. I saw that they couldn't sustain slapping their hand away from the biscuit tin, or huddled in the corner of a dark room rocking back and forth murmuring to themselves to not give in to the demons. (Ok, the second example may have been slightly exaggerated. Slightly. ;))
So when I was told that I should probably cut back on all processed and added sugars, I thought it would be impossible. But it wasn't. Hear me out:
The first few days were fine. You know, you have that new and exciting feeling and that mental drive to make sure you do everything 100% perfect. Then it became a week and the novelty started to wear off. By week 2, I will admit there were times where I would watch my family eat some cake, or have some ice cream and I would literally drool at the sight.
Then came 30 days.
Yep, for some reason 30 days was the magic number for me (and they say around a month is needed to stick a habit). After a month I simply didn't crave it. I was used to how things tasted on their own without the sickly sweet addition of sugar. I began to appreciate the real flavours of food and then notice the subtle sweetness in them.
Apples were bursting with sweet, crisp crunch, sweet potatoes used sweet syrup and even plain oats took on a sweetness I had never noticed before. I think after that month I was given a juice of some kind at a restaurant and the taste was so sweet I could not even finish it. I had trained my taste buds to appreciate the 'hidden' sweet flavours of nature that I had smothered by my intake of sugary processed foods.
So to all of you out there who think you can and will never shake your sweet tooth problem (if it truly is a problem; ie. your over consuming and feeling the negatives- remember we are allowed to treat ourselves!) give it a month and then see where your at. I think you just might find that that vanilla frosted cupcake will become a little too sweet for your liking.
Do you have a sweet tooth? I definitely believe I do and make sure I satisfy it with delicious fruit and sweet potatoes of course!
Have you struggled to cut sugar from your diet in the past?
Favourite naturally sweet food?