My mate David Gillespie pointed me to this video yesterday (the clip is below), in which advertising strategy expert Carolyn Miller (of TV show Gruen fame) provides marketing advice at The Sugar Conundrum Workshop, put on by The Sugar Research Advisory Service last year to dieticians. Yes, you read right. Dieticians. Miller uses me as an example of what, as David puts it, “the enemy” looks like.

The obligatory "Laughing with salad" photo as referenced
The obligatory “laughing with salad” photo, as referenced

The clip is more than a year old, but it remains relevant and enlightening.

I was intrigued to see how the industry views my calculated marketing skills. I was also struck by how baffled the sugar industry and dieticians seem to be by “wellness” and having a lifestyle. I shouldn’t be after all this time, and after witnessing the lengths both go to to discredit and hinder anyone who questions the vested interests of the sugar industry and the health impact of the stuff. You can read more on this here.

I decided to write the SRAS a letter. Better late than never.

Hey there Sugar Research Advisory Service,

Thought I’d reach out with an idea. Next time you hire someone to talk you through the calculated insider tactics of wellness bloggers and they use my (supposed) strategy for duping people into eating less sugar as a case study, maybe think about getting me in instead to talk you through things. You know, go straight to the horse’s mouth.

I’d be happy to show you that I don’t fit the profile you’ve given of what I presume you see as your nemesis. I’m not young and I didn’t grow up in the Eastern Suburbs. I also am not one to share my thoughts on unicorns and rainbows.

I just got very sick eating sugar. You can read about my very uncalculated journey here if you like. Don’t have time to read the details? (I don’t think Ms Miller did). Let me give you the topline: I have Hashimoto’s disease and sugar played a massive part in it. I had to adjust a number of wellness/lifestyle issues, as directed by my team of doctors and endocrinologists. I started blogging about it six years ago. For two years, I made no money from sharing my experiences and helping thousands do the same. I was just into it. No vested interest.

I’ll also be only too glad to highlight that my whole rort (I mean, that’s what you’re told it is, right?) was actually motivated from actual real-life give-a-shitness and life circumstances. I mean, I actually lived just outside Byron Bay (nope, no one paid me – then or now – to write my Byron Bay guide) in a shed in the forest because I was too sick to work and couldn’t survive financially in Sydney (Eastern Suburbs or otherwise). 

I actually live minimally and always have. I grew up on a subsistence living set-up in the bush outside Canberra. I still live out of two suitcases of belongings. Try monetising that one!

I actually smile. Golly, shoot me down for not really being an angry type (I guess all that meditation and conscious lifestyling I do has helped). And I actually take the piss out myself for posing with salads. (Truth be known, I’m not a big salad eater. Not my thing. I’m open about that, too.)

I could also show you how you don’t have to throw money at something that’s authentic. I spent a grand total of $0 on building my business and marketing it. 

My secret? I spoke the truth. I didn’t pretend to be someone I wasn’t. I was transparent at every turn. I wasn’t motivated by money (strange but true).  And people actually started to believe what I was uncovering about what sugar does to our bodies and what the sugar industry is doing to our planet.

I mean, let’s face it. It’s not as though I was spreading a message people wanted to hear. On the whole, people don’t like the idea of giving up sugar. But the message was true. Consumers liked that bit, just so you know.

I also happen to agree with Ms Miller when she says that just because you’re qualified in one area of expertise, doesn’t mean you can’t give advice or provide information in others. Oh, hang on, isn’t that what you’re arguing against? If you’re still keen to venture into this realm, sing out. I can give you some pointers about how to be responsible with conveying information, from my 22 years as a journalist.

As a relevant aside, you can read about my advertising and sponsorship principles here. You’ll see that I simply can’t be bought. This may or may not pose a values issue.

That said, my offer still stands. I can be contacted at [email protected] I do not mean to sound facetious or cranky. These open letters often do. I’m genuinely open to discussing the matter further.

Much wellness to you,

Sarah

PS Readers of this blog, you can watch the video below, if you’d like.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8jMxkyVaus[/youtube]

Have your say, leave a comment.

  • NZJ

    I would take that as a huge compliment!

    It sounds mostly like tips to the audience to make themselves more relatable. Oh and a little tip for you about how to market your brand and make money off everything you promote. Cause that’s what she’d do.

    My favourite part was the awkward laugh about low fat and sugar.

    Most of all though, never forget that you’re just a journalist! Threatened much? ?

    • yeah…the reference to young people who know better than to eat low fat…as though they are deluded!

  • Jane Hayes

    Speak your truth! Keep well.

  • Sue

    I watched the video but was not able to make out what her point was. She just bagged the wellness movement. She should have a look at herself I think. I love your blog and everything it contains. 🙂

    • I also struggled ??

      • Jessica

        OMG she is ridiculous. She has not real tangible point. She doesn’t look the epitome of health, does she? Proud of your letter Sarah xx

  • Jackie Morton

    That was great to see! I wasn’t sure how the ‘other side’ was actually working ‘behind the scenes’. Now I do…with thinly veiled derision…how pathetic.

    I originally thought the whole point of the SRAS speaker talk was to disparage the evil, duplicitous “wellness bloggers” …
    However, half way through realised she was suggesting the audience copy yours (and Pete’s,LUke’s etc) strategies, advice and holistic approach….The message seemed hellbent on advising ‘nutritionists’ to follow your lead…

    Oh, and how awesome is it that the Millennials are on board?

    I have 3 children 11-19 years and my eldest has been really conflicted with the current content taught at uni on a ‘healthy’ diet. So much so…that she is dropping that altogether…and heading in a different direction. She has recounted lectures and tutorials emphatically dictating that healthy eating must still include lots of grains, very little red meat, lowish fat, dairy and carbs, carbs, carbs…OMG. Its an uphill battle for today’s young people!

  • Oh my! The comment about never seeing you without a smile and the dog image on your Instagram account creating a warm fuzzy feeling. Eek. So are tafe qualifications nul and void?it seems by this presentation only university qualifications count especially concerning lifestyle issues? You have brought more attention to this subject than any dietitian I know!!!!
    Bravo to you xxxxx

  • Tracey Ellison

    Well, it seems the SRAS is finally a little rattled. About time. She just blabbed on about content, did not add one valid thing. No helpful information, just negativity. Very sad indeed, when great peeps like you and your team , Sarah, who are very transparent get shot down by an industry that is hellbent on sugar profit.
    Omg do they not realise how insulting to the average person that kind of video is?? We are thinking intelligent beings, and can make up our own minds. Woe is the day when”big brother” tells us all what to think.
    Thankyou for your great work, your fab recipes and content.
    Tracey

  • Kerry Ireland

    You go girl! Wahoooooooooo

  • Ali

    The same thing is happening in the UK at the moment – countless articles like this from dieticians. What I find so interesting is that this is getting more attention than the fact type 2 etc is about to cripple our NHS. Dietitians seem interested in protected their dated advice and working with the big food providers than actually sorting out health. Their war on the likes of Deliciously Ella seems more important to them.

  • Monica Yates

    what’s wrong with smiling all the time? I think she’s just jealous to be honest!! Plus saying ”believes” when referring to sugar being bad for you is the WRONG choice of words. Its not a belief, its a fact. its true and it is bad for the body. By the sounds of things she’s just not very happy with herself if she’s going to make fun of other people loving themselves and their body and being HAPPY! She’s also making assumptions about people she doesn’t even know.

  • SMH

    Just bizarre. But really, really funny, too. (I can’t help thinking if you were a leader hell bent on sugar free world domination and wanted to design the perfect external enemy against which we could all unite, like in Orwell’s Big Brother, this would tick every imaginable box. That’s my warped, Machiavellian take on the world.) Great letter and keep up the incredibly good work, Sarah.

  • Megan Gardner

    She just makes you shine even more by comparison. There was literally no point to her presentation and it made me angry to hear her ignorant & negative comments. Very sad really.

  • Wow. Interesting. I qualified as a health coach and I am now studying nutritional medicine. For me this is a huge transitional shift in my life caused by searching for answers to my own health issues. Definitely not a calculated move. I am scared as hell of getting into this competitive space and the controversy around health blogging. But i still have the call in my heart to switch careers and help people (and loose a very good income in the process).

    I am also considering doing a mainstream nutrition degree as well to be able to educate from a strong scientific basis and deal with the naysayer experts like this. On top of a Science degree from my youth. As well as learning about nutrition and health I am also having to learn about journalism, writing, marketing and sales!

    As I’m not young and attractive, rather 42 and still getting my health back, I am not going to be laughing with salad! I do hope however to smile a lot. Love my work and help people so they don’t have the same difficulties with their health as I have. So I guess I am just another charlatan health expert too?

  • Whoa. Wow. I just watched the video, it was worse than I thought. Shame on you Sarah, for questioning all our sugar-loving social norms! Shame on you for suggesting we use lemon juice to clean the toilet (apparently)!
    Shame on you for smiling!
    Shame on you for nurturing a community of like-minded people who are enjoying feeling healthier!

  • Lisa Darveniza

    It is sad to see these conservative stalwarts clinging to crumbling outmoded ideas. How unethical to lash out at current thought leaders in a public forum. Another snapshot of the divide between those who protect the staus quo (despite overwhelming evidence our systems are not working) and those willing to challenge it (because they can see a better world and know how to create it!).

  • Jim Craig

    The SRAS don’t mention the huge amount of fertilizer that is required to grow the crops of which part of ends up running into the endangered Barrier Reef killing it as well

    Nothing positive about the sugar industry
    Jimbo

  • Marisa

    How can a health professional who has been sponsored to underplay the role of sugar in poor health possibly “call out” the supposed disingenous motives of someone else (while admitting to lacking of evidence) without coming off as a massive hypocrite? Aside from this, the presenter came across awkward, petty and frankly jealous.

  • How convenient to believe sugar is harmless (particularly in moderation). Unfortunately the quick return of angry spotty skin & bloating when I consume sugar makes it impossible to ignore that it doesn’t agree with my system!

  • Shirley Giles

    Don’t get it. Wasnt she there to promote sugar then why bag the wellness movement why not talk on the benefits of sugar and how good it is. Oops of course she can’t do that because there isn’t any. Keep doing what your doing Sarah it’s great.

  • Debbie

    Lets discredit people who have brought an awareness to healthy life options for so many people. Isn’t that the way to go when you’re feeling the heat. Where was any scientific evidence that sugar is really good for you? Keep up the good work Sarah!

  • kim

    I don’t believe the speaker is painting Sarah as the “enemy” but rather as an example of how to build a successful brand and communicate effectively. she’s merely doing her job as an advertising professional to deliver a competitor analysis and content strategy. definitely a compliment and wishful thinking on the SRAS’s part!

    • V

      That’s how I saw it too – pretty standard preso on competitor analysis. Don’t think it’s worth getting incensed over.

  • Lozzie v

    That was the most ridiculous presentation i have ever seen. I come from a background in ‘main stream health’ and I cannot understand why this woman is ridiculing people who are wanting to live a healthier, more productive and aspirational lifestyle.
    I liked the awkward low fat sugar laugh too…

  • Claudia

    The great late Westurn Price did much reasurch into diet years ago covering all ethnicities and focil records confirm his findings non of the sugar, grain, nut ect industries can provide evidence to suport against because his work was so compleat and therefore true. I was in hospital and the diabetics actually told me that the NHS says they had to eat alot of carbohydrates as they chomped down on crisps. The mind boggles.

  • Jay Tombleson

    Reading through everyone’s comments, I don’t seem to be the only one who has struggled to find the point of the talk. It’s like she wants to admit that the rise of wellness and associated bloggers is a good thing but at the same time needs to make a mockery of them because they are not “qualified”. If people want to share inspiration on healthy living how is that a bad thing?
    I also have a background in mainstream food/nutrition but disagree with so much of the “right” way to eat. Everyone is so different and as someone who has struggled with chronic pain, I find it amazing how little mainstream health looks at the whole problem. It is the people who have had problems significant enough to need to explore this health and wellness area that are the experts. Reading a book on nutrition is great but life experience is the best way to understand food and what does and doesn’t work. The speaker said she was a nutritionist? She doesn’t fit into what I would consider “amazingly healthy”..

  • Susie Hale

    Jealous much… ?….. Presenting evidence on what? For what purpose (?) except to slander successful and confident people doing what they love, in a way they love who happen to have shared their journey for the benefit of others. Keep up with it Sarah, I know who I’ll be continuing to keep an eye on (and it’s not her!!)

  • Emma Dumas

    Fascinated as to what a ‘make doer’ is? Otherwise, pretty unclear as to any reason or purpose to the whole episode!

  • Jennifer Mistsoftime

    J brand Miller s research was discredited. She should be sacked from the university. People are turning to the “non expert” because many experts have tunnel vision. They are called doctors sometimes because they believe in their indoctrination/training. When new evidence is highlighted they feel threatened. So the Miller’s of this world when in doubt ( but too frightened to admit they were wrong), attack. Good health to you Sarah.

  • Tracy Dawson

    I live in the bush, am nearly 50 and as a Teacher Librarian am very aware of the importance of evidence in making any claims. Sarah ticks all the boxes for me. Ms Miller does not.

  • Big Nang

    This is just incredible!! Quite unbelievable that they should use you in such a negative manner. I have only recently come across your books, and this site, and cannot tell you how you have changed my health for the better. Sugar nearly killed me, and I know for sure it is killing many millions of others. I know that sounds over the top, but the evidence is there, and the truth will come out. Like some others who have commented, I too have started a blog to spread the word, in some small way, and this type of bullying tactic will not stop me.
    Thank you for doing what you do.