My name is Rachael and I am a sugar addict.
I have always been a sugar fan, devouring sugar cubes meant for my sister's horse and stealing cans of condensed milk from the kitchen when I was a kid. My pocket money was spent on caramel buttons.
I collected sugar cubes served with coffee, and loved the crunch as I caught them between my teeth. As a former bulimic, I devoured sugar as my binge drug of choice, usually slathered with high-fat, high-gluten ingredients to help dull the pain throughout my 20s.
But after reading David Gillespie's anti-sugar tome Sweet Poison, I learnt how fructose is the problem - and 50 per cent of sugar is fructose. Put simply, fructose converts to fat and bypasses the "I'm full" prompter in the body, which is why I could eat two tubs of ice-cream in one sitting and still want more.
Then there's the addiction aspect. As Gillespie related, mice bred without the sense of taste, then given a bowl of cocaine water and a bowl of sugar water became addicted to - you guessed it - the sugar water.
To help with my sugar ban, I enlisted the help of a nutritionist/naturopath. I started eating protein and vegetables, or vegetables and grains - but no protein and grains together. I ate fruit, but only two serves a day, and always berries or a pear.
But it wasn't easy avoiding sugar in a world obsessed with sweet treats. Here is how I fared the first seven days:
Monday: Cleared cupboards of added sugar. I had been pouring agave syrup on my porridge, convinced it was holier than honey or sugar. Silly me, it has a 90 per cent fructose level.
Tomato sauce? Second-biggest ingredient is sugar. Kidney beans in a can? Added sugar. Plain yoghurt? Not so plain. But boyfriend was pleased beer could stay; it has no fructose, just maltose that converts to glucose.
Tuesday: Dreamt of sugar. A giant flowing hot chocolate fountain with marshmallows.
Cafe lunch: the gluten-free bread looked amazing. Waiter said it contained no sugar.
I didn't believe him so rang the supplier. Waiter was right. Ate gluten-free bread.
Wednesday: Discovered macadamia nuts. They kept sugar cravings at bay, but I suspect a whole tub is considered unwise. Took in online writing from sugar-free gurus such as Dr Robert Lustig. Found sugar-free recipes and vowed to buy stevia, a natural sugar substitute. Headed to shop, bought stevia, tried it, threw it out.
Thursday: Spent time in organic supermarket wondering what made me think that just because organic dark chocolate is organic it would have no sugar. It's full of it.
Friday: Became an "I quit sugar" preacher. On Facebook, posted links to Sugar: The Bitter Truth on YouTube and the BBC's The Men Who Made Us Fat. At a Thai restaurant, ordered stir fry. First bite tasted like a sugar cane exploding. Told by waitress they use palm sugar in every stir fry; I sent it back.
Sunday: On Facebook, declared myself a week sugar sober. My sugar-loving friends either commented that I'd be back on it in no time or asked me for more information.
After a further three weeks, I was eating half my normal amount - my hunger was less and my sugar monster had relocated to terrorise someone else's body.
After eight weeks, I am still sugar sober.
I have lost four kilograms without exercising or reducing my food portions. I no longer fall asleep at 3pm each afternoon. And I have not binge eaten once - trust me, that's a first.
- Daily Life
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