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The bitter sugar debate

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 the bittereinders as a reward for staying late. I asked if she had some xylitol I could put in my coffee.

She didn’t.

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  • Hansie Smit is a self-employed writer. He spends a lot of time in coffee shops tapping into free wi-fi making sure he buys a bran muffin every time to ease the inevitable guilt he feels getting something for free. Hansie received a Diploma in Copywriting from the prestigious AAA School of Advertising in Cape Town. He often picks up spelling mistakes in brand communication taking time out of his day to write to said brand to point it out. He does this free of charge. He's won a Silver Pendoring and almost won a Loerie. For more of his stunning insight and weighted opinion, visit his website at or follow him on Twitter @freehance