I never thought sweet could defeat me

I used to think there was no sweet treat that could defeat me.

I used to think there was no sweet treat that could defeat me.

OPINION: I think I may have made medical history.

If I'm completely honest, I'd have to say a peer-reviewed research paper appearing in medical journals is probably years, if not decades, away.

But if you've read this column before, you'll know I sometimes start out with extravagant claims which I subsequently struggle to stack up, but end up going with as theories anyway. My initial assertion won't surprise you then.

This time, though, I really do believe there might be something to the idea behind the bluster. Because it happened to me, and the evidence seems undeniable … to me.

* An unwelcome earworm on immigration
A regret that took decades to realise
Fed up history made with me in bed
Distorted reality in 'Trumputin' era
Time to surface my anger
What a bunch of bankers!

So here it is. I think, somewhat fortuitously, I've managed to cure my sweet tooth.

Yes, I thought you'd be impressed.

Of course, there is a clarification required at this point, which is that "sweet tooth" is not actually a defined medical condition. It can lead on to any number of serious conditions, of course, but it's not one in itself.

It is a thing, though. There's actually a dictionary entry for the term, which is classed as a noun and defined as "a great liking for sweet-tasting foods".

Which is exactly as I would have defined it, having lived with one for nigh on 50 years, and been tripped up by it on more occasions than I can remember.

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It's the thing that has caused me over the years to look with bemusement at people sampling rich culinary concoctions, often carrying exotic names like "Death by Chocolate", and saying things like "Oh no, that's far too sweet for me."

I don't think I've ever said it out loud, but I've often found myself thinking "there're nothing too sweet for me" before rushing in where others have feared to tread.

If I'm brutally honest, my sweet tooth has often been used as an excuse for the extra weight I've carried. Certainly, I've used it on occasion to justify to myself my excessive consumption of foods with negligible nutritional value, and I've reasoned that such consumption is beyond my control because of its existence.

Which is, of course, hogwash. Lots of people have a sweet tooth and live perfectly healthy lives, just as many of a more savoury inclination probably follow poor diets and end up overweight.

I remember a colleague telling me South African cricketer Jonty Rhodes had a renowned sweet tooth. Given that he was one of the fittest, most energetic athletes I've ever seen – arguably the world's best fielder for a long time, he was always a whippet between the wickets – he was clearly able to control his penchant for sweet treats effectively. On the few occasions I've seen him since he retired from playing, it's been clear he remains in peak physical condition.

Plenty of inspiration, then, to break free from the repeating indulgence-excuse cycle that having a sweet tooth seems to have enabled in me.

And it really does seem to have happened, almost without my realising it. Though given my dietary history, I'm not about to assume I'm in the clear, or take anything for Granted.

When I took the decision to drastically cut my sugar consumption at the start of this year, it was to lose weight and improve my health, and happily, both have happened. Four months in, I'm more than 18kg lighter, considerably fitter, less hungry and far less prone to dramatic fluctuations in my energy levels during the day.

Good news all round, then. What I hadn't necessarily anticipated, though, was becoming one of those people who tasted something and recoiled in protest at its sweetness.

Though chocolate's to all intents and purposes off the menu now, there have been one or two minor dalliances, but I've made sure those were with darker varieties containing less sugar.

At Easter, my partner bought one of those scrumptious Terry's chocolate oranges, the dark version, and for the next week or so, we had a segment each in the morning, until it was finished.

Such controlled chocolate consumption was in itself a new experience for me, but it was also noticeable that it tasted sweet to me, despite the high cocoa content. In the past, I'd always found dark chocolate much too bitter.

That was a clue that my sweet tooth might be weakening, but it was something that followed that told me a seismic shift may actually have occurred.

Unbeknown to me, my partner had actually bought two chocolate oranges and when she produced the second one, of the traditional milk chocolate variety, I decided to give it a taste, only to discover, halfway through, that it was just too sweet for me to finish.

Defeated by a single segment of a chocolate orange!

Except it didn't feel anything like a defeat to me. It felt like a famous victory, and one I hope will lead on to many more on the dietary front.

No, on reflection it probably wasn't medical history. Not on a global scale anyway.I 

But it certainly was a significant milestone in my own medical history, and I'll take that, with gratitude.

 - Stuff


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