The first meal I ever made was two pieces of white bread coated with margarine and then dipped in sugar. You can call it a sugar sandwich if you like, but where I lived it was called a sugar butty
My Mum used to roll her eyes at me and say, “You will get worms eating those things.”
And I did.
“And your teeth will fall out.”
And they did.
Interestingly, she never told me that I could develop diabetes, store fat on my vital organs, develop bad breath, increase my risk of heart disease, fatty liver and even cancer.
She didn’t tell me because she didn’t know these things herself. She still doesn’t, and even if she did I wouldn’t have listened to her anyway.
Because I was a kid! I was going to live forever, and when my teeth fell out the tooth fairy used to give me £1 per molar. I didn’t need sugar to help them fall out I was pulling them out with pliers because I needed the money for my addiction to Curly Wurlies.
Sugar in Everything
I had sugar in my cup of tea, I poured sugar on my sugary cereals, I drank copious amounts of sugar in my soft drinks; I had a tab with the local ice cream van and had a 10p mix up everyday from the corner shop.
I was playing a lot of sport so from the outside I looked good. The insides? Now that’s a different question…but who cares? If you can’t see it why worry about it right?
I did start to have a lot of fillings. All them mercury by the way, which is another blessing the world has given our blood stream, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t paying for dental treatment anyway.
Then as I got older my habit changed and I didn’t consume as much. At least that’s what I think happened. Instead of eating sweet and chocolates I drank myself stupid and devoured enough take away food to give anybody a heart attack.
Little did I know that I was consuming more sugar than ever, I just didn’t recognise it because it was hidden in my Strongbow, Pernod and my Singapore Chow Mein.
Replacing Alcohol for Sugar
Life changing moment time!
Alcohol started to rip my life apart and so I quit. I started to lose weight immediately, and then something else happened. I started to eat desserts like they were going out of fashion. I even considered opening a take away dessert shop called ‘Cake Away.’
I told myself that I was replacing a crutch for crutch and just forgot about it. For the next two years I carried on regardless. I developed a small pot belly, that I called my ‘one-pack’ and there was an ever present line across the top of my gut where the belly would indent.
My mate Skit used to pat it and say, “I love your little derby Ching.”
Potatoes Not Prozac Changes Everything
My lover is a very smart woman when it comes to all things nutrition, and it was her that told me to read Potatoes Not Prozac by Dr. Kathleen DesMaisons, and I realised that I was a sugar addict. It took me long enough – I was 38 years old!.
So there’s a biochemical reason that I am eating all of this sugar. It’s my neurotransmitters screaming out for the sugar that my alcohol used to provide them with, before I stopped drinking.
Did you know I never even knew that alcohol contained sugar. It just never crossed my mind and I bet it rarely crosses your mind to?
Now I’m on a mission.
I know how this works. I need to learn more about this sugar business. I just thought it was something that made your teeth rot and put worms in your poo, I didn’t think you could get addicted to it.
During a conversation with one of my clients I am advised to read Fat Chance by Robert Lustig. It’s a life changer. It’s one of those books you will talk about for the rest of your life.
Suddenly, I have a problem. I have gone from thinking sugar is this wonderful Willy Wonka type substance, to realising that I am addicted to it, and now understanding that it’s probably the biggest killer in the entire world.
If I am the man who tells people that they are being duped by the illusion that alcohol creates, how can I eat sugar? Man this baby fools everyone.
But it’s so goddam tasty!
Robert Lustig tells me to buy Pure, White and Deadly by John Yudkin.
This book was written in the 1970s!
People knew that sugar was a killer before I was born? Why didn’t anybody tell me about this? Why did I have to wait 38-years to find out by accident? Why isn’t this part of our home economics lessons in school?
Why is everyone still oblivious to the pain that sugar causes, and why do the ones who know not take it out of their lives?
This Journey is a Familiar One
I now know what to do. This journey is a familiar one. I have been here before. I have conquered alcohol, drugs and cigarettes. I will use the same techniques to conquer sugar.
I start to apply intense pain to sugar. I read everything that I can get my hands on about the evil of sugar. It’s there…it’s just never read by anyone.
I learn about the devastation that High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) causes, I learn that Aspartame is deadly and for the first time in my life I realise that Demerara sugar is not healthy for you just because it’s brown.
I also realise that sugar is in everything. There are 25 loafs of bread in my local supermarket and they all contain sugar. Why does my bread have sugar in it!
The more pain I apply the easier it is for me to stop eating sugar. I keep affirming that sugar is the only food ingredient in existence that does not offer you any nutritional value. I get angry. Really angry. I am angry with the governments, food agencies and the world. This anger and hatred is what I thrive upon. It helps me change my habits permanently.
Is That a Chocolate Brownie?
What about my son?
I need to stop him from killing himself, just like me. I talk to him and he laughs at me. He points to his can of diet coke and shows me that there is 0% sugar in it. I try to explain about the dangers of Aspartame but he doesn’t want to know.
He orders a chocolate brownie at dinner. It smells delicious. It looks delicious.
“Have a bite Dad…go on…you know you want to.” Says my son.
When I quit drinking I was treated like a leper and I am feeling the same way with my choice to eat healthily. People don’t want to be healthy and this includes my son. He really wants me to eat this chocolate brownie and he really thinks I am stupid for trying to give up sugar.
Quitting sugar is easy if I stay away from my son and the cinema. Yup. Just don’t spend time with the most important person in my life, and Ben and Jerry’s and I’ll be fine.
Let’s Go For 31 Days
I decide to make the month of August a sugar free month. I crave the sweetness from time to time. This never happened with alcohol or nicotine. I never craved them. Why do I crave sugar?
I don’t cave in though. I have strong will power and when I say I’m going to do something I do it. It’s tough when my boy is around because he likes to eat sweet things and I’m a sucker for allowing him to eat them.
What’s wrong with me? I am killing my son. This is just utterly ridiculous. Why is this world so screwed up?
I learn to make desserts with healthier options, and I sail through the month sugar free.
So what next?
This food thing has gripped me. I want to see how much more I can learn? How are we supposed to know that diet coke contains Aspartame and what it even is? How are we supposed to know what HFCS is?
I have suddenly realised that I have no idea what I am eating, and never have. I have too much trust. Trust that the people who make the food and sell it to me are not going to kill me. How wrong I was?
So where do I go from here? What next?
I’ll tell you the first step I took when you log on and read the rest of this sugar coated tale tomorrow.
Photo courtesy of Uwe Hermann cc & Flickr.com