Ah, sugar… it’s everywhere. Try escaping it in your diet for a stint sometime and you quickly become aware of its ubiquitous nature. Since I’m all about a good food documentary (a few favs: Food Matters, Food Inc., Hungry for Change, OMG GMO, Forks over Knives, etc.) I had to watch the 2014 documentary, That Sugar Film.
In it, soon-to-be father Damon Gameau from Australia, puts himself on a high-sugar diet for 60 days. High sugar in this case means 40 teaspoons of hidden sugar daily. They point out that the foods he will eat during this timeframe will not be sugary sweets like candy and cake, but rather foods perceived (and marketed) to be “healthy.”
During the experiment he is monitored by various health professionals and they provide proof that he is growing sicker (e.g. weight gain, fatty liver, mood imbalance, etc) every day that he is on the diet. This isn’t so much of a surprise, nevertheless, a good reminder that the effects of sugar are no joke. As they point out, sugar is included and 80% of the food we eat today. Making it difficult to avoid and therefore something in which to be aware — especially when we want to trust the “healthy” labels.
On his high-sugar diet, he eats the same amount of calories that he was eating before this challenge but reports not feeling full. Sound familiar? Sounds like “empty calories” to me! He shares that his behavior is changing as he notices he has a “shorter fuse” and his mental function is “unstable.” To me, that is HUGE! Unstable? How many of you would willingly eat something regularly if you knew for fact that it was making you “unstable?” Not only is this important to note for ourselves but also what sugar can do to children.
One of the most memorable scenes for me is when he travels to the U.S., specifically to the south, where they show a teen with what is known as “Mountain Dew mouth.” In other words, all of his teeth are completely rotten and need to be removed. They talk about the town where the boy was raised and he shares that it’s common for mothers to feed babies bottles full of Mountain Dew soda. That was something I found to be rather shocking and very sad. Sad because of lacking the information to know the effects of soda.
One of my favorite lines in the film is, “Sugar is not evil, but life is better without it.”
While some levity throughout the film is welcome during the reporting of the serious side effects of the experiment, there are parts particularly toward the end that seem to overindulge (no pun intended) in the sugary, animated scenery. Perhaps the over-the-top take on the ending of the film reflects how over-the-top we are with our use of sugar itself.
Overall, I found the film to be an entertaining take on a topic too easily taken for granted. It served as a good reminder to raise my own awareness and help remind me why I want to make good food decisions that help support my desire for a healthy, happy, high-quality-of-life lifestyle.
If you watch it, let me know your thoughts!