I’m not usually one for watching reality TV programmes, but the title of a new series ‘The Sugar Free Farm’ caught my eye, where celebrities try and live for 2 weeks without any sugar in their diet.
About 20 years ago I was overweight and decided to try to eat more healthier foods. I adopted a low-fat non-dairy diet, started exercising, and generally felt a lot better. Migraines stopped, and also nausea vanished as I no longer drank cow’s milk. However, it soon became clear to me that foods low in fat did not necessarily mean that they were low in sugar. In fact I came to realise that sugar seems to be in most of the things we eat and drink in some form or another, causing quite a lot of the population, me included at the time, to be addicted to it.
I was lucky enough to be working in a hospital and to have a friend who was a dietician. I started to become interested in the effect that certain foods have on the body, and began to ask my friend questions. She informed me that very sweet foods cause a spike in the blood sugar levels, causing insulin to have to be secreted from the pancreas to try and combat the spike, subsequently causing a dip in blood sugar and the person to maybe feel tired. The same person might then eat something else sweet to try and raise the blood sugar again to combat the tiredness. These constant spikes and dips could eventually cause the pancreas to become exhausted and for type II diabetes to start. She also told me that sugary foods open up more and more sugar receptors in the brain, causing anyone with a sugar addiction to crave more of it.
Okay, I said to myself, where do I start to find non-sugary food? I began to eat more vegetables and lean meat and salads and lost some weight. I thought I was being good making fruit smoothies, until my friend told me that these are loaded with natural sugars! I suppose I’m fortunate in that I drink no fizzy drinks and next to no alcohol, as these are also loaded with sugar. I gave up taking sugar in tea years ago; the initial taste was vile, but I persevered. After about a month I found I liked the taste, and when I added the amount of sugar I used to have as an experiment I found the tea was too sickly-sweet. However, now I only drink green tea, ginger tea, or water. At least these are actually doing me some good!
Back to the TV programme, and the celebrities initially started to complain at the taste of fresh foods not loaded with sugar. A couple of them began to have sugar withdrawal; headaches, irritability, fatigue, and ‘flu-like symptoms. One even collapsed with tiredness! However, at the end of programme one they were finding foods to eat that they liked.
I look forward to the next programme in the series. I assume that after a few days or weeks they would have gone through detox and will start to enjoy fresh unadulterated foods. I know that now I prefer food that does not taste sweet, although I don’t think I’ll ever be able to have a non-sugary diet altogether due to that old bugbear, hidden sugars. We shall see how the celebrities get on; the results will be interesting.