For years, mum-of-two Amanda Tiffen filled her cupboards with food she believed was healthy: museli bars, fruit muffins, and anything packaged ‘low fat’.
But no matter how hard she tried, Amanda couldn’t lose the weight she had begun to gain in her teens and the extra kilos that piled on after two pregnancies.
It was a television documentary that would open Amanda’s eyes and reveal she was eating five times the daily amount of recommended sugar.
And, after drastically reducing her intake, the A Life Less Sugar author lost an incredible 20 kilos and dropped to 60kg in just nine months.
For decades New Zealand mum-of-two Amanda Tiffen, now 43, struggled to lose weight. She tipped the scale at 80.5 kilos at her heaviest
Now Amanda weighs 60kg, dropping an incredible 20 kilos after cutting her daily sugar intake
Amanda, now 43, first began struggling with her weight after she got a job at a local convenience store at the age of 15.
‘There were lots of lollies and sugar, which is probably where my sugar addiction started,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I got my driver’s license shortly after that too and wasn’t walking anywhere, and the weight started to come on at that point and just followed me through my life.’
‘When I got married I was at my lowest weight (70kg) and then I had children. After that the weight just kept coming on and I just couldn’t control it.’
But the weight gain was surprising to Amanda, who didn’t often indulge in chocolate, lollies, or junk food.
‘It’s not like I was eating it all day, every day, that sort of thing,’ she said.
The weight gain was surprising to Amanda, who didn’t often indulge in chocolate, lollies, or junk food and bought food at the supermarket that was labelled ‘light’ or ‘low fat’
By August 2014 the Christchurch mum was tired, bloated all the time, and had given up hope that she would ever lose weight
‘But I really enjoyed fruit and anything fruity. I loved fruit muffins, cereals with fruit, fruit yoghurt.’
When she went to the supermarket, Amanda would deliberately buy products that were labelled to be ‘light’ or ‘low fat’.
‘I was trying really hard to eat healthy,’ she said. ‘The products I chose, I was choosing them because I thought they were healthy.’
By August 2014 the Christchurch, New Zealand mum tipped the scale at 80.5 kilos.
Amanda was tired, bloated all the time, and had given up hope that she would ever lose weight.
‘I decided this is me, and I can’t change it, I’m a big boned girl,’ she recalled.
‘Instead of hoping I’d lose weight, I had just accepted that I was going to keep gaining weight with the food I was eating.’
Then one night Amanda watched a documentary called Is Sugar The New Fat?, presented by New Zealand psychologist and TV host Nigel Latta.
‘I vividly remember him going through the supermarket, picking out breakfast muesli, Marmite, these foods that were in my cupboard,’ she recalled.
The film shocked Amanda to the core, and the next morning she set out to make a change.
She went through her own cupboard and fridge and began flipping over the products to check their sugar content.
Then one night Amanda watched a documentary called Is Sugar The New Fat?, presented by New Zealand psychologist and TV host Nigel Latta, that completely changed her life
The next morning Amanda went through her cupboard and found that there was sugar in everything from Vegemite and her light milks and yoghurts to her spaghetti and pasta sauces
Amanda was shocked to find that there was sugar in everything from Vegemite and her light milks and yoghurts to her spaghetti and pasta sauces.
She calculated that, on average, she was consuming 30 teaspoons of white refined and fruit sugar a day – a whopping five times the recommended amount.
‘It just blew me away,’ she said. ‘What they’ve been talking about, this is my life.’
Amanda decided she had nothing left to lose except kilos, and decided she would drastically cut her sugar intake in an attempt to lose weight.
The first thing Amanda did was call her cousin who had a diabetic daughter, and asked her what she ate.
‘They have eggs, cheese, and protein, and I said okay that will get me started,’ she recalled.
Amanda swapped her breakfast from muesli, fruit, and yoghurt to eggs on toast and focused on having plenty of lean proteins for lunch and dinner.
She also began limiting fruits that were high in sugars – like green grapes, watermelon, and apples – and filled her plate with berries instead.
‘Some people will say fruit is a whole different sugar and your body processes it differently. But my journey with fruit is, if I eat too much I gain weight,’ she said.
‘I have to have a limit. Too much sugar is still too much sugar for me, regardless of the form it takes.’
Amanda realised she was consuming 30 teaspoons of white refined and fruit sugar a day – a whopping five times the recommended amount – and decided she needed to make a change
And Amanda stopped drinking bottles of flavoured water, which she was shocked to find often had around 14 teaspoons of sugar.
Because she started the process slowly, and through much trial and error, Amanda never struggled with sugar withdrawals.
And she found it wasn’t even hard to give up any of her favourite foods, as she could always find a healthier alternative.
‘I still eat bread, but a low-carb bread. I still eat fruit, but I choose the fruits with a lower amount of sugar,’ she said.
When the pounds began to slide off, Amanda almost couldn’t believe it.
‘Because I had tried so many other things, I didn’t know whether it was going to actually do anything,’ she said.
‘When the weight started to come off, there was a lot of disbelief.’
Amanda bought two new wardrobes, so sure each time that she wouldn’t be able to lose anymore kilos, until she got to a size 8.
‘My confidence is amazing,’ she said. ‘When I walk into a shop now, I can look at any outfit I really like and try it on.’
Amanda felt better than ever, losing that bloated feeling and walking around with more energy than ever before.
Amanda swapped her breakfast from muesli, fruit, and yoghurt to eggs on toast and focused on having plenty of lean proteins for lunch and dinner. The kilos soon began to drop
‘Stripping down that sugar, you just feel alive again and you feel great,’ she said.
‘It’s hard to explain but it’s just amazing not being weighed down by the toxicity of sugar.’
The oesophageal reflux that Amanda had been suffering with for decades was also suddenly gone.
‘I was on a lot of medication, and I had an operation to help with it, and it just totally disappeared,’ she said. ‘It could be a fluke, but the only thing I changed was sugar.’
And, after getting a filling every time she went to the dentist, Amanda’s dental health completely improved as well.
‘I haven’t had one filling since I’ve started this journey,’ she said. ‘My teeth actually feel stronger as well and I’ve had bad teeth my whole life.’
‘I also haven’t had any colds of flues. If I do get a bit of a cold it’s just a sniffle, and it’s been three years.’
Amanda, who continues to try and stick to six teaspoons of sugar a day, advises anyone who wants to cut some of the sweet stuff out of their life to take it slow.
She also recommends looking at the back of products for the nutritional panel, as well as staying away from artificial sweeteners.
‘There are sweeteners that can trigger the body to gain weight,’ she said. ‘If it tastes sweet, don’t be fooled – there’s some type of sugar in it, whether it’s natural, real sugar, or sweetener.’
The mum has written A Life Less Sugar to help people learn how to control their intake, providing recipes she has found success with as well.
‘I’ve always wanted to lose weight, I just didn’t know how to do it,’ she said.
‘Anyone out there whose in that same position, all they need is the knowledge. Well, here it is!’
‘Knowledge is power. We can do so much more when we know how and, as I like to say, life is sweeter with less sugar.’
Amanda, who continues to try and stick to six teaspoons of sugar a day, advises anyone who wants to cut some of the sweet stuff out of their life to take it slow