Category Archives: Nutrition (what you eat)

Sugar: Physical Addiction, Emotional Craving?

This is Part 4 in a 4-part series on Sugar and Other Sweeteners.

(1) Sugar Is Toxic: Heart Disease, Cancer & More
(2) Sugar: How Much Is Too Much?
(3) Artificial Sweeteners Make You Fat (3a: Health Risks of No-Calorie Sweeteners)
(4) Sugar: Physical Addiction or Emotional Craving?


One of the most frequent questions in the Normal Eating Support Forum is whether to cut out sugar in the early stages of recovery. For most emotional eaters, sugar is a two-edged sword: They feel out of control with it so cutting it out completely seems like the only solution. But when they cut it out completely, they eventually end up bingeing on it.

Is this apparent addiction physical or emotional, and what is the way out? Is it possible for an emotional eater to become a normal eater who eats sugar occasionally, as described in Part 2 of this series?

Continue reading Sugar: Physical Addiction, Emotional Craving?

Health Risks of No-Calorie Sweeteners

Weight regulation is not a simple matter of "calories in, calories out". Sugar causes obesity disproportionate to its calories, and (surprisingly) no-calorie sweeteners actually cause weight gain. How can you gain weight from something with no calories? The body learns to associate the taste of a food with how much energy it gives. When sweet taste becomes associated with zero calories: (1) people’s metabolisms slow, (2) they eat more – and since their metabolisms are slowed, they gain more from what they eat.

That’s bad enough, but no-calorie sweeteners – even stevia – may contain other serious health risks. This article cuts through the complacency and hyperbole to give you the facts.

Continue reading Health Risks of No-Calorie Sweeteners

Artificial Sweeteners Make You Fat

This is Part 3 in a 4-part series on Sugar and Other Sweeteners.

(1) Sugar Is Toxic: Heart Disease, Cancer & More
(2) Sugar: How Much Is Too Much?
(3) Artificial Sweeteners Make You Fat (3a: Health Risks of No-Calorie Sweeteners)
(4) Sugar: Physical Addiction or Emotional Craving?


People drink diet soda to avoid calories and keep from getting fat. Yet study after study shows that daily use of artificial sweeteners is strongly associated with obesity. Do overweight people tend to drink diet soda, or does diet soda cause people to become overweight?

A number of recent studies make it clear: artificial sweeteners cause obesity. They confuse the body, causing appetite to increase and metabolism to slow. When something tastes like it should have calories but does not, you eat more and get fatter from what you eat. The same effect has been found with fat substitutes.

You can’t get something for nothing. Everything you consume has a cost. It’s ironic that the cost, in this case, is obesity.

Continue reading Artificial Sweeteners Make You Fat

Sugar: How Much Is Too Much?

This is Part 2 in a 4-part series on Sugar and Other Sweeteners.

(1) Sugar Is Toxic: Heart Disease, Cancer & More
(2) Sugar: How Much Is Too Much?
(3) Artificial Sweeteners Make You Fat (3a: Health Risks of No-Calorie Sweeteners)
(4) Sugar: Physical Addiction or Emotional Craving?


In Part 1 of this series, I described how sugar is implicated in a wide range of illnesses, from heart disease to cancer, as well as causing obesity. Many scientists researching the relationship between sugar and disease have stopped eating sugar as a result of their findings. But is it necessary for health to stop completely?

And is it necessary to eat for health? Sugar does pose a serious threat. But just because a food is unhealthy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat it, or that it’s wrong or bad to eat it. What you eat is not a moral issue, there are other considerations besides health, and it’s your life. There’s a big fallacy in the non-diet world that there are “no bad foods” and that is why you can eat all foods. I say something very different: There are bad foods, but you are still entitled to eat whatever you want – just do it with your eyes open. If you deny that some foods are bad for your health, then you can’t take responsibility for your choices.

The purpose of this article is not to tell you what you "should" eat. It’s to give you information that you can use as input for your own decision.

Continue reading Sugar: How Much Is Too Much?

Sugar Is Toxic: Heart Disease, Cancer & More

This is Part 1 in a 4-part series on Sugar and Other Sweeteners.

(1) Sugar Is Toxic: Heart Disease, Cancer & More
(2) Sugar: How Much Is Too Much?
(3) Artificial Sweeteners Make You Fat (3a: Health Risks of No-Calorie Sweeteners)
(4) Sugar: Physical Addiction or Emotional Craving?


New research shows that sugar is a direct cause of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and many other diseases, as well as obesity. It’s not that the empty calories in sugar cause obesity, and then obesity indirectly causes these diseases. Sugar causes obesity in ways far more insidious than empty calories, and it causes these diseases directly – not indirectly through obesity. Sugar is a toxin – a "chronic" toxin in that damage takes many exposures. I love sugar as much as anyone, so I didn’t want this to be true, but there’s no doubt that it is.

There’s another serious problem with sugar for anyone using the non-diet approach. Sugar seriously interferes with your body’s hunger and satiation signals in multiple ways. When you eat sugar, you never get the "off" signal.

How much sugar can you safely eat? I’ll talk about that in Part 2. Artificial sweeteners are not a way around the problem. In Part 3, I’ll describe the evidence that artificial sweeteners cause obesity through a different mechanism. Part 4 will talk about the addictive aspects of sugar – both physical and emotional – and how to deal with it.

Continue reading Sugar Is Toxic: Heart Disease, Cancer & More

No bad foods? All foods equal? Careful!

Recently a new member in the Normal Eating Support Forum posted this message (edited for brevity):

Right now I eat a junkfood diet and have for decades. I don’t eat fruit or vegetables hardly ever. I never learned to prepare dinner every night. I live mostly on pizza, hamburgers and fries, Chick-Fil-A and restaurant food. I also have a sugar jones. I fall asleep, wake up an hour or two later and then when half awake go down and binge on cookies, candy, cake, and other sweets.

I understand stage one is about legalizing all food. I know I have to stop thinking of these foods as “bad” and beating myself for eating them. How can I lose my shame over eating these foods?

She is right that there is no shame in food choices – ever – and that you have the right to eat whatever you want. But she is wrong that the foods she’s eating are not “bad”. They’re pretty bad nutritionally, though she still has ever right to eat them. It’s also not true that the first stage of Normal Eating is “legalizing”. She’s confusing Normal Eating with some other attuned eating programs that I think make a serious mistake.

Continue reading No bad foods? All foods equal? Careful!

Good Nutrition: Myths and Facts

Editing Note: This post and the previous post originally were one long article.


In my previous post I explained why nutrition information has a role in the non-diet approach – not as a rule, but as information. But with all the contradictory nutrition advice out there, is there really such a thing as “good nutrition”? There is not one single nutrition principle that isn’t contested by someone somewhere. Doesn’t this mean that there are no reliable facts about nutrition, and everything is subject to reversal?

Actually, no, though it can feel that way at times. While many details of nutrition are speculative, some principles are backed by voluminous research. So how do you separate proven facts from tentative theories presented as facts, or outright misinformation?

Continue reading Good Nutrition: Myths and Facts

A Place for Nutrition in the Non-Diet Approach?

Editing Note: This post and the next post originally were one long article.


For people who have sworn off weight-loss diets, principles of nutrition can seem like just another set of eating rules to rebel against. The idea behind the non-diet approach is that you can trust your inborn body wisdom to tell you when and what to eat. If that’s true, then why do you need to learn anything? Isn’t this an intuitive, non-thinking approach?

If we were living in the Stone Age we could approach it that way. But we live in a time where the universe of foods to choose from is highly unnatural, so we can’t rely only on our natural inclinations, our body wisdom. At some point, we do need to learn about nutrition.

So how do you incorporate nutrition information so as not to feel like you’re back on a diet?

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Taubes’ Book and the Real Cause of Obesity

I just finished reading Gary Taubes’ book, Good Calories, Bad Calories. It’s superbly researched and contains crucially important information, but it’s a hard read – long, dense, meandering, and repetitive. I fear that many people won’t get all the way through it. And while the extensive detail on studies is great, the forest gets a bit lost among all the trees. So here is a summary of the book’s main findings, which start with this revolutionary notion:

Overeating is not the cause of obesity, but rather its consequence – a form of body wisdom caused by dietary fuel being abnormally locked away as fat. The cells of your body don’t have enough usable energy, so you eat more and move less. Sound crazy? There’s actually voluminous research to support this theory.

Continue reading Taubes’ Book and the Real Cause of Obesity