Have you decided to give the sugar the big heave ho?? If so, good on you! The no Sugar revolution is as popular as ever and for good reason. In 2015, the world health organisation changed guidelines to recommend adults and children limit their daily intake of sugar to no more than 6 – 9 teaspoons of sugar per day (there are around 4 grams of sugar per teaspoon).
Being sugar-free brings with it so many amazing benefits, but I am not going to sugar coat it (see what I did there)?? it can also be pretty tough some times.
That’s why this Easter rather than a sugar-laden egg I am giving the gift of my own experience.
My top 10 survival tips from my sans sugar journey:
- Tea, tea and more tea! After reading the IQS book, I replaced sweet treats with tea treats. Many teas have a sweet flavour and can be just enough to curb that sweet tooth. Drinking tea also gives you something to do with your hands and mouth, which is often all we need to keep us away from that sneaky sugary temptation. As an added benefit, herbal tea counts toward your daily water intake – its win, win! Experiment with flavours to keep your mind and mouth excited about something other than sugar.
- Put everything you learned about fat and calories to one side while you focus on giving the white stuff the boot. I grew up in a time when calories and fat were the enemy. I was always interested in the latest health and fitness craze and ironically this lead to me becoming a total sugar addict. This was because the majority of low calorie, low fat foods contain huge amounts of sugar. Sugar is used to replace the taste removed when the fat is removed. Go back to those delicious full fat versions to improve satiety and reduce sugar.
- Keep the end goal in sight. For me, giving up sugar was about reaching optimal health not the number on the scales. In fact I haven’t weighed myself in a very long time. The way I feel off sugar proves that whatever is happening on the inside is a good thing. We don’t need a set of scales to determine that.
- Crowd out. I found that coming off sugar left me with a bit of a ‘what now?’ feeling post dinner (I had always followed dinner with something sweet). When I started crowding out I found that I had more variety in my meals and eventually this crowding out technique lead to the feeling ‘what now?’ disappearing completely. Fill your plate with extra veggies, all the colours of the rainbow – have fun with your crowding!
- Coconut oil. I LOVE coconut oil for so many things. Being a beauty therapist and aromatherapist, I love to use it on skin and as a base oil when blending. I also love to use it in the kitchen. Because fat is super satiating and coconut oil has a naturally sweet flavour, a spoonful of the oil when that sweet craving hits is an instant way to curb it. Either add it to your tea or enjoy it straight from the spoon – yum!
- Add a little natural sweetness. Use spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla to add natural sweetness to dishes. Cinnamon especially is known to balance blood sugar levels and therefore stamps all over those cravings. A favourite ‘dessert’ of mine (if crowding out hasn’t done the trick) is mashed carrot with coconut oil, cinnamon with vanilla powder – hello easy sugar free carrot cake!
- Move. When we are craving something sweet, the majority of the time it is because we are bored. If you feel that 3pm need for a sugar hit creeping up on you, head out for a walk instead. By the time you have walked for 10 minutes the need will have passed. You will also get the added benefit of a little extra exercise in your day – bonus.
- Find none-food rewards. We often use food as a reward for a hard day at the office, a challenging task completed or a good workout. In reality, there are far nicer rewards you could be giving yourself over sugar. Try a nice soak in the bath, some meditation, read a book, give yourself a DIY beauty treatment. Find something that nourishes your soul, as well as your bod.
- Make it fun! When I first started my sugar-free lifestyle I was terrified I wouldn’t find anything to eat. I was busy and a terrible cook. I soon realised that cooking sugar free didn’t have to be a huge time consuming task. It was quick, easy, and fun. I started experimenting with recipes and I am now a great cook, even if I do say so myself. And I have created a bunch of my own sugar free recipes. This exercise also made me far more mindful of what I was putting in my body and what types of foods my body thrived on.
- Be confident in your decision. It can be really hard to embark on this journey alone when you have saboteurs asking why you aren’t eating such and such or telling you ‘just one won’t hurt’. Learn to exercise your confidence here. Be polite and inform those around you that you are doing this for you and would appreciate they allow you to find out for yourself. This is your journey.