Five things I learned about sugar the hard way

Video - Five things I've learned about sugar

Sugar used to be a normal part of my diet.

But as I began fixing some of my health issues using food, I learned five things about sugar that really changed how I look at it.

Watch my video to find out what they are, and why they had such a big impact on me.


Here’s links to the articles, books and documentaries I mentioned:

And if you know of anyone who would benefit from this video, please share it with them.

Video Transcript

Today I want to share with you five things that I’ve learned about sugar the hard way so that you don’t have to.

Hi. I’m Nikki, The Truth Fairy from and I’m here to help you create a life of YOUR choosing.

When I was a kid I had lots of food allergies.

Growing up I had dairy intolerance and gluten intolerance which meant there was a big long list of foods that I wasn’t allowed to eat but sugar was never on that list.

So sugar was a pretty normal part of my diet.

And it wasn’t until I got older and started wanting to fix some of my health issues and also I had a family and wanted to make sure they were as healthy as possible, that sugar really came into focus for me.

And I went from eating refined sugar on a reasonably regular basis to these days where I almost never eat it.

And along the way there are five things that I learned that I want to share with you.

1. Sugar is in everything

The first thing I learned was that that sugar is in everything.

I already knew how to read labels because I was looking for gluten and looking for dairy.

But when I started looking for sugar in processed foods I was amazed at what I found.

How many foods have it added.

I saw one figure that said three quarters of packaged food on the shelves in the supermarkets has some kind of added sugar.

And the tricky thing is that sugar goes under lots of different names.

It’s not just called “sugar”. There are so many different names.

Agave nectar is a kind of sugar. Maltodextrin is a kind of sugar. Glucose is a kind of sugar.

And there’s over 50, 60 names, different names that all represent kinds of added sugar.

So I’ll add a link to an article that actually lays out all those different names for sugar for you so you can go and learn what those names and recognise them when you’re reading labels on those processed foods.

As a point of interest the World Health Organisation recommends eating a maximum of 10% of your calories from sugar and preferably 5%.

Which equates to about 6 teaspoons a day.

The American Heart Foundation recommends a maximum of six teaspoons per day for women and nine teaspoons for men.

At the moment the average person eats around 20 or more teaspoons a day and sometimes as high as 40 teaspoons a day.

So as a society we’re eating a lot more sugar than is really good for us.

2. It’s okay to use natural sweeteners

The second thing that I learned is that it’s okay to use natural sweeteners to transition off refined sugar.

When I first started making raw vegan dishes, one of the ways that made it possible for me to transition off my existing vegan but not very healthy diet was desserts.

Things that used agave nectar and coconut nectar and maple syrup and dried fruits.

Sweet desserts satisfied my sweet tooth and allowed me to transition away to more nutrient-dense foods that fed my body but satisfied my taste buds.

And over time I found that I didn’t need them as much, but having that option to transition off the refined sugars with the natural sweeteners was really important for me.

So if you have the time, if you can make that transition gradually, the natural sugars are a great way to do that.

If on the other hand you’re dealing with a life-threatening condition like cancer where you need to cut down sugars pretty quickly then you may want to go cold turkey.

It might be harder but it will get you to that point of eating a lot less sugar a lot faster.

3. Your taste buds will adjust

The third thing I learned was that your taste buds will adjust.

I didn’t really expect it to, but I found over time that I needed sweet things less and less and also that when I went back to eating dishes that I’d had previously that I really liked, I found them really sweet.

So your taste buds do adjust over time to having less sugar in your diet.

So trust your body. It may take time but it will happen eventually as your body adjusts to eating less sweet foods.

You won’t be as used to eating the sweet foods and those desserts that you used to love will actually almost taste too sweet for you.

And they’ll taste funny. Which is a good thing because hopefully it’ll stop you wanting to eat as much of it.

4. Sugar is addictive

The fourth thing that I learned about sugar that the hard way is that sugar is addictive. Absolutely.

When I get stressed, which probably happens more often than I would like it to, the first thing my body wants me to eat is sugar.

Body says, “Arrgghhh.

Eat some sugar!” Now these days, what I tend to go to is dates, medjool dates.

They’re dried fruit, so they’re concentrated sugar, but at least they have the fibre and the minerals and all the other things that are in there as well.

It’s still sugar, it’s still sweet but it’s not fully the refined sugars.

But ultimately it’s my body saying, “I need energy. Go and eat something sweet!” and as soon as I eat something sweet I tend to want to eat more.

And I find sometimes when I do eat things with refined sugar in them, even though they taste funny, if I start it’s like I open the door and I just want to eat more and more and it’s to really hard to stop.

And there are some identified pathways that sugar actually uses to create this experience for you.

So, you might be the kind of person who can eat a small amount of sugar and you’re fine, in which case a small amount isn’t going to be a problem.

But if you know that a small amount of sugar opens the floodgates to eating a lot of sugar then you need to be really careful.

So observe yourself. Learn how you respond to sugar.

And just be aware that sugar can be very addictive, so be careful.

5, Sugar creates havoc in your body

The fifth thing that I learned is that sugar really does play havoc with your body.

It interferes with all kinds of metabolic pathways, taps into feedback loops that get you eat more of it, that suppress healthy pathways and amplify unhealthy pathways that basically get you to eat more and more sugar.

Originally when these pathways developed, it was in a context where we didn’t have access to so much refined sugar, so it was okay for us to tap into those systems that made us want to eat more and more sugar.

But in a world where sugar is in abundance it works against us.

Our body doesn’t know what to do with all this sugar.

It creates all the health conditions. It contributes to inflammation, suppresses the immune system.

It does so many things that put our body out of balance that sugar really is a poison for our system in many circumstances and it’s not something we really want to be eating a lot of.

And I read a couple of interesting books on the topic.

One is called “Fat Chance” by Robert Lustig.

He goes a lot into how sugar works in our body, the biochemical pathways it uses.

He’s very anti-fructose, so you know whether or not you’re agree with that, there’s a lot of interesting information in his book about sugar and its effect on your body.

And it’s an absolute eye-opening book and I highly recommend it and I’ll put a link to it.

Another book that I read is called “Sweet Poison” which goes along the same lines but it’s another perspective on the fact that sugar is really a poison for your body, and what you can do to reduce the amount of sugar you eat.

And to understand that impact can really motivate you to do that.

There’s also a couple of really interesting documentary films you might want to check out.

One is called “That Sugar Film” and it’s the story of a guy who decides to add sugar back into his diet.

He eats a relatively healthy diet and decides to add 40 teaspoons of sugar to his diet every day and the changes that unfold in his body are absolutely fascinating.

And the last one is called “The Secrets of Sugar” and I’ll put links to those books and documentaries and also the list of the names of sugar in the description of this video so you can check them out.

A quick recap

So that was five things that I learned about sugar the hard way.

  1. It’s in everything.
  2. It’s okay to use natural sweeteners to transition if you need to.
  3. Your taste buds will adjust.
  4. Sugar is addictive.
  5. Sugar plays havoc with your body.

Here’s links to the articles, books and documentaries I mentioned:

Your turn

I hope you found that video interesting and now I’d love to hear from you.

Which of those lessons have you already learned the hard way?

I’d love to hear about your experiences with sugar.

If you could share your experiences in the comments, that would be great.

I’d really like to hear your story and how you’ve had to deal with sugar and learn these lessons the hard way.

Check my next video to continue activating your body’s natural ability to heal.

Nikki H Stokes, The Truth Fairy

About Nikki H Stokes

The Truth Fairy

Bachelor of Science (with Honours) in Genetics (minors in Biochemistry and Statistics), Graduate Certificate of Computing, Professional Certificate of Astrology, Reiki Practitioner III, Six Sensory I, Matrix Energetics II

I've been making unconventional choices my whole life, and now I want to share what I've discovered along the way to empower you to live an authentic life. I love sharing stories, tips and resources to support you as you take control of your life, find alternatives, think for yourself, choose differently and create life on YOUR terms.

Reach me on Email | YouTube | Facebook | Twitter

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  • Hiya Nikki – argh brilliant… now how do we get everyone to SEE this! My kids are handed sugar at school, sports, at every party or kids activity – and though I’ve taught them how bad it is, and they all have experienced the headaches and immune-suppressed illnesses that follow – its so hard for them to not take it when all the other kids are enjoying chocolate and lollies! So frustrating, I’m already the “difficult parent” in our tiny school that fought to let my third daughter repeat a year, they won’t listen to me now if I bring up the sugar issue. I discovered the connection between sugar and migraines a few years ago (but I can’t find any research saying its a neurotoxin, is it?) and now I have lupus which affects me with painful joints, and I’ve discovered that even a chocolate bickie can put me in a lot of pain, joint-wise, the next day!
    Thank you Nikki for the information! Priceless.

    • Oh boy, Angela, I wish there was a way! I too have been the grumpy mum on many occasions when people try and force-feed my kids sugar, and it’s literally everywhere.

      Fortunately, my eldest doesn’t have a sweet tooth at all (not that it stops people trying) but my youngest is a sugar addict and it turns her into a monster.

      I guess we just keep saying it over and over until people start listening. Fed Up is also a great documentary on this topic.

      Robert Lustig doesn’t talk about sugar being a neurotoxin as such in his book (Fat Chance), but it definitely does affect signalling pathways (either directly or indirectly, I’m not sure).

      Perhaps because it uses the body against itself, it wouldn’t technically be classified as a neurotoxin, but of course, that’s also why it’s so potent in its effects. It’s more of a “virus” in that regard!

  • i stopped sugar several years ago. it took about a week to stop the cravings. now i find things like some strawberries too sweet. my 2 twenty somethings eliminated it as well. much easier to manage weight, insulin spikes, and along with the addition of certain herbs etc, my joints no longer hurt and my skin is much better. i believe that sugar is poison. and totally unnecessary. namaste.

    • Hi Meg,

      Isn’t it amazing how our taste buds adjust when we don’t eat as much refined sugar?

      I’m so pleased that you’ve seen so many improvements to your health as a result, and that your 20-somethings have joined in with you.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences.

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