Whilst I was never a big sugar muncher in my early adult life, as a kid I bathed in it. Soft drinks lollies, chocolate – anything which resembled something sweet I ate it. I still remember the day as a 10-year-old staring up at the nose hairs of my dentist and hearing the verdict…” Wow, I’ve never seen that many teeth needing fillings in a long time…” I had eight crummy teeth yet the visit six months before that, I was cavity free! I ate the odd chocolate bar during my teens fearing an outbreak of acne (sugar caused acne, right?) but my relationship with sugar only really began to get frosty in the last 3 years in my lead-up to 50. This corresponded with the plethora of research being published regarding the ill-effects of sugar which was hard to deny. In particular, the voice of Dr Robert Lustig (Paediatric Endocrinologist) who is evangelising the ‘pure, white and deadly’ sugar movement. His knowledge and passion regarding the subject really struck a chord with me and hence motivated me to examine my own consumption particularly with ‘hidden sugar’ added to most packaged food.

So, armed with new knowledge and determination I stopped adding sugar to my coffee, oats and the odd wheet-bix and ditched any food with more than 8g per 100g. In the bin went flavoured yogurt, spaghetti sauce, flavoured milk, fruit juice, baked beans in sauce, tomato and BBQ sauce, ‘healthy’ muffins, muesli bars, breakfast cereal and the occasional Thai take away (the added cane sugar is now over-powering for me). It was hard at first but I knew sweetness is an acquired taste and eventually my ‘sour face’ would stop in response to Greek yogurt.

When we start looking closely at the packaged and processed food we all eat, it’s really amazing the hidden sugars which have found their way in to the production line. Manufacturers have been lacing our daily food in the hope that you won’t notice – sugar is addictive and they know it. In fact, if you were to eliminate every food on the supermarket shelves with added sugar, 60% of items displayed would disappear. Did you know that Heinz actually receive tomatoes ‘under-sweet’ so they can regulate their own sweetness by adding sugar to their tinned products? The best thing about giving up the white stuff is that 5kgs dropped off me like peeling off a layer of clothes. It was that easy. And I’ve never looked back. Seriously, it’s the single most effective strategy to becoming healthier, happier, less ‘worked-up’, less foggy and all-round feeling better.

It’s taken me about 12 months to firm up my new eating habits in response to sugar and I can now say that I don’t screw up my face every time I eat Greek yogurt. Coffee with even one teaspoon of sugar is over-powering for me; I add fruit to oats to make it sweeter; I make my own spaghetti sauce (chop up tomatoes and stick them in the oven) and bake my own muesli bars. I’ve swapped cereal for eggs at breakfast and rely mainly on vegetables, fruit and whole grains (dark bread & spaghetti, brown rice) milk, lean meat and fish.  And don’t be fooled by the ‘no-sugar’ label on your coke can…they simply add artificial sweeteners which can be 30,000 times sweeter than real sugar.  I don’t know about you but I don’t want such high-powered chemicals floating around in my body.

If you’re struggling with your relationship with sugar here are some simple stratagies to help you ditch the white stuff for good.

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