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quit-refined-sugar-for-lent

Quitting refined sugar for lent? Read this first

Are you thinking about going all out on lent this year and giving sugar the kick?

Here are some key considerations and different options for quitting sugar for lent.

1. It’s a big commitment & will need time

Quitting refined sugar for lent is bigger than just giving up chocolate, quite bigger. Refined sugar is in a lot of things. You need to factor in time to learn where it’s lurking, check all your labels, find a lot of substitutes (depending on how much you’re eating it before) and clear out your cupboards.

Do this: Factor in time and effort. Give this challenge a decent chunk of your focus over the next few weeks because you’re likely to need it. If you’ve got loads else going on, consider just quitting one sugary food you eat a lot e.g. chocolate or biscuits.

2. The cravings may still be strong

Probably the most important point I’m going to make in this article – giving up refined sugar does not guarantee you’re cravings will completely go.

If you’re not careful you could easily overdo it with dried fruit, maple syrup, artificial sweeteners, brown rice syrup, fruit and anything else that comes under ‘natural’ sugars category.

There is still a lot of fructose you can eat which is what makes you crave sweetness.

If so, sugar cravings are likely to remain and you could find yourself constantly fighting them, ever tempted by all the sweet stuff surrounding you.

Do this: Eliminate refined sugar but be aware and moderate natural sugar, preferably opting for whole fresh fruit over everything else.

Try to avoid using one single substitution e.g. stevia on a daily basis to satisfy your sweet tooth and use more occasionally and strategically. Opt for savoury alternatives wherever you can.

 

3. Don’t let accidents throw you off track

Small traces of refined sugar sneak in all over the place.

Avoiding every morsel, especially if you eating out a lot, is going to be particularly tricky and probably a right headache at times.

I noticed my M&S yoghurt & mint dip had sugar in it a while back – a yoghurt and mint dip!!

Restaurants may have used sugar in marinades, dressings, and sauces that you might not imagine.

Even the wise low sugar pros (me included) gets caught out from time to time, so don’t expect to survive without a single grain passing your lips at some point.

Do this: Don’t chuck the towel in if you get caught out on a small amount of refined sugar that you didn’t realise. I’d say if it was accidental and relatively small, it doesn’t count. You’re just a bit wiser from next time.

4. Avoid going too extreme & understand your motivation

As mentioned above, obviously you want to avoid things where refined sugar has been added like sweet salad dressings, ‘glaze’ type sauces, sweet chilli marinades etc.

However, don’t get so caught up on tiny amounts that you lose perspective. Stressing to avoid 0.01g of refined sugar in something but then gorging half a dozen ‘natural’ stevia brownies afterwards kind of defeats the whole object of the challenge (assuming it’s health related as much as for lent).

If it is more for the personal challenge, then again just be aware that going too extreme to avoid refined sugar in its entirety could result in other unhealthy behaviours e.g. overeating on something else.

Do this: Be clear and honest with yourself. Are doing this more for the personal challenge or for the health/weight loss benefits?

If the latter is the case, don’t lose perspective by going too extreme to avoid refined sugar at every expense. If you are more in it for the sheer challenge, make sure you read Stuart Ralph’s guest post on quitting sugar as a ’30 day challenge’.

5. Find substitutions you really like

There are some great ideas and suggestions for low fructose snacking when you download my free ebook with 30 sugar-free snack ideas in it.

Even with all these ideas and suggestions, I always say to people to find things they really like.

Don’t force cottage cheese if it makes you want to gag or carry around almonds just because you feel like you should.

Embrace the savoury things you really love and low sugar substituting will become a lot easier when times get tough.

 

6. Consider a fuller detox experience

If you’re going to make the effort to shun refined sugar this lent, you may want to embrace doing a fuller sugar detox (seeing as your halfway there).

You’re going to be educating yourself heavily on sugar and your habits, so a programme would give you some structure and step by step guidance to do this.

Good luck!!

Hopefully these tips and considerations will really help you if you’re considering kicking sugar as a lent initiative.

Good luck however you decide to do it and let me know how you go!

I failed giving up biscuits for lent…twice!

If it doesn’t go as well as planned, rest assured giving up sugar when you have a serious sweet tooth or heavily engrained habits is no easy feat.

At University I tried giving up biscuits two years running when I was super hooked on sugar and failed miserably both times (I’ll never forget my ‘friend’ Stuart wafting a freshly baked gingerbread cookie in my face – thanks Stu!).

Now biscuits wouldn’t be too hard but back then they were my student fuel of choice and it felt like cutting off an arm giving them up!

What are you giving up for lent? Have you succeeded or failed previously with sugary challenges? Let me know in a comment below or any questions that you have about going refined sugar-free if this is what you’re doing.

greek-style-yoghurt

Greek style yoghurt vs greek yoghurt

So the question is do you know the difference between greek and greek style yoghurt?

I’ve used yoghurt as a sugar busting staple for years now. I put it in low sugar smoothies; mix it up with sugar-free granola and/or fruit; and quite often eat it as a dessert with a few cacao nibs sprinkled over the top.

So one day I figured I wanted to know the difference between greek style yoghurt and greek yoghurt and understand the differences.  So here’s the lowdown and a few other greek style yoghurt facts to keep you in the know.

greek style yoghurt

Greek style yoghurt vs. greek yoghurt

A while back I went for a super healthy lunch with yoghurt pro Alison White from Total Greek (also known as FAGE).

We chatted all things yoghurt, life and sugar-free foods whilst drinking a glass of sparking wine ha!

greek style yoghurt vs. greek yoghurt

Here are some handy Greek yoghurt facts you may not know that will help you make informed decisions without getting lured or misled by marketing or packaging.

  • A really thick yoghurt has either got there in two ways:

1) it was either strained a few times to remove the whey or

2) it has had milk protein powder, starch or other additives added to it to get there. The easiest way really to determine this is to look at the ingredients list.

  • In the UK there is a difference between ‘Greek yoghurt’ and ‘Greek Style Yoghurt’. Greek yoghurt now has to be authentically made in Greece. Greek style yoghurt is just made to seem like it and can be thickened by either one of the two processes above.
  • In America, anything can be called ‘Greek’ – basically this whole Greek style yoghurt thing in the UK is the result of a big court case between Total and Chobani. Total (or FAGE) yoghurt is at present the leading authentic Greek yoghurt brand on the market.

This post isn’t sponsored FAGE UK, I simply wanted to share this because I think it’s quite useful to know and found it personally interesting. Buying sugar-free yoghurts can often be utterly confusing and I know I get a lot of questions about it via e-mail.

I do personally think Total Greek are one brand with a very good quality product for lower sugar living. They also have some superb healthy (& many sugar-free) yoghurt infused recipes on their website too – these sweet potato fries with rosemary garlic yoghurt dip being one of my favourites.

However there are other cheaper Greek yoghurt style yoghurts made by the supermarket brands that are still sugar-free and healthy.

I’ll also mention that have the Total Greek Cookbook which generally has a great selection of yoghurt infused recipes. There are some that use sugar though too so you have to filter through a little.

The difference between Greek yoghurt vs. natural yoghurt

Now you’ve got Greek style yoghurt vs. greek yoghurt sorted, here’s a video I made explaining the difference between Greek yoghurt and natural. Yes let’s go yoghurt crazy today!

What’s worth remembering is that when it comes to managing hunger, Greek yoghurt has a higher protein count – 10g per 100g compared to 5-6g in natural yoghurt – thus it will keep you fuller for longer.

Also remember that about 4-7g of the sugars listed in yoghurt are the natural lactose sugar, which doesn’t count as sugar (of the fructose kind) on a sugar-free or lower sugar diet.

Always check for added sugar in the ingredients list though.

greek style yoghurt protein

My transition off sugary yoghurts

In my former sugary years I used to eat a ‘Muller Light’ or low fat fruity yoghurt pretty much every day, sometimes 2-3 a day.

I did this for literally years.

A fruity yoghurt was often my ‘healthy’ post meal sweet fix – anyone used it the same?

At University I would chose the cheapest and – shame-shock-horror – I even used to buy those Sainsbury’s basics low fat fruity yoghurts at one point. Yes I did, sins confessed!

When I moved to London I would buy Muller Lights, Shapers, Activia brands or whatever was on special offer. I am still in awe of the entire supermarket aisle that is awash with colourful wide variety of sugar laden yoghurts.

When people today ask me why I started Happy Sugar Habits, I often say it’s because I was simply mortified at discovering some of the yoghurts I loved had a shocking 15g of sugar in them and no-one back then was talking about this.

greek-style-yoghurt

So I wrote a blog post on the lower sugar yoghurts and things went from there.

These days I don’t touch fruity sugar-filled yoghurts – they just don’t appeal. Of all the sugary things out there, I really don’t miss these. A mouthful of one every now and then confirms this to me – they are way too sweet, sickly and taste a bit artificial. I would rather drizzle some brown rice syrup or good quality honey on some full fat natural yoghurt to get something a bit sweeter when I do fancy it.

Do you eat yoghurt and what with? Breakfast? Dessert? Any more questions just hit me up with a comment below.

low fructose fruits

Low fructose fruits: Know which are the best

When it comes to going sugar-free or embracing a lower sugar lifestyle, the topic of fruit (& low fructose fruits) usually confuses many and can cause a many domestic arguments (I’ve seen it happen!).

Should you eat it on a detox? Isn’t all natural sugar ok for you? How much per day is recommended? Which fruits are lower in fructose? Are dates a sugar bomb?

Diebetes Lie

As an overall ine, fruit is absolutely healthy but it’s worth knowing what your low fructose fruits are and understanding a healthy approach.

This will help you avoid overeating fructose in fruit form which can drive more sweetness cravings and have negative health impacts.

Read: To fruit or not to fruit

low fructose fruits

Can you eat fruit whilst living sugar-free?

  1. Yes you can. Plenty of people happily and healthily live mostly without refined sugar but with a little natural fruit in their diet. I eat all fruit here and there but nothing regularly as a habit and opt for low fructose fruits where I can, trying to eat seasonally and location based (e.g. what is native to that area).
  1. Fruit does contain sugar in the form of fructose, but the fibre that comes with fruit (think skins etc.) and nutrients help your body slow down the fructose release on your body (& liver) and process it more effectively.
  1. Fruit can impact your cravings (subjectively!). I’ve had some say a few berries bring on sugar cravings and others who can eat a banana first thing and be fine for the rest of the day. This is not so simple and depends on many other factors (habits, diet history etc.). However, in general a higher intake of fruit can correlate to an increased presence of cravings.

To put it simply: A banana, a smoothie and a dried fruit bar might make you want cake and chocolate more than if you were eating mostly veg during a day.


Thus for tastebud recalibration purposes and general sweet tooth reduction, it does pay off to know your low fructose fruits (especially if you’re currently eating a fair few portions a day) so you can make a few less sweet swaps and really trust that fruit isn’t going to put back on some sugar train.

What are the low fructose fruits?

Starting with the lowest and getting higher, here are some common low fructose fruits:

  • Tomatoes and avocados (yes technically fruits!)
  • Lemons and limes
  • Cantaloupe melon
  • Raspberries, blackberries & strawberries
  • Clementine
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Grapefruit

low fructose fruits

What are the higher fructose fruits?

Starting with the highest and most sweet natural eats:

  • Dried fruits (Dates, raisins, figs etc.)
  • Mango
  • Grapes
  • Watermelon
  • Banana

low fructose fruits

My recommendations for eating high or low fructose fruits

1. Make some appealing swaps (appealing to you that is!). For example:

  • Try berries on your porridge instead of banana
  • Snack on a clementine instead of dried fruit or grapes
  • Make your own fructose-free muesli and then add some fresh berries
  • Try Kiwi fruit instead of mango if you’re feeling tropical!
  • Try green mango instead of yellow (it’s crazily lower in sugar!)

2. Reduce your portion or use of higher fructose fruits (to reduce total fructose):

  • Use half a banana in a smoothie or try half a banana with some berries
  • Slash the use of dates or any dried fruit in recipes (sometimes I’ve sweetened a whole recipe with one date!)
  • Be conscious of your portions of grapes & watermelon which are both very easy to eat a lot of
  • Avoid dried fruits in savoury dishes on a regular basis e.g coronation chicken
  • Use higher fructose fruits more as special treats or as dessert substitutes e.g. this nutty banana fudge is a good one.
  • Eat higher fructose fruits more when in season or native to that environment (e.g. somewhere tropical)

3. Slow down the sugar release by eating fruit with some protein & fat. For example:

  • Add some nut butter to apple (total yum!)
  • Have with some full fat natural yoghurt
  • Eat with a main meal rather than as a stand alone snack

Should you eat fruit on a sugar-detox?

There’s no doubt about it, when you really limit or remove fructose from your diet, the physical sugar cravings (note not emotional!) tend to die down.

Even just 3-5 days can have an impact and force you to investigate non-fruit based snacks if they’ve become your default. Thus it’s great for just finding new things and experimenting.

However, this isn’t necessary and can be of the restrictive nature which can backfire. I suggest you review this sugar addiction quiz on your sugar habits and then read about gradual vs. cold turkey approaches to decide how effective a lower fructose fruits strategy will be to you.

And of course, comment below if any specific questions – I would love to help!

Please share if someone you know is confused by fruit!

6 essential ways to crowd sugar out of your diet

Are you familiar with the term ‘crowding out’?

It’s a great healthy eating and mindset strategy that employs eating more instead of eating less and restricting.

Crowding out means adding more to your diet.

By adding more healthy whole foods to your diet, you fill up on these and reduce the room available for less nutrient dense foods like sugar, refined carbohydrates and the rest of it.

So as a simple example, you pile your plate high with salad and thus have two slices of pizza instead of three – quite simply because you’re packed out with salad.

But can you ever completely crowd sugar out?

What about those times when you are stuffed – when you’ve crowded out with vegetables for flipping England, but you still want ‘something sweet’?

I know this feeling, and often this comes down to your habits rather than sugar, but rest assured you can still use crowding out strategies to curb these sweet habits so you can meet your health goals.

Here’s my sugar busting guide to crowding out…

1. Crowd more protein into breakfast

When you steady out your fluctuating blood sugar levels, you physically reduce the chance of having sugar cravings.

Mid-morning can be a killer for cravings where you can find yourself fancying sugar and carbohydrates at 11am if you’ve eaten a meal that hasn’t balanced you as well.

If you do have cereal or a muesli for example, crowd out with nuts, seeds, and yoghurt to reduce the cereal portion and bulk up with filling protein. Maybe a little lower fructose fruit like berries or chopped kiwi fruit to increase the nutrition density without overloading on sugar.

You can do exactly the same with porridge (read here for how to lower sugar in your porridge toppings).

oatmeal-blueberries

Also don’t be afraid to add extra ‘breakfast sides’ to crowd out further e.g. a handful of cherry tomatoes, half an avocado and some nuts for extra protein. Sometimes I’ve added a boiled egg on the side of a low sugar smoothie and more recently I’ve started adding salad to my scrambled eggs.

Whatever you do, decide to have fun with it and experiment!

2. Crowd in leafy greens…everywhere

Most people don’t eat enough leafy greens, it’s as simple as that.

I get upset when I don’t. It’s almost like my ultimate daily health non-negotiable.

spinach-sugar-cravings

 

They are nutritionally supercharged wonders that help your body function efficiently and help you process sugar better if you do happen to eat it.

So crowding in dark leafy green wherever you can is a seriously good health habit to develop. 

Try some of these:

  • Add a side of broccoli or green beans to any meal
  • Wilt spinach and add to eggs in the morning
  • Add spinach or courgettes to pasta sauces
  • Try courgetti (spiralized courgette) instead of pasta
  • Whip up a rocket salad to accompany a bowl of soup
  • Add watercress, broccoli or kale to smoothies
  • And my favourite….eat SALAD FOR BREAKFAST!! 🙂

red-lunch-green-knolling

 3. Crowd tempting situations with healthy fat

This goes against the grain of traditional healthy eating advice but recently is has become more widely known that not all fat is equal.

Because it can be tasty and satisfying, in the case of reducing sugar cravings, it can work a treat.

If there’s an event or situation on the horizon where you know you might fall partial to some tempting sugar that you’d rather avoid, be sure to add some healthy but seemingly indulgent fat to your food instead.

Make it something that you really like and this works even better.

This will do two things – it will fill you up and satiate you but it will also stop you feeling deprived.

For example, a creamy or buttery sauce will add a rich satisfying element to your meal that will likely fill you up too much for dessert.

Some extra nuts or cheese on your salad will again add an indulgent satisfying element and if you’re going out starving, try a little avocado on a cracker to stop you gorging on the first unhealthy foods in sight.

You can even try having a few almonds after a meal to replace the post meal sweet fix (read here for 50 other post-meal craving ideas)

almonds

4. Crowd out your sweet activity

Coffee with the girls? Popcorn at the cinema? Ice cream night in?

We’re not just talking food and nutrition crowding out today.

Take a look at your diary and start to crowd out pastimes that involve sweet with those that don’t.

Suggest to your friend you catch up with a walk round the park or exercise class and be proactive in organising activities where you know sweet isn’t such a big part of the picture.

5. Crowd out sugary thoughts

I know when you’re slightly sugar controlled, it can be on your mind…a lot.

However, when you’ve a stressful situation at hand, it’s surprising how quickly something else can dominate your thoughts. Often we think about sugar too much when we are quite simply bored!

Add new projects to your focus. Fill thinking space with interior ideas for your new lounge or some planning for your upcoming holiday.

Create deadlines for yourself around these and you’ll have new goals to focus your thinking on.

6. Crowd out but balance

I used to make the mistake of crowding my plate with loads of vegetables or salad and not really much else because I thought this was the healthiest way to go.

However having just a giant barely dressed salad left me still a bit hungry and thus insanely tempted by the dessert menu.

So it wasn’t uncommon for me to eat a big old healthy salad and then stuff my face with apple crumble. In fact, it was standard for a while!

You can avoid this scenario by crowding your meal with appropriate portions of protein, vegetables and fat. Don’t forget you need all of these to properly fill yourself up when you are truly hungry and fuel your body’s functioning.

vegetables

So get crowding out!

Forget eating less. Forget depriving yourself. Crowd out to ease out the sugar habits gradually and it will get easier and easier I promise.

Fill yourself up with colourful whole foods and nourish yourself with healthy activity that feeds your soul so you simply don’t leave enough room in your stomach or life for the sugary stuff!

Any other crowding out strategies that you know and love? Comment below with your ideas! 

sugar-cravings

Sugar addiction quiz and test: Am I really hooked?

You know what, most people have experience of overeating or overindulging in sugar – the one too many chocolates from the box; that extra slice of cake that blatantly wasn’t necessary or the emotional break up ice cream incident.

But where’s the point when it comes to asking ‘Am I addicted to sugar?’

What determines if someone is eating too much or just has a bit of a sweet tooth?

How do you know if it’s the actual sugar that’s the issue, your habits around food or something to do with your environment (e.g. you work in an office environment that could be mistaken for a cake warzone!)?

So you can start to work this out for yourself, here’s a sugar addiction quiz and test I’ve laid out based on my experience researching and intuitively coaching sugar lovers over the years. 

Just the process of doing this test will help you understand your relationship with the sweet stuff and identify where you are on this slippery (and very elusive) sugar addiction scale.

sugar-cravings

How to use this test?

I’ve kept this quite simple so just answer the questions yes or no in each section and then count them up and divide your YES answers by the total questions in the section and multiply this by 100 to get a %.

E.g. 6 questions in Section 1 would mean (6/13) x 100 which equals about 46%.

Section 1: Am I eating too much sugar?

  1. Do you have sugary treats every day or at least every other day? (sweets, chocolate, dried fruits, cakes/pastries etc.)
  2. Do you drink soft drinks more than once a week?
  3. Are you eating more than 4-5 portions of fruit (including dried fruit) everyday?
  4. Do you eat a lot of packaged foods e.g. stir fry sauces etc.
  5. When a craving comes, is it distinctly for sweetness and you can satisfy with a range of food even if it’s not your favourite as long as it’s sweet (e.g dried fruit, cheaper chocolate etc.)
  6. Do you get anxious if there is no dessert or sweet thing available at a friends house or dinner party (or you urge for it to be served sooner!)?
  7. Do you notice distinct energy differences throughout your day e.g. mid afternoon slump, grogginess in the morning.
  8. Are you tired a lot?
  9. Do you also crave bread or starchy carbohydrates often in addition to sugar?
  10. Do you often think you will feel better eating something sugary but then afterwards you feel worse?
  11. Have you in the last year been oblivious to how much sugar you’ve been eating?
  12. Do pictures of sweet food instantly make you feel a craving?
  13. Do you have a hard time resisting any sugar that is offered to you e.g. dessert, biscuits etc.

too-much-sugar-office

Section 2: Am I suffering emotionally because of sugar?

  1. Do you know you’re not going to feel great about yourself emotionally after eating the sugar but you still do it?
  2. Do you feel you need to have something sweet everyday?
  3. Do you overeat or indulge in sugar alone where no-one knows about it?
  4. Are you fearful of sharing how much sugar you eat to close loved ones?
  5. Have you ever eaten sugar and hidden or done something so someone doesn’t find out?
  6. Has the guilt of eating sugar in a situation then led you on to eat more later on?
  7. Can you identify patterns (e.g. regular tendencies) where you use sugar to alleviate negative emotions e.g.  stress, boredom and frustration?
  8. Do you feel thinking about sugar takes up a lot of your headspace?
  9. Would you struggle describing any times when you’ve felt good about some sugar you’ve eaten?
  10. Do you eat straight from the packet or fridge very quickly without thinking?
  11. Do you feel right now sugar causes you more emotional pain over emotional pleasure?

sugar-shame

Section 3: How significant are your habits?

  1. Can you pinpoint the regular instances where you’re eating too much sugar e.g. in the evening after work, after a meal each day
  2. Do you have strong sugar habits around very specific foods e.g. Haribo sweets, a certain chocolate or type of biscuit etc.
  3. Can you remember a time when these sugar habits or food preferences didn’t exist?
  4. Is a large amount of your sugar intake from adding to tea or coffee or eating something sweet with tea or coffee?
  5. Do you feel the sweet after the meal habit is  your most significant area of sugar intake that you’d like to change?
  6. Are there days when the sugar habits just don’t happen because a situation is different e.g you’re not home alone so it’s different
  7. Have you noticed your sugar habits change when your routine changes?
  8. Have you tried to change lots of sugar (& health) habits all at once but they’ve all slipped back?

dark-brown-milk-chocolat

Section 4: Is your wider relationship with food playing significantly into your sugar issues?

  1. Have you dieted or restricted your diet for an extended period of time (over 3 months)?
  2. Do you sometimes overeat on other food other than sweet things e.g. crisps, carbs, junk food etc.
  3. Do you often tell yourself this is the “last time” I am doing this and tend to over eat because you “thought” it was the last time?
  4. Do food buffets and social situations make you feel slightly anxious?
  5. Do you have strong rules you try to stick to everyday e.g. eat no sugar, limit carbohydrates etc.?
  6. Do you overeat excessively when you feel you’ve fallen ‘off the rails’?
  7. Have you ever, or do you eat too much sugar to the point of feeling very sick?
  8. Have you ever suffered a large sugar binge? (eating over 1000 calories of sugary foods and feeling particularly bad about it)
  9. Have you got a history of any disordered eating?

Section 5: Are there bigger things going on?

  1. Are you feeling very desperate to lose weight rather than it just be ‘nice’ to lose a few pounds?
  2. Has your sugar intake increased in line with a recent increase of stress, pressure or challenging life situations?
  3. Would you rate your body confidence lower than usual?
  4. Have you suffered from any other conditions such as anxiety or depression?
  5. Do you feel you have no time for yourself or your own interests/hobbies?

How to analyse your answers

The sections are your indicator here. If you have a high % (generally over 50%) for the section, then the answer to the title of that section is very likely a ‘YES’ and will indicate which of the following strategies to take note of.  

If you have a high % for Section 1 and not so much the others:

In this case, it is more likely that you may have a stronger physical sugar (fructose) preference or ‘addiction’ (although I don’t actually like this phrase to describe it – read why here).  

Your best strategy could be to spend some time learning about the different types of sugar, look for ways to substitute in lower sugar alternatives and work on recalibrating your tastebuds to become more sugar sensitive.

coffee-theme-coffee-peanuts

If you have a high % for Section 1 and you are above 50% in Sections 2, 4 or 5:

You will need to do the above re-calibration strategy but simultaneously address the emotional and food relationship issues with other mindset work. You will likely need quite a personalised approach based on your answers to different questions.

If you have a high % for section 2:

You are potentially damaging your health more with the internal stress your relationship with sugar is causing than you are with the physical impact of the sugar. It will be helpful for you to look into sugar shame, specific emotional eating strategies for boredom and stress. If Section 1 is below 30% , focus a little less on the sugar and more on your habits around emotional processing and resilience.

If you have a high % in section 3:

It’s likely habits are playing more strongly into your relationship with sugar. Potentially habits that are deeply embedded over years e.g. family dessert or hot drink rituals. You are best to put in place a steady singular habit change initiative and prioritise each habit so you avoid doing too much at once. You could also seek some accountability and do some work on your motivation to help keep you consistent enough to change.

If you have a high % in section 4:

It’s potentially likely that sugar is just the manifestation for deeper relationship with food issues. I’d advise away from any more detoxes or diets to reduce your cravings. Refocus your efforts on re-learning to intuitively eat in a lower sugar managed way over time.

If you have a high % in section 5:

It’s likely that the sugar challenges are more significantly the symptom of other bigger issues at hand. Don’t be afraid of seeking extra support in some form (close family or friends, counselling, a therapist or a coach). Make sure you feel safe and do not feel judged on your feelings, your life situation or sugar related behaviour.

Finally…

If you score high in all sections and you’re still quite not sure what to make of your test result, then feel free to comment below with your questions or give it a few days for your subconscious to work it’s magic (you might be in the shower and something else comes to you!) .

If you do feel you want to go further, I can provide that safe space to work through any of these sections or any individual questions and answers and help start forming an appropriate plan of action . Either e-mail me with your realisations (I will reply to all) or book in for a Clarity & Planning session where we’ll have a whole hour together.  

As you can see, being ‘addicted to sugar’ can be much more complex than just eating too many grams of the stuff. However all of this has a way forward that can get you to a less ‘sugar addicted’ or emotionally sugar dependent place so essentially you can get on with living a very healthy and happy lower sugar life that let’s you do all you want to.  

Know someone else that could find use in this sugar addiction test?

Share the love and help others. I’ll be forever grateful if this article finds it’s way in front of those who really need it.

Laura xx

 

sugar-coffee

What is right for you? Gradual vs. cold turkey with sugar

Quite often, someone muscles up their fire and motivation to change around sugar and then turns to me and goes OK LAURA, HOW? HOW!!!??

It happens when I meet new friends at co-working spaces, at parties (I know not cool!) and a lot via e-mail from responses to the blog.

What are my options to currently reduce the amount of sugar I stuff my face with?

Should I go cold turkey starting tomorrow or just be gradual with this?

How can I stop this last habit I have snacking on Oreos in the evening after dinner?

How do I avoid succumbing to this ‘healthy cake’ which I’m eating 5 times a week for nothing other than emotional reasons?

How do I reduce my cravings like you did without it being so extreme it doesn’t last?

Is cold turkey a healthy way to do it on both a physical and psychological level?

The confusion

I’m not surprised that you and other people are confused. Different health experts, magazines and articles say different things all the time. I was confused for a long time myself. I read like every perspective on it and got my head thoroughly around all the arguments for both. 

Let alone then working out what to do with fruit, sugar substitutes and the rest of it.

The fear with going gradual is that nothing is going to really happen fast and you’re desperate to change quickly. However cold turkey just feels a bit extreme and you may have even been burnt from previous attempts which have backfired.

I really do appreciate the challenges in trying to work out the best approach, so I’m going to help you weigh it all up and get some key considerations on how YOU should go about your current sugar challenges. 

carrotcake

Pros & cons of each

Let’s get some key points out on the table:

Cold turkey advantages

  • Craving control. It is the quickest way to get physical cravings down. Past 3-5 days, if you’re not going crazy on a natural source of fructose, you will notice a change.
  • Intensive focussed knowledge gain. You learn how much sugar is in different things, become a sugar spotting ninja and are forced to find alternatives to everything. It’s a decent learning curve if you’ve not been on it before.
  • Clear boundaries. Decisions take energy so when you know what you’re doing, you reduce internal stress from ‘should I have that or not?’ type dilemmas.
  • Clear benefit attribution & motivation. Skin suddenly looks amazing and energy is through the roof? It’s extremely obvious that the sugar’s responsible which is helpful to know for future motivation.

Cold turkey disadvantages

  • It’s a ‘diet’. No matter how you cut it, there is restriction. I’ll come onto this later in considerations.
  • It perpetuates ‘all or nothing’ and ‘black or white’ mindsets.
  • Detox symptoms. The more sugar you’re eating, the worse these will be.
  • It’s not very social. Life has to somewhat go on hold if you’re being really strict because preparing, analysing and planning takes time and mental energy.
  • Sustainability. What happens when it ends? This is dangerous territory that requires certain things.  
  • It doesn’t address deeper issues around emotional eating, habits and feelings around sugar. It’s a bit of a quick fix.

Gradual advantages

  • Focussed habit change. Less need for discipline when you adopt a steady habit change strategy.
  • Social life & priorities. You can do everything you normally would but maybe with the odd tweak here and there. You can continue to keep the majority of your focus other on work and life projects.
  • No overwhelm or deprivation feelings. Things feel easy & manageable.
  • Things stick. You reduce sugar in 1-2 places so well, it becomes natural & effortless. You then move onto the next and you really trust these changes.

Gradual disadvantages

  • Sugar cravings can still linger. A relatively high amount of sweetness might still be in your diet so physical cravings can still be a problem.
  • Longer & not as pronounced results. Harder to attribute benefits. More patience and trust in the gradual process is required.
  • Easy to slide with habits. You forget them, lose focus or lose motivation when you’re not seeing much difference and don’t have a structure to follow.  
  • Prioritisation. You need to really know which habits to tackle first which can be hard without the right knowledge.

Now with that lot, you’re possibly even more confused but at least you know all sides of each approach in one go.

food-eating-candy-chocolate (1)

It’s now time to get personal and work out what’s right for YOU…

Personal considerations

I’ve got the benefit of experience here – coaching a ton of people through this change and defining their own cold turkey vs. gradual approach strategy at various points of the go lower sugar process.

To do this, I ask shed loads of questions first, like shed loads.

Questions about your dieting background, questions to help determine the significance of your physical sugar cravings vs. your habits vs. your environment.

Questions to understand what limiting beliefs you have in place and where your personal boundaries are.

Questions to understand why you are currently eating what you do and what makes you tick.

Questions to challenge and call you up on uncomfortable areas that are likely your biggest blockers or the root of emotional eating patterns.  

It’s only after weighing up the answers to all of these questions in one go can I with strong confidence, give someone a sugar lifestyle change strategy that really suits them. This vital information helps me devise prioritised practical recommendations that I know are going to work from all aspects of the holistic approach I use. 

So the bad news is one solution does not fit all and it’s not so black and white.

But the good news is you can do some of this self analysis yourself and use case studies to model traits that you think you align with.

Case study 1: Cold turkey (ish) working well

First let’s look at one of my favourite coaching clients Simon Williams who I met last year in Ibiza! We had to start off gradually as there was, in his own words ‘no way he was going cold turkey on diet drinks’.

Si 2013 Dublin (1)

However I recognised Simon was strong on a mindset front with no dieting history and I knew I could push him a little more on the cravings and nutrition front. We were able to really step up his palate change with a mini adapted detox period (that I framed as a fun challenge) and it worked absolute wonders for him.

Simon got completely in the know with sugar in super quick time (read his full story here), lost quite a bit of weight and improved all his blood results. But the best bit in the end was that he felt that trust with sugary food so he can still have his favourite McFlurry ice cream when he wants it and not worry about spiralling back.

Case study 2: Gradual approach working well

A contrasting example with another more recent client, we uncovered in the first two sessions, the actual sugar was MUCH less significant that she had thought. I’ve written about that too here

Cold turkey sugar type detox programmes not only weren’t working for her, they were perpetuating the real mindset problems that were holding her back from longer term change. Sugar was simply the manifestation of this.

I knew cold turkey was absolutely not the option and we worked much deeper on the diet mentality thought patterns using mindfulness and emotional eating techniques alongside keeping the sugar habits slowly changing in the background so physical cravings were kept in check.

This client in 12 weeks, changed unhealthy thinking patterns that had been dominant for years and years – life changing! Sugar habits shifted gradually without the restriction, trust in social settings could blossom and the emotional yo-yo cycle stopped.

What about you?

As you can see, these are two varied examples. Both had challenges with sugar but the approach required in each was different. If you can identify with either you can start to gauge the approach for you. 

If you can’t, you’re probably wondering, how to I work out what’s right for me?

The best place to start is to evaluate yourself how weak and strong you are in terms of my ANCIENT GREEK TEMPLE!!

Yeah get me – who else uses a Greek Temple in sugar dealings?! ha! See the components of it below….

4-pillars-sugar-reduction

 

But seriously, using this framework starts that all important process of knowing yourself first so you can diagnose a strategy that will get you the quickest most effective results to make you feel healthy, happy and most importantly, in charge.

Simply rate each element of the temple from 1-10 where 1 is weak and 10 is strong. Identify your weaker ones and focus your habit change efforts here.

Know that if your Foundation or Pillar 2 is weak, a cold turkey approach is not to be recommended. If these are stronger then it may well work better for you.

Want to learn more?

There’s obviously a lot more to learn about my legendary Greek temple approach, so if you’re keen to use this as a framework to help you change, make sure you watch my video training on it here

I’m also super excited to say that I’m running my first live webinar THIS WEDNESDAY 10th FEB 2016 at 9pm GMT where I’m going to be going through this approach in more detail.

I’ll be highlighting the most common mistakes I see made in each area and you’ll easily be able to identify where you need to be prioritising YOUR efforts so you can go forth in 2016 knowing you’re doing low sugar in the best way for you 🙂

There are literally only a few places left now on the webinar so sign up here quickly if you want to make it! See you there!!

 

What are your thoughts on the different approaches? Found something already that works? Have some cold turkey war stories? Please do comment below or ask a question 🙂

 

magnum-sugar-confession

Changing around sugar: 7 common misconceptions to know about

So I’m frequently introducing myself to new people these days and you’d be interested to know the different responses I get.

Sometimes when I say I help people change their relationship with sugar through coaching, I simply get a confession of all sugar sins right there. This tends to be quite fun.

For example, a few Friday’s ago I met a guy who entertained a few of us into hysterics through his triple Magnum Ice Cream-a-day confession and even when into detail about how the Thai shop attendant now knew his favourite flavours and sometimes shook her head on him.

magnum-sugar-confession

On other occasions I get people telling me everything they know about sugar or emotional eating and this is were I’ve started to spot patterns in common misconceptions. I’m really not a know-it-all in social situations type of person and by listening I learn a lot about how people think and perceive sugar.

So here are the 7 most common ones I hear. Be warned, you might spot them too in conversations from now on!

Note: I much prefer light-hearted Magnum banter to ego-based I know this and that type conversations anyway, don’t you?!

Misconception 1: That white bread is ‘full of sugar’

This one is very common. I will try to explain as succinctly as possible. Brown bread is full of sugar. Brown rice is full of sugar. Broccoli is full of sugar.

The sugar? Glucose. Yes, the sugar of life i.e. what gives us energy and keeps us going.

red-lunch-green-knolling

The issue with white refined glucose like a white bagel is that it’s quick releasing glucose that spikes your blood sugar levels, causes excess insulin release (which can lead to metabolic diseases overtime) and leaves your energy levels in tatters.

 

Alternatively, Fructose is a whole different type of sugar and the issues with it are quite different.

It metabolises in your body very differently to glucose and it’s unique in how it plays into your cravings and desire for sweet. Personally, when I refer to sugar, I tend to refer to fructose rather than glucose, thus for the record I don’t class white rice as being ‘full of sugar’ but I understand why some do.

night-rice-rice-cakes

Misconception 2: All natural sugar is healthy

For a start, ‘natural sugar’ can mean different things to different people. Some people would regard honey, stevia or maple syrup as natural but by the time it gets to you on supermarket shelves it’s usually processed to heck, so its ‘natural’ quality is somewhat debatable.

honey-natural-sugar

Also, anything consumed in excess isn’t healthy, so really it’s the quantity that counts. Natural sugars like fruit still contain fructose. An excess of fructose can still be dangerous, even if it’s from 10 bananas. I’m definitely not anti-fruit by any means but an unlimited natural sugar way of thinking can really catch people out.

I’ve written more fully about my thoughts on to fruit or not to fruit before here and also whether dried fruits like dates are a sugar bomb.

Misconception 3: It’s about how much sugar you eat

Holistically health speaking there are people out there who eat more sugar month to month who are far healthier in mind and body than a nearby zero gram sugar-free queen. Really.

No you don’t want to be consuming large amounts of sugar in your diet consistently (or randomly with binges), but when you get down to smaller amounts and your consumption is balanced in line with your values and lifestyle, it’s more about WHY you’re eating sugar in whatever form that’s important and it’s this that is ultimately the measure of your success.

quit-refined-sugar-for-lent

 

Misconception 4: Sugar is evil (or the devil)

I do understand the use of this term, as it’s understandably evil in people’s eyes when they don’t feel they can control it or have had a close one suffer from the adverse effects of too much sugar. It really can be horrible when sugar’s wholly got the one up on you in this sense.

However sugar is just a substance – we are more intelligent humans with consciousness and knowledge of how sugar impacts on our brains which means we can do stuff about it.

We can turn the tables and take charge if we want to and re-learn how to live moderately with sugar in our lives. The whole sugar is evil thing comes from the ‘addictive’ messages which sometimes do more harm than good from a mindset perspective. I recently wrote this on why you need to stop calling yourself a sugar addict. Worth a read.

Misconception 5: All emotional eating of sugar is bad

I know emotional eating is a real stickler with sugar. A real stickler that I am still not fully immune to.

However, often people think banishing emotional eating outright is the answer to all their food, sugar or overeating problems.

For a start, I refrain from ‘good’ and ‘bad’ classes of behaviour, as we are all human after all and this tends to re-enforce an unhealthy black or white mentality.

Start playing with the notion that not all emotional eating is bad, you just need to avoid it becoming your default or norm and be conscious enough to spot recurring habits from emerging. For example, some harmless emotional eating would be consuming your birthday cake once a year (when obviously not physically hungry for it).

Misconception 6: It’s definitively an all or nothing substance

This is one of the trickiest parts with sugar I admit.

I know myself that when I have piece of my Grandma’s soft golden syrup dosed homemade parkin, I’m very likely going to want three more.

This is normal because, yes sugar does have an impact on your dopamine receptors in your brain that make you want more and yes this is hard to control when you’ve developed a tolerance and habit for it.

However, look around at the people you know who do manage to stop at one (my Mum comes into this group).

Does everyone you see have the all or nothing with sugar? No they don’t. If sugar was definitively ‘all or nothing’ then surely with the amount around, the whole human species would have succumbed and everyone would be ‘addicted’.

Ponder that one and consider sugar as ‘all or nothing’ not so definitive.

Misconception 7: You can just go on a sugar detox or read a book and be done with it

A sugar detox plan can shift your taste buds and do great things, but it can have its drawbacks being a ‘diet’ and can work differently for different types of people depending on their history of eating habits.

When I used to run Mentor Me Off Sugar – the sugar detox programme I ran for 6 rounds over a few years, I had a whole section at the start on perfection where I educated participants on just how dangerous sticking to this too rigidly could be. I also actively encouraged participants NOT to stick to my meal plans (& develop their own variations instead).

I basically tried to make it as non-diet like as I possibly could – and there were materials in abundance on emotional eating and mindset.

Most that did the programme properly did exceptionally well, but I still saw others struggle and particularly after the end a few weeks later.

This pained me and is actually why I stopped running it officially. I need to change a few things about the program, likely even re-brand it and re-structure it before it’s re-released.

On the other hand my 1-2-1 coaching clients progressed in leaps and bounds, not just on a sugar front but they grew significantly in terms of how much self awareness they had, their confidence, their thinking and wider health.

If sugar is deeply entrenched in your lifestyle, your emotional processing and physical cravings are in abundance, then it’s a full behavioural and personal development change that’s needed, and a sugar detox might not cut the mustard as so to say!

With the Internet, it’s not hard to get information, what matters how consistently you act and reflect on it.

Finally, if we meet…

I’m hoping if you’ve read this article and we ever meet in person you won’t be relaying any of the common misconceptions that I’ve heard many times over. Instead you’ll be laughing and de-shaming around your funniest eat-too-much sugar moment instead – because everyone’s got them I’ll let too easily let some guy off his Magnums if he’s made me laugh.

P.S the Magnum guy is sat next to me here in the office and he’s oblivious that his story has made it online until I tell him in a moment 😉

Who needs this?

Know of someone who won’t stop banging on about the amount of sugar in white rice, eats three Magnum Ice Creams a day or thinks the latest sugar detox will solve all issues? Share this article with them and we’ll both be grateful.

Learn A LOT more from me (if you want)

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Simply click here or fill in the form below.

low-sugar-shopping-list-laura-thomas

A low sugar shopping list guide when you have no time

It’s that time of the year when you’re keen to make some new healthy habits and it’s certainly a great time to do so. Your motivation is high, others are likely on a health kick and there are loads of helpful recipes being shared around on social media.

Although I don’t subscribe to the harsh overly restrictive all or nothing detoxes and diets these days, I do believe you are able to ramp up the number of habit changes in January and really capitalise on the healthy buzz that’s around.

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But where to start?

Healthy shopping, meal planning and getting into a rhythm with healthy cooking where you are a bit more prepared is a very good idea and investment of your effort.

Now, I appreciate this can counter the intuitive eating camp of thinking (eating when you’re hungry what you fancy) but there is a balance to find here between planning and going with the flow. This article is for you if you know you’re on the unprepared side of things or you want some shopping inspiration.

Watch this video where I explain intuitively eating sugar here.

Only through trying and testing yourself with things can you work out your balance and work out your optimum healthy habits.

If you can kick off the New Year with a few new habits around what you do day to day with your healthy routine, things will fall into place more easily.

This will support a healthy lower sugar lifestyle much more long term than drastically changing everything in January only to revert back to old ways in a few weeks when you get fed up or depending on some strict diet meal plans to guide you.

Low sugar shopping list

I had the idea to share the regular healthy shopping list that I used to live by in London a while ago but never got around to it so here it is.

As I write this, I’ve just moved to Chiang Mai in Thailand and I’m excited because I am going to start cooking my own food again. Whilst living in Bali I was eating out a lot because it’s so cheap so I didn’t cook at all and I really missed it. I realised I found a real joy in buying a weekly shop and making it work for a week to 10 days in super efficient fashion by finding new ways to use up leftovers and feeling smug in in being super healthy without spending a fortune. But I lived in Bali, so I’m not complaining!

Healthy shopping with no planning or time

To show you how easy it can be wherever you are, I’m literally going to reel off the stuff I would buy if I was to walk into a supermarket right now with no meal planning done.

Normally I would plan out a few recipes and get ingredients to match but sometimes I wouldn’t have time and so I’d just grab these essentials knowing I could do good stuff with them. In a way I taught myself to eat healthy without having to rely too much on following recipes to the ‘T ‘which was very helpful and flexible.

I’ll also talk you through the thought process I used to go through to make healthy low sugar living really easy, quick & convenient.

low-sugar-shopping-list-laura-thomas

The shopping list and notes

Note: This is for one person but you can easily double for more or quadruple for a family. 

First up, I’d spend most of the time in the vegetables section. I’d briefly think about my week ahead. Am I going to be out most of it or am I at home? Do I want to be making packed lunch salads everyday or have I got events where I’ll get lunch? I wouldn’t get exact about it but just roughly take a mental note of my week ahead.

Salad stuff

  • Spinach (for my base salads & very versatile to use left up)
  • Maybe watercress & rocket too (if it was a 5-day-salad week and I know I’d use it up)
  • Cherry tomatoes plus 1-2 regular tomatoes
  • Sweet red peppers
  • Celery
  • Pre-cut carrot battons (great snack fodder)
  • Mushrooms
  • Avocado (mixture of ripe and to be ripened to last the week)
  • Spring onions
  • Fresh parsley and coriander (salads, main dishes and even smoothies!)
  • Lemon and a lime

lemon-parsley-egg-salad1

Greens to go with mains (or in salads too)

  • Kale
  • Broccoli

green-walnut-salad

Things that last a while and I’ll use somewhere in something

  • Red & white onions or shallots (1-2)
  • Sweet potato
  • Butternut squash

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Dairy

  • A large pot of plain 4% fat yoghurt or Total Greek Yoghurt
  • Organic semi-skimmed milk (occasionally I’d try out almond but unlike many, I seem to be ok with dairy and like it in my diet)
  • 1-2 cheeses of choice (usually goats cheese, cottage cheese or haloumi)

Protein

I’d think about what I have in the freezer and if I need/want to use anything up. If not I’d grab some of the following depending on how much I was around:

  • Salmon fillets
  • Chicken breasts
  • Eggs (at least 12)
  • Lamb mince

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As I write this, I’ve noticed recently that I eat a lot more vegetarian, so I might add more cheese or go for extra beans if I was feeling more vegetarian inclined that week.

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Do I need to re-stock?

These are things I just liked to have around:

  • Nut butter (snacks, on apple for breakfast, in smoothies etc.)
  • Chickpeas (cans – great for making hummus or bulking up a dish)
  • Desiccated coconut (great for homemade muesli and on yoghurt)
  • Cacao nibs (nice on yoghurt again). Watch this video for 5 ways to use them.
  • Rye bread that I keep in the freezer (I didn’t eat bread that often but liked to have it if I fancied and I could toast this straight from the freezer)
  • Nuts or seeds of any kind e.g. almonds, pumpkin seeds (for homemade muesli and snacking)
  • Any particular herbs or spices that I use regularly e.g. black pepper or cinnamon are two I used a lot
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Butter (grass fed Kerrygold brand)
  • Quinoa
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Frozen berries (for smoothies and with yoghurt as a dessert). Watch this video on how to make smoothies low sugar.
  • Bananas (I keep a few of these chopped and in the freezer for smoothies)
  • Chia seeds, cacao powder, cacao nibs and other specialised health foods like Wheatgrass powder (for smoothies and health additions)

Random unplanned treats/exciting things

I’d like to pick something up as a random treat. I think this helps bring excitement to your shopping and psychologically stops you from buying sweet treats. I think this is a super important thing that is more important than you might think so go splash out on something that you wouldn’t normally buy:

  • An unusual new herbal tea
  • Try an almond or coconut milk for a change
  • Tahini (I LOVED tahini!)
  • A new variety of dark chocolate (at least 72%)
  • A new nut butter or variety of nuts I don’t usually buy e.g. macadamia or pecans
  • A quinoa or grain mix in one of those instant microwavable bags that I haven’t tried before (great for salads and quick meal fixes)
  • Coconut cream (to make something like my sweet potato coconut balls)
  • A random (ideally seasonal) vegetable or fruit to try and cook differently e.g. fennel, asparagus or dragonfruit which is my current favourite!
  • Something new and shiny that the supermarket is perhaps promoting that is still pretty healthy and looks fun. It might have a little natural sugar but I’d like to give it a try e.g. the Rebel Kitchen Mylks – yum!

mylk-courgette-porridge

There you have it! This isn’t a shopping list to copy exactly – you will have personal preferences no doubt.

It’s just a bit of a brain dump on how I used to think when quickly on the spot and I wanted eat healthy without thinking or planning too much. Many of my recipes can be made from the things in this list.

Even if you just read this and pick up 1-2 tips then I’m happy. Writing this has made me miss my big Tesco a bit ha!

Please share

If you’ve found this helpful or you know someone else will, I would truly LOVE it if you could share this post with them or people who will be interested (maybe in a FB group or something).

For a start I have some snazzy new sharing buttons on the left hand side or below (if you’re reading mobile) and I don’t want them to go to waste. But seriously, I know this kind of practical information can really help when people are feeling a bit overwhelmed or stuck where to start with healthy lower sugar living so share the love.

Over to you

How does it compare to your healthy shopping habits? Anything you do in a similar way or do you have other healthy tips to share?

Comment below and someone else could pick up on your magic 🙂

 

 

Need sweet after a meal? Over 50 low sugar ideas to try

It’s what you’ve always done since you can remember. It’s second nature. The day just doesn’t feel right without it.

The little Dairy Milk chocolate; the regular Nakd bar sweetness; or that mini pudding – it’s just what you do after eating your main meal, right?

chocolates

You know you’re not hungry for this sweetness and it’s totally habit, but it’s so firmly engrained that you can’t imagine life without it.

When anyone subscribes up to receive my weekly updates and free video e-course I now them to send me a quick line on what they struggle with the most when it comes to sugar, eating habits or sweetness.

The post meal sweet fix wins hands down for the most common thing that people mention. I’ve already written 12 tips for this habit but I thought I would just bash out a long list of alternatives that might spark inspiration or things you haven’t thought about.

How to use this list..

  1. Pick a few of your favourites. Pick 1-2 that you know you like, one that you’ve no idea if you like and one you didn’t think you like that you’re willing to re-try (often people can rediscover things using this approach).
  2. Try each one for a day or two. Three days if you can. This will be tough at first. It will require a little upfront discipline so make sure you aren’t trying to mentally do too much else.
  3. Have FUN and enjoy trying new things and experimenting. Go out and buy yourself some trendy nut butter, a pretty tea or cute bowl for your yoghurt (I have a cute bowl!).

A few more notes:

  • This is about ‘better’ options. Everything is relative to you. Just make an incremental upgrade rather than worrying about picking the perfect option all the time.
  • Accept you may go through phases with these and seek to change periodically. I had a chai tea phase, then it was the almond butter and now I’m partial to really dark chocolate or yoghurt with cacao nibs.
  • Once it’s pretty low sugar, don’t overly stress about it unless it’s causing some other physical or emotional pain. You can live happily ever after enjoying something healthy that doesn’t drive sweet cravings too much. KEEP PERSPECTIVE!!
  • If you’re already rolling with some of these, why not mix up your routine and try some new ones.
  • Oh yeah HAVE FUN experimenting. It’s really satisfying when you change this habit and learn to love something that is healthy.

Not so much fruit on this list..

I’ve not listed loads of fruit or anything with dried fruit in it because I’ve tried to keep this list low on fructose so it helps reduce your need for sweetness. Feel free to add a little fruit in to jazz things up if you want but be mindful of it’s impact on the sweetness you crave overall. Read to fruit or not to fruit for more on this topic.

 

Anyway HERE IS THE LIST!! Please add your own in the comments below the blog and we have a great resource.

Yoghurt

  • Plain unsweetened full fat natural yoghurt
  • Yoghurt with cinnamon
  • Coconut yoghurt
  • Yoghurt with flaxseed powder/seeds/chopped nuts
  • Yoghurt with fresh/frozen blueberries or raspberries

Total yoghurt strawberries

  • Yoghurt with cacao nibs (one of my favourites)
  • Yoghurt with coconut flakes or desiccated coconut
  • Some delightful mix of all of the above!

coconutyoghurt

Mini pudding like

  • Cottage cheese with chopped apple, cinnamon & seeds
  • Cottage cheese with a drizzle of yacon syrup or brown rice syrup
  • Natural yoghurt with chopped nuts, berries and grated dark chocolate
  • Mashed sweet potato with natural yoghurt & topping

sweet potato _ creamed coconut

Nut butter

  • Teaspoon almond butter (add cacao nibs for indulgent fix)
  • Teaspoon cashew butter
  • Teaspoon of hazelnut butter (mix in some cacao for chocolate fix)
  • Nut butter on sliced apple
  • Nut butter in celery

sugarfree-frozen-blueberry-and-almond-butter-fudge

Biscuit like or substantial

  • Ricecake with nut butter
  • Ricecake with mashed banana & chopped nuts
  • Oatcakes (plain)
  • Oatcake with cottage cheese and seeds

Cold drinks

  • Glass of coconut water
  • Glass of milk
  • Glass of fizzy water with lemon/lime
  • Glass of unsweetened almond milk
  • Iced homemade fruity or green teas

Milk

Hot drinks

  • Peppermint tea
  • Licorice tea
  • Fennel tea
  • Green tea (I LOVE the mango variety)
  • Chai tea (homemade with teabags only – optional add extra cinnamon)
  • English breakfast tea
  • Cappuccino
  • Latte
  • Any other coffee or tea with no sugar that exist in the world!

Rooibos tea

Coconut stuff

  • Fresh coconut chunks (can buy in Sainsburys and Waitrose these days)
  • Coconut water (double check for added sugar)
  • Coconut flakes
  • Toasted coconut flakes (Holland & Barratt do some)
  • Spoonful of desiccated coconut (might dry your mouth ha!)

coconut pieces

Chocolate

  • 100 or 99% dark chocolate
  • 70-90% chocolate (85% is my favourite)
  • Cacao nibs
  • Hot chocolate made with milk & cacao powder (milk can sweeten naturally)

chocolate-gratings-pieces

Nuts & bits

  • Cashew nuts
  • Almonds
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Mixed nuts

granolanuts

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Raw cacao nibs
  • Goji berries
  • Various combinations of the above mixed together (my current favourite is goji berries, cacao nibs and pumpkin seeds)

Goji berries

Recipes

nuttyfudge

Hopefully you have some inspiration and new things to try. You CAN change this habit and it’s really empowering when you do. I would now take yoghurt and cacao nibs over a lot of other things these days. Also remember you can replace with an activity like taking a walk etc….but that’s for another day….

Again, please tell me what you currently have, what you’d like to try or any other winning combination that MUST BE SHARED WITH THE WORLD!??

Comment below…

 

 

How much discipline do you really need to change your sugar habits

You were doing so well and it was a silly weak moment. A good few days without any sugar and then BAM, the homemade carrot cake that Julie thrust in your face was just too much to take and you succumbed to every last morsel of it, feeling delightfully guilty at the time and disappointingly guilty in the hours afterwards.

If only I could be more disciplined with myself around sugar

If only I could be stronger to say no.

Sugar’s got you again, it’s ruined your healthy efforts and you start to fear you are never going to be able to do this because you’re just not disciplined enough.

Cue the rest of the self deprecating and self bashing thoughts that remind you of the negative effect sugar has on your emotional wellbeing as well as you physically (I actually think the emotional turmoil and stress of sugar ‘addiction’ is often even more unhealthy than what it does to your physical body).

I used to go through this cycle so many times. Not just with refined sugar, but healthy sugars too or any healthy initiative I was trying to enforce on myself.

When we know our healthy habits aren’t going to plan as we intended, it’s often the first excuse that flies in – ‘I’m just not disciplined enough’ or ‘I’ve not got enough will power’ or worst of all ‘I’m useless’. The sugar shame has kicked in.

Actually, you just haven’t established the habit yet.

I started off Happy Sugar Habits fascinated with sugar grams and counting, I’ve ended up realising it’s all about human behaviour and mindset. Which works well for me because I’ve always been a self development geek and it means I can now just apply everything I’ve read and researched to help you within the context of sugar.

What is discipline?

Discipline is essentially training yourself to act in a specific way. If you can keep this up for a long enough time then eventually this behaviour becomes routine and you have yourself a nice little happy sugar habit.

The self-discipline myth

So as much as you might have thought, a sustainable low sugar life or happier sugar habits isn’t a marathon of being permanently disciplined around sweet food. It’s doesn’t have to be a continuous onslaught of deprivation that drains your mental energy forever.

There is this pervasive idea that those who are successful in changing their sugar habits or who are supposedly ‘sugar-free’ are super disciplined all the time. They have more will power around their favourite sweet things, they say no without batting an eyelid. This isn’t actually true.

It might be the case that they never had the sugar habit in the first place. When the biscuits are put on the table, their mind is instead on their morning coffee or what that person is thinking. The biscuits don’t even register because they never have.

If they have had a time where they were more lured by sweet, what they have done is used a certain amount of discipline upfront for long enough on some of their unhealthy habits to change them. With the new habits kicked in, they become more automatic and so can focus on changing others.

So when it comes to changing your sweet habits, forget a discipline marathon and consider it more of a sprint followed by a steady walk.

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One race at a time

Also remember you can only really sprint one distance at a time if you want to win, so apply this to one habit at a time. You might also want to appreciate that a weekly habit e.g. your sugar ritual on a weekend will take you longer in terms of weeks to change than a daily one.

You might have this perception that I’m super disciplined all the time which it how I manage to stay largely sugar-free and not fall back to my old ways. It’s really not like that. For a start, I’m not sugar-free. I just am quite mindful that I don’t develop serious sugar habits and try to indulge more randomly. Secondly, I’ve learnt to just focus on one thing at a time to improve my mindset, my health or myself.

Currently, my new healthy habit is to recognise when I’m more mindlessly eating (e.g. eating at my laptop, whilst on my phone etc.) That’s it. I’m not trying to change it yet, just start to really recognise. I can’t change it if I don’t develop the habit first to recognise it.

When I’m trying to change a habit, I find it really quite hard. I’m one of those that often doesn’t follow through on myself and feel frustrated but I’ve come to realise it was a case of setting expectations super high of myself, trying to do everything at once and tying too much of my self worth to these outcomes that led to me feeling bad about myself if it didn’t go to plan.

Know that your will power isn’t weak, you just need to address things a bit more strategically, keep perspective and belief that once you’ve sprinted past that finish line, you will be on a more relaxing walk of automatic healthy habits.

Oh and sometimes it might take a few attempts!

Don’t despair at your will power and simply work out where you’d like to be walking first.

Have you ever thought it was down to your discipline or willpower that you can’t change your sugar habits?