Grow Your Nutrition Business Podcast Episode 50: Sugar Addiction & Chronic Disease

Today, I’m talking to Karen Thomson about sugar addiction and the role of chronic disease.

Recently, we hosted a panel discussion on chronic disease for gym owners and we are continuing the conversation on the podcast.

According to the World Health Organization, 80% of chronic diseases can be prevented through a healthy diet, exercise, and no tobacco use.

Today, we are talking about diet, specifically the role of sugar and what it does in our bodies.

Stay tuned at the end of this episode; I’m sharing an experiment that Jason and I will be doing this week! You don’t want to miss it!

About The Experiment

Jason & Nicole will be wearing continuous glucose monitoring devices for the next two weeks. 

GOAL: To help people understand how their body reacts to the food they eat

WHY: Because we know the best way to fight chronic disease is to prevent it!

ONE MORE THING: They won’t just be eating healthy foods. Companies spend millions of dollars marketing their products as healthy. Jason and Nicole hope to shed light on some of the misinformation out there about healthy food products! 


Additional FREE Help Related To
Building A Nutrition Program In A Gym

  • LISTEN: Inside The Nutrition Program At CrossFit Brighton & How Nutrition Coach, Darcie Helped Brent Lose 100 Pounds HERE
  • LISTEN:Leveraging A Holistic Approach As A Nutrition Coach HERE
  • LISTEN: Nutrition Made Simple Podcast – CrossFit, Nutrition & Your Health HERE
  • HSN Mentoring Client Highlight: Meet Rob & Beth Young, Owners of CrossFit Rockland, How A 11-Year CrossFit Affiliate Changed Their Business Model To Prioritize Nutrition & Health Of Their Clients HERE

Episode Transcript:

Nicole Aucoin (00:02):
Welcome back to the Grow Your Nutrition Business podcast. At Healthy Steps Nutrition we believe something as fundamental as nutrition shouldn’t be complicated which is why we focus on a simple habit based approach. We help gym owners and coaches build successful nutrition programs without reinventing the wheel. I’m your host Nicole Aucoin, Registered Dietitian and Founder at Healthy Steps Nutrition, CrossFit HSN, and HSN Mentoring. I’m also the author of the Basics of Nutrition Coaching standalone course, a CrossFit Preferred nutrition course.

Nicole Aucoin (00:38):
I am going to teach you how to take one step at a time to build a successful nutrition program where you finally feel confident when helping your members and communities with nutrition. Today, I’m talking with Karen Thomson all about sugar addiction in the role of chronic disease. Recently, we hosted a panel discussion for gym owners and I wanted to continue the conversation on this podcast. Did you know that heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are the leading causes of death in the United States? 70% of deaths are caused by chronic disease. What’s crazy is 40% of our population has two or more chronic diseases, 60% has at least one.

Nicole Aucoin (01:25):
Chronic disease is defined as a condition that requires ongoing medical attention for over a year. Chronic disease is the leading driver of the nation’s $3.5 trillion healthcare costs. And according to the World Health Organization 80% of chronic disease can be prevented. Yep 80% of chronic disease can be prevented. One of the most disturbing statistics that I’ve found is that 40% of normal weight people are metabolically sick. Just because you are a healthy weight doesn’t mean that you can eat whatever you want and you shouldn’t be caring about chronic disease.

Nicole Aucoin (02:05):
Now, let’s talk about prevention. There are three main things that you can do to prevent chronic disease. The first one is physical activity. Second one, eat a healthy diet. And the third one, don’t use tobacco. Today we are focusing on one piece of an unhealthy diet and it’s sugar consumption and why we are so addicted to sugar. We’ll get to this episode just after this message.

Nicole Aucoin (02:33):
Are you looking for healthy recipes or are you looking for healthy recipes for your nutrition clients? Healthy Steps Nutrition released a cookbook available on Amazon that has low sugar healthy recipes the entire family will love and we’ve decided to donate all of the money from the first 1000 copies sold to feed local families in south Florida this holiday season. You can head over to Amazon and type in Cookbook Aucoin, my last name, A-U-C-O-I-N. It will pop right up. Or click the link in the show notes and we will link it there for you. Enjoy this episode.

Nicole Aucoin (03:12):
Welcome back to the Grow Your Nutrition Business podcast. Today I am so excited to have Karen with us. Karen, thank you for joining me. This is the second time in two weeks that we are talking about chronic disease and disease prevention and sugar.

Karen Thomson (03:27):
Yep. I’m very excited. Thank you so much for having me.

Nicole Aucoin (03:30):
So, you have such a journey yourself with and a passion for nutrition and you talked about it so much on the chronic disease webinar. So, I want to talk about the chronic disease webinar first and some of the biggest takeaways and then we can dive into sugar and sugar addiction. So, we hosted this chronic disease webinar with Julie Fusha, Dr. Shaka Gillen and you and I. And we really talked about what is chronic disease and some of the crazy statistics about chronic disease. How does nutrition play a role? How does fitness play a role? How does stress play a role? And most importantly, what affiliate owners can do. And the feedback was absolutely amazing. So, first I want to say thank you for joining in on that.

Karen Thomson (04:12):
Thank you for organizing it. What a great idea and what a great group of women that you got together as well to talk about it.

Nicole Aucoin (04:19):
We’re all passionate about helping people and achieving optimal health not through diets or pills or anything but just focusing on real food. And it was so fun to just get different perspectives. And you actually, you wrote a book on the topic that we’re specifically talking about today and sugar and sugar addiction.

Karen Thomson (04:38):
It feels like another lifetime but yes I did write a book on sugar addiction and it still is something that I firmly believe in and think that we need to create so much awareness about. I mean, it’s the perfect time of the year, Halloween is tomorrow. And it’s like, when is it more relevant than right now?

Nicole Aucoin (04:57):
The holidays historically are the toughest time to stay away from sugar because everything has sugar in it. So by the time we’re listening to this podcast we really need to be just understanding and aware of what sugar does in the body and how we get addicted to it. And honestly, right after the podcast I said, “You described sugar addiction in such an easy way for people to understand you have to come on the podcast and describe it again.” And people just don’t understand. When you do the CrossFit level one they talk about the average American consumes over 150 pounds of sugar per year. And we break that down, it’s over three pounds of sugar per week which is way more than the American Heart Association recommends. But the truth is we don’t even know where the sugar is coming from because it’s literally in everything.

Karen Thomson (05:50):
Right. Absolutely. I posted some images on my Instagram yesterday showing how many teaspoons of sugar, and it was depicted in blocks of sugar, is contained in various drinks that we feed our kids every single day. And I mean as you know, there are various recommendations but the most general one is that no more than six teaspoons of added sugar for kids per day. And a glass of orange juice has nine in it and there’s no way that people are only feeding their kids one glass of orange juice. There’s so much more that we are feeding our kids every single day and the amount of added sugar that we are feeding them is killing us and them. And it’s going to lead to endless suffering and chronic disease in the future.

Nicole Aucoin (06:33):
Parents don’t realize that what they’re feeding their kids is directly impacting the future of their life. The research shows if you are overweight at the age of three the percentage of you being overweight at the age of 30 is super high. And then you go up to the age of like 16 it’s 80% chance that you’re going to be overweight at the age of 30 if you’re overweight at 16. And I truthfully do not believe any parent would purposely set their kid up for failure. And that’s where my passion comes down to is there’s so much misinformation out there and marketing. I mean, there’s so much money spent in marketing that’s confusing parents to think that what they’re feeding their child is good because it has 100% juice on the front or whole grains on the front and it doesn’t talk about how much added sugars and things.

Karen Thomson (07:24):
Right. I mean, the marketing campaigns are just brilliant because it really takes our focus away from really looking within in the product and just looking at these perceived benefits which aren’t even benefits, they’re not real.

Nicole Aucoin (07:38):
At the very simplistic terms and ideas if you focus on whole foods first that’s going to be a great first step for what you should be feeding your children. If it’s going through a food processor and they have to add chemicals into it to make it shelf stable or make it taste better, probably not the best option for your kids. We actually have a cookbook that is now released, a kid’s cookbook, I’m so excited.

Karen Thomson (08:02):
Yay. Congratulations.

Nicole Aucoin (08:05):
Thank you. But let’s talk about food addiction. One of the things that you mentioned on the podcast was companies combining sugar, salt, and fat together and it just is a recipe for disaster with us wanting more and more.

Karen Thomson (08:22):
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, these foods are chemically engineered to stimulate our bliss point. And the research, well these engineers have found that our bliss point is the point that is stimulated in our brain that it doesn’t satiate us but it releases dopamine in a way that it leaves us wanting more and more and more. It doesn’t tell our brain we’re full but it leaves us craving more and more. And we want more and more in order to feel the same way. And that’s why we can sit and eat a whole bag of Oreos despite the amount of calories and just never feel full and just keep wanting more. So, a lot of our food in this toxic food environment that we live in has been chemically engineered to make us addicted to it.

Nicole Aucoin (09:10):
People don’t realize it. They don’t realize that this is what’s happening beyond just the food that they’re eating and the more sugar you have the more you crave. And when you’re not used to having sugar, you have something with a little bit of sugar, it tastes so, so sweet versus someone that’s having a bunch of sugar it tastes just normal.

Karen Thomson (09:32):
Right. Absolutely. And I think the biggest problem is that on the outside it seems sugar is pretty harmless. People are like, “What do you mean? My kids have sugar. You’re being so difficult or you’re just overly sensitive.” And I’m like, “You know what, but on the inside it’s killing us.” We have to look at what it does to our body, to our metabolism, to the chronic disease, the stuff that you were talking about later in life for us to really understand the impact that that short, having it in our mouth and feeling great for a couple of minutes, the longterm effect is just so bad.

Nicole Aucoin (10:09):
One of the statistics that we talked about during that chronic disease webinar is 40% of normal weight people are metabolically sick. So, and something Julie Fusha was talking about was these issues, current disease issues did not happen overnight. They happen from daily actions over an extended period of time, years and years which comes back to what we’re talking about right now. What are you fueling your body with?

Karen Thomson (10:36):
Absolutely. You know what that makes me think so much about that CrossFit and injury thing as well. So, my shoulder is so messed up and I can easily blame it on CrossFit but the truth is that I played water polo almost at a professional level when I was young and literally throwing that ball really hard was terrible for my shoulder without doing any exercise to train it or do anything. And my shoulder injury is because of what I did when I was a teenager not because of what I’m doing right now.

Karen Thomson (11:08):
And I feel like the food things exactly the same. That stuff that we are doing when we were young really only manifests in our health at a much later age and stage. And so, we’re feeling the effects of the chronic disease stuff it manifests over time. And so, what we’re feeding our kids today is only going to show up later and us as adults what we are putting in our bodies right now will also show up later. And also the other thing is if we just eat healthy for a week or change our behavior now it doesn’t mean that we’re going to immediately reap the benefits as well. This is a longer process and it’s not always visible.

Nicole Aucoin (11:46):
It takes time. It takes so much time and the problem was we live in this microwave society where we expect if we everything today we’re going to see results tomorrow and that’s not in reality what happens. If you’re trying to change too much at one time you’re not going to have sustainable results. It’s not going to be possible for you to keep those same things going forever. And I think that’s why so many people who do nutrition challenges or just try to change new year’s resolutions, they try to change everything at one time and then they fail.

Karen Thomson (12:19):
Right. Absolutely. It’s really, really hard and especially with sugar addiction because it’s such a behavioral, emotional, psychological, there’s so many components to it that it’s really hard to just stop it or quit it or not go back to it unless you have a real understanding of what it is and why you’re behaving in the way that you do around sugar.

Nicole Aucoin (12:44):
So many people use food for comfort and stress and goodness we’ve been living in a stressful season. And you go to those salty or sweet things because it’s stressful or you’re stressed and it helps you cope. As you were talking about before those dopamine releases give you instant gratification to make you feel better. And then soon after you’ve got that sugar high, then sugar low, and then you’re not feeling great again. And instead we need to as nutrition coaches find ways to help clients manage stress beyond just food. We have to identify those triggers and figure out what is going on around the client that’s causing them to have these sugar addictions and going overboard.

Karen Thomson (13:26):
Absolutely. I think that’s key in addressing the behavioral aspect of any type of addiction but also with food and sugar addiction. Which sugar is so much more acceptable so we sweep it under the rug because it’s available, it’s everywhere. These big food companies have huge marketing and advertising campaigns behind it and it’s so much harder to avoid. But I don’t think we can underplay the devastating effects any type of behavior has on our health in every way.

Nicole Aucoin (13:58):
I used to travel around to different CrossFit gyms and do nutrition seminars and it was guaranteed that I would always get a question about what about raw sugar, versus agave, versus honey, versus whatever kind of sugar you want to put under this big umbrella, “But isn’t that healthier for you? Isn’t agave better for you than table sugar?”

Karen Thomson (14:20):
Right. Any justification to have some kind of sugar regardless of the form that it comes in. I mean, there’s a great infographic that shows you the 50 plus different names for sugar and essentially the way our body digests it it doesn’t really matter what form we put it in our mouths in it’s about what happens once it enters our body. And so, obviously the brain thing with the dopamine response, the reward circuit associated with addictive behavior how we release the dopamine and we feel this high and how we have to have more and more of the substance to have the same feeling over and over. And that’s the definition of addiction and how it manifests, the addictive cycle. And so, that’s super interesting.

Karen Thomson (15:05):
And then I think just looking at the physiology like what happens when sugar enters my mouth and it goes into my body? I’ve been doing this CGM experience with levels and monitoring my glucose and tasting different foods and seeing what happens when sugar entered my body and it’s insane. Even fructose like the fruit that I eat has a much higher spike than so many other things. So, it’s really interesting.

Nicole Aucoin (15:35):
So, what you just said in one sentence it doesn’t really matter what type of sugar you’re eating you’re still going to have similar responses. So while it may be called a healthier form or more natural form of sugar you’re still having that insulin spike. You’re still having those dopamine rushes to make you feel good. You’re still having that inflammatory response in your body. Not saying you can never have sugar ever, ever in your life but you just need to be mindful and have small amounts instead of going way overboard. If you want a cookie have a cookie don’t eat an entire box of cookies in one setting every single day, right?

Karen Thomson (16:12):
Well, the thing is with me and my own sugar and fruit addiction one is too many and a thousand is never enough. If I open a box of cookie there’s no chance that I’m just going to walk away after one cookie. I physically cannot do that, I can’t. I’ve tasted it thousands of times. There is just no way that I can do that. And so for me, I have to realize and accept and acknowledge that and see how I can work with it.

Karen Thomson (16:39):
Now with my CGM stuff and tasting fructose is really bad for me, glucose is not as bad for my blood sugar. And it’s weird that different types of sugars have different responses. But I have found that if I combine it with protein and fat that spike is definitely blunted. And if I have it after exercise it also doesn’t have such a huge impact. So, there’s so many other factors that go into managing blood glucose than just the food that we eat. And what I’m trying to say is it’s super important for each of us to learn, self experiment our bodies in order to figure out what’s best for us.

Nicole Aucoin (17:21):
I could not agree more. My husband and I watch your Instagram stories all the time and we post in there. I’ll send you messages, “Hey, try this tomorrow. Hey, try this.” Because it’s so fascinating to us. We actually ordered the same machine so we’re going to be having this continuous glucose monitoring going on. And my husband’s dad actually has diabetes so we are going to be doing it with him around Thanksgiving to see if we eat the same thing, all three of us, for breakfast what’s happening to my blood sugar versus Jason’s versus his dad’s who is on insulin and is sick. So, it’s going to be super fascinating. But why I’m saying this is most people have no idea what’s going on on the inside of their body. So, one thing that you said to me last week that I thought was super interesting, wild blueberries versus regular blueberries had a different response in your blood sugar.

Karen Thomson (18:20):
Totally. I mean, it’s bizarre but if you think about it if we go into grocery stores and I know in Whole Foods once I was like, “Oh my gosh, candy floss apples.” And these apples had been engineered to taste like candy floss. So most of the fruits I think that we find in grocery stores, a lot of them have been engineered to be sweeter. None of the stuff that we are eating is what it used to be. And so, we need to bear that in mind that often the fruit that we’re eating isn’t necessarily the fruit that we used to eat. And also the fruit that we used to eat yes we evolved eating fruit but actually fruit was only available during summer months or during specific times. And then, or just before we would go into whatever hibernation and there wouldn’t be abundant food and we would eat a lot of fruit so that we could put on weight that would sustain us through the times where there wasn’t an abundant amount of fruit.

Karen Thomson (19:17):
And so, I think it’s so important to put it into context that we didn’t evolve from having everything available to us 24-7. We had seasons and we had stuff that was available seasonally. And so, we couldn’t just go to the supermarket and have whatever we wanted whenever we wanted it. I’m from South Africa originally and moving to the U.S. was such an eye opener. I could not believe what you guys have available 24-7, 365, it’s crazy. Even the fact that your stores are open 24-7 like Walmart and those places blew my mind. And then the variety that you could get it was crazy. And then the amount of packaged and processed food that was just eyeopening. It’s really hard to be healthy in America.

Nicole Aucoin (20:11):
Because you’re tricked by so many things. You think you’re eating healthy food but you’re really not because companies spend a lot of money figuring out what causes people to buy. Why do you think that all these sugary cereals have whole grains plastered on the front of them so big? Because parents are like, “Oh great, it has whole grains,” not looking at the nutrition facts label.” Oh, there’s 12 grams of sugar in one cup of cereal that I’m giving my kids and I usually give them two cups, 24 grams of sugar.” Now they’ve gone over on the amount of sugar that’s recommended for the day in one meal option, right?

Karen Thomson (20:44):
Absolutely. It’s so sad. I mean, my kids don’t eat cereal and it’s not because I’m a fantastic mother it’s just because we didn’t grow up with those options.

Nicole Aucoin (20:54):
It takes intentionality to empower your kids to make healthy food choices right from the beginning. I mean, our kids know healthy foods and they understand and they get treats of course absolutely. We get treats once in a while. My husband loves making brownies and they’ll make them in the little mini things but that’s not happening every single day. I mean, food addiction starts from kids too. It’s not just a problem with adults it really is with kids too. I remember working with a pediatric client who was overweight. His parents were both obese. I went into the pantry at their house and he had every single flavor of Pop-Tarts. It looked like Publix’s Pop-Tart section. You know those like pastry things with…

Karen Thomson (21:39):
I have to tell you I know what they look like but I’ve never had one.

Nicole Aucoin (21:43):
You’re not missing out on anything. So I look at it and I’m like, “Okay next week, we’re going to take one of these boxes and we’re going to throw it away, one, one of the 12 boxes.” So, the next week I come I’m like, “All right, well it’s time. We’re going to start slowly organizing the pantry to have healthier foods.” The kid literally punched me in the stomach and the parents did not do anything about it. I’m like…

Karen Thomson (22:06):
I don’t mean to laugh but that’s really crazy.

Nicole Aucoin (22:08):
Your eight year old child is addicted to sugar and it’s not because they’re going to their store and getting it it’s because you are enabling them to have that all the time. And obviously as a nutrition coach you can’t be that stern about it, you have to help parents understand why it’s important for their kids to eat healthy foods and the detrimental effects of sugar addiction. But I mean, this is a serious topic. This is an important topic that we all need to be more aware of.

Nicole Aucoin (22:37):
One of the things you mentioned before with the continuous glucose monitoring is that if you pair protein and fat with carbohydrates your blood sugar doesn’t go up as much and it’s because fat slows down digestion. So it’s just not getting digested, not going into your blood as fast, protein in the same way. So, when we’re having carbohydrates we want to have protein and fat with them so it helps to stabilize our blood sugar. This is rule 101 with diabetic patients. You teach them how to pair their foods together so that they don’t have all these blood sugar spikes and lows. It helps to stabilize it. But that’s an important piece of the puzzle. What other things have you learned from the continuous glucose monitoring? I’m curious.

Karen Thomson (23:22):
I mean, just other behavioral stuff. I’m very into meditation and my spiritual life has become so much more important to me over the last 16 years but more so the older I’m getting and not that I’m ancient. So meditation and prayer and just those kinds of behavioral stuff what that does to my blood sugar which is super interesting. Because if I sit down and I just breathe and I meditate my blood sugar comes right down. It’s quite a beautiful thing to see how something so out there can have such a profound effect on my physiology.

Karen Thomson (24:00):
And then also exercise like when I CrossFit and it’s really high intensity my blood sugar spikes pretty high but it comes down really, really quickly. And then if I eat food after that even if it is higher in sugar and there is a spike it comes down and normalizes really quickly as well which is super interesting. Where if I wasn’t working out it would spike and then drop really low and then stabilize. So, the spike up and down would be extreme before it came to cycle again. But I’m lucky because my body does it pretty easily. I’m metabolically quite flexible I’ve found. I am very sensitive to sugar, refined carbs, and even vegetable carbs and fruit carbs as I’ve spoken about. But I’m lucky that because I do choose to lead a healthy lifestyle I have been able to adapt more to things in a good way.

Nicole Aucoin (24:56):
Well, that’s amazing. I didn’t realize that your blood sugar would be that nimble when doing meditation and different things so that is really interesting to me.

Karen Thomson (25:07):
You should try it because I think it’s once again such an individual thing but it was eye opening to me.

Nicole Aucoin (25:14):
That’s super interesting and we know stress causes your blood sugar to go up a little bit. So when you’re in a stressful environment with high intensity exercise of course your blood sugar is going to go up a little bit. And then when you eat after exercise, this is a good point for all of our listeners right now, it’s not going to go up as high as if you ate something at another part of the day when you weren’t exercising right before. So that’s super, super interesting.

Karen Thomson (25:41):
The other thing that I want to say is I went out and we had a ton of sushi and only protein sushi. It was super interesting, my blood sugar spiked so high from eating the protein and I don’t know exactly what it is. I don’t know if it’s the story of soy sauce or one of the, I don’t know something that they put in it. There was no rice though. But for some reason something in that protein only, what I thought it was protein only spiked my blood sugar in a huge way.

Nicole Aucoin (26:14):
That’s interesting. And you didn’t put any eel sauce or anything like that in there?

Karen Thomson (26:18):
It could have been because they were ready-made roles and even though they didn’t contain rice they definitely contained other stuff.

Nicole Aucoin (26:24):
Yeah. There must have been eel sauce or some of those other assessors are loaded with sugar, right?

Karen Thomson (26:30):
Yeah. And the other thing was we had some pickled cucumber which also seemed only like cucumber that had been pickled but I think the sugar content in there must’ve been quite high.

Nicole Aucoin (26:40):
That’s interesting. And again, you would have never known if you didn’t have that continuous glucose monitor on and that’s how people are tricked. They don’t realize they’re eating sugar.

Karen Thomson (26:51):
Right. And I thought it was super healthy, super healthy. I was having all the best fats and it was fish and it was lean. And I was like, “This is so good. I’m being amazing.” And then I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is crazy.” And then I had ice cream after that and because my blood sugar had spiked so much it just had a little spike afterwords from the ice cream. I’m not saying eat ice cream after sushi but it was interesting to see.

Nicole Aucoin (27:22):
So you had some ice cream?

Karen Thomson (27:23):
Yes. I love ice cream.

Nicole Aucoin (27:26):
Having a little treat once in a while is totally, totally fine. I don’t think anyone would tell you that you can never have anything. That’s not a lifestyle. That’s not realistic long term. I’m sure you’ve seen all of this diet culture, cancel diet culture, all these people out there that are shaming if you are talking about what we’re talking about now. And our philosophy is eat whole foods, focus on one step at a time, focus on a positive relationship with food. And it’s important to understand what you’re eating and how it affects your body.

Karen Thomson (28:02):
Totally, super, super important and something that we can’t really get away from. And I think the most important thing about this is that it’s our responsibility. And if we are constantly looking to outsource our health we’re never going to get better. And so, one of the biggest things is prepping and cooking food at home. The only way I’m going to know what’s in my food is if I actually have full control over where it’s made, how it’s made. And then the most positive and beautiful aspects of that is that we’re bringing back the family system. We’re bringing back setting the table for dinner, saying grace before dinner, stuff that I grew up doing that I forgot about because life got so busy. And I’m really coming back to that point again where eating together is a celebration not just because of the food but because the company we keep and creating those really beautiful, magical family moments. And even if you don’t have kids or a family it’s just creating that space for yourself to honor and nurture and nourish what’s important.

Nicole Aucoin (29:12):
Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. And I think if COVID did anything it caused us to slow down and really have that time to spend with our families. And getting kids in the kitchen at a young age is a really awesome idea. Help them understand why you eat certain foods, how to prep certain foods, what things taste like when you add different seasonings and ask them to talk to you about it. It’s really fun. And then when kids are in the kitchen, when they’re involved in the kitchen, they’re more likely to eat new foods.

Karen Thomson (29:41):
Yes. And even know where the foods come from. I can’t tell you how many kids I’ve spoken with I’m like, “Where did this broccoli come from?” They’re like, “The supermarkets.” Like, “Okay. [crosstalk 00:29:52]

Nicole Aucoin (29:52):
Well actually it comes from somewhere before the supermarket let’s talk about that. I think it’s so important because this isn’t just you, this is passing on healthy habits generation and generation and teaching kids the importance of health and food from a young age. So as a parent, I think you have to set an example and it starts with you. What are you eating? Doing a self-assessment, as a nutrition coach you need to be practicing what you preach. A lot of gym owners and nutrition coaches are the ones that listen to this podcast and you have to practice what you preach. You have to understand what sugar does in the body. What are some things that you’ve been tricked by? I mean my husband…

Karen Thomson (30:36):
That’s the best question. Oh my gosh. Sorry. Can you finish brought the husband because I’ll remember that?

Nicole Aucoin (30:41):
No go ahead. Go ahead.

Karen Thomson (30:44):
Oh my gosh. Do you know what the biggest trickery has been are these keto sugar-free foods. So there is one brand, I don’t necessarily want to want to shame the brand because I think that the story behind it is really beautiful and I don’t think the intention was to trick anyone. But there are these sugar-free sweets and they claim to have no effect on the blood sugar and I ate them. Oh my gosh, the spike was so intense. I’d been feeding my kid these sweets because it has no refined sugar in it. The ingredients are a lot healthier. And I was absolutely horrified to see that I’d been feeding my kids healthy sweets that essentially had probably a worse response to my blood sugar than normal gummies would have.

Nicole Aucoin (31:27):
That’s something that’s really important and going to diet sodas too, right?

Karen Thomson (31:32):

Nicole Aucoin (31:33):
I was just listening to the radio yesterday and they were talking about how diet soda increases your BMI the same as regular soda so have the regular soda if you’re going to have one. And the thing is people are addicted to sugar and sugar sweeteners going back to what we’ve been talking about this whole time. So if you’re having those artificial sweeteners you’re still going to get addicted to that because you’re addicted to the sweet flavor.

Karen Thomson (31:58):
Right. Absolutely. And that’s the thing. There was a study done I don’t remember by who but it just showed that the brain can’t really tell the difference between real sugar and sweeteners so it still has the same effect where we are left craving for more. And we still do get a dopamine response which will be stunted with the more we have. And so, we’re constantly wanting more and more. And I know myself, I can’t necessarily do sweeteners at all because it just needs to be crave sugar, that sweet taste.

Nicole Aucoin (32:27):
The more you have the more you crave and we’ve all been tricked by sugar hidden in healthy foods. Jason, my husband, got an oatmeal the other day and it was protein oatmeal and this thing. And then I look in the back and it’s like the second ingredient is sugar and it had 12 grams of added sugar in there and I’m like, “There’s three teaspoons of sugar in this one packet of oatmeal.” And we don’t need that. But you think you’re doing the right thing because it’s oatmeal, it’s healthy or yogurt. I actually shared the post you were referring to earlier with the sugar cubes next to it and the Dannon yogurt was a ton of sugar added to it. But parents think that that yogurt is healthy. And usually if you get a plain yogurt, the difference in taste between plain yogurt and these sugar sweetened ones is night and day.

Karen Thomson (33:23):
Totally. Well you know, I think the big thing is that when we started vilifying fat awhile ago the fat was removed from the food and it tasted really horrible without fat because fat really makes things really palatable. And so, something had to be done to make those foods palatable and what did they do? They added sugar. And that’s why so many of our dairy products and yogurts and things are, the low fat ones always have added sugar because otherwise it tastes horrible.

Nicole Aucoin (33:49):
Yeah. And then we’ve come to realize that fat’s not as bad as we originally thought it was and you can actually have fat and have fat regularly throughout the day. You need to be mindful because it’s the most calorically dense macronutrient but having fat is a good thing. I mean, we, we all need some fat. So, if you’re listening to this podcast my recommendation, my one action step for you is to take an inventory of what you’re eating for an entire week. Look at how much added sugar that you’re eating. Turnaround the label on every single food and see how much sugar is added in the foods that you’re eating on a daily basis. I bet you will be surprised by something that had added sugar that you didn’t realize.

Karen Thomson (34:35):
Absolutely. Or just reading labels like going to the supermarket and being like, “Wow okay let me check how many teaspoons of sugar this food has.” And also realizing just which foods have sugar like stuff that you would never even guess that’s processed or it’s used as a preservative in the food.” It’s so interesting.

Nicole Aucoin (34:55):
At the end of the day, nutrition, sugar addiction and consumption of crappy food is the first step which is causing people to have all of these chronic disease issues. And this isn’t something that only happens to super sick people. I mean, 60% of people in the U.S. have at least one chronic disease, 40% have two or more. And chronic diseases defined as a disease, as a condition that someone’s had for a year or longer that effects their daily living. So, it affects so many more people than we even realize and this is something that needs to be talked about more. So Karen, thank you for all that you do. I appreciate it.

Karen Thomson (35:37):
Thank you. You’re amazing. And I just love what you do and I love how you do it and that you’re always just full of love and wanting to spread the health message. It’s amazing.

Nicole Aucoin (35:46):
Well, thank you. Thank you again for coming on the podcast. Love talking about sugar addiction. We will continue this conversation and I will definitely link the chronic disease panel webinar that we did, which was so much fun, below this podcast so check it out.

Nicole Aucoin (36:03):
Cutting sugar out of your diet can be hard. Many people actually go through withdrawal symptoms when they do cut out sugar. But the first step you need to do is just assess. How much sugar are you having throughout the day? Where is it coming from? How much sugar are your kids having? What hidden sources of sugar are in your kitchen like sauces and packaged foods? With Thanksgiving right around the corner, a day filled with delicious treats, I challenge you to be a little bit more mindful of this year to how much sugar you are having. If you want a treat have it, then move on. I know I will be having a small piece of pumpkin pie but it’s not going to stay around for a week and I’m not going to have multiple pieces. I’m just going to have one little piece.

Nicole Aucoin (36:50):
Most of us never really know how our body is designed to feel. We don’t realize that by eating something we are actually causing our body to have an inflammatory response because we don’t feel what’s going on in the inside. We don’t eat something and then check how our body is reacting. In fact, the only people that usually track how your body is reacting to food are the people that are already struggling with chronic disease, diabetes. Today Continuous Glucose Monitoring systems, also known as CGM, are widely available. In fact, my husband and I, Jason, have decided to do a little experiment and wear a continuous glucose monitoring system this Thanksgiving to see what is going on on the inside of our bodies this week. Jason’s dad will be doing it with us and he has type two diabetes so it’s going to be interesting to see when all three of us eat the exact same thing what’s going on on the inside.

Nicole Aucoin (37:49):
You can follow along by following me on Instagram, Nicole underscore RD underscore HSN. I hope you enjoyed this podcast. This is such an important topic when we’re working with clients because so many people are addicted to sugar and they have no idea where it’s coming from. Hope you enjoyed this episode. Please don’t forget to rate our podcast, leave a comment and a review. If you do, take a screenshot and send it to and we will send you over a starter guide and bundle to help you save time and not reinvent the wheel when it comes to building a nutrition program. Happy Thanksgiving.