Sugar is NOT the devil… 3 other places to look before you blame sugar…

Written by Bridget on . Posted in Food and Health Education, Weight Loss


Ok I need you to hear me out before you start reacting and ranting and assuming that I am going to advocate eating spoonfuls of sugar on the daily….!

One thing I want to get SUPER clear before we begin is this :

I’m not FOR, or AGAINST, sugar…..

I just not FOR making it the evil & cause-of-all-problems culprit that it’s made out to be.

I especially have an issue with movements and ideas that champion the idea that simply cutting it from your life will miraculously transform all manner of ills from depression to cancer to skin issues, weight woes and everything else in between!

It’s a common thing in our society to want to blame something…..or someone….

Heck! It’s a “human species” trait! I’m not free of this tendency either!

We want to believe that there are simple solutions to complex problems, and that ultimately, fault lies anywhere else but within ourselves…..

Today I’d LOVE to offer you a few ideas :

1) That sugar CAN have a place in a happy healthy life (are you REALLY telling me that nan’s lovingly baked brownies are the devils work in disguise and are incompatible with your glowing and thriving health? Or that the occasional lolly binge is somehow threatening? Or that vitamin, mineral and anti-oxidant rich fruit should be omitted from your diet??)

2) That there are at least a few other places to look before you lay blame on the innocently inert sweet substance that is sugar….

3) That by laying blame on anything or anyone outside of you, you disempower and limit yourself…

To give this article a solid base, I want to say, as I have MANY TIMES before, that there is no ONE right way to health….

There is only YOUR way….

What is “right” and “true” for you, may not at all be “right” and “true” for someone else…..

Furthermore, what is “right” and “true” for you right NOW in this moment, may NOT be tomorrow or next week, or next month, or next year…..

Any regimes or diets or solutions or methods that advocate a one-size-fits-all and FIXED approach are flawed and lacking right up front!

The human body is incredibly dynamic, diverse, intelligent and changeable….

Any attempts to treat it as a predictable robot or stand alone system are bound to lead to frustration and disappointment….

Furthermore, the human body is MUCH more intelligent than we give it credit for- certainly much more intelligent than our limited minds- and can withstand much more than we realise and thrive in the most basic and challenging of conditions…..

That does NOT mean that we don’t need to look after or care for it….

Not at all!

It just means that we needn’t STRESS and WORRY and AGONISE over EVERY LITTLE thing we do/don’t do/eat/don’t eat etc etc

FUNDAMENTALLY, at the end of the day, it’s all about how we FEEL…

If we are stressed, and frantic and worried and afraid, it doesn’t matter what we eat or don’t eat, we are NOT on the path of wellness….

Similarly…. I TRULY believe, and have seen much evidence, that a long and happy and HEALTHY life can arise from rather “unconventional lifestyle choices” including smoking, drinking, eating meat or white-bread or bikkies or potatoes daily….. Amongst other otherwise vilified habits…!

I am definitely NOT suggesting you take up or continue any habits that are contributing to ill health in your life, however I AM suggesting that, at the end of the day, you NEED TO BE HAPPY in a way that is TRUE for you!

After so many years of being on this path of health AND of working with HUNDREDS of clients, I can tell you HAND ON HEART, that HEALTH and HAPPINESS comes in as many variations and versions as there are PEOPLE…..

You just need to take a snap shot at various locations around the world to learn that the way in which we THRIVE is incredibly diverse….

In Thailand they enjoy lots of rice and vegies; in France- butter, cream and vino; in Fiji- tubers and coconut; in Italy, coffee, pasta & sweets; in some tribal cultures- blood, milk and meat….!

There are so many ways that we can THRIVE “nutritionally”, yet at the end of the day if you look at what REALLY makes these cultures and people HEALTHY, it may have LESS to do with nutrition, and more to do with their state of BEING….

Amongst the healthiest people and cultures and tribes on the planet, nutritional intake varies WIDELY, yet there can be commonalities found in HOW they live, eat, interact, DO…..

Some of the common tendencies Ive noticed from the research I’ve conducted are:

-a sense of community and family – amongst the healthiest cultures and tribes, meal times are SHARED times…. There is often involvement by all in the preparation, and there is shared time before, during and after the meal. There is a real SOCIAL and CONNECTION theme. No TV or tension or bad attitudes… There is lots of talking, laughter, fun, jokes, sharing…..It is a real TOGETHER thing…. People being with PEOPLE…. And so the food is shared without concern or calorie counting or meal portioning or “healthifying”….. The focus is ENJOYING the shared time and company and QUALITY of the entire experience

-there is a focus on and passion for REAL food – nothing comes from packets….Everything is lovingly prepared from their own home grown produce or animals, or it is sourced very locally. There is a pride and joy in the time and process of making things from scratch. It’s not an inconvenience or bother or chore…. there is JOY in the JOURNEY…. Speed and convenience are NOT priorities by any means, nor are they even attractive desires. It is all about SLOW and REAL

-there is expression and other passions/outlets/hobbies – many of these cultures encourage and embrace the idea that feelings CAN and SHOULD be shared and expressed…. There is less “putting on a facade” and more being real and releasing and moving through emotions or feelings….. There are also many other channels and vehicles for expressing, exploring and releasing emotions and feelings- such as music, dance, art, “manual labour”, not to mention at least daily opportunities for conversations and connection

-there is a priority and importance put on HEALTH – for humans, and for the environment. Its like there is an awareness and consciousness and connection to and of what is good for us as humans, as well as good for the planet. These cultures seem to VALUE health and the idea of longevity well into their later years. Maybe this awareness and desire goes back to the family/community aspect where those who are younger and middle aged interact regularly with those who are older and elderly. They are AWARE that we all get older. They see “it” (age, grandparents, elderly) each and every day- not just on special occasions like Christmas Day or birthdays or marriages, etc. This awareness possibly also sheds light on the fact that what we do NOW within our community WILL affect and have lasting impact on our children and family in 20-30-40 years and beyond…. There is no sticking heads in the sand about this truth…

-there is no displaced responsibility about WHO is responsible for their health – these people and cultures seem to GET that THEY and only they hold the key and responsibility to their health and happiness….. There is no blaming big food companies, or the government, or marketing, or any other external bodies….. This is something they seem to take natural responsibility and ownership over, WITHOUT complaint or resentment. In fact, I would almost say that there is a pride and satisfaction in “taking care of it themselves, together”, as a community.

These are just my thoughts and reflections from YEARS and YEARS and YEARS of curiosity driven research about just WHAT it is that DOES make those the happiest and healthiest they can be….

Recently I have enjoyed watching the SBS 2 part series – World’s Best Diets which I highly recommend you take a look at to refresh your perspective on how it’s (health) done all over the world – and the factors contributing to a loss of health…..

I also love these articles on the The Italian Way with Food and The French Diet

Ultimately though, I go back to the premise that all of this- this health and happiness thing- has A LOT LESS to do with WHAT we are eating and much more to do with HOW and WHY we are eating and LIVING in general…..

It seems RIDICULOUS and INCREDULOUS to me that we would fuss and obsess and stress over EVERY LITTLE BIT of sugar in our diet and think that eliminating it is the lasting and miraculous way to health.

Fruit, home-baked goods, wine, honey, hell, even “JUNK” food can and does have a place in a healthy, balanced lifestyle. 

In my humble opinion it is incredibly UNHEALTHY to become obsessed and adamant that ALL SUGAR MUST GO…..

I’ve seen over and over the harm such obsessions and beliefs and fads and approaches can have and I will NEVER EVER support or encourage any such “methods”.

So the THREE places I’d strongly encourage you to look, before you lay blame on the sweet substance sugar are:

1) The mirror – as I shared above, one of the key commonalities of the healthiest people and cultures is this real sense of ownership over their health. An awareness that only THEY are responsible for what goes in their mouth and their resulting health. It is a NO BRAINER that eating overly processed and JUNK food on a regular basis is NOT synonymous with health…. Furthermore, if you tune into and connect with your body, it will tell you what is good for it with very clear feedback. If you eat something and feel BLAH over the next couple of hours, or you have digestive reactions, or a dive in your energy levels, then guess what? There is most likely a better choice you could be making. It needen’t be complicated or strict or full of judgement or guilt. You are NOT good or bad because of what you eat. It’s just a question of HOW you want to FEEL and making choices that align with that. Eat. Get Feedback. Adjust. No need for analysis, judgement, stress or shame. It CAN be that simple!

2) Stress and Busy-ness – by allowing ourselves to be constantly busy, stressed, ON we are setting ourselves up for failure in the health department. Being frantic and running on empty is NOT a path to wellness. There is NO other way about it. Eat as “pure” and “perfect” as you like and it wont do a scrap of good if you’re constantly undermining yourself with this state of BEING. When we’re busy and stressed we opt for FAST and CONVENIENT (code words for PACKAGED, PROCESSED, INSTANT, FULL OF CHEMICAL CRAP to make it happen- think about it, how else can something sit on a shelf for years without going “off” OR be as ‘technologised’ to be able to ‘just add water’ and its done?! Not rocket science hey?) Add to this that when we’re “busy and stressed” we deplete our energy levels and thus force ourselves to “need” a “pick me up”. We encourage our body to rely on “sugar” as it’s primary fuel and we lose our ability to regulate our appetites naturally and use fat as fuel. In a nut shell, don’t blame sugar, blame the RUSH (haha no pun intended!) Say NO to stress, and choose to be PRESENT, even when you have a lot to do. Maybe say NO more and feel comfortable creating “white space” and down time in your life. It’s a process. I’ve been one hell of a stress head who felt truly compelled to always be DOING; and over many years Ive learned how to create a life that is NOT busy all the time, and when it is, I can remain as Zen and Calm as I like to be 🙂 It really IS just about Mindfulness and getting real with what doesn’t need to be cramming up your life and time. Boundaries. Priorities. Perspective 🙂 You’re the creator!

3) Looking for happiness out there – one thing I know for certain is that EVERYTHING we are looking for OUT THERE, is actually right here within us NOW… We can access joy, happiness, love, peace, fulfilment, inspiration, connection, calm, clarity, hope, wisdom, guidance, answers, EVERYTHING any time we choose, simply by going WITHIN….. I see over and over, and know from personal experience, that often we are trying to get from FOOD things that CANNOT be met long term with the instant gratification of something that tastes nice and is enjoyable to eat…. Often we look to food to satisfy needs that can never be met with food. It’s just that simple. When I get my clients to start exploring what they’re REALLY craving; what they’re really trying to satisfy; what it is they’re REALLY hungering, EVERYTHING changes… So often when we start to ask ourselves what we really need when we are having a moment, it is such simple things such as “5 minutes time out”; some fresh air; a hug; connection with a loved one; comfort; expression; to switch off. We can use food for so many purposes that have little to do with TRUE hunger. When we learn how to satisfy our deeper needs and find happiness from within, we look to food MUCH less often NATURALLY, and surprise, surprise, we crave SUGAR (and food in general!) so much less often! Best of all it happens naturally and organically WITHOUT will power, discipline or force… Try it yourself. Try noticing when you’re searching for things “out there” and try working out how to get it from within. Personally, and with my clients, Ive found that meditation, journalling, being in nature, deep breathing, art and music are all great ways to understand and meet our most deep of needs. For someone who could once NOT STAND to meditate for even 2 minutes, I can vouch for the life-changing impact it does have with consistent practice and implementation. I go through phases but overall, it is an enduring and effective constant in my life. I am also aware that it is NOT the entire solution and that as always, it is part of a bigger picture way of BEING 🙂

I TRULY hope that this article and references inspire you to know that you indeed have all the answers and resources you need to optimise your health and happiness WITHIN you and WITHOUT ELIMINATING sugar, and perhaps some of your most favourite foods, from your life….

You CAN have your cake and eat it too!

Life is about ENJOYMENT….

So more than asking “What is the perfect diet?”, ask “What makes me feel ALIVE and JOYFUL?”….. And follow that…..

Be open to receiving feedback from your BODY on how you FEEL moment to moment and make adjustments to your choices (food, thoughts, behaviours etc) based on the feedback in order to spend increasingly more time feeling the way you prefer to feel 🙂

And know ultimately that “all REAL food is healthy if you eat it in moderation”….and yes that CAN include Nan’s famous fairy cakes! 🙂 YAY!

I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts….

email [email protected] or comment below 🙂

If you liked this article, please share it 🙂

It’s my greatest hope that more and more people receive the message that its not all about food, and that health and happiness can come in as many colours and tones and textures as there are people 🙂

All my love,


Health and Happiness Coach
Dietitian~Counsellor~Psychology of Eating Coach
Founder of New Leaf Nutrition and The Glow Project

You can read client feedback and success stories on my Facebook Page and website

If you’d like to chat about how I may be able to help you find YOUR way to health and happiness, let’s make a time to connect! I always offer a FREE 20 minute Initial Consultation so we can explore your goals, desires and hopes; where you’re stuck and HOW we may be able to get you there- with or without me 🙂 Email me [email protected] to find out availabilities 


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