No Wellness Wankery

7: Am I addicted to sugar?

May 26, 2022 Lyndi Cohen
No Wellness Wankery
7: Am I addicted to sugar?
Show Notes Transcript

Do you feel like you’re addicted to sugar? If you get sweet cravings, it sure can feel that way. 

Today, 70% of the products in grocery stores have added sugar. Naturally, you have developed a taste for sweet things.

But, the good news is you can retrain your brain to stop sugar cravings… and you don’t even have to quit sugar to do it.

Don’t ‘quit sugar’ by cutting out all sugar from your diet. Just aim to eat less added sugar. It’s especially important you don’t cut out whole grains, carbs or fruit because fruit is not fattening.

P.s. Are you accidentally dieting? Download my free checklist here to identify if you currently follow any sneaky food rules.

 Hey guys, and welcome to today's episode of No Wellness Wankery. My name is Lyndi Cohen. I'm a dietitian, nutritionist, and I'm just so fed up with all the diet nonsense. And I'm joined by my lovely co-host.

 I am Jenna D'Apice. I work with Lyndi. I've also been on a diet forever, sick of the diet nonsense and want to scrap it all with you. So I'm here to ask maybe little questions you're thinking, maybe your point of view who's not a nutritionist or a dietitian but the things that we encounter in our daily life and we want to know is that wellness, is that wankery, what should we be doing?

 Wait to find out. And also you might be able to notice that Jenna sounds a lot better today because we've got a new microphone. So if you listen to the first few episodes and you're struggling to hear what she was

 saying, struggle no more. Thank you for pushing through, but you might be thinking, oh, there's a new microphone, she's still not that great. I've also got a little bit of a croaky voice, so the microphone is a lot better, but push through, my voice is coming back.

 And it's worth it, because today we're talking about sugar addiction, feeling scared to eat sugar. And this is a topic I've been getting lots of DMs about, hey, Lindy, am I allowed to eat sugar? How much sugar should I be aiming for? I'm addicted to sugar, what do I do? So let's get into it. It is a huge topic. I know I personally like look at the nutrition label mainly for sugar because I've worked the carbohydrate rule out of my brain so I feel like I know like I'm allowed carbohydrates for my brain to function but now sugar is still something that I'm like, oh every time I look at the label like should there be less than 10 grams per serve and like I Yeah. I mean it's so funny to me because I would never look at a nutrition label and look at sugar. It's just not something I'm looking at. I'm rather looking at positive nutrients. I'm like, how much fiber does something have as opposed to how little sugar does it have? And it's very understandable that you might be relating to Jenna because we had the paleo years where we couldn't eat any carbohydrate. carbohydrate, we had the fat-fearing years and now we're kind of in the midst of the sugar-fearing years. So it's the problem is it's kind of left us all going, what the hell am I allowed to eat? And should I be checking the sugar content of everything I am eating? Let's answer it. Hasn't the whole I Quit Sugar movement closed now? Hasn't Sarah Wilson left it because she's like, oh this did a little bit of damage. Yeah and she didn't sell it off, she would just like close it. She's because maybe she didn't want it to continue to exist. But even though it is officially closed, I think we're all still heirloom victims of the I Quit Sugar kind of movement where we're still good in our brains that we shouldn't be eating too much sugar. Yeah and there was a whole I Quit Sugar movie but about sugar as well. That sugar film? Yeah, I don't know if you guys watched and if you didn't don't. Don't? Don't, it's awful but basically what it was, it was just like a documentary length of telling you how you need to fear sugar yet another thing that you have to avoid and limit and control in order to be healthier. And so let's get into it because it's one of those murky

 questions where it's not black or white.

 You know I would certainly never recommend that someone quit sugar. I think that is going to set you up for fearing sugar nutritionally I'd say there is going to be a difference between having something like you know lollies with versus fruit. There is a difference and that comes down to the packaging, right? So when you're having fruit, you're having all the antioxidants, the vitamins, the fiber, the polyphenols and all that good stuff. So you eat it as a whole package plus with the fiber means you digest in a different way. When you have lollies, is it gonna be equivalent kinds of foods? No, but I think that's less about the sugar and getting down to the nitty gritty and just going like, we all know that like fruit is a better option than having lollies. But does that mean that we should go, oh, we're not allowed to ever eat lollies or we have to fear the sugar that you find in fruit? Absolutely not. And I think that's when it becomes an issue for me, where we're taking a granule of truth that is part of nutrition and we're then applying a blanket term. I think this is the root of a lot of wellness wankery, where we can't accept a bit of the gray and the murky territory of these things and we just want to rule. We want black and white because it's much easier to stick to. Let's run through some scenarios. I think that's going to be helpful. I got a DM the other day. Someone asked me, I'm thinking about getting some yogurt, right? But should I go for the full fat yogurt with the flavoring added? That's the yogurt I really want to be eating. Or should I be going for the plain Greek yogurt, going for a low-fat version and adding in fresh fruit myself? Yes, I think about this all the time. Now I personally think that yogurt, not our problem in our diet. No one's going, oh, I'm really struggling with my weight. I feel out of control with food because of yogurt. This is what we so often do is we become perfectionist with certain kinds of nutrients or certain types of foods in our diet where we think I have to make everything perfect and clean because realistically, a healthier version of it would be the plain Greek yogurt. Yes, but I think when we create so much fear around the small amounts of sugar that we get through the rest of our diet, I think it makes us feel restricted. I think it demonizes perfectly healthy foods like yogurt. I think it sucks the joy out of eating things like yogurt, which is a delicious everyday food. So my answer would be, which yogurt do you And that's the one you should be having. Personally, I grew up on skim milk. So if I drink full cream milk, I feel like I get nauseous. It's too much for me. So I can't have full fat yogurt, but I've heard it's delicious. And so you just gotta go for the one that works for you. I love a flavored yogurt as well. It's joyful, it's delicious. And realistically, you're not always gonna have a $10 punnet of raspberries sitting in the fridge now,

 are you? No, you're absolutely not. I grew up having skim milk as well and that was only when maybe like five years ago I was working and like my friend who I sat next to at work, she was like, oh, having skim milk in your coffee is even worse because it has more sugar than full fat milk. So then only because like some random person gave me that bit of information. I was like, now I will switch to full cream milk. And I just migrated across. Because a lot of people tell you that. And then I'm like, ugh.

 Okay, let's go through this idea of low-fat, full-fat dairy. So skim milk doesn't have added sugar. That's a really important thing. But basically, when you are changing the balance, you're removing more fat, naturally the other macronutrients are going to change a little bit. So in proportion to it, volume wise, you're going to have more of those sugars present. So is it higher in sugar? If you look at the label, yes, because it's lower in fat and everything has to kind of be balanced out but it doesn't have added sugar. That's an important thing. Right, so it's just the sugar that would have already been there anyway in the milk. Yes, exactly. That's exactly and it's naturally occurring. It's lactose, that natural milk sugars. But there is something to be said about the fat in dairy products and helping us feel satisfied and full and tastiness and all that jazz. So this is what it comes down to. Truly, is one healthier than the other? I really don't believe it is. I think calcium is really important and dairy is such an easy way for us to get that calcium. I think a quarter of Australian women are deficient in things like vitamin D and they have links with those high rates of osteoporosis. So getting dairy is so much better and if that means that the way you're going to do that is by having a full fat or a flavored, sugared option, I think that is so much better than fearing it. And the other thing to notice is what happens if we eliminate things like, okay, I can't have a delicious tasting yogurt. I think we're so much more likely to go for things like chocolate. I'm not saying chocolate's bad. I love chocolate. I eat it all the time. But don't you think that when we're creating such a little list of foods that we're allowed to eat and we're getting too perfect, we can't even enjoy things like yogurt anymore and we end up eating all the junk food.

 Because you're not satisfied. I was reading the other day a lot of time like people think, oh I've got PMS and I'm going on a binge and I'm eating all this food when it's really probably caused by the fact you are craving something and you're not allowing yourself to have it in the first place. So if you just say, oh I'm just really not feeling well and I really just feel like some

 chocolate, just say I want to have the chocolate and eat it and then you probably won't eat the whole block. And there is something really important about that, that idea of giving yourself full permission to actually eat something. So let's just tackle this idea. Am I addicted to sugar? Firstly, no. I don't believe in food addiction. I don't think that is an actual thing. You don't need cigarettes or alcohol to survive. You need food to survive. So therefore by placing it in the same category, it just doesn't make sense to me. The other thing that ends up happening when we think we're addicted to sugar is that we do the thing where we eliminate it. We consider it to be bad and you can see how so many messages are telling us that it's bad for us. So there's two forms of restriction you need to be aware of. One is physical restriction. That's like, I'm not having sugar. And then you might find like, you know, you eat perfectly during the week and then on the weekend you're like, ah, I can't stop eating, cookie monster. Or, so there's physical restriction. And the other one is emotional restriction. So that's when you say to yourself, oh, I shouldn't be eating this. So even when you're having the chocolate, you're like, ah, it's bad for me. And when we emotionally restrict, or we physically restrict, we can get these feelings of never feeling truly satisfied when we have it. Because if our body fears that there is a limitation or a shortage on the food that we're having. Therefore when we finally do get to eat it, especially if no one's watching and we feel like we got the chance, our body is going to try and eat as much as we can as possible. So what we often get people going is, I feel crazy around sugar. I'm going to quit sugar. Then they don't eat it for a while. Their cravings increase and they go crazy on it again and we get these really hectic patterns of good or bad. Whereas for me, I believe in having sugar every day. So my coffee in the morning, I put some Lindt chocolate on top. Could I go for a healthier option? Yeah, I could, absolutely. But I freaking love my chocolate on top of my coffee in the morning, so I don't want to give that up. And that little message, it helps my brain realize that sugar is not the enemy, it's allowed, it's not suddenly going to be taken away from me and I don't have to feel crazy around it because anytime I want to have chocolate, it is there for me and that's an important piece of the puzzle.

 What about sometimes like I see like if I'm in a cafe and someone orders like a skim milk latte with two sugars, like I am inherently judging that person in my head and I know that I probably shouldn't be for making that coffee order. And it's like, is there anything wrong if that's what someone wants to drink? Are they addicted? Is that too much? These are the thoughts that I have in my head.

 Ah, it's a good question. Are there healthier coffee orders? Yeah, there are. But if that's what gets you off and makes you feel really happy and you prefer to have that over some chocolate or something, I think that's good.

 You're probably right. If that's what the coffee they like, that's the coffee they like.

 I had a client who asked me the question, I feel really guilty when I order the large coffee instead of the small coffee. I feel like it's too much, it's too many calories and I feel so guilty about it. And I just think sometimes we waste so much willpower on trying to change things that don't really make a difference. So if you go for the large coffee, so what? Rather than beating yourself up about something that really doesn't make a huge difference, what else could you be using that kind of mental bandwidth to be doing in your life? What if you got extra sleep with that willpower? What if you're like, okay, cool, I'm going to stop using my phone earlier in the night? The flow and benefits of doing that would be so much more powerful than you wasting the energy going, how am I going to get myself to have a small coffee as opposed to a large one? What I'm saying is sometimes we get so stuck in the nitty-gritty of nutrition, trying to make these tiny little improvements that don't actually make a difference and we'd be much better off actually spending our energy not on what foods to avoid and eliminate but saving that willpower for things that actually make a difference.

 Coffee is one of those things that's so easy to fall into really hyper-focusing on because it's something that dieticians and nutritionists often love to make a little chart. I've seen so many of those pictures about how many secret calories in your coffee order. That's something that I feel like gets really highlighted. Because you know those things where if you're getting a large coffee with two sugars and a muffin every morning, and it's like they're the type of things you hypersate on, like your coffee order, and probably it doesn't really matter.

 Oh, I really hate that kind of content. I hate the content that's telling us to fear foods and all the sweat index, you know, how many burpees you have to do to burn off a muffin or whatever nonsense. All this does is it detracts from the joy that we have when we do actually eat something. I call BS on that. I call wellness wankery on that nonsense. What would you say to if someone does have something stuck in their head about, if I eat this, I have to do this many burpees or I know I have stupid things stuck in my head about what is the equivalent of one teaspoon of honey in carbohydrates and stupid rules like that. What would you say like ways of removing that BS from your head? Yeah and it's a hard one but firstly you wouldn't notice when we're having those thoughts, okay. Adding honey, that means I'm going to need to do a little bit of extra exercise. I want you to remind yourself I don't have to eliminate sugar from my diet to be healthy. That's a really key thing. Naturally, if you're going to have something that's a little bit more indulgent, I feel like it's going to change how you feel afterwards. So often we're so stuck in our heads about how we're eating, what we're eating, that it actually distracts us from being able to just tune into our bodies and go, you know what, I didn't feel amazing when I had like six spoonfuls of sugar and I don't know if it's six spoonfuls But like a teaspoon of sugar two teaspoons like whatever. It's not a big deal The question is can you change your your brain to decide that that's actually not a big deal it's tricky when you've watched something like that sugar film and It's got a new to fear the how much you're allowed to eat

 But I actually think all of that actually makes us want to have it more. Another thing I find with sugar is I used to really be scared of putting any on my salads because that was like a good meal and I was being really good. So I used to get like those 99% fat free, sugar free dressings from the supermarket that really didn't taste very good and pour them all over my salad and I'm like okay this is all you can have. And when I'd see a recipe if someone had like a dressing with like honey or like sweet chili sauce I was like, not for me, not for me. So I feel like how do we get around that?

 Okay, and I'm pretty passionate about this topic but anything that helps you eat more veggies is good. It's so good. I love it. I'm such a fan. So if having a salad dressing with a few tablespoons of sugar in it or some salt or some fat, if that helps you eat an entire bowl of salad, that is a win. You win life when that happens. And I think this is what that idea of like wellness world makes us think is that we're not allowed to have any grams of sugar or anything you know bad in our diet. But when you think about Most of us, majority of us aren't eating enough veggies. I think 5% of us are eating enough veggies in Australia. And you need at least five cups a day. So you do have to hustle and anything you can do to help yourself get more veggies is a brilliant thing. So skip those sad salad dressings. The only reason I eat salad is because of the dressing. Also fun fact, so when you have oil as part of your salad dressing, it actually helps you absorb some nutrients. So there's fat-soluble nutrients, vitamins A, D, E, and K. So going for a completely fat-free salad isn't smart either because you're not going to get the full benefit of that salad. Plus, if you think about that, sugar is helping you actually enjoy what you're eating and eat it more often. And when you eat it more often, you're more consistent, and that's what health is about. Health isn't about spending weekends eating salads and then you know eating whatever later. It's about what you do consistently. So anything that helps you enjoy salad more consistently like salad dressing or those crunchy bits on top like oh yeah croutons. Croutons, I am talking about fried things you know like those fried Asian noodles. Oh yeah they're good. They're good and yes you can go for like seeds and nuts, a big fan as well. But I'm partial, I'm totally open to adding things like some corn chips to my salad, with some brisket and a whole bunch of veggies with a beautiful dressing. And I'm like, this is a lush salad. Can we please boycott the years of sad, boring, fat-free, low-sugar salads? Salads should be so abundant and just like thick, thick salad.

 Thick salad.

 Juicy salad, you know, that actually help you feel full. Because if you're finishing a salad as a meal, and A, it was depressing to eat, and B, you're not full afterwards, you're doing it wrong. So it's like, what if we added more substance into our salad so we ate more vegetables, so we enjoyed it more, I feel like we would be winning.

 I feel like we probably would. So all that, I feel like as we're trying to move away from this fear of sugar, a lot of the foods that maybe we eat now or we consider eating probably have that fake sugar in it.

 Okay, yes. So like sugar alcohols. So we have two types. We basically have those fake ones that aren't real. They get added to things like sugar-free gum or soft drinks to make them soft drinks. And then sometimes you get something like Stevia or those more natural alternatives that get added.

 And is Stevia even that good?

 Okay, so I think what ends up happening is with these fake sugars is they get added because they get put into less healthy foods to help us feel like we can eat more of them. Does that make sense? Yeah. Like soft drink. If soft drink had real sugar, you probably wouldn't drink it. Is diet soft drink a healthy thing to do? No it's not, but somehow because it doesn't have the sugar, we're like, well, it's better. It's fine. It's cool. So I think there is a health halo effect that happens. Do I think you should avoid them? No. Do I think you should add them into your diet? No. If you're currently eating them and you enjoy them and you love them, that's great. Keep in mind that they can lead to stomach upset if you're having too much of them, let's say you're having lots of sugar-free drinks during the day, bloating as well with things like diarrhea, or those sugar-free chocolates, those things can really, they are laxatives, really, and you've got to just be mindful of that. Personally, I don't really have those fake sugars in my diet because it can also get you used to having a higher amount of sugar in your diet. So you kind of like everything tends to taste sweet and that's your perception of things. So there is some research to say that not having them lowers your expectation of how much sugar you need in a day for you to feel satisfied. Oh really? Yeah. Because I feel like I, all my friends listening to this would probably agree, I really like Diet Coke. I have probably had a little bit of problem with a Diet Coke addiction. Can I ask you where does that Diet Coke addiction come from? That diet coke addiction comes from my Nan and then my Mum and then me. And is it interrelated with a weight control strategy? Probably. Yeah. I always think and I know shade of my Mum, love my Mum, but we laugh about like my brother has kids now and they're like 10 and 11 they would have probably never had diet coke and I'm like I'm not saying my Mum gave me diet coke in like like there was never a stage I wasn't allowed it. I don't remember mum ever saying, oh no you can't have Diet Coke. Like I feel like I've always had it and sometimes people are like, just have Coke, it's better for you, like it's got less chemicals or whatever. But I genuinely don't really like the taste of Coke because I've like always had Diet Coke. Ah yeah, I think it's really interesting to notice when we're using Diet Coke as a crutch because we think it's going to help us lose weight. It's not something, if you eat it for, you have it for complete joy, that's one thing, but what ends up happening is we end up having it every day or multiple times a day. One of my friends, she has it multiple times a day. She can drink liters of it every single day. You're like, this is an unhealthy obsession, this is not okay. I've kind of had to change it to, I made like a little bit of a food rule if you may to try and break the habit a little bit where I don't buy diet coke to have in my house. But when I'm out, if I'm having lunch or at a cafe, I order it because I enjoy it. I love that. But I don't have it in house because if you just buy like a case of cans, you can very easily find yourself having a can every night with dinner. Hey, I really like that as an idea. I think it's a really good tip and you know, I personally I have kombucha in my house. I don't know if you like the taste. Do you like the taste? I do, I do, I do. I've gotten used to it. Yeah, I like it. So if I ever kind of, that's my alternative during the week. Even I was reading something like that, can't have too much carbonated. Well yeah, so dentists would really hate anything carbonated and even something like

 kombucha or sparkling water is bad for your teeth so it's acidic. So it can lead

 to decay. So yeah, my brother is big on that. Every time I go to the dentist and if I said something like he's very Yeah, I just think if you do have a bit of a diet coke addiction, just kind of checking in, buying it when you're out as like a special occasion.

 Because it is kind of like an addiction to the fake sugars. Is that what it kind of is?

 It's also about, you know, I think it's when you feel like something to eat and you're like, well, I'll just have a Diet Coke because that's going to help.

 Oh, that was a full movement.

 That was a full movement. That's a whole thing.

 That's a whole thing.

 But also, I mean, it's typically we have something, it's typically something you have by itself. You're not having it with a meal. Yeah. Right? Therefore, it's kind of trying to take the place of being a snack because it does help you feel a bit full because of the carbonation and it's sweet. So it ticks that box. So it's very much an heirloom diet crutch. I used to do it all the time. Okay, we need to work on this. We need to work on it. Yeah, and it's like just getting curious about why we're doing things. That's what we're here about and not demonizing

 anything. Just stop and have a think. Yeah. And as always, we really like to highlight something good in the world because we've just spent the last few minutes trashing my beloved diet coke. So let's highlight something good and something good I've been really loving at the moment. In Australia we have an influence called Abbey Chatfield. She was on The Bachelor.

 And she got bullied on The Bachelor.

 She did and she has made a massive rebuild. Apparently she basically got the villain edit that everybody hates and apparently the whole of Australia hated her at the time and she's rebuilt into something that we really love. And what I wanted to flag today is she's just made a new clothing line called Vibose and it is amazing. She's got size 6 to 26. She has five styles and they fit all these body types, very stretchy, movable. And what I love the most is the size 6 is the exact same as the size 26 in like design because she was making the point that so many times the larger sizes, the design has changed to be more flattering to their body when really they just want the style that's in fashion. They want the thing that they think looks good. And I'm really loving that she's fighting this idea of what is flattering because apparently like flattering is really just how can I make your body the most in line with what beauty standards are.

 How do I make you look thinner? That's what flattering means. How can I make you look like you exist less? Yeah. And you know I feel like I'm still on the journey this way because when I go

 buy clothes I do want clothes that I feel good in and is that about

 you know the cuts and the styles or is that about my body image stuff that's kind of coming out where I'm going oh I don't think I can wear this other girls

 need to fight against girls over size 12 are allowed to wear shorts and it's like such a true thing. Sometimes I'm like oh I just rather probably wear

 pants. I have this kind of experience where I was growing up and I was really hot, I was going for a walk with my family on the beach, I was so sweaty, it was like middle of summer in Sydney, it was hot and I wanted to take my t-shirt off so I could just walk in my crop top. I remember my dad being like, oh, you don't have the body to wear a crop top on the beach. It's one of those stories that you just never forget, those comments that people make to you. Ever since then, I was like, I have to wait until I've got a good body before I'm allowed to wear a crop top. Fast forward to me going through my phase where I'm like, I don't want to subscribe to this anymore and I thought, shit, if I wait for myself to have a so-called good body, I'll be waiting forever. I'll never have a good enough body because these body standards, they're unattainable nonsense. So I just took off my top and I started walking in a crop top and would you know, I finally had a body that deserved to wear a crop top and the rolls that I get underneath my crop top and it's just whatever, it's fine. And you know what, no one was like gawking. I think sometimes we worry, we don't want to go exercise or wear some certain things, but worry that people are going to just stare and be shocked and be so judgmental. And no one cares. No one cares. I have to literally say that mantra over the top, over on a loop in my head, especially if I'm at a gym with like lots of mirrors and I keep catching myself like, oh I look horrible. I mean, no one cares about you. Yes. Everyone is only And if someone does care, because occasionally you might, they're judgmental because they're insecure about their body. It's always a reflection on their relationship with their body and it's got nothing to do with you and your body. So that's something to remind yourself of.

 That is a very necessary tangent from Abbey Chatfield. But if you want to have a look, another thing, we're going straight back into it. She has like the size 6 to 26 and when you look on the website you can see the design in each of those sizes. Yes and you shop via

 sizes and you know you can kind of get everything across all the sizes which I just love. There are a whole lot more brands who are doing this kind of thing. There's a brand who I really like shopping with and they've kind of got different models. I'll show you on three different size models the different clothing that they have but I went and shop this week and they only had like size 6 and 8 on the racks. I had consistently asked for my size and then it was sold out of all my sizes. So it was a question of, did you only want to display size 6 and 8 in the store?

 It's the display.

 Or had you sold out of all of the bigger sizes because you've now started to be inclusive? I couldn't work out what it was.

 I walked into a store the other day, I was looking for a dress to wear to a wedding, and I was looking around and I'm like, I was really enjoying myself, having a nice time. The woman came straight up to me and said, just letting you know there's more sizes out the back. And I was like, oh great. You've literally said, the things on the rack won't actually fit you, but we do have more out the back, so don't worry. It's such pesky marketing, isn't it? I don't need that, I don't need you only having like two tiny sizes in your store. Because what do most of us look like?

 Yeah, not that, not the average.

 And then it's like, we'll have the sizes to be inclusive, but we're not displaying them because they'll look stupid on our coat hangers.

 And we'll put them at the back, you know, we'll put the tiny sizes at the front. And our mannequins are still so tiny that we still need to pin all of our clothes into place that actually fits.

 Oh, the world.

 Anyway, we are ending on a positive note. We love Abby. We love the boys for the label. You can go follow them on Instagram and go check them out. She's got some cool stuff.

 They're cool.

 Even if you don't follow Abby Chatfield, I feel like she's so worth a follow. She talks proper goodness.

 She does. We love her. Thanks so much for listening, and we'll see you next time.

 Thanks, guys.


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