The Sweet Poison Quit Plan

I have a confession to make. I was eating chocolate when I first started to read this book. I have to confess this because our office copy has a smudge of chocolate across one of the graphs. I’m just happy to say I didn’t try and lick the chocolate off the page… since then, things have improved on the Cadbury’s front but enough about me. This is a book you can’t ignore. David Gillespie has researched in great detail the hazards of sugar consumption and what’s worse, once you start reading it, you kind of have to agree with him. Very basically the message is simple: sugar makes you fat. Full stop – end of story. You eat sugar, you will get fat. Sure you can burn some of it off but will you start running while you are drinking a glass of apple juice? Before you have even finished your glass of juice, the first mouthful has turned to fat in your body. That’s putting it simply. David goes into much more detail. Why do you add a teaspoon of sugar to your coffee? Would you stir in a lump of lard if that made it sweeter? This book has made me much more aware of the amount of sugar in food – especially those yummy sauces and mustards. It’s well worth a read, especially if you have struggled through hundreds of diets without success.

Q&A with author of The Sweet Poison Quit Plan, David Gillespie:

1. In 2008 you published your first book, Sweet Poison: Why Sugar Makes Us Fat, what makes this book The Sweet Poison Quit Plan different?

The first book concentrated on the evidence that Sugar made us fat and was responsible for many of the chronic diseases in Australia today. A very common reaction was “we believe you and thanks for scaring us half to death, but given sugar is in everything what are we supposed to do about it”.

And so the second book was born. It updates the science (there have been some significant new human studies on the dangers of sugar and why it is addictive) but it also devotes the majority of the pages to practical advice on how to kick a sugar addiction.

The book contains case studies from people who’ve done it since reading the first book as well as practical guides on what to eat, how to shop and how to bring the kids along with you. It also has an extensive section of recipes for treats like ice-cream cakes and bikkies that do not contain sugar.

2. Dextrose is listed as a safe alternative to sugar, what is dextrose and where do you get it?

Sugar is a combination of two simpler ‘sugars’, glucose and fructose. Glucose is vital to us. It is our fuel and almost everything we eat is converted to glucose. The exception to that is the other half of sugar, fructose. It is never (in normal circumstances) used for energy, it is simply converted directly to fat by our liver.

Dextrose is just another name for glucose. When you cook with dextrose, you are using the good half of sugar only. You can buy it from the home brew section of most supermarkets. It comes in 1kg bags, looks like caster sugar and costs about $3.

3. The quit plan emphasises that we don’t need to be on a diet to lose weight, can you explain that to our readers?

A diet is an exercise in restriction and willpower. It is like trying a child trying to get taller using willpower. The only way to actually grow is to through the action of growth hormones. Once that’s done the child will get taller whether they want to or not.

The same applies to weightloss. The only way to permanently lose weight is change the hormone driven appetite controls which determine how heavy we will be.

The fructose half of sugar is an appetite hormone disruptor. When it is in our system our appetite control is switched off. When sugar is removed the appetite control hormones switch back on.

Those hormones automatically control how much we can eat. You no longer have to think about
restricting your diet – your body does that for you. Hormones don’t listen to willpower or care if you’re on a diet.

Wild animals don’t stay the correct weight because they are on a diet. It happens because they have a functioning appetite control system. Remove fructose and you lose weight on auto-pilot.

4. Can sugar in cake recipes be substituted for dextrose (using the same quantities) without ruining the result?

Yes and no. Recipes which require baking often need to be changed. Dextrose absorbs more water than sugar. Dextrose is also not as sweet as sugar. So wet ingredients have to be increased in baked goods or the result is crumbly and dry. In non-baked recipes (such as ice-cream), let your (increasingly sweet sensitive) taste buds guide how much you need.

5. In your book you suggest that we swap our evening piece of chocolate with some potato chips. Isn’t that just swapping one form of fat (sugar in choc) with another (saturated fat, carbs and salt in chips)?

When appetite control is turned back on (by the absence of sugar), you are physically unable to consume more calories than you need (without really trying and probably making yourself sick). Fat is just dense calorie storage (9 calories per gram rather than 4 for everything else).

If you eat fat instead of sugar, your new working appetite control system will ensure you can’t eat very much of it. In the book I talk about a study done in the sixties where people were told to eat anything they like (including as much fat as they wanted) except sugar. On average the total
calories consumed dropped by 25% but they still felt satisfied.

6. Why are some artificial sweeteners, like Cyclamate and Alitame banned in the US but not Australia?

That’s probably a question better directed to the relevant regulators. The stories behind the bans seem to have more to do with US politics than any credible science.

Does this mean they are absolutely safe? I don’t know. There really are no long term human studies on these chemicals. I treat them as methadone for sugar addicts. Great to use to kick the habit but drop them as soon as you can after withdrawal is over.

7. Did you do any research on the links between sugar and behavioural problems in children? If so, what did you find?

Credible research on the link between behaviour and sugar is very thin on the ground, so I decided not to include it in the book. Having said that, almost every day I receive an email or two from parent’s thanking me for ‘curing’ their child’s behaviour!

Since the book has been released a study suggesting a strong link between ADHD and sugar has been published by researchers at Perth’s Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, see: http://www.couriermail.com.au/lifestyle/health/scientists-probe-link-between-adhd-and-fatty-and-

8. What are 5 of the most common ingredients in our pantrys that are loaded with sugar?

The obvious ones are the sweets, ice-creams, biscuits and soft drinks. The less obvious ones are:

• Breakfast cereals (usually 20-30% sugar)

• Fruit Juices (often more sugar than a soft drink)

• Muesli and snack bars (some can be as much as 70% sugar)

• Condiments (eg BBQ sauce is over half sugar)

• Low fat foods (most are higher in sugar then their full-fat brethren – eg low fat mayo is almost a quarter sugar, but full fat whole egg is less than 1% sugar).

What do you think? Are you worried about the amount of sugar in your diet, and could you give it up completely?