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Freehance - articles - The Bitter Sugar Debate

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Thought Leader, 15 March 2015

At a kid’s birthday party recently someone remarked how thin I looked. I told the lady I was following Tim Noakes’ low-carb-high-fat Banting diet. I told her I ate butter like it’s cheese. She gasped a little. I told her I cut sugar completely out of my diet, which made some of the guests stop their conversation and look up. Clearly they weren’t banting. I was surprised. I was under the impression the fad had swept the peninsula.

   “No I don’t eat sugar,” I went on. “It burns my throat.”

   A woman rolled her eyes and walked away. A heavy-set man with bad skin and a coke in his hand looked me straight in the face.

   “You know Tim Noakes is a hoax,” he said aggressively. “Why do you think Noakes rhymes with hoax?”

   I was a little taken aback but thought I’d reply with a little venom of my own. “I don’t know why it rhymes, man. All I know is I don’t like sugar,” I said.

   The kids were playing with a balloon lady inside having the time of their lives. The cake was almost finished and everyone had a sucker in their mouth. My nemesis continued his questioning. “You probably think sugar is addictive like cocaine and heroin,” he said.

   “I do as a matter of fact. I think it’s worse.” This set him off a little bit. I could tell by the twitching of his eye.

   At that point the kids kicked it up a notch. Someone gave them whistles. A group of them were scaling a wall blowing on the whistles as hard as they could. My nemesis’s boy grabbed his dad’s leg and asked for a sip of coke. He pulled the kid’s head back and threw the coke straight down his throat. The kid just took it. Like a young bird.

   “Well, I don’t agree with you,” he went on. “Unlike drugs, consumption of sugar does not produce any abnormal mental state or change in behavioural disposition,” he said quoting a line I’m pretty sure came from an article he read somewhere.

   “It does in lab rats,” I said. I read the same article. “They tested it and the rats went positively ballistic.”

   “Lab rats are only good for some experiments,” he shot back.

   I was getting tired arguing. “What can I tell you, pal?” I said. “I’m off sugar and I feel great.”

   My nemesis took a sip of his coke and looked into the distance over False Bay. He was simmering. I looked around at the party now in full swing. It was getting out of hand. A girl in spandex and a mask was wielding a balloon shaped like a sword. My nemesis’s boy gripped the pool railing with both hands and banged his head against it. Some parents got worried and started packing their stuff. Two kids impaled themselves on a fence post which sort of ended the party.

   Our gracious hostess saw the guests off and returned to serve coffee and cookies to thebittereinders as a reward for staying late. I asked if she had some xylitol I could put in my coffee.

   She didn’t.