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Not So Sweet

Book Review
A Life Less Sugar by Amanda Tiffen with recipes by Leigh Brown (Harper Collins, $25)
Reviewed by Justine McLeary

sugar_coverI admit to being slightly obsessed with food. This year I’m on what might be called a quest for a healthier lifestyle, so I jumped at the chance to read this book, eager to soak up pearls of sugar-free wisdom.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Jam-packed with recipes, A Life Less Sugar breaks down the vast sugar-free topic into bite-size pieces that are easy to digest. It also clearly explains how to read food labels — something that, if you’ve ever stood in the supermarket trying to make sense of percentages like I have, you’ll find really helpful.

Author Amanda Tiffen, who lives in Christchurch, spent years following weight-loss programmes that didn’t work. Giving up, she turned instead to an active lifestyle and a healthy diet comprising low-fat foods, fruit and vegetables. She continued to gain weight and accepted she just wasn’t meant to be slim. But, in 2014, a documentary about the evils of sugar opened her eyes to how what her ‘healthy’ diet contained. An adult woman, Amanda explains, should eat a maximum of six teaspoons of sugar a day. She was averaging 30. Since then she has lost 20kg.

She wrote A Life Less Sugar to help others avoid the same trap. In the book Amanda examines many foods and their sugar levels. Be warned: this may come as a shock. A seemingly healthy breakfast, for example, comprising two Weetbix, 100ml of milk and 205g of tinned fruit, equals eight teaspoons of sugar – more than an entire day’s recommended intake.

The detailed information and useful tips are cleverly entwined with stories of Amanda’s food journey and motivational titbits gleaned from her website and social media pages. The meal planning pages included at the back of the book are a handy tool, too.

Chef Leigh Brown’s recipes are easy to follow and went down very well in my household. I would, though, have enjoyed seeing more colour pictures instead of the grayscale thumbnails that accompany many of the recipes.

The best part about this book is that the author is not a nutritionist, and she’s not trying to be. She’s simply an ordinary woman who found a way to improve her diet and made it work. At no stage does she overwhelm her readers with advice that seems farfetched or impossible to follow.

I finished A Life Less Sugar excited and motivated to make changes. It’s become a resource I refer to constantly.

At the risk of sounding dramatic, this book just might change your life.