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Luke beats sugary drink 'addiction' and sheds 30kg

Posted by Shannon, January 2015 

Luke Sultan used to drink Coke a couple of times a week without thinking about how much sugar it contained. Now he doesn't drink Coke or other sugary drinks at all – and he feels great for it.

The 38-year-old who is originally an Eastern Arrernte and Gurindji man from Central Australia says his health and a desire to lose weight motivated him to cut back.

Luke, who now lives in Fitzroy and works for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health team at cohealth, said "I used to drink a lot of coke so it was a bit of a process to cut back. It got to the point where I was quite worried about my health and I really wanted to lose weight. I went from drinking Coke and sugary drinks to Coke Zero and other diet soft drinks before cutting them out all together. Now I didn't even drink juice. I only drink water or soda water." 

Luke's decision to stop drinking sugary drinks was part of a bigger lifestyle change in which he lost over 30 kilograms through healthy eating and physical activity.

Luke admits that cutting back on soft drink was quite difficult at first, but he stuck at it and soon felt better for it.

"When I first stopped drinking sugary drinks I felt like I was craving them. You could say it was like an addiction. When I didn't have one I would feel flat and felt like I had no energy and drinking diet soft drinks just felt a bit empty," he says.

"But after about two or three weeks of doing it I was fine. It soon got to the point where I couldn't imagine going back to my old ways.

"I thought I needed them for energy but it turns out it was fake energy and I have much more energy now that I don't drink them."

For other people who want to follow Luke's lead and rethink their sugary drink, he has this advice:

"To start with it seems like a hard thing to do, but you've got to start somewhere. Even if you can't cut them out completely at first, it's worth trying to cut back.

"Just try to make decisions not to have as many sugary drinks and it will get easier. It's important for your overall health."

Rethink Sugary Drink and the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Inc (VACCHO) have partnered to highlight the significant health problems associated with sugary drink consumption and to encourage Victorian Aboriginal community members to reduce their intake of sugary drinks.

As part of the collaboration, the health groups have created a video to challenge Victorian Aboriginal community members to ‘rethink' their sugary drink consumption.

With around 16 teaspoons of sugar in a 600mL bottle of soft drink, the video asks: "If you wouldn't eat 16 teaspoons of sugar, why would you drink it?"


What is a sugary drink?

Sugary drinks, or sugar sweetened beverages, include all non-alcoholic water based beverages with added sugar such as non-diet soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks, sports drinks and cordial.

Follow these tips and reduce your sugary drink consumption:

  • Find out how much sugar is in your favourite drink
    • 375mL can of Coca Cola contains 10 teaspoons
    • 600mL bottle of Gatorade (Fierce Grape flavour) contains 9 teaspoons
    • 500mL bottle of V Energy Drink contains more than 13 teaspoons
    • 500mL bottle of Lipton Ice Tea (Peach flavour) contains 8.5 teaspoons
  • If you're ordering a fast food meal, don't go with the default sugary soft drink; see what other options there are. For kids, see what else is on offer, such as low-fat milk, or ask for water.
  • Carry a water bottle so you don't have to buy a drink if you're thirsty.
  • Be wary of any health or nutrition claims on the drinks you buy. Many producers are now trying to make their sugar sweetened beverages sound healthier than they actually are. Look at the nutrition information panel to see how much sugar is in the drink and consider the size of the bottle as well.
  • If you consume sugary alcoholic drinks look for lower sugar options.
  • Avoid going down the soft drink aisle at the supermarket and resist the urge to buy specials at the checkout and the service station. These ‘specials' are designed to tempt you to buy products you didn't intend to buy!

What is Rethink Sugary Drink?

Rethink Sugary Drink is a partnership between Cancer Council Australia, Diabetes Australia and Heart Foundation (Victoria), and aims to raise awareness of the amount of sugar in sugar-sweetened beverages and encourage Australians to reduce their consumption. Rethink Sugary Drink is proudly supported by Australian Dental Association Inc, Nutrition Australia, National Stroke Foundation, Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), Dental Health Services Victoria and Kidney Health Australia. Visit www.rethinksugarydrink.org.au for more information.

Visit www.rethinksugarydrink.org.au for more information.

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