Close up of woman with pink lipstick licking sugar covered lips

I will NOT quit sugar.

At this point I am well aware that this statement flies in the face of Sarah Wilson, Australia’s vanguard anti-sugar campaigner and author of I Quit Sugar but I passionately believe that it’s impractical and well-nigh impossible to totally eliminate sugar from one’s life.However, on a sweeter note, Ms Wilson may be quietly relieved to learn that, after poring over her best-seller, I have joined the sugar-conscious bandwagon and, as a consequence, I have changed my relationship with sugar.

Back in my saccharine days, I’d liken my sugar intake to a full-time gig. I suspect that I had soluble carbohydrates of the exceedingly sweet variety in my system for at least 40 hours per week and I wasn’t really taking ‘days off’ so to speak. Similar to Ms Wilson’s experience, I was consuming excessive amounts of sugar in seemingly innocuous foods such as milk, yoghurt and sundry condiments.  However, last year I managed to downgrade my intake to ‘casual’ and now, akin to a casual employee’s roster, my intake is infrequent and very much impulsive. Yes I am one of those annoying people who consider a smoothie or toast with jam to be a ‘treat’. That being said, the temptation of a more part-time position with sugar is always lurking, especially when the office seems to be brimming with Easter leftovers. As a result, this week the temptation was too overwhelming and I, Ilaria Brophy, entered into a fixed term contact with fructose and glucose and any other syrupy molecule that I could get my sugar-deprived lips around.

My rationale was pathetically naïve and simple – “I can’t let these eggs go to waste!”

This justification preoccupied me as I inhaled (Yes, I can’t recall chewing) a vast assortment of mini creme eggs. Thankfully these eggs were sans the white, weird spots that typically grow on old chocolate. I maintained some dignity! While surfing the sugar high, I felt little guilt (I eat kale, I deserve this!) until my blood sugar levels dropped leaving me with nothing but a sugar hangover. This particular sugar crash was different and worse than my former sugar-binges probably due to my erstwhile low-sugar intake. I felt weak, fatigued, fuzzy-headed and very irritable. Later in the day, whilst attending a work function, I experienced more concerning side-effects: heart palpitations, shortness of breath and upper lip perspiration. These symptoms would have been ‘situation normal’ for a hyped-up fan who had fortuitously caught a glimpse of Ed Sheeran at the Daintree River but here I was sitting in an air-conditioned boardroom partaking in humdrum small talk with a Sales Rep.

Perhaps you may be thinking that these side effects are far too dramatic to be blamed squarely on sugar. But not according to David Gillespie, the author of Sweet Poison who states, “Sugar contains fructose, which produces a spike in our levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.” Furthermore, a recent study involving adolescent mice, conducted by researchers from the Emory School of Medicine, revealed that a diet high in sugar led to depression and high anxiety in the rodents. Finally Ms Wilson (I couldn’t resist wheeling her out again…) put forth an intriguing and perhaps controversial view on fructose stating, “It’s the only food molecule on the planet not recognised by our bodies and is thus, metabolised in detrimental ways to our health, well-being, longevity and looks.” While Ms Wilson’s claims have been rejected by some experts, I must confess that this week, my body’s strenuous efforts in rejecting sugar left me feeling base-line crappy.

The bitter truth is that most experts agree Australians consume far too much of the white stuff. But that’s where the consensus ends. Some experts believe that it is toxic and responsible for a plethora of chronic diseases, while others believe that the worst case scenario is an over consumption of kilojoules. While the ‘white coats’ search for conclusive evidence, perhaps it is a sage option to check in with your body and inquire discreetly about your sugar status: Is it full time, part time or casual? Or have you clocked up so much saccharine overtime that you’d quietly classify yourself as a sugar-holic? For now I’ll attempt to eat less sugar from 9 to 5. But when I do decide to indulge, I’ll remind myself to accept the consequences and maintain a sweet disposition.


Illaria enjoying a drink which may leave her with some sugary side effects.

Have you had a similar experience?

You can tweet her: @ilariabrophy

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Carly Portch