One of my cousins was doing an assignment on Sugar and after getting little to no help from the nutritionists and dietitians she contacted, she asked me if I’d be willing to answer some for her.

I realized that I could have written pages and pages, and although it is aimed at teenage girls, it is still thought provoking reading that I wanted to share with you all…

Your thoughts, questions and comments are welcome here!

1. What are the side effects and potential dangers associated with quitting sugar?
(Do the long term benefits outweigh these short term adverse effects)

When quitting sugar, many people experience “detox symptoms” , most commonly headaches, bloating, lethargy and skin breakouts. Those who have a nutritionally poor diet generally have longer and more severe symptoms, that can last anywhere from 3days to 3weeks, and happen as the body adjusts to a healthier dietary intake and rids itself of the stored sugar inside its cells.
Long term side effects include clear vision and thinking, consistent daily energy, a strong immune system and regular bowel movements, just to name a few. These side effects are all of huge benefits for our health and well being, and clearly outweigh the short term discomfort of reducing or eliminating our dietary intake of sugar.

2. What are the potential dangers of maintaining this level of no sugar?
You risk bringing on detox symptoms (stomach aches, constipation and diarrhoea are the most common in this situation) when consuming sugar again. The longer you go without sugar, the harsher these symptoms may become. If continued consumption occurs, the sugar addiction can take over, the subsequent sugar high and then the low lows closely follow.
But if you are strict and consume zero sugar, there are no known dangers at this point in time.

3. Are sugar free diets realistically achievable in terms of cost and accessibility?
Unless for medical reasons, I don’t believe any one person should avoid a particular food, but our diets are all about choices- whether that be veganism, paleo or quitting sugar. It would be fantastic to say that you will no longer eat sugar, but most people don’t realize that it is in almost everything in the supermarket, and not all sugar is created equal. If you were to completely avoid ALL sugar, you would probably only be able to eat meat, some vegetables and a very minimal, if any amount of fruit.
I don’t believe it is possible to completely avoid sugar without missing out or opting out of important events such as family birthdays and Easter celebrations, but at the same time, this shouldn’t give our youth the idea that eating McDonalds every single day is ok either!

Financially, I believe that everyone can afford real food- meat, fruit and vegetables, not the sugar laden products that fill almost every aisle of a grocery store. A lot of people have this idea in their mind that healthy food is expensive, but it is not. Organic meat, fruit and vegetables, however, are quite expensive and this is where people get confused. One meal at McDonalds costs roughly about $5-$10 (I’m simply guessing because I can’t even remember the last time I went there!!) but if you just pop down to the shops, you can find two bunches of broccolini for $4, a carton of eggs for $3, a bag of mixed lettuce for $3 and 300g of beef mince for about $4. For two people, this amount of food could stretch across a handful of meals. So instead of one takeaway meal for two people at approx $10-$20, we have at least 4 meals for $14 for two people. Not only are you saving money, you are also consuming way more nutrients compared to take out food.
If money is truly the issue, buying budget cuts of meat, eating produce when it is in season or even checking out the reduced rack are always the way to go.
A great quote that I always find hits home for me is: Those who don’t have the time to eat healthy soon find the time for illness. I think this applies in a monetary sense also – those who say they can’t afford real food, soon find the money for medicine.

4. Would you think for a teenage girl sugar is ultimately unavoidable?
I think removing refined sugar is of HUGE benefit, especially to young growing bodies, however, I’m not convinced that is is completely unavoidable without huge sacrifice at this point in time. Sugar isn’t just in junk food such as chocolate, chips and takeaway, it is all around us, hidden in products from cereal and fruit juices to vitamin water and ‘healthy’ wraps. It is certainly within our own capabilities to educate ourselves and young girls and avoid as much refined sugar as possible simply by making better choices every day.

5. Do you think teenage girls are being misled in terms of the importance of maintaining certain levels in their diets?
Yes, the general public has been led to believe that dietary fat makes us fat for the better part of the last three decades, and it is proving very difficult to dispel that common belief.
Luckily we have several people who have dared and continue to stand up against sugar, the sugar manufacturers and the sugar industry such as Damon Gameau, Sarah Wilson, David Gillespie, Michael Moss & Gary Taubes just to name a few. The sugar movement is coming, and it will give each and every person the right to correctly educate themselves, those around them and stand up against the deceit and corruption.

6. Why do you think diets are more concerned about low fats/proteins/carbohydrates and not low sugar levels?
Unfortunately big sugar companies are sponsoring scientists to not publish the whole truth, and are even paying them to endorse their products (read: bribing!) and without the funding the scientists can not continue what they do, so it has become a vicious cycle. The same is true for the Heart Foundation and the Australian Dietary Association – how can we expect accurate dietary guidelines when their biggest sponsors are Kellogs and Coca Cola. It is no wonder why the general public are absolutely flooded with information yet starved for knowledge.
Along with this, a lot of companies just want to make money. They want you to fail their diet, so you purchase more and more products. They want to sell you more supplements, more shakes, more detox tea, whatever the next craze is.

7. Do you believe a sugar free diet could possibly reduce the chances of having health issues in the future?
All of the ACCURATE case studies as well as my own self experimentation and that of my clients definitely point in this direction.
It would be careless to suggest that eliminating it from your diet can cure disease, but it most certainly can help manage a wide range of existing symptoms and disorders, as well as reduce the possibility of future health issues. Many parents have seen huge changes in their children’s behaviour when sugar is removed (hello – the well known stigma of red cordial??) – they concentrate better at school and don’t have as many attitude/mood swings. There have also been famous people who manage their health through a sugar free diet, such as Sarah Wilson – who has built a successful business after trialling and now managing her auto immune disease by avoiding the sweet stuff.

Then there comes the issue of sugar and weight/fat loss. And along with this comes the discussion of metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. There are many articles and books written defining and explaining how sugar is the culprit of these diseases, and prevention is the only way to avoid heading down this path. Many times it is discussed that metabolic disease such as diabetes was rare 60 years ago, and now it is growing at an alarming rate and we are all becoming fatter and sicker as a society.

All in all, reducing and avoiding sugar will set us all down a much healthier path.