Food Bullying Podcast

Should we be afraid of sugar? Episode 51


Sugar gets the blame for many of our health issues.  Should we avoid sugar? Are there good sugars and bad sugars? Our guest, Melissa Joy Dobbins is a registered dietitian and diabetes expert.  She brings a common sense approach to eating well and says “if people with diabetes can have sugar, you can too!”

Melissa Joy Dobbins MS, RDN, CDE is known as The Guilt-Free RD® – “because food shouldn’t make you feel bad!” As a dietitian and diabetes educator, Melissa helps people digest food and nutrition information so they can make their own well-informed food decisions based on facts, not fear, and ultimately – enjoy their food with health in mind. Melissa hosts the popular Sound Bites® Podcast where she interviews experts on a variety of topics ranging from fad diets to farming and delves into the science, the psychology and the strategies behind good food and nutrition.

Key points

  • More than 1/3 of Americans are obese. People blame sugar consumption, but we’ve only slightly increased sugar consumption since 1989.
    • Sugar isn’t the sole problem. Inactivity is an issue, too.
    • Sugar is a simple carbohydrate
    • Common sources of sugar are
      • Sugar cane
      • Sugar beets
      • Corn
    • Honey, table sugar, and high fructose corn syrup all have 16 calories per teaspoon and are nearly identical.
    • The difference in the source of sugar is less important than the amount consumed.
  • Doctors don’t always have the facts on sugar.
    • Should focus on nutrient-rich foods instead of sugar.
    • Takes shame out of the conversation.
    • Research shows kids drink more milk if it is flavored.  Getting the nutrition is more important.  It is like putting a little dressing on salad.
    • Focus on what is nutrients are in the food and what things in it might you want to avoid.
    • Doctors have implied power based on their position, but don’t receive training in nutrition. They can unintentionally spread fear about food.
    • People have to be in the driver’s seat of their own health. There are no forbidden foods – have to pay attention and make a decision about what works best for you.
    • Dietitians have significant on-going training and specialize in areas such as pediatrics or diabetes.  People have to swim in their own lane of expertise. 
  • School lunches and snacks can be a source of food bullying.
    • Things have changed over time in terms of what is encouraged for snacks at school.
      • Now required to bring fresh fruit or vegetable for snack
        • Challenging to avoid food waste if it all has to be fresh instead of apple sauce or raisins
        • Doesn’t avoid allergy issues
        • Elitist – not everyone can afford or has access to produce
  • How to think about sugar:
    • Look at it from diabetes point of view.
      • Consider a combination of simple carbohydrates (sugar) and complex carbohydrates
      • Research doesn’t support sugar creates hyperactivity
      • Blood sugar doesn’t spike and crash unless you have diabetes or reactive hypoglycemia
      • Be aware how much sugar is in your food – but don’t be afraid
        • too many calories from anything will cause weight gain
        • “hidden sugar” isn’t really an issue
          • feeds into a conspiracy theory about the food industry tricking us into buying food – look at the label
          • people buy what tastes good
          • “added sugar” label is confusing
  • Snacks should fill nutrient and hunger gaps
    • look at label to see what nutrients are in the snack
      • we don’t get enough produce
      • use all forms of produce to get what we need: Fresh, canned, frozen, and dried.
    • small cups of apple sauce or fruit are portion controlled
    • chose based on your own needs and standards

Sound Bites RDN Melissa Joy DobbinsThree tips to avoid food bullying:

  • Food shouldn’t make you feel bad.  If you aren’t feeling good about a food (or are uncertain) step back and think about your goals and standards
  • Don’t pay attention to the front of the package. Look at the nutrition label.
  • Focus on nutrient-rich foods.


Sound Bites Podcast:

Melissa on Instagram & Twitter:  @melissajoyrd

Food Bullying Podcast’s Facebook Page:

Food Bullying: How to Avoid B.S. by Michele Payn:

Embrace Your Heart with Eliz Greene:



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