Food and Behaviour Research

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A reader's experience of giving up sugar

Date: 2013

We received this letter in January from one of our readers after the BBC news item 'How Addictive is Sugar?' caught her eye.  (You can view the news item here.)  This story captures an experience of cutting out products containing sugar over a two month period to see what the result would be.  We hope you find it interesting and inspiring. 

Dear FAB Research 

I wanted to make contact because my husband and I have recently eliminated sugar from our diet and seen huge benefits.

This decision was prompted by watching a documentary on BBC 2 this summer entitled "The Men that Made us Fat"  This documentary revealed the brainwashing of the sugar industry and low-fat products and we felt very cheated. My husband had been eating the cereal "Special K" for breakfast and lunch for 10 years believing that it would help him keep his weight down. We were horrified to discover that a serving of the product has the same amount of sugar as a doughnut. 

Neither of us were overweight, but we decided to cut out all products from our diet that had sugar added just for 2 months to see how we felt. It was a lifestyle decision rather than a diet and we were motivated also by other research and the fact that you can look thin on the outside and have a lot of fat inside your body. The results were astonishing. We both lost a lot of weight and feel a lot healthier. We've now been doing it for 6 months and I have lost around 8 kilos and my husband 10 kilos. We just didn't realize just how much sugar there is in cereals, sausages, ham, sauces, ready-meals, etc. We have not cut down on dairy and eat as much fruit and veg as we want (foods which obviously contain natural sugars) and snack on nuts and dried fruit when we're hungry. 

When I gave up sugar, I initially experienced withdrawal symptoms - loss of concentration and headaches. This convinced me that I was addicted to sugar in some way.

We have noticed benefits other than the weight loss. My husband used to be allergic to raw fruit and some veg (especially, oranges, bananas, melon, tomatoes, peppers). They made his mouth swell and his throat itch so he just couldn't eat them. Since giving up sugar he can eat these foods with no allergic reaction. We both found it difficult to run, becoming out of breath within minutes. We haven't increased our exercise (we try to cycle twice a week, but don't always manage it) but we have both noticed that if we run now we don't get out of breath as easily. 

One of our friends decided to try it too and he found the same thing - quite a fast and significant weight loss as well as it being a lot easier to exercise.

I am convinced that sugar makes you fat and I know that this is not a popular view. My family and friends don't like hearing it and I guess the sugar industry would like it even less. But if it's also true that allergies can be cured just by eliminating sugar, that's amazing. Do you know of any research into this?

I hope that this information might be useful to you or to any of your colleagues who might be researching this area. Please feel free to pass on my email address to anyone who might be interested. 

Best wishes

Helen Moss
20 January 2013

We know Prof Robert Lustig MD would most certainly approve.  See details of our forthcoming symposia with Prof Lustig here:

Sugar, Fat and the Publc Health Crisis - A Symposium with Professor Robert Lustig MD - 12th March - London

Sugar and the Brain:  Food Choice, Addiction and the Mental Health Crisis - A Symposium with Professor Robert Lustig MD - 13th March - Oxford

Recently, we came across this well written and straight to the point article from LifeExtension that explains how and why you should kick the sugar habit for good:

How to kick to the sugar habit ... for good