What giving up sugar to raise money for charity taught Medibank member Kamna Muddagouni.

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Medibank member Kamna Muddagouni gave up sugar for the month of February to raise money for youth alcohol and drug support services. Here’s what the experience taught her – and her sweet tooth.

I was inspired to do Febfast by my boss, who does a lot of work with Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS), the organisation FebFast raises money for.

YSAS provides youth support related to drug and alcohol abuse, and I really believe in the work they do. I went to school around Fitzroy where they’re based, so my whole life I’ve really been able to see the actual impact of it. They’re not a huge organisation, so I think it’s important to support them.

I also thought it would be a good motivation for the start of the year to set myself a goal. There were two options: to quit alcohol or sugar. Sugar is a bigger vice for me, so that’s the challenge I chose.

Kamna Muddagouni

"I love sweet food – food is such an important part of my life. But doing FebFast has allowed me to reflect on the fact that I don’t actually need it as much as I think I do."

Life without sugar: the ups and downs

The first week was the most challenging, but then it got easier. It’s funny – when you give something up, you start to figure out when it is you need it the most, or want it the most. It’s not like I eat sugar a lot, but when I go into work and get coffee, there are sweet pastries there and it’s tempting.

Energy-wise, I was weary because I wasn’t allowed to have any sugary drinks. And I do miss my favourite donuts, from the donut shop around the corner. When this is over, I’m not going to binge – but I’m definitely going to enjoy one.

I’m finding work is the hardest part – there seem to be a lot of birthdays, and people are always baking things or bringing sweet things in to share. A couple of people from work are doing the program with me, but I’ve been told I’m the only who is sticking to it! They just keep donating to themselves every time they slip up.

The fundraising is going really well – a lot of my family have donated. I started a Facebook event and invited all my friends, and whenever someone donates I make a funny meme for them. So now a lot of my friends have been donating just so I make something for them.

"I’m also more aware of what I’m putting into my body that might make me feel energised, but isn’t really a healthy or natural energy source."

Change for the better

I’ve always been suspicious of these month-long, giving-up campaigns, thinking, “Would one month really make a difference?” But I think after doing this, I will really think more about how much sugar I eat.

I think a lot of people have unhealthy relationships with sweet food, and this program is not to shame anyone for that. I love sweet food – food is such an important part of my life. But doing FebFast has allowed me to reflect on the fact that I don’t actually need it as much as I think I do.

I’m also more aware of what I’m putting into my body that might make me feel energised, but isn’t really a healthy or natural energy source. Sometimes I’m at my desk and I really want a cola or a flavoured drink to give me a spritz in the afternoon, but instead I’ll have a glass of water and walk around the block – and it really works. So hopefully I will keep that habit up.

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