The Sour Taste of Sugar

I worked seven years in the city, which involved a 1.3km walk to the train every morning, and then a further 2km to work. So I was walking 6km a day at a brisk rate. My weight hovered around 100 to 105kg.

When I left that job I realised I could ride to work, so for the three days I needed to be in the city each week, I rode my bike. That was a 60km round trip each day, to which I would often add 5 -15km by taking the long way home. My weight went down to 94-95kg and refused to go any lower.

I decided, that like my father, I would always be very fit, but overweight. It’s not that I ate foolishly. I like my fruit and vegies. My wife’s first degree had a nutrition major. Our house eats more healthily than most. But the weight stayed up. I was always hungry.

In 2011 I took long service leave and rode across Australia for a month, averaging 115km per day. My weight dropped to 86 kilos, but went back up to 90+ in the months that followed.

It takes an enormous amount of exercise to shed weight. At the end of 2012 I was riding a minimum 180km a week, often more, and my weight did not budge. The program that works with my GPS was uncompromising that 90kg, for my height, is obese.

In Dec 2012 I had one of those mystery illnesses that you can tell has your doctor wondering the worst. He prescribed a battery of medical tests. Thankfully they were all clear. But he pointed out that although I had what was once seen as a satisfactory blood sugar level, it was now understood to indicate a high probability of mature onset diabetes. It runs in my family, so it will most likely happen to me.

I was told I could probably affect how soon the diabetes begins, and how bad it becomes,  by cutting sugar out of my diet now. This, I said, would be easy, as I never add sugar to anything. Too fast!

My muesli (no added sugar) was full of sugar, packed with dried fruits to make is sweet. That healthy yoghurt I had on my cereal: full of sugar. Orange juice—even the no added sugar stuff, he said—can still have sugar added to keep the product tasting the same level of sweetness! f

His basic message was this: if a food is processed, it will have sugar added. It may not be called sugar, but it will be there: dextrose, sucrose, maltose, corn syrup, sultanas, paw paw, real fruit syrup. And don't even mention Coke!

The doctor is correct. Look at your food labels. Look how carefully they divide up the sugars in the list so that sugar does not appear as the main ingredient.

I adopted the following rule of thumb:

  • Non processed foods
  • Apples and pears – fine
  • Stone fruit – moderation
  • Tropical fruit – little bags of liquid sugar – avoid

And of course sultanas, and all the other dried fruits we love; paw paw, dates, figs and and so on, are the same fruit as before with a higher relative sugar content because of the lack of water.

Pity about my 9 grape vines in the back yard.... I’ll plant the apples in the spring.

My morning weight on Christmas Day was 93.6 kilos. This morning, not quite two months later, it was 84.4 kilos. The really bizarre thing is that because of a family crisis keeping me at home, I have only just been back on my bike in the last fortnight. I have had less exercise in the past 6 weeks than at any time in the last ten years, and I weigh less.

It has not been difficult. With several fine vegetarian cooks in the house, a rich personal muesli mix, and even an increase in fruit consumption, I am living well.  I allow myself a few glasses of wine in the week.

And I have decided that sugar tastes awful.

Weight Lostt


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