I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries on obesity and nutrition and last night I watched one called That Sugar Film, by Damon Gameau. It covers a 60-day experiment in which Damon ate only foods thought to be “healthy” (e.g. low fat yogurt, granola, smoothies) and how that diet consisting of processed foods with an excessive amount of sugar changed his body.
The average Australian eats about 40 teaspoons of sugar each day, hidden in foods as “added sugar”. That’s 160g of sugar a day, adding up to over a kilo in a week. The movie presents a lot of information in a fun way, using special effects and a few celebrity guests, but the most interesting and shocking part is when Damon eats the amount of white sugar that would otherwise be hidden as an ingredient. Instead of eating cereal for breakfast, he adds several teaspoons to plain bran flakes. And then for lunch, he eats roast chicken covered in sugar, instead of mixing it with sauce.
Feeling a bit paranoid after watching it, I wrote down every thing I ate yesterday to check how much sugar I had consumed. I had salami, cheese and cucumber toastie and black coffee for breakfast, a scrambled egg sandwich for lunch, and meatballs with veggies and couscous for dinner. I read all the labels, from the bread to the tomato passata I cooked the veggies in, adding up the sugar content in all of the ingredients. The final result? 10 teaspoons of sugar. I didn’t eat any chocolate, cake, gelato or cookie. I didn’t even have fruit on Sunday. But the total amount of sugar in what I ate was 40g! It’s under the recommended daily intake, but still, it didn’t leave me much “allowance” to actually enjoy a sweet.
The message is quite clear: we’re eating too much sugar. A lot of what Damon explains I was already aware of after watching another documentary, Fed Up, about childhood obesity in the US caused by, yep, you guessed it, excessive sugar consumption. For decades fat was the enemy and the food industry substituted fat with sugar to guarantee flavour and loyal, addicted consumers. Now it’s time to re-think the way we eat and make smarter, healthier choices. And knowing exactly what you’re eating is the first step.
You can buy (or rent, if you’re in NZ/Australia) a digital copy of the movie from their official website or sign up to receive a free pdf with recipes Damon used to shed the weight gained during his experiment.