A week without sugar

2013-08-01 11:00

It’s difficult to resist – and responsible for the global explosion of diabetes. Food lover and cookbook author Sam Woulidge tries (hard) to ditch the sweet stuff.

It would be a good exercise, I told myself. I just needed to show a bit of self-control, I wasn’t really addicted, now was I.

Was I? Oh dear God. I was. I am. I am the proverbial sugar junkie. By 11am on Day 1, I could think of nothing but the leftover cake on the counter. By midday, hating myself, I’d eaten a piece. Desperate to do this thing properly,

I decided to start my sugar fast the next day.

DAY 1: (for the second time) was better; I stayed away from temptation. It was a salad and chicken kind of day. I was miserable.

DAY 2: Only after enjoying crispy bacon and eggs for breakfast, did I realise bacon contains sugar. I was decidedly unhappy but determined to soldier on. Lunch was leftover chicken dressed with delicious home-made garlicky mayonnaise. Once again, it was only after I’d finished eating that I remembered I’d put a teaspoon of sugar in the mayonnaise, as per the recipe. Fail. A miniscule fail. But a fail nonetheless.

DAY 3: I woke up in a bad mood, craving muesli rusks with my morning coffee. I forced myself to eat a boiled egg instead. Feeling virtuous, come lunchtime I ate my hot dog sans soft bread roll, but slathered in mustard and tomato sauce to compensate for the lack of carbs. Fail! Sugar in the red sauce… (and probably in the bloody sausage as well!) I consumed far too many clementines too, because they were sweet and I was craving sugar. I would have killed for chocolate.

DAY 4: I woke up with a headache. I was now so completely obsessed with forbidden foods that it could have been a stress-induced headache rather than a detoxing one. No wine, no bread, no salami, no lovely rich tomato stew because tinned tomatoes contain sugar. No balsamic vinegar. No peanut butter. No delicious Vietnamese pork because of the palm sugar ingredient. I couldn’t even have skim milk, which I generally prefer, because it contains more sugar than the full-fat kind!

DAY 5: I woke up determined. Off to buy preservative-free fresh produce I was. There, while standing in the queue, waiting to pay for the sad, sugarless contents of my basket, I bought an over-priced bottle of hipster-packaged lemon water. Once home I sullenly drank it, mastering the silly spout and finding little joy in doing so. Caramel popcorn would have made me happy. Lemon water did not.

DAY 6: I cracked. I drank two frozen margaritas while lunching with a friend. They were divine, but the guilt was immeasurable and I was terribly disappointed in myself.

DAY 7: I was back on the lemon water, which, strangely enough, did curb the sugar cravings – but perhaps it was also the ghastly realisation of how much sugar I normally consumed that kept me on the straight and narrow.

DAY 8: My day of freedom was a good one. As in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, I had made the decision to know my enemy. And my enemy was sugar. I would get to know where she lurked, where she hid out, how she planned to scupper my attempts at healthy living. But occasionally I would still party with her, pretend I didn’t fear her because, let’s face it, we all want to live a little dangerously every now and then…

The bitter truth

Scientists say sugar – not fat – is responsible for obesity. Dr Robert Lustig, author of the newly released Fat Chance: The Bitter Truth About Sugar (R287, Hudson Street Press) says we need to de-sweeten our lives and see sugar as a treat – not a diet staple.

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