Damon Gameau is an Australian television and film actor who has appeared in the Australian series Love My Way, the 2002 Australian film The Tracker, and in a small role in the US series How I Met Your Mother. He graduated from Australia's National Institute of Dramatic Art with a degree in Performing Arts in 1999. He appeared in the 2009 feature film Balibo, in which he plays the part of Seven Network reporter Greg Shackleton. He starred as Scotsman Andy Maher in the Australian TV miniseries Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities. Damon starred as Sonny in the Australian movie Thunderstruck, a tale of a group of friends and their devotion to AC/DC and in particular Bon Scott. He appeared in RTÉ's latest Irish drama, Raw, based in an exclusive Dublin restaurant. playing the head chef Geoff Mitchell from Season 1 - Season 5. Gameau portrayed a homosexual character and received great praise for his performance throughout his time on the series. He also starred in Spirited as Adrian Brixton alongside Claudia Karvan and Matt King.
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I'm Damon Gameau, actor and filmmaker. I did a 60-day experiment focused on sugar in our diets, and made a film about it!
My new film, "That Sugar Film” -- opens in select cities, On Demand, and on iTunes today. If you think you know how much sugar you are consuming … think again! You can watch a trailer here.
Let’s do this, Reddit. Ask Me Anything!
how do you deal with chocolate cravings on a no-sugar/low sugar diet? (i mean milk chocolate by the way, dark chocolate/real chocolate is too different to be a replacement)
I was someone who ate chocolate every day so I thought this would be very tough for me. It is incredible how quickly your palate adjusts though and you may find certain sweet foods too overbearing. I met with a great addiction scientist in Oregon who explained to me how fats also activate similar reward pathways in the brain as sugar but just not quite as strong. This means some good healthy fats can help a craving. I found coconut milk or flesh really helped a craving, or avocado.
Firstly, I wanted to say how refreshing it is to have a food doc made in my hometown (Melbourne) and not based in the states for once.
Question: What backlash, if any, have you received since the films release?
Congratulations on making such an effective film!
You are a night owl karmasport! Red Bull? Thanks for the kind words. We have had a lot less backlash than I thought we would. Infact many companies have asked for private screenings for their employees so they can learn more and think about products for the future. They know the science is in now, there is so much awareness on the issue that if they want to survive and gives consumers what they want, they are going to have to manufacture lower sugar products. There's a food revolution happening at the moment and the companies know it. Their finger has to be on the pulse. We just need to be super cautious as to what they are replacing the sugar with. Simple rule: Eat Real Food as much as you can.
What's the most surprising source of sugar in our diet?
Definitely juices, sports drinks and other sugary drinks. Iced Tea can have as much as 8 teaspoons in a bottle. Sauces are also sneaky..one tablespoon of BBQ sauce has 2 teaspoons of sugar in it. The best thing to do is know that 1 teaspoon equals 4 grams..so if you see on a juice 32 grams of sugar, divide it by 4 and you know there are 8 teaspoons in the bottle. Pastas sauces, low fat yogurts and granola bars are also super sneaky :)
A while back, NY banned giant soda drinks, do you think this kind of measures are effective to keep people from consuming sugar excessively?
Great question, this is being debated in many countries at the moment. The only way I would support a sugar tax is if there was complete transparency and we knew the money raised was subsidizing fresh fruits and vegetables for lower socio economic areas or hospitals or schools. We dont want the money just disappearing into Govt coffers
Is stuff like Splenda really a "healthier" replacement to sugar or is it just a marketing lie?
I think these artificial sweeteners are great for transitioning off a high sugar diet..like methadone for sugar addicts. A recent study in France on 66,000 women showed they can still affect blood sugars and also lightly activate reward centres in the brain so they keep cravings alive. We try and teach people to avoid them and just have a real treat every now and then.
I've seen a lot of recipes substituting sugar with maple syrup or honey for a healthier alternative. Does it make a difference or are they all the same in the end?
Nice question. All these sugars are still considered 'added sugars' by the World health organisation (they recommend no more than 6 teaspoons a day for optimal health). Some have more nutrients than others but ostensibly they are all the same at a moleculer level. Table sugar is 50% fructose, HFCS is 55% fructose, Honey is 40%, Maple syrup is 40% and agave is 90%. Its the fructose we need to be cautious of and its very similar in these sugars.
What's your favourite dessert?
Used to be creme brulee hands down. I don't have dessert very often now because I dont eat much refined sugar and when I do have it, it really affects me. My wife makes amazing home made chocolate coconut peanut butter cups though, they are sensational. The recipe is on our website and in the book. :)
Does the phrase "baby, give me some sugar" offend you?
I love Evil Dead so not at all.
I haven't seen your documentary yet, although I plan to soon. With that being said, are there any ultra sugary or otherwise unhealthy foods that you still enjoy as a guilty pleasure?
I was someone who drank two Cokes a day for 25 years and I had to eat a chocolate bar everyday. Its hard to explain unless you have done it but once you move away from constant sweet foods, you start to notice more subtle flavours. When I sip Coke now, it is way too strong so I dont really miss it. I do still enjoy the odd ice cream or piece of chocolate though..you gotta live right? The whole point of the film is to show where sugar is hidden so you can really understand what the term 'moderation' means.
Hi Damon! I saw your film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival and found it really inspiring :)
Since seeing it I've really tried to cut down my intake of refined sugar, however I do still get sweetness cravings so I eat an absolute tonne of fruit (both fresh and dried) - probably about 3-4 servings a day.
What's your thoughts on fruit? I know it's probably not as bad as soda, candy or chocolate but is there still a limit on how much we should eat? It is still sugar, after all?
Thanks Snoopy, the recommendation in Australia is two servings of fruit a day but thats based on the fact that you are eating other refined sugar in your diet also. I think if fruit is the main sugar you are having then you are going to be perfectly fine but it is different for everyone based on metabolic health, levels of exercise etc.. (it is certainly better than Iron Brew and Ice cream ;)
Hi Damon! I plan on watching the movie on Sunday :) so excited to learn more!! What is your opinion on stevia? Most things I have read say it is natural/safe unlike aspartame or sucralose. Is this true? Is there a certain brand you recommend? Is it necessary to buy organic stevia? Also, I am aware that bread is a source of sugar but what are your feelings on whole wheat bread or sprouted grain bread (such as Ezekiel brand)? I am having trouble finding bread without partially hydrogenated oil listed as an ingredient :( Lastly, I feel I fall into the "skinny fat" category. I have DRASTICALLY changed my eating habits and began exercising approx 5 days a week in the past year, but have seen only a very small drop in my body fat %. Does it normally take a long time to shed body fat in a "skinny fat" individual? Thanks for your time! And thanks for helping to educate the world :) It's desperately needed!
Hope you enjoy the film on Sunday. Stevia is seen as the 'safest' alternative at the moment. I would recommend buying the real plant though and pulling off a leaf to use rather than getting the highly processed stuff. Lots of places sell the plant now. Trust that your palate will adjust though, we encourage moving away from things needing to be sweet to be good..we use real fruit as a sweetener in lots of our home made chocolates. The bread one is tricky, I dont eat much of it but would recommend going for the ancient grains as much as you can. Good Luck :)
Thanks for responding. I'm actually in Canada right now - hence being awake - and I am finally seeing first hand the Walmart/department store effect on food that we see to a lesser extent in Australia.
Since watching the film, my partner and I have gone almost completely sugarfree and we have you to thank for opening our eyes to the health dangers of it. No red bull for me!
> They know the science is in now, there is so much awareness on the issue that if they want to survive and gives consumers what they want, they are going to have to manufacture lower sugar products.
Great to hear the feedback hasn't been as negative as expected!
Great to hear. Well done for making the change. It is incredible to see how prevalent it is in the food supply but even better when you start to notice how different you feel when you lower your intake. Enjoy Canada.