food

Uh-oh: a sugar shitstorm is on the horizon.

Image via That Sugar Film

We already knew that low-fat ‘healthy’ foods such as muesli bars, yoghurt and cereal contain a shit-ton of hidden sugar, but a new movie in cinemas this March examines exactly what happens to the human body – specifically actor Damon Gameau’s body – after just 60 days of a low-fat, high-sugar diet.

The film he directed and stars in – That Sugar Film – is in the same vein as Morgan Spurlock’s human guinea pig venture Super Size Me (in which Spurlock eats nothing but Macca’s), and Michael Moore’s dark humour-driven investigative films. It converted this writer to ditching the sugar… see how you go after reading these five findings.

1. All calories are not equal

Damon found that despite consuming fewer calories per day than when his diet included good fats such as nuts and avocado, he put on 8.5kg during this experiment. Yep, this low-fat diet added an extra 10cm to his waistline, also earning him an ‘unstable’ level of mental functioning and the early stages fatty liver disease. In two months!

RELATED: If living with type 1 diabetes was like The Hunger Games…

2. Food manufacturers are aiming for your “bliss point”

As market researcher who developed Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper tells Damon, manufacturers have designed their products to contain the maximum sugar we can enjoy – that’s your “bliss point”. Sugar lights up the same areas as cocaine and sex, so of course the food industry wants you addicted. “But those reward centres are also activated by having a really great conversation with a friend or running around in the park,” Damon tells us. “We have to move away from getting our rewards from a caramel latte. If you can transition away from that – which for me took about a week – then you start to feel lighter and clearer.”

2. You might be TOFI – thin outside, fat inside

“It’s a very new term that should alarm people who have a high-sugar diet but aren’t obese,” warns Damon. “What we know about fructose now is that it causes visceral fat. There are two types of fat – subcutaneous fat is on the outside and it’s seen as relatively harmless in comparison to visceral, which is the one that gathers around your organs and causes Type 2 diabetes.” If you think you could be harbouring this baddie, you can get a test for the level of triglycerides in your blood.”

The daily habit that could be ruining your childrens' future.

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3. It’s time to rethink breakfast

Damon calculated that his morning breakfast of cereal with yoghurt and a glass of apple juice came to 20tsp sugar. That means your juice and smoothies also need a tweak. If we were to eat a piece of fruit, the fibre would fill us up. By juicing, we can fit eight pieces of fruit into one glass… and that’s 32 tsp sugar, which floods your liver and turns to fat. Try a green smoothie like Mia instead.

Or, do as Damon does: “My rule is that I’ve cut out all refined sugars and carbohydrates. So for breakfast I’ll have an egg with avocado, bacon or haloumi. If you have cereal your blood sugar spikes quickly and you’re hungry sooner, whereas a high protein breakfast releases energy more slowly.”

RELATED: 3 fast, healthy, creative breakfasts

4. Going cold turkey is risky

“I don’t think in one big hit is the way to do it,” Damon advises. “Sugar releases endorphins and has the same emotional effect that love does, so we do have an emotional attachment to it. If you suddenly just rip that out of your life – when you’ve relied on it since you were a child – it can be quite confronting. Be gentle with yourself. Or just lower it and make sure you have fruits – blueberries, sweet potato, foods that have a natural sweetness but no refined sugar.”

Hear that? That’s our inner child crying.

5 hidden sources of sugar we had no idea about

5. You probably have a genetic disposition to inhaling sugar like crack

Sugar is physically addictive and the more you eat, the more you’ll need. “It’s not a moral failing – it’s a genetic disposition, just like asthma,” Damon says – backed up by top scientists in the field. “For some people, the receptors are different in their brain and they need more of a hit to feel that buzz and feel satiated. I’m one of them. Stephen Fry [who’s in the film] told us none of his siblings have an addiction to sugar but he can remember being five years old and pouring sugar all over butter. I spent a lot of time in Overeaters Anonymous meetings in the making of the film and the message was always the same – it was about sugar over anything else.”

Do not snort.

Try switching sugar for these superfoods:

THAT SUGAR FILM is touring cinemas around the country in March.

Want to share your trials and tribs with sugar? Add to the blog via [email protected]