Why do so many people believe sugar (and salt, saturated fat/cholesterol) is bad, when it’s not? There’s a few reasons. For this article, the main focus is how our minds do not work the way we think they do. Your mind is playing tricks on you too.
When it comes to sugar, many people are emotional and unreasonable to the point of absurdity. Sadly, facts & logic get lost when emotions run us. Just yesterday, someone shared a photo on Facebook of a delicious, natural treat (chocolate, cream, caramel, nuts, sugar), sort of a natural/healthy Snickers bar. I said it looked good, which automatically gave me an ‘obsessive blind refined sugar fetish’. That was pretty funny, but the guy was serious and indicative of this collective sugar neurosis.
But it’s not these issues that’s behind our beliefs. Our mind has blind spots.
We block things out and make mistakes in our logic and we don’t see it. Our pre-existing beliefs affect what we see and don’t see. Many people do not understand this, much less see it play out in real life.
More so than ‘fat burning secrets’ you think you’re missing, these hidden blinders and mistakes in logic will derail more people than undereating or overeating. The good news is that when you learn about these hidden mistakes, you can prevent them. You can also use these tools to make sure your favorite expert/author/blogger is presenting the best, most accurate information. *Spoiler alert – they’re not as smart as you think they are.
It starts when parents impose their anti-sugar beliefs onto kids. But parents are only doing it because the message is constantly bombarded into their minds from every angle. This pre-existing belief that sugar is evil is constantly being affirmed in this food-phobic diet-obsessed culture. So it actually makes sense that so many people believe sugar is inherently evil, fattening or addictive.
See this? Makes sense, right?
Wrong. It confirmed your preconceived beliefs on sugar.
This oversimplified meme was popular, despite the fact that it is not true. It was shared by hundreds (maybe thousands?) of people on Facebook. Just like the ‘Sugar suppresses your immune system’ meme, that is equally popular, yet false. Now, considering Kony2012 and Rebecca Black went viral, ‘going viral’ is impressive to most, and speaks volumes of our society, but it says nothing of it’s truthfulness or usefulness of it. But I digress…
It is not accurate, but it affirms what many already believe, so it seems to make sense. We feel it. So we spread the message and continue the cycle of fear & misinformation.
This one actually makes sense and has the added benefit of humor (if you can find it). If you believe sugar is addictive, you will believe the first one when you see it. When newer, better information comes along, you will not even see it, or possibly fight it, before dismissing it.
For people who embark on a health/weight loss journey, these illusions are many and difficult to detect.
For those recovering from eating disorders or addictions, these blind spots (and the anti-sugar memes) are dangerous and destructive.
Here is a two minute test to help you understand this elective attention bias.
Learn more: www.theinvisiblegorilla.com
Don’t Make These Mistakes
This is one of my favorite sites. It lists other mistakes we often make that we similarly don’t see, known as ‘logical fallacies’.
‘A logical fallacy is a flaw in reasoning. Logical fallacies are like tricks or illusions of thought, and they’re often very sneakily used by politicians and the media to fool people. Don’t be fooled! This website has been designed to help you identify and call out dodgy logic wherever it may raise its ugly, incoherent head.’
Here are some other, common mistakes people make in nutrition, especially as it relates to sugar.
1) Bandwagon – Everyone knows sugar is bad
2) Anecdote – I know because I gained weight when I ate sugar
3) Appeal to Authority – well Dr. Oz said it, it must be true. He’s an expert.
4) The Texas Sharpshooter – ever heard ‘fructose is poison’ or red meat causes cancer?
5) False Dilemma – either I binge or I abstain, there is no middle ground.
Learn more about your brain, its blind spots and ways our intuition can fail us. These tools will serve you better than any ‘diet tip’ or ‘fat loss secret’. Equipped with these tools, you can keep yourself in check, so you don’t make costly mistakes. Like believing diet gurus for bad reasons.
You can also detect in others (gurus) when they make these mistakes so you don’t get taken advantage of. Because getting taken advantage of, happens often. And since every diet program hinges on evil sugar, this is important to know.
In conclusion, other than being therapeutic when used correctly (by supporting metabolism, and reducing stress), sugar makes food fun. Observations from industry veterans have unanimously confirmed: avoiding sugar reduces one’s sense of humor.
12 cognitive biases that prevent you from being rational
The Nocebo Effect: How We Worry Ourselves Sick
More on Sugar Addiction:
Part 1– Is Sugar Addiction Real?
Part 3- Sugar Addiction Part 3
Part 4- Sugar Addiction = Eating Disorder
More on Sugar: