“Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Sugar is Sweet and it’s killing you!”
At least this is what the nutritional tabloids would have us believe. It seems that if you want publicity in today’s health market, all you have to do is point an accusatory finger at those sweet little crystals which are being blamed for the current health crisis. Despite my firmly held belief that we should be minimising our consumption of this addictive ingredient, I am usually suspicious of hype. So I have been following with wary interest the various claims that are currently circulating regarding the forms and amounts of sugar that we should (or should not) be consuming. It can be overwhelming and often confusing to make sense of the myriad of articles, research, and sometimes unfounded nonsense being conveyed about sugar.
Enter, ‘That Sugar Film’ http://thatsugarfilm.vhx.tv : a humorous and down-to-earth look at the effects of our apparently disastrous dependence on sugar. The documentary follows Damon Gameau’s experiment on himself, in which he spends two months consuming the current estimated daily intake of sugar in Australia. The alarming thing is where Damon gets all that sugar from. Contrary to common belief about the main contributors to our sugar-laden diet, he consciously shuns all soft drinks, candy and ice-cream in favour of what are considered “healthy” options. For two months he eats the equivalent of forty teaspoons of sugar per day, through foods like cereal, fruit juice, yogurt, and various other ‘low-fat’ options. He also joins in the modern hype of juicing – a supposedly healthy choice which, in actual fact, leads to downing the sugar from more fruit than you could ever eat whole in one sitting (minus the good fibre).
The impact on Damon’s previously healthy body (from a very low sugar diet based on whole foods) is dramatic and swift. His health is monitored by a doctor, pathologist, nutritionist and even psychologist who are all amazed at the effects in such a short time. As well as fatty liver syndrome, pre-diabetes, increased blood pressure and an 8 kilogram weight gain, he suffers mood swings, brain fogginess and constant lethargy. Because of the constant ‘hits’ of sugar he is getting which cause temporary highs followed by major slumps in energy, he notices an ever-present craving for more sugar laden foods so that his brain can receive its next burst of fuel – a vicious cycle. Thankfully, as noted in the conclusion, all the effects on his poor body are reversible and, with the experiment over, he returns to his normal healthy state through whole, natural foods.
Well worth watching, ‘That Sugar Film’ highlights the widespread misunderstanding around sources of sugar and exposes its more subtle hiding places. To me, it was a reminder about the responsibility we must all take for our own health, and the importance of being well informed consumers. That sweet, and slightly sinister, stuff we know as sugar has such an impact on our health that it probably deserves all the limelight it has been getting. Though we may be sick of hearing stern admonitions about our sugar consumption, it seems we will be worse off if we do not take heed. ‘That Sugar Film’, through one man’s drastic experimental measures, aims to raise a red flag of caution to all who may think that the sugar debate is simply another melodramatic act trying to get attention in an overcrowded health scene.
“Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Sugar is Sweet, So beware what you chew!”
About the Author: Tessa McGeorge has a great interest in people and in healthy living. She has a degree in counselling and is currently studying for a degree in nutrition science. She enjoys writing from her own experiences with healthy living and likes to base her conclusions in scientific research.
For some excellent (and delicious) ideas on how to replace the sugar in your diet and avoid the cravings, check out the famous I Quit Sugar blog! Many of the ingredients mentioned can be found at happyhealthy.co.nz.
Remember, not fanatical, just wise!