Six well known celebrities undergo a dietary experiment to live without sugar for two weeks. They have to turn their backs on the modern food industry as they live and work on a country farm in return for their share of healthy, wholesome food. As they attempt to beat their addiction to sugar it will push their bodies to the limits. Jane McDonald talks about her decision to take part in the experiment. Sugar Free Farm can be seen on Tuesday evenings at 8pm on ITV from January 26th.
What was the appeal of taking part in Sugar Free Farm?
It was health for me, I’m not getting any younger but my job is getting harder, so I needed to make sure that I had the energy to be able to carry on doing the job at this rate. And also to help my partner, I want to live some great years with him and do an awful lot more in our lives, and we can only do that if we’re healthy.
Was your diet sugar heavy before going to live on the farm?
It was quite bad actually. I always had sweets in the car for energy, I always had doughnuts on the road, which I loved, and I drank a lot of wine. You don’t realise just how much sugar is in everything, including savoury food. Even crisps, and I’ve had to cut them out which was a big thing for me.
What were your thoughts before starting the series?
I went into the programme thinking my life was perfect. I thought Angelique the nutritionist isn’t going to have one thing to say to me. I thought I’m going to be the one where she says, ‘Actually Jane, you’re healthy, you’re fine, carry on.’ So it was a big shock when she said, ‘You’ve got to cut this out, you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to sort that out.’
Did you worry about any of the health risks associated with sugar consumption?
Cholesterol, because I’ve had a high cholesterol for years, genetically, and I was told for years that fat is my enemy. I was told for 20 years to cut my fat down and eat low fat things, which of course is double the sugar. It was anger, I’ve been fed a lie.
Did you find it tough living and working on the farm?
The beginning was hard but reawakening and re-educating your taste-buds is just a revelation, because you just think I can’t eat that now. I used to scoff biscuits like you’ve never seen before, and cakes and scones. But then I spoke to Angelique and she said that this could make your life so much easier, with the constant head aches and the cholesterol. To wake up without any pain is a wonderful thing, I realised how important my health was by the end of it.
What health benefits did you notice?
The energy, I was jumping out of bed of a morning, which was not like me. The fact that I was waking up before the alarm, watching the sunrise and feeling at peace and enjoying the food that I was eating was unbelievable. I didn’t want to leave the cocoon of it because I was afraid that I’d go back to my old ways.
What was it like working out on the farm?
I have to say that I do think the farming community of the UK are the unsung heroes, because we don’t realise just what they’re doing for us. It’s quite frightening when you see how much work they do; they are non-stop. But they love it, and that’s what you could taste, that was the difference; that they really cared about the produce. So working on the farm and seeing them absolutely love what they are doing, you could taste it. Which is why I shop at the farm shop now.
What meals did you eat on the farm?
There was this sausage dish that looked awful, I cooked it actually, and I just thought this is going to be horrendous. It was beetroot, sausage and kale and it just looked awful. But it tasted fabulous; we couldn’t believe it. You had the sweetness form the beetroot and it was just gorgeous.
Are you happy that you took part in Sugar Free Farm?
It was 100% one of the best things I’ve ever done on television and it’s had a lasting impact, massively. It’s easy to stick to because once your palate doesn’t like sweet it’s very easy to then eat healthy. It’s not deprivation. Preparation is the secret to sugar-free.