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Sugar transformational case study: Simon Williams

I’m excited today to share with you a fantastic low sugar story that will inspire you and let you learn from someone who has overcome their sugar demons with roaring success.

Introducing Simon Williams – a client that I met on holiday last year and have had so much fun working with.

I met Simon on holiday in Ibiza - here enjoying a meal in the town

On holiday – little did Simon know what lay ahead!

In the past 6 months Simon has gone from a daily diet containing sweets, artificially sweetened drinks, chocolate milkshakes and Red Bull to a happy lower sugar lifestyle that is sustainable and realistic.

He still eats ice cream, but he can walk into a shop and have full confidence that he’s not going to habitually gorge on confectionary like he used to. I’d say that’s a win and he’s walking proof that the toughest sweet tooth can be shifted. I can’t tell you how amazing it has been to see the change and work with Simon.

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Simon’s story..

I’m a Food Scientist / Nutritionist with a 1st class degree in Food Science and Nutrition. I’ve been working for 10 years in the supplement industry and I’m now a director at an international food ingredient company selling ingredients to manufacturers of sports supplement and nutritional products.

Based on my work, you’d expect me to have a healthy attitude with sugar, but in fact all my life I have been completely addicted to it. My signature dish when I was younger was to mix double cream with sugar and practically drink it!

My sugar ways continued all my life and I had a particular problem with confectionary – namely chocolate and childish sweets like Haribo. Normally I would probably have about 2-3 of these things a day – maybe a Crunchie, some Jelly Tots and some cola bottles. On some other days I would completely loose control and eat a whole bag of M&S Butter Mintoes!

I was also obsessed with diet drinks and was drinking 3 cans of Pepsi Max a day plus two cans of diet Red Bull and a chocolate milkshake drink.

I got to this point because I grew up having a strong sweet tooth and as I got older I started craving sugar when I was stressed and bored. Just last year – I was just waiting for a work colleague and they were late so I rushed into a shop and bought a pack of Skittles and a load of other sweets and ate them in about a minute. He was actually 20 minutes late so I ended up going back into the shop and buying it all again. This was one of the points where I just thought “What am I doing to myself?” but in the moment I couldn’t control it.

I also recognised that I would get awful sugar crashes after eating sugar and noticed it was affecting my digestive system. Of course I knew through my academic studies and experience in the food industry how bad sugar really was so I often just felt guilty, stupid and addicted when I ate large quantities of it.

In September 2014 I went on holiday to Ibiza – not what you’d think to be a healthy thing to do, but a chance meeting with Laura and it ended up being the turning point in my sugar story. We naturally got on well because of our common interest in nutrition and when we got home I decided to take the plunge and see if she could help me with my insane sweet tooth. I remember saying to her ‘I want to be a success story! I don’t want to eat sugar anymore!’

Laura devised a personal plan of action based on my lifestyle and constraints – I’m a very busy running the business, I don’t really cook and I am a very fussy eater (I didn’t really like any vegetables!). She tailored an experimental ‘sugar fast’ or detox for me and this was a turning point. My tastebuds really changed and I saw what benefits a life lower in sugar could give me – steady energy, weight loss, control etc.

Working with Laura I also discovered great new foods and had fun in the process. She made lower sugar life fun and accommodated the fact my job is very social with lots of meals out and socialising. The combination of her coaching, the accountability and the structure really worked and my habits changed for the long term.

I honestly now feel control of my sugar habits and I’m able to moderate sugar in my life. I lost over 7.5kg (16.5lb) through the process (I’m now the slimmest I’ve been since my twenties!) without ever going hungry and still eating out in restaurants and drinking with friends/colleagues. My taste for sweet foods is reduced – I even find just a single Pepsi Max sweet now. I had all my blood tests done and I have reduced my risk of diabetes, heart disease and who knows what else.

Additionally I’m running faster and able to work out more and I’ve really overcome my fat fear where I was always eating low fat products – skimmed milk, sugary low fat yoghurts etc. which have been drummed into me for the last 20 years since my Food Science / Nutrition degree.

I also am eating broccoli / green beans and other veg and enjoying it for the first time in 41 years which is a complete revelation! At the time of all of this I was single and the change in my health gave me loads of confidence whist dating.

Fair to say I am truly free from the shackles of sugar and would encourage anyone feeling addicted or controlled by it to reach out and get support.

Listen on the go

We also recorded a more detailed interview if you want to learn whilst driving/running etc. In the below is:

  • How much sugar he was eating before
  • What he is eating now instead
  • How he did it (& what foods/snacks really worked for him)
  • What the benefits were

You also download the recording by clicking here.

I hope you enjoy it and find some inspiration and motivation. Of course if you want to talk about working together with me in a similar way then just e-mail me on laura@happysugarhabits.com. I’d love you to be my next incredible transformation story and for you to find your own version of peace with sugar that lets you be truly happy and healthy.

In the meantime please do comment below if you’ve got any other questions for Simon or queries about anything he mentions.

Laura x

sugar-shame

Do you suffer from sugar shame?

Have you ever eaten too much sugar or sweet treats and well, just felt utterly disappointed with yourself? No one else knows how bad things are, but you know that the way you currently eat sweet food just isn’t healthy.

You are fully aware you weren’t hungry for it. You’re fully aware it’s not good for you. You may even be quite aware that you were eating it for emotional reasons. This doesn’t seem to stop you though.

It was an excess and it wasn’t necessary. It doesn’t matter if it was chocolate, cakes, biscuits, Nakd bars or some healthy ‘treat’ you made. The point is you felt out of control and felt a sense of shame afterwards.

What is sugar shame?

I haven’t really thought or used the word shame much before in the sugar context but I’m part-way reading Brené Brown’s The Gifs of Imperfection and it has rung true on a number of levels. I’d strongly recommend it as a read or have a watch of her iconic TED talk The Power of Vulnerability.

Brené quotes the following:

“Shame needs three things to grow out of control in our lives: secrecy, silence and judgment.”

When you look at these three things, it’s easy to understand how sugar shame can thrive if you’re unaware of it.

Secrecy

Do you find yourself hiding things from others? Hiding when you eat sugar, distorting or disguising how much you have eaten.

I was very skilled at this. It’s why my friends and family were so surprised when I started talking about sugar ‘addiction’, because I was an absolute pro at keeping it secret.

Sometimes I would have dessert and then because it wasn’t enough I would go home and eat something else afterwards. Maybe you have tactics of how to eat an extra portion without people noticing. I used distracting conversation, having extra helpings when people go to the toilet or making my portion a bit bigger when people weren’t looking.

It sounds so stupid and in the grand scheme of things, an extra mouthful was never going to ruin my health. The issue was my underlying feeling of shame in what I was doing. I was hiding things and that wasn’t good for my emotional health.

What can you do?

Brené talks about the power here of being more transparent.

Sugar doesn’t have to be your guilty shame ridden secret, you have full control over this.

One of the scariest things I did back then was share this blog on Facebook for the first time. I was petrified of what people would think but actually this was a big part of my personal change because quite simply things weren’t a secret anymore.

Now you may not have time to start a blog but you can make an effort to stop eating sugar so secretly. Start just to notice some of things you do and if you are still going to eat sugar, at least do it in a more open honest way as the first step. Let them see you eat the cake, no matter how much!

Silence

Similar to secrecy, this is where you just don’t talk about your unhealthy sugar habits to others. You don’t want to openly share your struggles because you’re scared they make you look weak and that you have not an ounce of discipline, will power or self control. It will highlight how bad you really are.

It’s that kind of keeping up appearances thing. Being the perfect friend, mum or relation that’s got it all sorted. I think Facebook and Instagram have a role to play in this topical issue!

If you don’t verbalise or communicate you’re struggles, you can pretend it’s not completely real and you will find it easier to deny it to yourself. You also lose out on getting support and bonding with others – a soul food in itself.

What to do?

Quite simply open up. Although I mention that Facebook, Instagram and the online world are in a way responsible, they also can be the cure. Connecting online can be a way to break your silence. Obviously nothing beats an in person conversation but I do believe online can a be a worthy and convenient (from the comfort of your sofa/bed/commute) stepping stone e.g. writing a comment on a social media feed or a blog as a start. If you want to keep it private, just sending an e-mail or writing in a journal can work wonders too.

I always feel such gratitude for all of those who e-mail me honestly and articulate how they’re struggling with sugar. I make an effort to reply to every single one who does, but I also know that just the process of them e-mailing will have helped them regardless of the tips or advice I send back. This is also why health coaching, or any coaching for that matter is so powerful. It just provides such an amazing space to openly share without being judged.

Break your silence as a first step today and see if some of your shame lifts. Talk to a friend, comment on something, e-mail me or just write it in a diary. It all counts.

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Judgment

This is a juicy one. It’s where we hold an ideal and hold ourselves up against it. I’m not strict enough, I’m not organised enough, I’m not strong willed enough, I’m not controlled enough. All things we may say after a bit of a sugar binge – or any behavior that doesn’t conform to our beliefs which have been shaped from friends, the media and events.

Brené talks about the difference between guilt and shame:

‘Shame is about who we are, and guilt is about our behaviours’

Guilt = I did something bad

Shame = I am bad

Eating three portions of cake as an event may cause temporary guilt. Feeling that there’s something fundamentally wrong with you is more the shame.

I’ve felt a whole range of shame in the past few years around sugar at different stages. When I was too overly strict on sugar-free, I was more judgmental on myself and others. I had serious shame at this point if I ate anything in sweet in public because I felt I had this crazy sugar-free super woman role to fulfill. I now realise how utterly crazy this was.

You might not have this exact same shame, but you may judge yourself harshly in some way or another that is out of perspective with reality and it’s something to be aware of.

 What to do

Firstly know that being imperfect does not mean being inadequate. Keep a reality perspective. Everyone is imperfect in various ways, at different points in time. Things ebb and flow. It’s normal to be imperfect.

Secondly, lessening your judgment of others helps you reduce the judgment of yourself. Appreciate everyone is in their own place at the right time for them and there’s a lot more going on that you just don’t know about.

For example someone may seem to be eating a lot of sugar, but it’s just how they’re dealing with recovering from an eating disorder and actually this is a really positive thing for them. Always remind yourself that you just don’t know what else is going on.

To conclude

Sugar shame is real and it’s worth understanding to what extent you suffer and where. I know I still get it (sugar and other things) but what I’m appreciating is that you can become more aware and open. This helps you build more ‘shame resilience’ as Brené talks about.

You can do all of these steps without making any change to your diet and they’ll all take you in a positive direction to a healthier more transparent relationship with sweet food.

Of course, if you feel inclined, let me know what you think below in a comment or drop me an e-mail.

Have you ever suffered from a form of sugar shame? Have you noticed any secrecy in your behavouir around sugar before?

Laura xx

 

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The fat as fuel debate: Interview with Donal O’Neill

It seems there’s a movement in play. With the low sugar headlines taking storm and the recent research that concluded the low fat recommendations were based on weak evidence, the higher fat, lower carbohydrate way of eating certainly seems to be gaining more mainstream momentum.

What about if you’re exercising though? Things can get mega confusing when you try to fathom sugar in its various forms, carbohydrate intake and a decent amount of physical activity

Trust me, I’ve been pretty confused by it too!

Super fit but with a sweet tooth

Since coaching people to a healthier relationship with sugar, many of those I’ve worked with have been runners or others who are regularly active. They’re healthy and aware of what to eat but just can’t get a handle on the sweet stuff.

It seems it’s not a rare instance for those who exercise intensely to get a bit hooked on sugar (aka fructose). I know I was personally in this place and there’s all sorts of physical and emotional issues that come into play. Read are you a running sugar addict for more information.

It’s not fun…

I used to indulge heavily and then run off the sugar I ate; I used to panic a bit if I didn’t exercise and of course, I used to find myself with very powerful sweet cravings that drove me slightly crazy (well crazy enough to start this website!).

To help with the confusion, recently I started reaching out to interview some of the world’s experts on this topic and today I want to share some very interesting insight from a recent interview with Donal O’Neill – the man behind the Cereal Killers and Run on Fat films.

In the first film, Donal embarks on a high fat diet and shows you what it does to his athletic performance and most importantly his blood work. See the trailer below.

I’d strongly recommend you watch it – it’s only an hour but serves as serious food for thought. You can stream it for $4.99 here.

Note this is an affiliate link – so I get a small token for sharing the word about the film if you click through from here. Obviously I only share things I really believe in.

The second film, Run on Fat is more about athlete level performance but demonstrates some very interesting insight around ‘hitting the wall’. All of this does impact your sugar cravings because it influences the food choices you make when you fuel your physical efforts.

The full interview is here on You Tube, but in case you’re short on time, I’ve picked out some key points and quotes below:

On eating what you want when you’re young…

“It’s one thing for teenagers to eat a bucket load of carbohydrates (or sugar) but the danger is that you establish lifelong habits which over a sustained period of time lead to insulin resistance.”

Do this: Be aware it’s your lifelong habits around sugar (& refined carbohydrates) that can be more dangerous than the actual food in that moment. This is really important point.

On the dangers of being slim…

“40% of people who have develop metabolic disorders are naturally lean and thin so that’s not necessarily any guarantee of your health. It’s a reasonable barometer of health, but it’s certainly not the only one”

Do this: Consider what’s going on inside your body even more carefully if you exercise a lot and are naturally lean or a healthy weight

On not being able to find healthy food…

“People sometimes can have the tendency to reach for the excuse before the better food”

Do this: Take note of excuses. Finding healthier options is often just a habit. Often working around challenges comes down to your creativity and experimentation.

On breakfast…

“There’s a place in Cape Town that serves half an avocado, with cream cheese, pesto and bacon served with tomatoes rocket and olive oil!

Do this: Try it yourself at home one weekend! Donal also takes olive oil out with him to replace sugary dressings – I do this sometimes too!

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On using fat as fuel…

“What has been discovered with a higher fat lower carbohydrate diet is that you can reverse ‘hitting the wall’ or ‘bonking’ (as it’s known in America). This happens when the body’s glycogen stores run out – it’s when you see athletes collapsing during a marathon. When you are fat adapted i.e. you use your fat tank of fuel rather than your carbohydrate tank, you essentially eradicate the concept of hitting the wall.”

Do this: Watch the films and then again experiment if you wish. I personally don’t do enough exercise to ‘hit the wall’ but I know I can refuel a 5K run with a high protein, higher fat meal (like scrambled eggs and avocado) and feel great.

On where to start…

“The first thing to do really is just push sugar off the plate. Persevere with this and then make decisions and consider if you want to make other changes”

Do this: Happy Sugar Habits first!! You’re in the right place reading this (make sure you’re signed up to get all the other free help), so just keep going wherever you are until you feel like you’re calling the shots on sugar. Perseverance and commitment it takes but it’s worth it. Focus on this one thing first – I’ve written about this before in what to do when you feel confused by the best diet.

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My last words…

Do I eat extreme high fat, low carb? Not completely. Do I eat a lot more fat than I did when I was eating a lot of sugar. Oh yes – it was key in my transition and I definitely feel like I burn fat more effectively as fuel than sugar and carbohydrate now.

So I do embrace LCHF (even if to a less extreme extent) and understand why it all makes sense.

My body has shown me the merits of higher fat, lower (nutritionally weak) carbohydrates, but I also embrace a very non extreme way of eating these days because I believe it was this attitude that caused my sugar issues in the first place.

I still eat rye bread from time to time, enjoy my sweet potatoes and use wholemeal flour to bake with. Currently being in Bali as I write this I can’t really avoid white rice all the time so I do as best as I can.  I just work healthy eating to my own liking and lifestyle free from my former unhealthy habits with sugar and unhealthy attitudes to extreme eating. I think it’s important for me to share honestly where I am because I want you to know that you can find your own blend of things in all this confusion.

I know this has been a mega long post. It’s taken me a near age to craft so I hope it’s helpful!

Have fun watching the films, I’d say watch this space as I expect there’s going to be more on it coming out. At the end of the day listen to your own body and keep working on that healthy relationship with sugar before getting too overwhelmed or caught up in the detail of the rest of it.

What do you think about this topic? Have you any thoughts on experience on using fat as fuel rather than carbohydrates? I’m open to all your opinions and thoughts on this, even if you strongly disagree so please state your stance in a comment below. 

Laura x

 

 

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Sugar-free books & product reviews

 

Video notes

The savoury nuts and seeds – Get them at Chiltern Natural Foods I tried the Thai Chilli and Lime Cashews (£3.49), Rosemary Roasted Almonds (£3.49) and Soy Roasted Sunflower Seeds (£2.99)

Moral Fibre Food – Do a Courgette Crunch and a Chilli flavour (£2.50)

Books

Davina’s 5 Weeks to Sugar-Free

 

Amelia Freer’s Eat Nourish Glow

 

Twinings Nutty Chocolate Tea £3.49 for 12 pyramids (I’ve also reviewed Pukka Detox Tea)

Hotel Chocolat: My current picks are St Lucia 78% Dark (£7.50 big, £3.75 small) and any of the 90-100% varieties.

Also watch/read:

Kaizen Living and thier Organic Cacao Nibs (£9.99)

Creative Nature Maca Powder (12.99)

Natvia UK which you can buy at Ocado: Icing sugar (£5.79), Baking Pack (£12.99)

Total Sweet Xylitol which you can buy at Holland & Barratt, Tesco, Ocado amongst others.

Also read:

Phew!!

As a final note, I now have space for 1-2 special new health coaching clients conducted over Skype (with rice fields in the background!). If you’d like to coach with me to transform your relationship with sugar forever the right way, then just get in touch (laura@happysugarhaibits.com).

Please do comment below on any thoughts on the products and as I said leave a link to something you’re stuck on and I will give my verdict!

Laura xx

 

 

 

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Quitting refined sugar for lent? Read this first

Are you thinking about going all out on lent this year and giving sugar the kick? With all the recent media and the sugar-free buzz around, it’s a tempting challenge and worthwhile pursuit for sure.

However, know that there are some key considerations that you should take into account:

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

This 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.

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 on dried fruit, maple syrup, artificial sweeteners, brown rice syrup, fruit and anything else that comes under your own ‘natural’ category. 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.

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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 more than just for the sake of it).

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 my 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.

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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. If you think you’d benefit from this and some extra support (weekly e-mails, text messages, Facebook group) plus a load of guides to help you understand your habits, emotional eating etc. then check out the Mentor Me Off Sugar 6-week sugar detox programme. You would need to get up to speed quickly if you wanted to start this week (it’s doable), but ultimately you can pick your start date and sync up with lent or your own schedule however you’d like.

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 haven’t decided if or what I might do yet, and for what reason.

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.

Laura xx

hearts

How to have a sugar-free Valentines Day

Ok it’s that time of the year again… Valentines Day! It’s only been 7 weeks since the last sugar onslaught of Christmas and we find ourselves with another ‘holiday’ to bring sweet food back into the picture.

If you’re concerned the sparks are going to start flying with your old friend sugar more than your partner, then arm yourself with some soul-filling sugar-free alternatives.

I’ve got the ball rolling here with some ideas and resources. Feel free to add anymore in the comments below…

Sugar-free Valentines Day SOS

First up, check out my post last year with a good array of sugar-friendly Valentines day tips. It includes eating out, communicating your lower sugar preferences to loved ones and how to avoid the ice cream sorrows if you’re single.

Secondly, watch how to stop one chocolate from turning into 10. I know it’s a Christmas video but the technique is still useful if you do find yourself presented with a large box of Thorntons….

Finally, I thought I’d compile a massive random list of alternative gifts and activities (for the loved up AND the single). Remember, Valentines is really about the message over the ‘stuff’.

sugar-free-valentines-tips

Gifts to buy (or request) instead of sickly sugary chocolate:

  • Good quality antioxidant busting dark chocolate
  • Posh tea in a pretty box
  • A thoughtful book with a personal note
  • A good playlist
  • Cuddly toy
  • Cute or funny keyring
  • A heart shaped handwarmer
  • Gloves, scarf, socks
  • Shoes (probably just for the women)
  • A ticket to something
  • Candles
  • Massage oil
  • FLOWERS!

So yes, I’ll give that list to my army of men….or not ;)

For the single, here’s a list of things you could do as ideas and inspiration:

  • Spend quality time with friends
  • Watch a movie (serious or action I personally feel)
  • Call an old relative for a chat
  • Facebook message a distant friend from your past (preferably not an ex)
  • Fresh strawberries and cream (instead of ice cream)
  • Buy & read a new magazine or book
  • Plan & research your next holiday
  • Indulge in your favourite hobby for a day
  • Hot bath with candles
  • Make a new healthy sugar-friendly recipe (like heart-shaped fudge)
  • Write a gratitude list (10 things you’re truly grateful for right now)
  • Try out a new class or learn a new skill

For the singletons out there, if you find yourself tempted to drown yourself in chocolate sorrow, this video by sugar-free Gabrielle Bernstein has some great mindset tips to help shift you out of the blues.

Finally…

If after all of this you still feel like you’re missing out on chocolate, remember healing your relationship with sugar has a lot of similarities to overcoming a romantic relationship. You really do need space and time apart to grow without it in your life and right now that space is important to the long term end goal of feeling that you call the shots on sweet.

You can be ‘friends’ with sugar, where you feel in control and empowered, but you need to know that life and all occasionas can be just a rich without it first.

Show yourself that this is true this Valentines day and you’re well on your way to a happier balanced relationship with sugar long term.

Let me know what you think. Do you feel that fear of missing out when it comes to sweet food and particular holidays that push your favourite sweet treats? Any other items you’d like to add to the lists?

post-meal-sweet-craving-fixes

How to curb that post-meal sweet craving: 12 tips

If you crave something sweet after a meal, I have some good news for you…You’re not alone. In fact, I’d go as far to say this is THE most common sugar habit there is.

I’ve interviewed, coached, talked sugar habits to 100’s of people and this comes up time and time again. It’s so common, I’d say it’s almost normal!

In addition to this I really do have experience of the post-meal sweet habit myself. Trust me, I habitually HAD to eat something sweet after lunch and dinner as if my life depended on it for YEARS. Eventually I broke free and I’m living proof that you can change what feels like a rock solid routine & habit.

I’m going to share with you some clever things you can do to curb the post-meal sweet craving, but first, work out if you need them…

How to know if the post-meal sweet habit is out of control?

Eating sweet after a meal isn’t necessarily unhealthy if it’s small, moderated and you don’t actually need it to an obsessive extent. However, it can feed an unhealthy relationship with sugar where you’re noticing your need for the fix getting bigger (thus eating more sugar) or you’re starting seeing some anxiety around the habit.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Do you find yourself getting slightly anxious if a post-meal sweet fix isn’t available? You go to extra effort to get it e.g. going out in the rain or using up time when you’re busy?
  • You start taking your own dessert to your friend’s or relative’s house and you have to have some (even if they don’t).
  • You can’t concentrate after a lunch meeting until you’ve fixed yourself up with a cup of tea and a small bit of chocolate?
  • Have you ever not ordered a dessert but then dived into someone else’s or even worse, eaten their leftovers out of desperation?
  • You always keep a bit of something sweet with you so you’re never without?

Seriously, I used to do all of these at various points. All professionalism went out of the window on a particular work dinner when I asked my client (yes my client!) if I could please finish their leftover lemon tart. I had tried to be ‘good’ and not order a dessert but it truly backfired – to quite an embarrassing extent.

Don’t get me wrong, I was concerned about my professional reputation, but right in that moment, all I cared about was the anticipated sugar hit I’d get from that half eaten lemon tart. I’m still in awe of how sometimes sugar was able to override all my other rational behaviour. My colleague never let me live it all down! Needless to say, this was one of the points when I really started to feel frustrated at my sugary ways.

If you can relate to some of the above, then try some of the following to help curb that post-meal sweet fix:

1. Believe that you can change this habit.

Start with your beliefs and thoughts. If you keep telling yourself you never will, you possibly won’t.

 2. Swap milk chocolate for dark chocolate.

Of course there’s still sugar in dark chocolate but it’s a lot less. Also, the darker you go, the lower it gets. I’ve reviewed a load of different brands here and you can watch this helpful video blog that explains the sugar differences between different dark chocolate %’s

3. Embrace hot drinks.

Tea, coffee, cappuccinos and lattes (not hot chocolate unfortunately!). Milky drinks can work particularly well because of the natural lactose sugar that has a certain sweetness to it. This works wonders at cleansing out the taste of your savoury foods.

post-meal-sweet-craving-fixes

4. Try a few glugs of coconut water.

Again naturally sweet but not too crazy in fructose or sugar (check the brand carefully). This also works really well at breakfast if you find yourself craving sweet after an egg based dish (I did!).

 5. Add cinnamon to something

It’s a natural craving buster. Yoghurt, chai tea, or just some hot milk can all work well with cinnamon added.

6. Unsweetened cacao powder in milk

Ok you might cry out for it to be sweeter at first, but you can get used to it (I promise). Raw cacao powder is even better because the antioxidants haven’t been heat-zapped out. If you’re really desperate, you can add some stevia or brown rice syrup, but I’d try to avoid these so you don’t develop a habit of eating a sugar substitute.

7. Cashew nut snack packs.

I have these a lot these days. They are creamy and satisfying. Also handy to have if you’ve not had enough fat or protein in your lunch. Often if a craving strikes and find myself out and about, a small snack of cashew nuts does the trick.

8. Coconut flakes to mix it up.

Harder to find but these are really nice. I grab the unsweetened variety and toasted ones from Holland & Barratt as a bit of a treat every now and then. Watch out though, these can be addictive in their own right!

9. Swap fruity yoghurts for natural full fat creamy yoghurt.

Try adding cacao nibs, nuts and seeds to your yoghurt for texture. Again the natural lactose helps put that sweet taste in your mouth and the creaminess can cleanse the palate. Also make sure you read the three things you probably don’t know about Greek yoghurt here.

yoghurt-for-sugar-craving

10. Try avoiding onions for a while.

 

Onions leave a stronger aftertaste in your mouth that can increase post-meal sugar cravings where you’re dying to change the taste in your mouth. Try actively avoiding onions for a while to get you through the worst.

11. Give it time

Accept the post meal sweet fix requires repeated implementation for long term habit change. You have to find something you like (very important) and then you have to rinse and repeat for at least 30 days (& even longer in some cases) to really change.

12. Focus on one post-meal fix at a time.

Don’t try and change lunch and dinner at once unless you’re on a specific programme that’s structured to more intensely change your habits. For one month just focus on post-lunch and then for next move onto post-dinner. Dinner sweet fixes generally tend to be a lot harder to shift because your will power is lower.

 

Do you crave sweet things after a meal? What do you usually have? Have you successfully or unsuccessfully made any lower sugar swaps? Let me know in a comment below.

 

laptop tired

Sugar as an energy fix: How to break the habit cycle

Many of us have been there… You just feel so tired and zonked that right now you don’t give a monkeys if something is sugary, you just need to somehow function and get through the moment.

The afternoon is of full on meetings at work, the baby crying all morning after no sleep or you’re slumped over the laptop with a late night deadline that has to be met.

Sugar, in your favourite, delicious form, is an energy boost and a happy respite from the rest of the world (which may be far from the ideal situation right now).

I can’t deny it has appeal here. As I wrote that, I can remember really how hard these instances are. Sugar can be such a simple, easy, quick cheap energy. The moment runs away with you and it happens before you have time to think…

A perpetual cycle

The problem with using sugar as an energy fix, in addition to the negative health effects, is the really vicious cycle you can get yourself into. The energy slumps and interrupted sleep; the dependence; the habit and the belief that your body needs it. All of these feed your behavior and the cycle seems hard to break.

laptop tired

Your habitual response over time

If you’ve always used sugar in this way for a number of years, your body may have gotten pretty used to it. You might have tried to go without it but other healthy food just doesn’t cut the mustard. You desperately need sugar sometimes to get you through the day.

In this way, our uses for sugar e.g. as an energy boost can become very habitual and instinctive. Because those digestive biscuits will have propped you up on many occasions, your brain may well have created an instinctive habit loop around them.

When you see the food in question (e.g. the digestives as the trigger), you instantly start to associate it with the energy (or good feelings) it will bring. So much so, that you can even feel an energy lull if you don’t actually eat the food in question – you’d already started to anticipate the reward.

It’s similar to when our mouth waters and prepares for delicious food when we see it – we’re already expecting that taste and are somewhat in torture if we don’t feel the reward we expect.

Three things you can do here:

1)   Avoid the trigger when energy is low

Take action to avoid seeing the foods that you know are your personal trigger when you know an energy boost is needed. Don’t keep them at home; get someone else to grab your coffee to avoid the cake counter; and quickly walk away from your desk if you see someone offering treats.

2)   Seek to get the reward (energy) by a different means

Know that 30-60 seconds of high intensity movement works absolute wonders for energy levels. I know it’s not always practical but if you can find a meeting room, a respite 5 minutes when the children are watching TV or a break away from the computer, you can try this out. Do some jumping jacks or walk around the block at quite high intensity then take note of the instant energy boost you feel.

3) Examine the fat in your last meal

If you get energy slumps, there’s blood sugar management issues. One of the best things you can do is increase the fat component in your last meal. You can also up the protein, but most people these days have been so brainwashed by ‘low fat’ they’re skimping on something that can be a real energy game changer. Add extra avocado, olive oil, seeds, nuts or even a bit of cheese and full fat yoghurt.

avocado energy boost

Your belief around sugar as an energy fix

In addition to the habit loop mentioned earlier, it goes to say that if you repeatedly hear yourself say that you just ‘need’ sugar for an energy fix, you store that as one of your personal sugary beliefs which shape your future behaviour.

Your beliefs turn into actions and those actions turn into the habits as described earlier.

The first thing you can do is recognise this repeating thought pattern and become conscious of it.  Then you can seek to change the thought you tell yourself. Instead of ‘I just need sugar’ try ‘My body is telling me I need to naturally energise it and I can do this with a number of things’. I know it’s hard, but it’s worth shifting your beliefs here.

Remember your human body, while unique, is not completely different in that only chocolate/fructose/biscuits will do. You can start believing that it has the capacity itself to be energised by more natural healthy means once out of the cycle.

One of the most distinct benefits I see with people sugar detoxing and transforming their relationship with sweet food is a change in their energy levels. Whilst getting the nutrition right on the detox side does work in the short term and show you just what impact sugar is having on your body, don’t underestimate understanding your own personal habits and beliefs. Take the time to work on your habits & beliefs for successful long term lower sugar ways.

It’s life changing when you get out of the negative cycle and embrace the full energy to live your life fully, feel productive and spend more time with loved ones.

When are your common times that you use sugar as an energy fix? What 1 action can you commit to below to either avoid the trigger or try to naturally energise?

Laura xx

P.S If you want extra help getting out of your tiring energy sugar fix cycle then check out the Mentor Me Off Sugar Detox programme and make sure you watch the FREE video series that explains how to change your habits for lower sugar life.

 

SUGAR BY INFOGRAPHICS

The 12 diagrams you need to kick the sugar habit

Inspired by the beauty and sheer volume of clever little hints and tips in Buzzfeed’s 24 Diagrams to Help You Eat Healthier last week (make sure you check it out), I decided to put together a similar resource to help you kick the sugar habit. These diagrams will help you kick the sugar cravings motivate you eat less sweet food and give you ideas to deal with emotional habits.

diagrams-to-quit-sugar

 

I’ve scoured the interweb for the best resources and added a few little points on each. I’ve tried to avoid too many that are country specific (e.g. with loads of American products) and I’ve selected carefully to make sure they don’t repeat the same messages too much.

The chosen 15 cover a range of topic areas including motivation, awareness, inspiration, habits, emotional eating and sugar substitutes.

Uses for these visually appeasing and informative things:

  • Print out and stick on your fridge
  • Use as a screen saver
  • Save as a PDF on your Smartphone for quick ‘OMG I’m craving’ access
  • Print and stick in your journal/diary
  • Share on your Facebook and say you’re going to do it!
  • Create your own Pinterest sugar detox inspiration board or, just save time and follow mine HERE!

Enjoy and let me know which is your favourite and what you’re going to do with it!

1. Your Body On Sugar

Let”s start off with some basics. This shortish infographic from www.prevention.com covers some pretty motivating points if you don’t fancy heart attacks, diabetes, arthritis, wrinkles, depression or bad sex!

sugar-in-your-body

2. 46 Sneaky Names for Sugar

You’re likely to get caught out at some point but having an idea for the different names for sugar helps. Thanks to Julie Upton at www.appforhealth.com for this great infographic. If you revise before a food shop, you won’t be fooled. As a general rule of thumb, things ending in ‘ose’ or with ‘juice’, ‘syrup’ and obviously ‘sugar’ are a good way to remember most of these.

names-for-sugar-chart

3. The Sugar in Your Drinks

I have to say this is one of my favourites for pictures thanks to Dr Ed. Never again is a Burger King large milkshake going to be nothing more than a family sized strawberry tart (rocking up a mere 102g of sugar!). Ok, so four donuts are overall more unhealthy than a carton of apple juice, but it helps put things into perspective and I think it’s a good one to show to teenagers/kids.

how-much-sugar-in-your-drinks

 

4. Sugar vs. Cocaine

Moving on, this is perhaps not one for the kids! It will help you understand however why you do some seriously strange things when it comes to sugar and act out of character. Thanks www.healtheo60.com for reminding us that the binge, dependance and withdrawal type behaviour isn’t just for the drug addicts!

 

sugar-vs-cocaine

 

 

5. Emotional Eating

Whilst we’re on the topic of behaviour, I think this is an excellent infographic from Health Central to sum up some helpful points on emotional eating. I’d emphasis the pleasure deficiency in there. Beat emotional eating with some FUN!

 

stop-emotional-eating-sugar

 

6. Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Guide to Sugar

This is pretty awesome – Kris Carr certainly has her sugar wits about her. Most of it I align with however the only two small points I would make are:

1) I’m not keen on dates being in the A (best) category because I still think they can be addictive in their own right due to being such a concentrated source of fructose (& so mighty delicious)

2) I’m not in agreement that Brown Rice Syrup is Low GI – according the the University of Sydney, it’s got a Glycemic Index of 98 which is high relatively speaking.

Apart from those two points though I think this guide is pretty sweet!

 

sugar-guide-kris-carr

7.  Put Down Your Mexican Coke

Not as aesthetically appealing as others but it gets the fructose message across better than any other I found. Based on Dr. Robert Lustig’s The Bitter Truth lecture which is a must watch.

fructose-glucose-sugar-infographic

8. How to Battle a Sugar Craving and WIN!

I LOVE a good process flowchart. Great printable guide you can work through from Tosca Reno. Even better, if you can fix a craving up with a fructose free snack like nuts or coconut flakes for the first few times, that will help reduce the number of craving attacks you get in the future.

Sugarcravingflow

 

9. The Sweet Benefits of Crushing your Sugar Cravings

Need a good reminder to stick on the fridge and cupboard doors? Look no further than this colourful little gem from www.beyondyouthful.net. I like the fact it covers off pretty much all of the key benefits in a short and sweet way. YES tighter skin is there for the taking…

 

benefits-to-your-beauty-quitting-sugar

 

10. How Soft Drinks Impact Your Health

Clever infographic taken from Info Matters to make you think twice upon that cold refreshing soft drink. Eek!

soft-drinks-in-your-body-sugar

 

11. Where’s the Fructose?

Sugar substitutes can be a confusing matter to say the least but I Quit Sugar have done a nifty little job here of highlighting the fact that dates, coconut sugar, maple syrup and honey DO still count towards your daily total fructose tally.

 

sugar-substitutes-fructose-comparison

 

 

12. Kids Sugar Barometer

This chart by media.apnarm.net.au on the list because it’s helpful if you’ve got kids. That dotted line shows where various things soon overstep the World Health Organisation recommendations.

 

 

sugar-in-kids-products

 

Found this helpful? Then please SHARE and let others know about these incredible resources that will help us all collectively fight the white onslaught!

Let me know which is your favourite and what you’re going to do with it below in a comment!

 

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Is your inner perfectionist delaying your low sugar change?

I’ll just wait until I’ve got Fred’s birthday out of the way and then I’ll start. I’ll do better when the kids are back at school. I don’t have everything I need in stock and I’m not going to be able to get to a health shop for a week, there’s too much going on this month…I want to do it properly.

Sound familiar?

Perfection can be a real stickler for delaying low sugar change, but any change for that matter. With the New Year upon us, change & resolutions are all around.

Although I’m writing this article, I’m guilty as charged in a number of areas. I constantly have to remind myself that done is better than perfectly done. It’s taken practice & conscious effort. My intention here is to help you become aware of the inner perfectionist that might be holding you back from happier sugar habits or anything else that you want to be different next year.

Let this post open the door to messy, imperfect change that will help you transform your relationship with sweet food in 2015 so you can feel the amazing freedom and health that this lifestyle brings.

Lining up the ducks

So you know that you do want to address your daily sugar cravings and unhealthier habits, but you just need to feel a bit more prepared or organised. You need to read a bit more, get settled into a steady routine or wait until you feel ‘ready’….

If you start to hear these excuses pop up, just become aware of them. Not all perfection is bad. Sometimes there is a lot going on and it’s important to be able to give a change like a sugar detox, or a new goal around a habit the attention and will power energy it needs. However, ask yourself honestly if you’ve been delaying things for a while? Have new excuses popped up when the old ones have been resolved?

If they have, pick one small tiny low sugar action and do it today. Half the sugar you put in your tea. Swap the late night sweet snack for a handful of nuts. Have a peppermint tea post meal instead of the chocolate.

You don’t need to wait until 2015 or your ‘healthy start date’ to take one small action. By doing something now, no matter how small, you start to break down the more dangerous all or nothing mindset, which is important for longer term change and sustaining healthy behaviour.

Perfectionism & failure

Also know that perfectionism is highly correlated with fear of failure. Do you feel scared of starting something on the back foot which means you’re more likely to fail? You feel if you don’t’ have all the right snacks at home, you’ll eat sugar at the first chance and you’ll fail straight away. Or if you can’t cook the exact meal plan because of social things or the family, then you don’t want to do it at all.

Being prepared & knowledgable is useful, but there comes a point where you do just need to get on with action.

Last year I was scared of Twitter. Yep, I was petrified of a little blue bird. I avoided tweeting a lot because I was so paranoid I was going to get it wrong, annoy people, sound like a sugar preaching bore. I was worried my messages and voice would come out wrong and everyone would hate me. Eventually I just had to remind myself that even if just one odd tweet inspired or helped someone (& the rest were awful), that ultimately that useful nugget was helping someone and was better than nothing. It helped me overcome the fear massively and I’ve gained more knowledge about what does and doesn’t work with me and Twitter. I’m far from a pro, but to be honest I just wish I’d got on with it A LOT sooner and not let my perfection hold me back.

Likewise, if you start a sugar detox or low sugar intention, and over a period you eat just a few dozen grams less of refined sugar, or you manage to change just one habit, that’s a hell of a lot better than nothing. When you start to think like this you can see that there isn’t really any failure because you’ll always learn and make some progress. You’ll gain valuable knowledge on what works for you, what doesn’t, what you could do differently next time.

I say to all those starting the Mentor Me Off Sugar detox, the meal plans are really just a guide and there for inspiration. I would rather you adapt and develop them to fit with your situation or lifestyle, not stress that you haven’t stuck to them exactly. If you follow the general dietary principles, and instead use your energy to work through the guides that help you understand your own habits & emotions around sweet food, you will struggle not to change because you learn so much about yourself.

Don’t regret not starting sooner

Can you think of a time a while ago when you thought about trying to change your sweet habits but then you didn’t feel ready and you said you’d do it ‘later on’. Would you be healthier now if you’d actually just taken action back then or just given it a shot? I know I’d be much better on Twitter if I hadn’t procrastinated with it for so long and it’s taught me a lot about pushing through and just getting on with it.

Don’t wait, start today. Take action now!

Recognise your inner perfectionist when it matters

While some perfectionism is normal and necessary there becomes a point at which it becomes and unhelpful and vicious cycle. Try to recognise this point in yourself. It can lead to serious procrastination and particularly if eating less sugar scares you a bit, it can be the fuel for the steady stream of excuses that get in your way of your goals. Get out of your own way and turn the excuses on their head by taking that action.

One of my favourite quotes which has helped me enormously  in my life, career, business and health is the following.

 

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When I started this blog, I no joke printed this out and stuck in on my mirror. I would not be writing this, running a programme that I love & helping people around something I’m really passionate about if it wasn’t for constantly reminding myself of this.

I hope reading this post helps and inspires you to break through your inner perfectionist and embark on some exciting change in 2015. Of course it doesn’t have to be anything to do with sugar, but if it is then great. It’s the one health change that’s well worth a try.

If you want help & support, Mentor Me Off Sugar is ready and waiting for you at a discount in Jan, with the first 20 (still some left) getting a free consultation with me as a bonus. We can talk fears, perfection or whatever you’d like, so don’t miss out on getting the extra help.

Here’s to wishing you a really Happy New Year & 2015 kick off. Oh and feel free to follow the messy sugar hints and tips on Twitter!

Laura xx

Can you recognise your inner perfectionist when it comes to your health goals? What has helped you change in the past and take scary action? Comment below if you’d like.