I Quit Sugar*

*Lies. I have quit seeing chocolate as a food group. However 'I Quit Eating Lots of Processed Sugar and Stopped Adding It To Things' is quite wordy and far less emotive.

My name is Amy and it's been forty hours since I last ate anything with added sugar.

On the weekend, Mr S and I sat down and watched That Sugar Film.

I snarfed down a mini Cherry Ripe before we started watching. Someone on Instagram warned me that I'd probably feel very differently about chocolate afterwards.

At the beginning of the year I started the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet program. It is a fantastic 'diet' that shouldn't actually be called a diet, it should be just the way we are taught to eat. I decided to give up putting sugar in my coffee (I've never had sugar in my black tea) and to stop snacking on chocolate, which was a post pregnancy and breastfeeding hangover. I was remarkably cranky for about three days and then it was okay. As it stands now if I have a sweetened coffee it tastes like artificial sweetener to me and I cannot drink it.

Chocolate however... we've always been mates.

For those who haven't watched it yet, That Sugar Film is a documentary by Damon Gameau. He's horrified and curious about sugar and wants to experiment by only eating 'healthy' low fat foods for forty days. He is supervised by some hilariously named characters - 'Check Upz' is his mild mannered GP and my favourite. The results are, well, horrifying. Seeing the culture that surrounds sugar in our daily lives and it's role throughout history is one to open anyone's eyes. Hopefully. By the end of watching That Sugar Film I was fairly shocked at the amount of hidden sugars in most packaged foods. What was also a bit eye opening was a few of the foods that are pictured are foods I have in my fridge. Fruit yoghurt, I'm looking at you. Easiyo, I'm coming back to the fold.

I did a bit more poking around online and found this review by Catherine Saxelby that discusses how the foods that Damon Gameau eats in the film aren't necessarily indicative of a healthy diet. I argue that whilst he's eating WAY more packaged foods than the Smyth household does, they are foods that I can imagine a busy family purchasing and eating daily.

Gameau has a nifty little blog post that explains about ceasing to eat added sugars, not naturally occurring sugars. This is a really useful infographic to keep handy to educate yourself about the 'hidden' sugars lurking under a different name.

Sidenote to my sister: Yes, I now realise that rice syrup is just another name for sugar. You were correct.

I talked about the film with my friends, Mr S and I talked more about it and together we decided to see if it would make a difference to our kids and to a lesser extent, ourselves. Now, we haven't thrown anything away. I'm pretty sure Mr S still has a bottle of Vanilla Coke in the fridge (purchased pre film) and I've got about three blocks of chocolate stashed around the kitchen.

The Challenge

I wanted to see if I could happily stop adding sugar to my life in non naturally packaged forms.

It's now been almost two full days and I am cranky, I have a headache and I want to hide in bed with my book. Instead I have been:

  • eating the peaches I canned in a super light syrup in January (BEST IDEA EVER, PAST SELF)
  • snacking on peanuts mixed with sultanas (I know dried fruit is also a sugar, but it's a naturally occurring sugar. I'm watching my sultana quantity.)
  • sulking in front of the heater with my book
  • drinking too much coffee
  • going for an epic walk with a screaming four year old and a happy two year in the raincoat-ed double pram whilst it snowed on the hills around us and rained on me and
  • generally trying to feel smug about having gone two days without added sugar, but actually just feeling a bit shit.

The thing is, I've done this before and I know it doesn't last forever. I can't wait.

So far Millie is still asking for honey toast every morning but she understands about how sugar can affect our bodies and she's okay with peanut butter instead. Actually, that's a Instagram-worthy lie. She is not okay with peanut butter instead, but now understands that if she wants toast, it's peanut butter or Vegemite, or no toast.

The Plan

No major plans here, just more careful meal planning with even less packaged sauces/foods. I'll replace things with lower ingredient options (eg natural peanut butter from the health food shop) when they run out. I'll bake with applesauce or sugarless or just lower amounts of sugar where possible.

Have you watched That Sugar Film? What do you think? Tell me everything.