How cutting back on hidden sugar helped one busy mum lose 20KG

Amanda Tiffen thought she was following a ‘healthy’ diet, but it wasn’t until she cut refined sugars from her diet that the weight really started to shift.

After struggling with weight for most of her life, mother-of-two Amanda Tiffen found one particular change in her diet produced dramatic results.

By significantly reducing her sugar intake Amanda lost 20kg and slipped from a size 16 to a size 8 in nine months.

Inspired by a documentary she saw highlighting the impact of a high sugar diet, she set about educating herself about all the hidden sugars in the foods we commonly eat.

Although she had been trying to eat healthy, factoring in refined sugar and fruit sugar, Amanda identified she was consuming about 30 teaspoons of sugar a day.

The total amount added up due to the large quantities of high-sugar fruits, flavoured bottled water, processed foods, muesli bars and fruit muffins she was eating.

Focusing only on reducing the amount of sugar and carbohydrate she consumed, Amanda began making smart food swaps from high-sugar foods to low-sugar options, as well as reducing the amount of high-sugar foods she ate.

Slowly decreasing her sugar intake to just six teaspoons a day, Amanda began to lose about half a kilogram a week.

She has maintained her weight at a healthy 60.5kg for almost three years.

A Life Less Sugar, her new book, details her journey and identifies many common high-sugar foods and smart food swaps. It also includes a series of delicious low-sugar recipes, provided by her friend, talented cook and low-sugar convert, Leigh Brown.

The book focuses on arming readers with the knowledge to make the right choices for themselves.

“Knowledge is power. I wanted to make the change, I just didn’t know how,” Amanda says. “There is nothing special about my journey, I am not unique. I am just like everyone else. All you need do is become aware and want to change.”

Far from suggesting people eliminate sugar and carbohydrates all together, Amanda’s “less” approach is about eating the right foods most of the time, and other foods in moderation.

It’s a principle that works for her family – husband Robbie and sons Charlie, 13, and Alex, 11.

“I’ve reduced my family’s sugar consumption by choosing foods that are lower in sugar,” she says.

“They still get jam, but they get the jam with the lowest amount of sugar. They still have tomato sauce, however it’s the 50 per cent less sugar sauce.

“Life is to be lived and enjoyed, but we can still select the lower sugar options that are available.”

The World Health Organisation recommends sugar consumption should make up just 5 per cent of your total daily calorie intake, that’s about six teaspoons.

A Life Less Sugar by Amanda Tiffen, Harper Collins.

Written by Claire Burke