Sweet Poison: Why Sugar Makes Us Fat
This is the name of a book I’ve been reading by David Gillespie. I’m not usually drawn to these kinds of books. I think they can send out the wrong messages to people, especially women. Our value is not defined by our weight. However, weight (of the excess kind) has been on my mind lately.
I’m now in my forties and I’ve definitely found that my metabolism has slowed these past couple of years. Last month I attended a wedding. When I pulled on my lovely black dress pants I discovered they were too tight. Oh, I could’ve gotten away with it, but they were far from flattering. Vanity is not generally my besetting sin (please don’t ask me about sloth and gluttony), but even I have to draw the line somewhere. I went out and bought a new pair of pants. And while I love clothes shopping, I don’t when it’s because I’ve outgrown clothes that I love.
Obesity has been a big problem on the maternal side of my family. When my great grandmother (a wonderful wonderful woman) died, she was so large it took four grown men to lift her out of her bed. Her daughter, my great aunt, cannot walk any great distance due to her excess weight. She needs two knee reconstructions but surgeons refuse to operate on her because of her weight. My mother is five foot nothing and has tiny legs, but a very round apple shaped middle. She has type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
I’m not obese, but during my lifetime I have fluctuated from a size 10 to a size 14 and back again. I’m roughly a size 12 at the moment. Problem is, over the last couple of years my weight has been steadily increasing.
Denial also runs in my family :-) so I’m refusing to bury my head in the sand about this issue. I do not want to develop my mother and aunt’s health issues.
Maybe that’s why Sweet Poison captured my attention (though I fear it may have more to do with the fact that the front cover bears a picture of a doughnut—my favourite food in the universe). I read it with a very healthy dose of scepticism, but…
So much of what Mr Gillespie said made sense, and he backs his claims up with research from reputable sources. His primary message is that our bodies have not evolved to process large amounts of fructose. Fructose is a sugar. Table sugar—sucrose—is half fructose and half glucose. Our bodies are designed to deal with glucose and lactose (the sugar naturally occurring in milk), but not fructose. Fructose is not detected by the appetite-control centre of our brain either, which means it’s very easy to overeat foods containing fructose. If that news isn’t bad enough, fructose is converted into fatty acids and released into our bloodstream. There is a lot of growing evidence that diets high in fructose are responsible for cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and other metabolic diseases that have been previously blamed on diets high in fat.
So, for the next two months I’m going to conduct an experiment and, to the best of my ability, give up fructose (this actually means not exceeding more than 10 grams of sugar per meal). This doesn’t mean giving up fruit or suddenly eating a diet high in fat. If Gillespie had promoted either of those things I’d have run for the hills (actually, I don’t like running so it’d be more of a lazy amble, but I’m sure you get my drift).
I do think women can obsess too much about their weight and I think rigid diets do more harm than good. What I want to achieve with my experiment is to promote good health in myself and, hopefully, avoid some of the health issues that plague other women in my family. I’m not going to deny myself the occasional treat if I’m craving one. It just won’t be a sugary treat. It might be some lovely Camembert instead. Also I am going to have a piece of birthday cake in July to celebrate my DH’s birthday. Will be interesting to see what a sugar hit will do to me after having abstained so long. :-)
In August I’ll report back and tell you how I’ve fared—if I’ve lost weight, if I feel healthier and more energetic…or if there is no discernible difference.
But I’d love to know if any of you have ever made a “healthy” change to your lifestyle, and what the outcome was. Or maybe you have a tip or two you could share about how I can avoid sugar for two whole months? Come on folks, I need all the support I can get. :-)
Michelle's latest release, The Man Who Saw Her Beauty, is currently available in Australia and New Zealand