That Sugar Film: an interview with Damon Gameau (and a competition)

That Sugar Guy: Damon Gameau

That Sugar Guy: Damon Gameau

Hold onto your hats. Damon Gameau is changing the way we talk about sugar, and he’s doing it in a big way. His documentary, That Sugar Film, is currently touring Australia, selling out cinemas all over the place. If you haven’t already seen it, go and rectify that as soon as you can. I have a feeling you’ll be thanking me later.

So, what’s That Sugar Film all about?

Damon undertakes an experiment that sees him eating the average amount of sugar an Australian consumes daily (which in case you are wondering is 40 teaspoons. That’s right, 40! Every day). The catch? Damon can only eat foods that are perceived as being healthy, such as low-fat yoghurt, juice and cereal. His aim is to document how a high-sugar diet affects the body and to highlight the issues that exist in the industry.

For the next few weeks, Damon is heading to select screenings of the film to host a Q&A session. I was fortunate to attend one of these sessions and it was an absolute testament to Damon’s passion for sharing this important message with integrity and a side serving of humour. He has a knack for inspiring people to open up about their story of ditching sugar, and he empowers others to get started on their own journey. If you get the opportunity, I highly recommend attending one of the Q&A sessions. (To find out which screenings he’ll be at, click the link at the end of this post.)

Damon was kind enough to take some time out of his busy touring schedule to answer some questions for us so, without further a-do, here they are:

1) You mention in That Sugar Film that it was your beautiful partner Zoe who originally inspired you to give up sugar at a time when the sweet stuff featured highly in your diet. Can you tell us a bit about the strategies you used when you felt the urge to eat something sweet in those early days?

In those early days I wasn’t ‘trying’ to cut sugar so it happened very naturally. There was no pressure on me to do it so I still had the odd sweet treat but it just occurred less and less. After the experiment, I did have some very strong cravings. A spoon of coconut oil helped me or half an avocado. There are fats that also light up the same reward centers as sugar but in a slightly less way. The other strategy is to use some reverse psychology on the brain: have something foul like apple cider vinegar when you get a craving, the brain thinks ‘well if that’s all I’m gonna get when I crave sugar, then I’m not gonna crave anymore!’

2) How has giving up sugar changed things for you?

I am just a better person without it. I admit I am quite sensitive to its effects so when I eat sugar I feel a bit irritable, even anxious sometimes. When I return to real foods that have a slow release and don’t spike my blood sugar levels rapidly, I gain more clarity and feel much better. Then there’s the fun vanity effects of brighter eyes and glowing skin.

3) In a nutshell, what’s your food philosophy?

Don’t over think it, just eat real foods. Real foods don’t need a star rating or a tick, they just are. It might take a while for the palate to adjust but it does and it’s a wonderful thing when you start to notice the subtle flavors and sweetness of natural foods. The body knows what to do so trust it and give it the real foods it needs to function at its best.

ThatSugarBook

Image via thatsugarfilm.com

Because I believe this is such an important message to spread, one lucky reader (Aussies only) will win themselves a shiny new copy of That Sugar Book. For your chance to win, follow these three steps:

1) Sign up to my newsletter (you’ll find the link in the top right corner of this page).

2) ‘Like’ the Miller Natural Health Facebook page. You can do this by clicking the ‘Like’ button over there to the right of this page. If you already like my page (muchas gracias!), don’t fret – you can still enter the competition by signing up for the newsletter and sharing this post. Phew! 

3) Share this post using the buttons below.

Update (28/05/2015): This competition has now closed.

It’s that easy!

For competition terms and conditions, click here.

To find out more about That Sugar Film start here:

What do you think about sugar? Have you seen That Sugar Film? Jump into the comments section and share your thoughts.

Laura xo

I ditched being gluten free to save my social life

Eggs on GF toast

Homemade eggs Florentine on gluten-free toast, courtesy of my lovely man.

“I don’t think I need to be gluten free anymore.”

I announced this to my boyfriend a couple of weeks ago through mouthfuls of avocado smothered gluten-free toast.

Three months prior, my fabulous dietitian Marieke Rodenstein had recommended that I ditch gluten to see if it would help heal the gut issues I had been experiencing. The list of reasons Marieke gave for this suggestion were long and hard to refute (and I was sick of feeling sluggish, bloated and generally not great) so I happily accepted the idea and after leaving her clinic, headed straight to my local organic grocer to stock up on all things gluten free.

After about a week of my new diet I found that my symptoms were starting to lessen and I was feeling much more energetic. I was still getting bouts of nausea and bloating but over the following weeks, these symptoms also started to fade.

For the next couple of months, I continued to adhere to a gluten-free diet and reaped the benefits. I had more energy than I’ve had in years (albeit, my iron levels were also on the way up, which would absolutely have contributed to this) and I no longer had to struggle to button up my jeans over my bloated tummy. In short, I felt great!

So, why did I decide I no longer needed to live out my days sans gluten? At the time, I told myself it was because I was about to embark on Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar program and that I wanted to only eliminate one thing from my diet at a time to really determine the cause of my issues. Sounds reasonable, right? That’s what I convinced myself, too.

It actually wasn’t until a couple of days ago (yep, you can call me Laura “Ye Ol’ Slow On The Uptake” Miller) that I sat in discomfort (and not just from the Mexican wheat-flour burrito I had just devoured) with the realisation that I had been lying to myself. I didn’t revert to eating gluten because of any misguided nutritional belief that if I gave up both gluten and sugar I would never know what was causing me grief. No, I started scoffing the stuff again because I was scared of having yet another food label slapped across my name.

Social functions were already fraught with uncomfortable moments of not realising that the delicious-looking arancini ball actually contained mince meat until it was already in my mouth. Now, they’d be even more stressful as I faced the choice of either accidentally chowing down on something with gluten in it, or dealing with the embarrassing prospect of being handed a Glad wrapped plate of special-needs dried out food, while everyone else swanned around with canapes.

When eating out, not only would I have to scour the menu for that elusive little fella called ‘v’, I’d also have to hunt out his even more rare cousin ‘gf’. My friends would groan as I’d say to the poor waitress, “Yes, I know porridge is made of oats but are they gluten-free oats or just oat oats? I can see that the bacon dish is gluten free but I don’t eat meat.”

Not only would I be Laura: that vegetarian woman, I’d now be Laura: that vegetarian, gluten-free, pain-in-bum, can’t-take-her-anywhere woman. Me, dramatic? Surely not.

Nope, it wasn’t happening. Not on my watch. It turns out my desire not to be a social outcast was far stronger than any urge to rid myself of the physical discomfort I was experiencing – at least it was, until last week.

Last week, when I finally found the courage to dig a bit further into the real reason behind my decision, I was shocked (and if I’m being really honest, I was disappointed) at myself. Here I was, studying to be a naturopath, passionately espousing the importance of listening to your body and finding out which foods make it sing, and I was doing the opposite. The exact opposite.

Isn’t it funny how these contradictions creep into our lives without us noticing! I am endeavouring to be more aware of when this happens so that my reality more closely matches my ideal life. In psychological terms, this is called congruence and achieving it is an important part of being a natural therapist. It’s also kind of critical to living a happy life. Sticking to gluten-free fare for now is the right choice. I feel it within every cell of my body.

So, I’m back on the gluten-free bus. I’m still giving up sugar (more on that soon) but I’ll resume my gluten-free ways and then reassess once the I Quit Sugar program is finished. I’ll take an honest look at how I feel and decide then whether I truly can go back to eating gluten or not.

And this time, the decision will be based on love for myself, not fear.

Laura xx