How to overcome all or nothing thinking with sugar

The all or nothing mindset.

Go hard or go home.

Get clean or eat dirtier than ever before.

Zero grams of sugar one day to dessert, three cookies and a bar of chocolate the next.

Stick to the programme diet perfectly or do completely what they tell you not to do in full blown rebellion (which is three times worse than if you’d never tried in the first place!)

Sound familiar?

If you relate to the above and know a lot about where sugar is etc., this thinking is possibly one of THE biggest blockers in you maintaining a happier relationship with sweet food.

It will be the barrier between you and a peaceful relationship with food that is going to drain your mental energy or make you feel like you suck more than you deserve to (which ideally should be never!).

You can go sugar-free or low sugar for so long, but if you don’t address this mindset, it will come and bite you right in the bum.

Sometimes helpful, most of the time not

This black and white way of thinking can apply to many aspects of life, general self-growth, habit change and of course eating less sugar. Sometimes it’s beneficial where it can drive you through a challenge with extra stamina or it can make you aim high.

However, most of the time it’s not so great.

So it’s worth recognising when this perfectionist mindset is doing you more harm than good. If you’re finding yourself going ‘on’ and ‘off’ with low sugar living where you feel increasingly frustrated, then it’s likely the case that a black and white frame of mind has a hold on you.

More sugar knowledge or restriction or will power isn’t going to help, discovering and growing comfortable in your own shades of grey is what you need to put your attention to.

How to learn to love the grey

When you’ve been living in black and white for so many years (as I did with food), learning to embrace different shades of grey is completely liberating and quite life changing.

But it’s also scary as hell at first. It feels uncomfortable and pulls your fears right up to the surface – I’ll get fat, I’ll eat loads of sugar and will never stop, I’ll lose even more control, this is how I operate and another way won’t work for me.

I said all of these things. I’d always seen things as ‘healthy’ or ‘not healthy’. A ‘good day’ or a ‘bad day’ which was usually a total right off day. Finding my grey shades that worked for me took time, effort and yes, a bit of risk, but it was worth it.

It’s really ditching the diet mentality for good (you don’t have to go on diets to have one of these) and it’s freeing. I see it like setting an animal that’s been raised in captivity free on it’s own. Wobbly and dangerous at first after low sugar shifting but then true freedom follows.

The more you know, the worst it can be

This way of thinking is even more heightened when you’ve got more knowledge on how to eat lower sugar or super healthy – the increased knowledge can be even more crippling as your expectations get higher.

Let me tell you something: Just because you know stuff, doesn’t mean you have to action it all the time. It’s impossible to. Remember that.

You could action your low sugar knowledge 80% of time, then 20% of the time, let it slide.

Yes sugar drives cravings and cravings aren’t good, but cravings can be managed and handled MUCH easier when there aren’t crazy extreme mindsets bounding about.

Black or white. Win or lose. Let’s get practical.

For example, you know you want to eat your pre-planned carrot sticks and hummus instead of those biscuits that are presented to you – that it’s the ‘healthy low sugar choice’ right?

However, if you don’t eat the carrot snack that you planned, it’s a failure right?

The error in this calculation thinking is that because the full sugar-free version is ‘correct’, anything that doesn’t fit that, is a failure. So you may as well fail royally and enjoy the biscuits to the max (even to the point of not enjoying them).


Now what if there’s another option around that you fancy, that might just work for you – maybe a piece of fruit, or a fruit snack bar. Healthier sugar that still is going to feed your need. No not perfect as the carrot sticks you had planned but OK.

Your thinking in this case may be more the enemy than sweetness is.

Remember these two main benefits of just doing a little bit or ‘going grey’:

Benefit #1 Small tweaks can add up over time.

If you cut down to ½ a teaspoon of your sugar that you put in your hot drink each time, it might feel relatively insignificant, but actually with three drinks a day over a month, you’ve just reduced your intake by 45 teaspoons barely trying.

Benefit #2 It’s more likely to stick.

Ok so you don’t manage to go completely sugar free after a meal but you’re eating a few squares of dark chocolate over half a slab of Dairy milk. You still get your fix and the new habit forms. Then you can look to tweak down later on if you want.


So in a nutshell, notice if this mindset is damaging your low sugar efforts, you eating habits in general. If so, start to change your strategy from ‘All or nothing’ to ‘A little bit better option or an in-between option’

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