That Sugar Book

That Sugar Book by Damon Gameau.

This book first caught my attention because it had a queue of people waiting to read it, so of course I had to find out why! The sub-title says ‘this book will change the way you think about ‘Healthy’ food‘, and it certainly did that for me. It blows the lid on how the food industries keep us consuming large quantities of health destroying and addictive sugar, what foods hide quantities of the sweet stuff, and how you can improve your life and well-being by removing it.

Damon Gameau is an award-wining actor who has appeared in a range of productions, including RAW (in the UK) and How I Met Your Mother (in the USA). As a director, he was the winner of Tropfest in 2011. This is his first book, and That Sugar Film is his first feature-length film.

Damon grew up addicted to sugary food, drinking tooth-rotting blackcurrant drinks as an infant, and moving on to cans of Coke and Tim Tams by the packet in a sugary childhood diet. He continued to eat this way until he met the woman of his dreams at the age of 32. Love works miracles in new relationships, and while Damon was pretending to enjoy the sugar-free health foods that his new girlfriend prepared, Damon discovered that he felt better in both body and mind without the sugar – and, equally a miracle, he actually began to enjoy the new foods! When a health-conscious friend suggested that he remove sugar from his diet altogether, he decided to give it a go. The result was greatly improved moods, and a flood of compliments about his ‘glowing skin, radiant eyes, and sparkly demeanour’.

Damon began to wonder how much of his subsequent success was actually due to his improved diet. While writing a show about the effects on a healthy person of eating nothing but hospital food for a month (while lying in bed watching TV and reading magazines) the germ of an idea began to form. He would test whether the improvements in his health were really due to his reformed diet by eating the typical Australian “healthy” diet for 60 days while testing the effects on his body through the monitoring of a GP, a pathologist, a nutritionist, and a sport scientist. At the start of the experiment Damon had not touched any refined sugar for nearly three years, and had drunk no alcohol or caffeine for five years, so tests showed him to be in good health, especially in his liver – he had a great body on which to conduct this experiment.

During the experiment, Damon consumed ‘hidden’ sugars found in ‘healthy’ foods and drinks, such as breakfast cereals, muesli bars and juices – absolutely no soft drinks, ice-cream, confectionery or chocolate. Even so, he still consumed the equivalent of 40 teaspoons of sugar a day! The foods he ate were always low-fat varieties, and he maintained his exercise routine so as not to skew the results of the experiment. He ate the same number of calories during the experiment as he ate before.

The first thing Damon noticed was his wild mood swings after eating Just Right cereal with yogurt and apple juice for breakfast on the first morning (it gave him the equivalent of 20 teaspoons of sugar!) Within three weeks his blood test results showed dying liver cells, with fatty liver developing, and his testosterone levels had dropped. Over the 60 days his insulin levels nearly doubled, and doctors predicted that Damon would be pre-diabetic within six months. Damon’s skin became dry and a bit wrinkly, and he gained nearly 9 kilograms in weight, and 10 cm of belly fat.

The good news is that when Damon resumed his normal healthy eating his weight returned to normal within two months, and all of his blood tests returned to what they were before he started the experiment… which means that it is never too late for us to reform! Damon shares with us what worked for him as he regained his health and beat the post-sugar cravings. The books also gives some great recipes, a number of which I have added to my personal favourites, and also shared with others. I love the Nutty Date Balls, Kale and Cashew soup, Fig and Coconut cake with an Almond Chia Base, Peanut Butter Cups, Broccoli soup, and Mean Beans & Vegie dippers.