As an intuitive eating dietitian I know that sugar is not inherently harmful. We need carbohydrates and we need sugar. I will eat fruit. I will eat a cookie. Our relationship and mindset around sugar is what often gets us into trouble. Many believe all sugar is bad. We avoid fruit, cookies, and everything else deemed sugary. We prohibit all sweet treats and question if fruit is healthy. We tell ourselves these foods are off limits or to enjoy sparingly. Then we are presented with the forbidden food, and one bite sends us over the edge into overeating, eating too fast, and mindless shoveling, leaving us full of food and guilt. Find yourself out of control around girl scout cookies (insert other off limit food here)? How do you feel about girl scout cookies? If deep down you believe you shouldn’t have them it's no wonder one turns into six!
This all too common series of events isn’t you being “bad”, this is your restrictions setting you up for failure. The moment we make something off limits, or “bad”, the more likely we are to overeat and mindlessly eat.
have your cookie and eat it too
Food restricting and overeating is a mind game, literally. Intuitive eating is about listening to our body AND honoring our cravings. I can choose to thoroughly enjoy a cookie from my favorite local bakery and the next day choose not to eat the cake at work because it doesn't appeal to me. Being able to tune into the body and mindfully choose a sweet treat is key to a healthy relationship with food.
added sugar awareness
But let’s not kid ourselves, added sugar is in most foods we purchase.
Yes, I believe that everyone can enjoy foods they like, sugary foods included, but it should be a choice. I want to choose to eat something with added sugar (without guilt), not accidentally take in added sugar all day. Added sugar may be in your yogurt, peanut butter, sauces, even green juices and kombucha. I care about nutrition, and to me, having a healthy relationship with food means actually caring about what is in my food! It should be my choice what goes into my body and it’s up to be me to be an informed consumer.
This month I am teaming up with Health Warrior to guide you through an added sugar check-in. We are not asking you to eliminate all sugar, instead we are encouraging you to look at where added sugar is inadvertently making its way into your everyday life and identify where small changes can help you feel better.
I hope you will join us on social July 16-22 with hashtag #HWSugarCheckIn.