Carrying the empty milk bottles, my older sister and I would make the trek each weekend to our local dairy on Melrose Road in Hillsborough, Auckland where I grew up.
Spurred on by the promise of a packet of sweets. We’d lug the empty milk bottles to the dairy and then return home with the full (and oh-soo heavy) milk bottles and a loaf of bread.
But the highlight of our dairy-visit was always the sweets we’d buy with our pocket money. Back then lollies were priced at 2 for 1 cent. What a bargain! And you’d get to pick your sweets one by one with the shop assistant… “I’ll have one of those, two of those, one of those, three of those”… all until your 20, 30 or 50 cents of pocket money was spent.
I don’t remember any shame about eating sweets back then. Even as a teenager there was still no stigma around sweets, lollies, candy – we’d buy a tub of snifters at the movies, or a bag of jellybeans to eat while watching our Blockbuster video. Sweet stuff was just something to enjoy sometimes.
But somewhere between the innocence of the 70’s and the dogma of the 21st century – sugar got a seriously bad reputation.
“Sugar is evil” was the clear message.
I should know, sadly I was there as a nutritionist shouting it out loudly (while quietly eating my chocolate in the privacy of my own home).
And honestly now, I’d take it all back and rewrite my NZ Listener cover stories, my articles, my blogs and everything I said about sugar so I could reframe it.
Because I’m saddened that I made you think you can’t enjoy anything sweet. I’m horrified that I created a guilt in you for enjoying one of the gifts of life – sweet food.
So often I hear women saying things like, “I’m addicted to sugar!” or “My sugar cravings are so bad!” or “My biggest problem is liking sugary food.”
Sugar has been blamed for the “obesity epidemic” and a lot more.
And it’s all a lie. A complete exaggeration that is beyond ridiculous.
Sugar is not addictive. Sugar didn’t cause the obesity epidemic – it’s far more complicated than that. Much of it comes down to social inequalities and the way our food industry has developed (sugar in our pizza bases, sugar in our pasta sauce).
Too much of anything is bad for us – even water. Yes you can kill yourself by drinking too much water. Does that make water bad? Of course not.
And yes if you eat a tonne of sugar everyday you’re not going to do great things for your health.
But that doesn’t mean you need to avoid all sugar like the plague, just as you don’t need to avoid drinking water.
Boring as it is – it’s all about balance when it comes to food and our lifestyle.
And the way we create balance with sugar is by not demonising it for starters.
So quit the black and white thoughts about sugar and sweet foods.
The more we demonise sugar, the more guilt we feel for eating it, when its completely natural to enjoy sweet food. We’re designed to enjoy sweetness from birth.
So stop thinking there is something wrong with you. There is nothing wrong with you for enjoying sweet food – it just proves you’re human.
Refuse to feel guilty for enjoying the taste of something sweet – food should never produce guilt, so kick guilt up the rear-end and send it on its way.
And secondly, when you try to restrict your intake of sugar and sweet foods you set up a cycle of restriction and cravings with sugar that you can never win.
Scientists have proven it oh-so-many times with all kinds of foods. Whatever food they restrict, is the food the participants in the clinical trial crave.
The only reason you crave sweet things so much is because you restrict your access to them.
If you gave yourself permission to eat sweet things freely, whenever you are hungry and feel like it, you’d soon find you’re not addicted to sugar and have a lot fewer cravings.
If you want some great tips on kicking those sugar cravings then grab my FREE Guide: How To Kick Sugar Cravings. Click here:
Because it’s totally possible to do it, trust me. You can learn to enjoy sweet foods, without feeling like they control you <3