depressed

Binged on sugar again? Your 7 must do’s…

You’re annoyed with yourself. Really annoyed. It was meant to be one small piece of chocolate to relieve a hectic day. Yet it turned into a rather large slab of the stuff; then 3 biscuits; and somehow the tub of ice cream also came out. Damn that Ben & Jerry’s…

Yes I’m talking about the almighty sugar binge.

For me, binges weren’t usually the ice cream type. It was usually a low fat fruity yoghurt, 2 muesli bars, a few handfuls of granola and then I’d pull out the biscuits, chocolate or cake.

I used to start off ‘better’ and then progressively get worse as I got increasingly frustrated with myself. It was like more sugary unhealthy foods were meant to more appropriately sooth my increasing rate of self-bashing and frustration for eating to unnecessary excess.

Laura those three handfuls of granola were ridiculous, you need to stop this. Ok well let’s just eat that piece of cake to feel better and then that will be it.

Yeah flipping right!

Whatever the food of your choice, the outcome is the same. You feel frustrated, annoyed, shameful, and possibly a bit sick. Too full, uncomfortable, embarrassed, and desperate.

You might also have even eaten something that wasn’t yours and be aware you need to go and replace it before they notice (I did this often because I usually didn’t stock biscuits but my flatmate did!).

All of this I describe is just the emotional downside of it all. Heck knows what that rather large concoction of sugar is doing physically inside your body.

So pain aside, what can you actually do? Like right now.

I seriously hope you’re still reading because I’ve got 7 practical and mindset shift steps to sort you out immediately. Read on my sugar guzzling friend and come out a new person…

1. Balance your blood sugar

Ok let’s start super practical. You’re possibly on a sugar high with an impending crash due over the next two hours. Your temptation might be that you deserve to starve yourself for 12 hours to try and balance out the calories, but this is going to take you right down the wrong path – both physically and emotionally.

Plan to steady your blood sugar with a healthy protein based snack or a full meal about 2-3 hours afterwards. It will help reduce the crash and steady you out again.

I know when I ate a stupidly sickly cupcake once on an empty stomach once, I felt so jittery for the hours afterwards I couldn’t wait to eat a proper meal to steady me out again. I wasn’t that hungry but I could tell my blood sugar was out of whack. Listen to your own body and respond accordingly.

2. Be aware of all sources of fructose and isolated refined carbohydrates over the next 48hours

Without getting overly restrictive (because this feeds binge behaviour), just be aware of all the sweetness passing your lips afterwards (e.g. sugar, dried fruit, juice, sugar substitutes etc.) and avoid eating what I call isolated refined carbohydrates e.g. a plain rice cake or white bread roll on it’s own.

The fructose will drive cravings more through your palate and increase your sweet preference whilst the refined carbohydrates will drive cravings through blood sugar unsteadiness. These two things are a little different in terms of what’s going on in your body, but keep an eye on both for a few days after to reduce the chance of a binge round two.

3. Green yourself up

When you eat a lot of sugar, your body needs to process it. To do this, it uses up a range of vitamins and minerals that you get from the rest of your healthy (or not so healthy) diet. Thus after eating sugar, there’s a strong a case for you to get coloured goodness (especially of the green kind) back into your body to replenish all that’s being used up.

This is a prime time to whip out that spirulina powder, add extra greens to your dinner or whack some extra spinach in your smoothie. Nourish and soothe. Your body can cope with the sugar onslaught but it will thank you more if you eat well to aid rather than starve yourself.

4. Talk out loud

Ok nutrition practicalities aside (the easier bit), let’s move on to the more serious matter of making yourself feel better in the moment.

Ever spoken out loud to yourself? It’s rather fun, try this one first:

‘I just ate [list it ALL] and do you know what, it’s OK!! HA!’

Then notice any self judgment you hear yourself e.g. You are not a good role model for your kids when you eat like this or you deserve to be overweight acting like this.

Mine at points has been…You can’t write a blog about sugar habits when you eat this much sugar!!

Then say:

‘I notice you self judgment. Thank you but I am choosing to like myself today no matter what I decide to eat’

If you feel a bit crazy talking to yourself, then confined in someone close who knows you well and will accept whatever happens with loving words and a realistic perspective.

This is part of my role as a coach helping people with sugar, but because I’ve got pretty good at it, friends now tend to spill their sugar sins on the fly. I’ve become a magnet for sugar confessions let me tell you.

Laura, today I ate three (medium sized) Lindt bunny’s in a row. Then I had some chocolate log, a coke and 5 bananas. That’s ok right?!!

I actually feel blessed that instead of people feeling scared of telling me they ate loads of sugar (which used to happen I suspect), they feel comfortable, accepted and normalised by telling me.

Of course, there’s likely action to take to avoid this becoming regular behaviour, but in that moment when it’s done, my primary goal is to make that person feel OK.

5. Add some other sweetness to your life

It’s often the case that overeating sugar is symptom of something else going on or just a lack of other sweetness in our lives (fun, self care, connection).

In the hours after your binge, commit to take one action to add something in over the next few days. Even if it’s just a hug, some meaningful human interaction, some love, laughing, dancing or even a flirt!

Write it down and make it happen.

6. Understand and consider the term ‘validated learning’

Now this is clever. I’m going to take a term from a business book a read a few years ago and let you use it for post binge mindset healing.

The term ‘validated learning’ comes from The Lean Start Up and is defined as process in which one tries something and can clearly quantify its effect afterwards e.g. in business you learn through testing the sales of your drink that using the phrase ‘sugar-free’ on your product sells 100 more units of it a week than when you didn’t use it (like what I did there?).

Anyway, back to your sugar binge. Use this experience as one of your ‘tests’ and validate your learning if you can. For example, you could say ‘when I’ve had less than 7 hours sleep and I skip breakfast, I binge on 3x as much sugar in the evening as when I’ve had enough sleep and eaten breakfast.’

Or ‘when I say I can have only 1 biscuit, I eat 3 and feel annoyed but when I allow myself 2, I actually only eat two and feel better about myself.’

Both of these are valuable learning.

Progress can be measured in the amount of ‘validated learning’ or lessons instead of just measuring the reduced amount of sugar grams you eat over the week. So effectively this binge can equal more progress in your lower sugar journey because you’ve learnt something valuable than if it hadn’t happened.

You just need to make sure you acknowledge the learning, ideally record it and take logical action on it i.e. don’t keep doing the same thing again.

Clever right?!!

7. Remind yourself you’re human and normal

Sugar is addictive. It’s middle name is binge. If you didn’t overindulge in it ever, you’d probably be less normal that you are right now for going a bit over the top.

Accept that you’re human, this is temporary and it will pass. You can choose how you feel in this moment. Sugar doesn’t need to be making you feel bad all the time and your body will cope.

I really hope this helps you with whatever you were feeling before you read this and I’d encourage you to print it out for yourself in times of need but also share it with others who may find it helpful.

Any other tips or things you do that you want to share? Did you relate to any of this?

juicetop

Juice detoxing and sugar: what’s the deal?

Ah juice detoxing, one of the most hotly debated topics on the interweb and in health circles. It seems that one of the most fashionable health accessories these days is a posh bottle of green juice that you can Instagram yourself with to look like the perfect vision of health.

In London right now juice bars are certainly giving Starbucks a run for it’s money – there’s one popping up on every other street corner. With all the hype, you can’t help but be somewhat intrigued and a bit curious?

But what’s the deal with sugar and fructose concentration when super juicing? Will they mess up your sweet cravings? Are juice detoxes really worth it or just another ploy for your pennies?

juice-detox-sugar

You’re confused right? I’m not surprised. I was too.

In this article I will shed some light on the topic with my own experience and help you get a balanced view so you can make your own decision.

This article is long so here’s a quick summary then you can decide if you want to read my more detailed (& somwhat entertaining account!).

To juice or not to juice

  • I would be suspect of trying to use a juice cleanse if your primary motivation is trying to quickly lose weight or redeem an unhealthy diet. Being an unsustainable practice you are likely to put the weight back on and the ‘quick fix’ approach detracts from the fact you need to be focusing on healthy long term healthy habit change.
  • Juice ‘detoxes’ and ‘cleanse’ programmes can be a bit overpriced and so be mindful that you’re paying for convenience and novelty over proven nutrition science.
  • People do juice cleanses or fasts for multiple reasons and some are noteworthy. I did mine for spiritual reasons, to challenge a limiting belief I had and to have some real experience for this post (you can read more below). Others feel they need to give their digestive system a break or just want to take focus off food for a few days to see what happens. Understand your reasons clearly if you are considering.
  • Sugar concentration from the fruit and lack of fibre can be a problem in these programmes and they may not align well if you’re trying to recalibrate your tastebuds to sweet. Many programmes I found in reasearching just had too much sweetness going on if you’re trying to get control.
  • Remember our bodies are designed to detox themselves.
  • A juice cleanse or fast can reveal a lot of learning to you around your emotional eating urges and habits which you can then use to change your habits long term e.g. if you successfully found another way to deal with an emotion.
  • In addition to my account below, I recommend you read this on Examine.com and this on Precision Nutrition. Two of the better and more balanced views on juice detoxes I found in my research.

In the name of research: my story

So I decided to do a ‘juice cleanse’ whilst in Bali. However before you pass judgement, let me explain clearly why.

My primary reason in the end was personal challenge, curiosity and let’s call it ‘spiritual exploration’ – the chance to focus on other things (meditation, journaling) away from food.

It was in fact a conversation with someone I met who relayed their experience of a 10 day water cleanse that piqued my curiously. A WHAT? Yes that was my reaction too. However, I have an open mind and was interested in the personal challenge and achievement benefits of it this person described.

I could hear the voice in my head reeling out health reasons and assumptions why I didn’t think a juice cleanse was healthy (no fibre, too much sugar, need protein, your body detoxes itself fine) or that it was just an expensive fad, but really deep down I was a bit scared of the prospect of not eating all day (or for a few days).

I didn’t think I could be strong enough to have the discipline required to complete something like that. Err hello limiting belief.

juice-detox-laura-thomas

I think my fear was part rooted in my history of having a strong emotional dependence on food. Whilst I overcame my unhealthy relationship with sugar, I’m still aware that emotional eating comes back to haunt me at times as this played big in my unhealthy sugar ways. Likewise so did mindless eating. For many years, food and decisions around food (mainly sugar) dominated me on a daily basis. What would happen if all food decisions were out of the picture completely?

So this was a challenge for me, quite a big one that made me nervous.

I’ll also add that I was in Bali and it was cheap so it felt like now or never. I don’t think I could ever bring myself to pay the fortunes in London that juicing requires or endure the hassle of making them. I also hate the waste side of things. Anyway, I decided quite spontaneously on a Thursday evening at 9pm that I was going to try this the next day and be done with my curiosity around it.

What about sugar?

I am strong in my opinion that many green juices out there are glorified sugar and fructose bombs with some spinach chucked in. The Green Godesss in the UK Pret as a perfect example (read more about what I’ve got to say about Pret snacks and juices here). The best green juice I’ve found in the UK was one at Crush. Having them to occasionally supplement a diet to get more green in is absolutely a healthy move, especially if you know you’re not getting enough vegetables at any one point.

crush-green-juice

 

However, when you juice, you remove the fibre. Fibre in fruit really helps slow down the absorption of the sugar (fructose) and lessens the impact on your liver, hence why whole fruit consumed in moderation is a healthy dose of fructose that our bodies can deal with. Juice detoxes can very quickly overload you with fructose and if you’re in a period of sweetness recalibration trying to get control over your chocolate habits, this is far from ideal. Read about the difference between juices and smoothies here.

 

All the structured juice cleanses and diets that I found and researched just had too high of a fruit % going on for me. I really can’t hack sugary fruity juices that much these days because my palate has shifted, let alone a whole day of them.

Also, due to my spiritual reasoning, I was really doing a fasting challenge, just with the help of some juices and nut milks. So I made up my own rules:

  • Freshly made 80-90% vegetable juices with maybe some apple to sweeten the really green ones (Thank you to Wayan’s Coconut Juice Bar for providing me with these as required)
  • Beetroot and carrot juices OK for these three days to give me variety to green (those who are sugar detoxing I don’t recommend these as when juiced and concentrated they are quite sweet)
  • The odd cashew milk and coconut water during the day (coconut water is a source of a little fructose but it’s not significant and is extremely hydrating)
  • Aim to drink something approximately every two hours to stop getting too hungry
  • Stop gym and intensive yoga for three days (stick to yin and restorative only). Ecstatic dance twice during the weekend the exception because I LOVE IT!
  • Meditate, take it easy and let myself off from trying to achieve masses with work i.e. be much kinder to myself than I usually am

 

So what happened?

 

 

Day 1 – Woke and noticed the instant urge to eat breakfast. Wasn’t even hungry but had the urge. Interesting. Managed ok on juices. Nice green ginger number first thing. Yum. A purple beetroot fennel one was also really nice. Then I over did it with this hardcore green that I supercharged with every superfood they offered to put in it (spirulina, maca etc.). Went to ecstatic dance and treated myself to a cashew milk beforehand which gave me the energy to dance. I found coconut water really took the edge of any hunger and was nicer than the juice a lot of the time. I was quite busy with friends and tasks this day so I was nicely occupied.

juicetop

 

Day 2 – Went to the office to get some work done. Had to force the green juice down a bit. Started to feel a bit agitated. Wanted distraction from work. Could feel myself wanting to turn to food. MEGA interesting. Urges were frequent but I was determined at this point. Slight headache. Felt fed up. Please no more of that green juice. Went to the café and asked if they had no sugar watermelon juice. Nice lady made me one especially. Oh my gosh it was the best thing I’d ever tasted – the delicate sweetness was appreciated. Nice lady thought I was a bit mad how much I enjoyed this juice right in front of her but we bonded. Made me appreciate and feel so much gratitude for a) her b) this moment of being alive and c) this precious glass of pink juice.

 

Day 2 PM – My friend Lydia convinced me to do a colonic treatment to aid the detox process. Really not sure. Last time (4 years ago) I didn’t feel well afterwards, even if the repercussions saw my life changing awareness of sugar and the start of this blog!

Despite knowing the science isn’t there with colonic hydrotherapy, curiosity got the better of me so I tried one last time. Had coconut oil, a spirulina drink and probiotic afterwards. Juice and nut milk for dinner. Felt emotional in the evening. Felt urge for food to comfort but I was not giving in now. Resisted and felt proud. Savoured every mouthful of the nut milk like it was the last thing on earth (a mindful eating reminder at it’s best).

 

Day 3 – Woke up super energised and awesome. Not hungry atall. Didn’t fancy any of the juices so just decided to just drink water. Drank some coconut pro-biotic. Feel GREAT! Went to escatic dance. So much energy, such awesome music. Danced around like a nutter. Smiling, happy, proud that I got this far and have quashed my limiting beleifs around this. I can do anything!

Coconut-pro-biotic

 

1 hour after dance. Don’t feel so great. Went home. Got into bed. Started to shiver. Felt sick, very sick. The next 10-12 hours were a bed-ridden blur. The worst 5 hangovers I’ve had in my life combined into one. Felt like an idiot for doing this to my own body. Never again. The only thing that got me through was the thought that I could share the experience and have an entertaining story to tell. Did I say I felt like an idiot?

 

Day 4 – Woke up weak. No energy. Went and had some plain black rice pudding with coconut milk. Felt good. Ate another portion (it was small). Felt amazing. Became human again. Promised myself I would be really kind to my body over the next week to apologise for my silly curious experiment.

Afterwards – Generally felt good with energy the following week, alert and happy. Was conscious to eat really clean so mostly vegetarian and vegan salads the next few days.

The end!

 

Benefits and learnings

 

To be honest, physically, I don’t know what happened to me. I know many will have opinions and theories. Because I did both a juice detox and colonic simultaneously it’s hard to attribute to each one (scientific failing!). My suspicion is that me and colonics do not work. Some people swear by them, others say they’re a load of crap (literally). There is no strong science to support them and so I’ve made up my own mind. I can safely say I will not have one ever again.

Likewise physically on the juice detox. After research I’m not convinced our bodies need this but I do see there could be benefits. If someone’s been neglecting green intake and eating loads of not so healthy food (e.g. sugar, junk), obviously a juice cleanse is going to be an upgrade and they are likely to feel benefit.

juices

 

As I said earlier, the two best articles that I think lay things out in a sensible and balanced fashion are here on Precision Nutrition and Examine.com. Read them both and make your own decision.

 

What I do want to highlight is the benefit on a mental level which in someway makes those torturous 10 hours on the Sunday worth it.

I became super aware around my urges to eat that were obviously emotional or habitual.

The first one was breakfast on the first day when I wasn’t hungry. It’s like I knew I couldn’t have breakfast so I wanted it. Breakfast is usually where my early morning thoughts go. Was I going to be able to start my day without it? Concentrate? Well, yes I did. Life went on. The urge passed and I got on with going to the office and doing bits.

The second was on the sat night. Again I was seeking comfort and I was on my own with no company. I just had to write in my journal and actually this really helped me deal with my feelings. I now know I can use this as a strategy next time. The juice cleanse kind of forced me into proving it.

Identifying the frequency of these urges and proving to myself that they were just that, was very powerful for my self belief system.

And of course, I smashed a limiting belief about something I wasn’t sure I could ever do. This had a profound impact on my self esteem, confidence and beliefs over the next few weeks. The value in my ‘juice detox’ experiment was psychological much more than it was physical I feel.

So there you have it – my full, honest juice cleanse and detox account. I’m open to your thoughts and opinions. I only share to help if you’ve been wondering about this topic. I think it’s a very personal thing to do and everyone can react differently.

If you’re really in the thick of battling sugar, I suggest staying away from juicing and just focus on getting those cravings down as a priority. Crowding out, changing habits and shifting your sweet lifestyle towards a more savoury based one.

What have your experiences been of juice detoxing or fasting? Any sugar craving changes? I really hope you didn’t end up like I did…

 

donut-sugar-free-tips

Understand diabetes so you don’t become one of the statistics

You might not be right now motivated by diabetes unless you have personally been diagnosed or pre-diagnosed with it. However, even if it’s not a primary motivator for you at the moment, I urge you to read on to learn some important facts and get some helpful sugar tips around your own prevention.

An appropriate dose of reality

I normally keep things around sugar very light hearted and practical, because I preach long lasting lower sugar change that works with real life, not dogmatic abstinence. I’m also aware of the current demonisation of sugar in the media and I’m always conscious not to bring too much doom and gloom into low sugar life when I talk and write (because I believe change works so much better when its proactive and positive rather than fear based).

However saying all of this, last week I was preparing for a talk and wanted to dig a bit deeper on some diabetes facts and figures. Even knowing this area well, it was a stark reminder that shocked me once again. I felt compelled to share in depth.

Use at your motivation

Understanding both the potential and future magnitude of diabetes, along with the role of sugar in its prevalence serves you as extra motivation in your low sugar efforts.

If you’ve been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes then obviously there’s much more of a critical reason to take action, but if you haven’t, you don’t have to let it get to that stage.

I know I wasn’t primarily motivated by the risk of diabetes at the time I was changing around sugar but as I got more along the road, understanding the magnitude of this disease both inspired me to keep going low sugar on a personal level but also continue with this work that I do.

So here’s what I’m offering a simple guide to diabetes and some starter tips considering you’re current position (pretty hooked on sugar).

What is diabetes?

Diabetes comes in two types:

Type I – The body’s inability to make the hormone insulin (About 10% of diabetes cases and is often inherited)

Type II – They body not responding to the effects of insulin (About 90% of diabetes cases and induced through lifestyle and diet)

What is insulin?

Insulin is the main hormone that regulates blood sugar. When you eat anything (protein, fat, sugar, carbohydrate) it eventually turns into glucose sugar (energy) in your blood and insulin is the hormone released to pull that energy into your cells.

When you eat quick releasing energy often – for example refined sugar or high glycemic index foods like white bread – you initiate frequent high carbohydrate hits on your body and surges in insulin activity.

Repeatedly doing this over time your body through your lifestyle is what causes Type II diabetes. You wear either the pancreas or the insulin receptors out.

white-bread-diabetes-tips

Mark’s Daily Apple has an even more in depth explanation that I think is easy to grasp even with the level of detail it presents.

What’s the situation?

Let’s get some global facts and figures to get perspective:

  • 381mil with diabetes in 2013 an 387mil in 2014*
  • Prediction of an increase to 592mil by 2035*
  • A staggering 45% rise from 1990 to 2013 (were these not the Frosties hay day years?!)
  • If trends continue 1 in 3 will be diabetic by 2050
  • 15% of people who get diabetes aren’t overweight (read this story of how a 29yr old slim salad munching woman got it)
  • Research 2 years ago found that the availability of sugar in a country has associations with their prevalence of diabetes over any other food substance
  • The UK NHS spends £9billion a week on diabetes. If things continue at these rates, it could cripple the system completely.

diabetes-statistics-sugar

*Statistics from the International Diabetes Federation

What about pre-diabetes and gestational diabetes?

Pre-diabetes is where you have high blood sugar levels (your body’s starting to not respond to insulin) but they aren’t high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy in woman. In a similar way, due to the hormone craziness of pregnancy it can lead to a build up of sugar and the insulin secreted from the pancreas isn’t able to regulate the blood sugar. Dietary changes are recommended here for health of mother and baby.

What are the symptoms?

Unusual thirst, a frequent need to urinate, blurred vision, tiredness amoungst others. If you’re suspect, head to the NHS or American Heart Association to check more on symptoms.

What increases the risk?

  • High carbohydrate diet (especially isolated refined carbohydrates – sugar being the perfect example!)
  • Lack of physical movement
  • Being overweight
  • Frequent high fluctuations in blood sugar

What can you do today to help prevent?

I’m bearing in mind here you’re potentially emotionally and physically hooked on sugar (or fructose) so here are my best suggestions:

Focus on sugar over other dietary changes

I’m obviously going to say knock down the sugar, but knowing you’re already reading that here I know it’s easier said than done and you need a bit more of a strategy to do this.

However what I will say here is don’t try to do other things caffeine, gluten etc. at the same time unless you’re already easily practicing a diet free of these things or have been specifically instructed to for other health reasons e.g. Sugar first!

Priorities the most isolated sugar hits as your habit change priority

Work out where your biggest blood sugar hits are during your day and seek to reduce them as a priority.

Maybe you have a regular sweet afternoon muffin/chocolate/dried fruit bar habit or it’s late at night on its own. Can you swap this for nuts, some veg & hummus – something that will spike your blood sugar less and whip that spike out of your daily graph.

donut-sugar-free-tips

Make breakfast a slow energy release wonder

The morning is when you’re the most insulin sensitive so getting this right is key.

I seem to have had many conversations with taxi drivers in my years working for IBM and a lot of them were diabetics (I just energetically attracted them!). I had limited time to help them and the most frequent (only if asked for) advice I ended up giving in abundance was the importance egg based breakfasts with some healthy fat (avocado/nuts) and side vegetables (get 9 veggie ideas here)

Add fat and protein to slow things down

Glycemic Index (GI) is a measure of how fast things hit your blood stream and energy is released. Some people go on specific diets but it always confused the heck out of me because when you combine foods the GI of that meal of snack changes.

Trying to work out the GI of your meal = time consuming hassle (in my opinion).

This is a useful practice though if you’re eating something high GI and you want to slow down its impact on your blood sugar.

So if you’re eating an apple, have some nut butter with it or top a ricecake with avocado. Note porridge, even without any added sugar, is high GI, so that’s why I would always recommend you protein and fat it up with nuts, seeds or even coconut oil to lessen the blood sugar spike.

Take action sooner rather than later

Enough said on this that one. I’ve got 100’s of articles on this website for you to get started or re-inspired and I’m only a comment away if you’ve got questions.

 

In summary…

 

Don’t forget about diabetes just because you’re not reminded of it day to day like you are with the emotional pain of sugar. Consider your healthy self in 5, 10 and even 20 years.

 

Prioritise just a few things you can do today so you don’t get overwhelmed, keep your focus on sugar until you feel better around it and get on those eggs!

 

Any questions about your lower sugar strategy when it comes to diabetes?

 

Have you or anyone you know had to change diet as a result of a pre-diabetes or diabetes diagnosis? Comment below :)

Laura xx

 

 

alchemysalad

Living lower sugar…in Bali

In this article today I want to give you a bit of a guide and lowdown to how I’ve been living a lower sugar diet in Bali and the practicalities of this.

If you ever come on holiday or to work here, this may be helpful. However, it’s also likely to show you general principles, tips and tricks for keeping a practical healthy when you’re away and reassure you that life can still be lived without overdoing it on sweetness.

Why am I in Bali?

Just quickly I’ll explain this. I’m not on one big holiday as it seems. I’m actually here to focus and get clarity on where, how and what I want to do with Happy Sugar Habits going forward (exciting things in the making!). I’m in a place called Ubud – which is also renowned for it’s yoga and health scene but also now a supportive business community. It’s inspiration on steroids, seriously.

There is a co-working space called Hubud (with a raw food café!), a network of support and a vibrant expat community. I’ve continued to blog, work on projects and coach over Skype much the same as I would in the UK (my clients just see a lot of bamboo in the background!)

You can read more about where I am in this Telegraph article that was published last weekend all about it.

So what’s the deal with the sugar and food out here…

I’m eating out 90% of the time

I don’t really have a fully functional kitchen here so I eat out most of the time. It’s affordable and social. I miss my kitchen and the process of cooking somewhat, and obviously I’m not overseeing what exactly goes in the food, how it’s cooked etc. I know to some this sounds like a dream (no cooking hassle) and to others it sounds like a nightmare (loss of control). I’d be interested to know what your personal thoughts would be if you were to switch to this for a period of time? I have to say I’m really enjoying it, especially now I know where I can get quality goodness at a good price.

The first picture below is a raw food avocado sandwich from Living Food Lab and the second is a DIY salad from Alchemy.

rawlunch

alchemysalad

Experimental vs. home comfort

When looking through my pictures of food I realise I don’t have as many of real local food as I would like. You’re really spoilt for choice in Ubud and can get a very wide range of healthy and international cuisines. One minute I’ll eat really local but the next I’ll just find a feta cheese salad or something. This comes with being away for longer than a month. Sometimes I just want to know what I’m getting and that it’s going to have enough vegetables to make me happy and not too much suspect oil that makes me feel unwell.

I keep largely to the basic principles of eating lots of veg, ensuring some healthy fat (usually avocado, olive oil dressing, nuts or seeds) and some protein (usually eggs, tempeh, tofu, tuna or chicken).

gadogado2

Breakfast

Eggs are in abundance here. Breakfast I’m often having eggs with sides or just some local fruit (banana, mangosteen) with nuts or seeds if I’m not that hungry. One time I ate an avocado and some coconut flakes which was a bit random. Over the past few months I’ve started eating avocado like a fruit (technically it is one anyway).

breakfast

In my homestay where I stayed early on I would have poached eggs, tomato and a watermelon juice plus some nuts I bought myself on the side for healthy fat.

eggsandtomato

The pictures below are breakfasts I’ve had at Clear Café Ubud and Atman Kafe – two places that are more touristy/expat centred but have understood well what the health conscious yogi’s here want.

clearcafeeggsbreakfast

scrambledvegeggs

On the cheaper side, most local warungs (restaurants) you can get a load of greens & a few boiled eggs for less than £1. I’ve also tried some interesting savoury breakfasts like the rice, ginger, peanut and green bean dish in the picture.

savourygingerbreakfast

Pancakes are a common breakfast option here I’ve seen many have. I’ve had a couple – one being at 2am before I climbed a mountain. They are usually dripping in honey and have sugar added to the pancake mix so are obviously not the best regular breakfast to have. Note that day I also had warm banana sandwiches and boiled eggs cooked by the steam at the top. Flipping cool that I had to share!

mountaineggsbanana

Vegetarian focus (Ubud)

I’m not a vegetarian but I’ve been eating a lot more vegetarian. Ubud is this super health conscious bubble in Bali and there’s a big vegan and vegetarian scene. Generally I like this a lot as it means an abundance of vegetables, however sometimes I do find I’m craving more fat and sometimes more protein. Ordering a side of avocado or maybe some tuna helps with this.

The picture below is a tempeh lasagne I had. It was amazing but I was starving after a hardcore yoga vinyassa class and found I was still a bit hungry afterwards – needed more satiating fat!

tempehlasagne

One of my favourite Indonesian vegetarian dishes here is Gado Gado – boiled vegetables, egg, tofu, tempeh and peanut sauce. I’m not sure exactly what they put in the peanut sauce from place to place – but I know it most (if not all) of the time contains two ingredients I’m not a massive fan of – sugar and vegetable oil. Both of these are not ideal but I let them slide as generally Gado Gado is a healthy, cheap local option and I now ask for the peanut sauce on the side so I can dip at my leisure (I once ordered it and it was like a few vegetables in peanut sauce soup!).

gadogado

Sugar on the side

Juices, teas and coffees you usually get a shot of sugar or sugar syrup on the side here. I quite like the concept of this as it gives people the option to add sweetness according to their own taste preference (where I can opt to add none). Wouldn’t it be great if everything had this option?

However sometimes they do automatically add sugar to something like a watermelon juice or iced coffee so I’ve got into the habit of just saying ‘no sugar’ or ‘sugar on side’ when I order. It’s quite widely accepted as a request here – so much so that some places they even ask me before I say it. The picture below is an organic red rice tea I tried – naturally sweet from the rice and no sugar needed (well for me anyway).

ricetea

Drinks

I find in hot countries drinks are tricky because you can crave something more than just water. I written about this here and some tips you can use.

One amazing thing over here is the abundance of limes and coconuts. As an alternative to good old water, my low sugar drinks of choice to quench thirst are fresh lime juice (no sugar added) and young coconut water. Both are low in fructose and super refreshing when cold. You can also get lime and mint blends, water with cucumber and coconut water that’s infused with cinnamon. All totally sugar-free.

limejuice

When I get home, I’m going to make a big bottle of lime infused water and keep in my fridge for the summer! For anyone that complains just water is boring or is still tempted by fizzy drinks, this is a great one to try.

I do also have the occasional watermelon juice. It’s got a high water content and so is really refreshing without being too sweet (just check they don’t add the sugar).

Green juices are all around here. I tend to drink them for added nutrition rather than to quench or satisfy thirst. I also double check how much % fruit they are but I have to say the green juices here are veggie hardcore compared to the 60% apple juice type you get a lot of places at home in the UK.

Watching out for natural sugars

Because of the thriving health scene here, there are lots of ‘healthy’ sweet treats made with healthier alternatives to refined white sugar. Whilst this is great, I recognise this as a potential danger zone for me. You’ll find it hard to get hooked on white ‘sugar’ here but you’ll find it very easy to build up a fructose preference if you’re not careful.

There are loads of bliss type balls made with dates, cakes made with coconut sugar, blended iced drinks sweetened with honey etc. I’ve had a few as a treat here and there because largely I can trust myself more with sweet food, however there are days when I notice cravings creeping up if I go too much on these so I’m still careful. Luckily on the whole my body does tell me when I’ve had enough.

blissball

Sometimes I buy something and just test it out with my own tastebuds to gauge the fructose. For example I found these low sugar biscuits at a place Dayu’s Warung that are sweetened more heavily with coconut. I also found some bliss bars that again use goji berries and coconut rather than dates to sweeten which suffices for less of a fructose hit.

Finally…chocolate banana pizza!

I know this isn’t healthy but I found it amusing. There is a popular pizza joint here and they serve a chocolate and banana pizza. Some of my friends go crazy for it. I would have previously gone crazy for it but actually it makes me feel a bit sick now (I did try one slice of a friends and confirmed this).

chocolatepizza

 

I think it’s a good litmus test to help you determine where you are with sugar. Do you want to eat the entire chocolate pizza? Are you just curious to try a slice? Or does it really not appeal to you for various reasons? I would love to hear in a comment below!

The final message

I know this is a random lot of info but I just wanted to share honestly that I’m not eating super super healthy all of the time but I am still eating a lower sugar lifestyle whilst enjoying myself, being social, doing everything I want to etc. I hope it helps you do two things 1) learn some tips and tricks to use when away 2) know that wherever you are in moving towards a life less sugar, it’s really not a life sentence and can be practically managed.

Any thoughts or questions? Could you eat that PIZZA!!?? LOL

P.S if you like this article then let me know as I’ve got enough material to write a Part II!

P.P.S If you’ve enjoyed these pictures then follow me on Instagram for more and say hello…

@happysugarhabits (lower sugar lifestyle tips and inspiration

@lauraj_thomas (my personal account – food, sunsets and cute stuff)

 

 

sugar-cravings

How sugar is robbing you of the present moment

You probably know people who don’t register sugar that much. Those who eat one chocolate and then are completely oblivious to the others in the box right in front of them. HOW you might ask? HOW!!?

You know you’re different. That plate of biscuits or box of chocolates seems to burn through you. You’re trying to concentrate on whatever else but they’re just THERE distracting you because you want to eat them.

You’re restless and your sugar devil is throwing every excuse at you it can possibly think of…

What if I can’t access food for like 4 hours, I might get hungry. I’d better just eat something to keep me going.

Seriously, one of those isn’t going to make a difference. Everything in moderation.

Right, I’ll just do an extra 20 minutes on the cross trainer tonight to cancel it out.

I’ll never get to try that chocolate/biscuit/cake again in my LIFE. I need to try it.

I often use meetings and work conferences as my example here because I used to lose it if sugar was around, particularly if it was something I really liked.

Forget the content of the meeting; I had a steady stream of excuses, deliberations and justifications working through my thoughts. I for sure wasn’t fully focused on what my colleague was saying about that IT planning process…

I wasn’t present because I was worrying, thinking and obsessing over sugar to an unhealthy extreme that I didn’t like.

Robbing you of the present moment

Do you find yourself obsessively thinking about when dessert is coming out rather than enjoying the conversation with your friends at dinner?

Do you find yourself eyeing up your child’s ice cream a bit too much rather than feeling the gratitude and joy of enjoying watching them eating it there and then?

Does your gaze get stuck on that other team’s sweet treat feast from Switzerland so much that you walk straight into a filing cabinet? (Note.. this actually happened to me!) 

In the latter case, I wasn’t fully present on walking from the toilet to my desk and nearly caused myself an accident. I also had my sugar devil present an idea to me – to pretend to be in their team so I could almost steal some of whatever they were having. I was now contemplating stealing because of sugar!

Seriously, I truly believe aside from the obvious physical damage that obsessive sugar behaviour does, it’s just such a massive drain of our mental energy.

It really can rob us of the present moment and take us out of the ‘now’ which is hard enough to keep a hold of when we live with smart phones, Facebook and constant distraction these days.

The present moment and sugar

Now, I’m no mindfulness expert here but it is something I’ve learnt a little bit about through a combination of things – my holistic health training, a few books (e.g. The Power of Now) and living in Ubud in Bali which is a bit of a spiritual hub.

Don’t worry, I’m not completely woo woo on this and I’m no hippy (yet?!) but it does make sense to me and I think it’s a helpful perspective for you to consider when it comes to sugar.

It can help you become more conscious of the emotional and mental damage that your unhealthy relationship with sugar might be causing and highlight the present moments of joy it might be robbing you of.

Do this

Ask yourself honestly if you find yourself often distracted by either sugar related discursive thinking (that crazy going around in circles in your head) or self-critical thoughts (e.g. the guilt after eating too much).

I’m sure happens to everyone from time to time – it’s not something to eliminate completely.

However, if you find your loss of the present moment is due to sugar more often than not, you’re walking into filing cabinets or your listening ability is severely impaired then it’s time to pull yourself back into the ‘now’.

What to do?

1. Become conscious

Just start recognising that this is happening and you instantly pull yourself out of it.

This enables you to refocus on what is going on in the present.

Like with meditation, when they say focus on nothing and you realise you’re thinking about breakfast (this happens to me a lot), you just bring yourself back to the breathing.

You can do the same at dinner when you realise your thoughts are on dessert, just refocus more intently on the conversation.

Note: Do this WITHOUT judgment of yourself e.g. don’t self bash for doing it in the first place.

2. Quicker decisions

Have it or don’t. Decide in 5 seconds and then accept and embrace your decision again with as little judgment as possible.

Minimise deliberation. You only have so much will power and decision making power to use up each day so don’t waste it on sugar and save it for the important stuff.

3. Forgiveness

It’s scientifically proven that forgiving others and forgiving yourself is good for your health. So make a conscious effort to do it more and you’ll feel the benefits.

Like with the insane sugar devil chatter, resentment of yourself (for eating the sugar) or frustration at someone else (for thrusting it in your face) really does rob you of the present moment.

Just seek to let it go as soon as you can (I know sometimes easier said than done!)

Finally

As you can see I’m on a bit of a mission here to stop sugary food take away or make people miss the moments of joy in life.

Come join me on this and become conscious, forgive, live in the present and you’ll likely be a lot safer for it!

Does your sugar obsession rob you of your present moment? Is it something you’ve ever been conscious of?

 

 

 

Mixed pastries

Do you really know WHY you want to eat less sugar?

Deep, long lasting and empowering change. That’s what you really want here isn’t it?

That change where you look back and go, wow, 2015 was the year I sorted that thing out.

In our case, the ‘that thing’ is sugar or sweet food. The sorting is establishing a healthier relationship with it.

So what is really behind change of the long lasting type?

On crucial linchpin is a clear understanding of your WHY.

The thing which pulls you through the tougher moments. The cause that keeps you trying, that maintains your motivation and that pulls you back on track after a wobble.

So how you do work out what your WHY really is?

Well, you talk to yourself like a curious (& somewhat annoying) young child by asking yourself it way more times that you’re comfortable with (I’d say at least 5!).

Let me walk you through an example:

I want more control over sugar….Why?

So I don’t eat sugary things when I blatantly don’t need them…Why?

So I don’t put on weight….Why?

So I feel happy and confident in myself…Why?

So I can spend less metal energy worrying about that…Why?

So I can use the mental energy on the other things that are important to me [insert the top thing that is important to you here]

Now you have a deeper, clearer WHY that is more specific to you than just ‘getting control over sugar’ with no clear underpinning. You’ve got to the root cause of what this really means to you – which is truly unique and is going to propel you onwards!

This can really make a difference to your day to day actions and it’s those actions that drive new habits that make healthy changes stick.

Feel the depth just reading the WHY below…

I want to change my relationship with sugar so I can use my valuable mental energy on raising my kids/doing better at my work/pursuing hobbies that light me up/building solid relationships in my life.

Now of course, taking this example, there are some mindset and not so healthy beliefs in there that could be addressed. For example, the association between weight and confidence. That’s a whole other can of worms however, so just accept that for now these beliefs are rooting your WHY and you can for now use them to action some positive change around sugar.

Give it a go and ask yourself WHY a good few times to dig a bit deeper. It really can reveal a bit more about your motivation for making change.

Even better write it down and remind yourself of it from time to time. Busyness and social media mean we can often forget the things that are important to us so find some mechanism to keep important motivations at the forefront of your mind on a regular basis.

Over to you…

I’d love to know what your WHY is when it comes to changing your sugar habits. Have you given this thought before or have you just realised what this really means for you? Leave a comment below.

 

trust

Why you need to build trust with sugar over quitting it

Do you ever get that feeling, you’re just never going to be able to fully trust yourself around sugar?

You push harder, fight your will power with force. You’re stricter with yourself and stay away from sweet…for all of two days. It’s a bit yo-yo. It’s a bit love-hate. You’re not sure if you’re ever going to have a ‘healthy’ or ‘normal’ relationship with sweet things that you observe in others.

You’re not sure if you’ll ever ‘quit’ sugar and you’re not convinced you’ll ever be safe from a sugar binge or relapse because it’s just happened so many times before.

In the past few years I’ve learnt it’s not about quitting sugar, it’s about trusting yourself with sugar.

Whilst actual refined sugar is going out of fashion like no tomorrow and ‘healthy’ (but not really that healthy) sugar substitutes are flooding the shops, it’s still sweetness that’s the root problem here.

That friendly rush of sweet tasting something in whatever form does it for you.

Sugar-free is about to be printed on every other label, but we all know sweet things aren’t going away. Christmas will come every year. Birthday cake will still be offered. Life with sugar around will forever go on.

Sweet food isn’t going anywhere. There’s no magic product out there. Instead of looking outwards at products or solutions, you need to work on yourself and find your own inner peace.

Take note of the fact you can be fully hooked on sugar and not actually eat any refined sugar. At the same time you can have a healthy relationship with sugar and eat refined sugar.

Think about that for a second.

You can have a very healthy relationship with sugar and eat a little sugar.

Moderately. Occasionally. Playfully.

 All because you trust yourself.

When I didn’t trust myself around sugar, sweet stuff was a risky gamble. I never knew what might trigger the more erratic sugar behavior I knew was in me. I was anxious often at the prospect of doing so. I’ve still had to tread carefully at times and I’m far from perfect but sugar doesn’t scare me in that sense anymore at all. 

I eat sugar these days. Granted, not that much, but do you know what? If I decide I want carrot cake for breakfast one day, I have some. It’s just not big deal anymore.

I trust that my healthy sugar habits are firmly in play. My tastebuds will scream savoury if I overdo it on sweet and I’m intuitively aware of the unhealthy behaviours or signs that tell me I need to dial up my awareness a little.

Right now, you feel like sugar is your enemy.

It’s taking up your emotional energy. Its puts you into that twilight zone where you can’t stop and has some crazy magic power over you. You think about it everyday. When, how, what, how much, how healthy etc.

Rather than banish it from your life forever and cast it as the devil, consider an alternative approach where you take the reigns and build trust over restriction.

Imagine…

  • Enjoying a cocktail on holiday with no worry or guilt.
  • Not eating the dessert one time because you naturally just don’t feel like it. Eating a mouthful of dessert another time because you do feel like it.
  • Constant satisfaction that you don’t eat an unhealthy amount of sugar that’s doing you long term physical or emotional damage.
  • Confidence that you won’t be ‘addicted’ to sugar ever again
  • Knowing you have healthy habits and a healthy mindset that are going to serve you for life.
  • I believe in this way of healthy practical empowered living from the bottom of my heart.

So much so I’ve decided to work intensely with just two people over the next 12 months with a bespoke programme to help them embrace a renewed relationship with sugar, healthy eating and themselves that serves them for life and frees them of the mental ordeal.

The programme will cover all the pillars that I know make this work: basic low sugar nutrition (tastebuds change), habits and emotions, the social stuff and practical time saving implementation. Every annual occasion is worked through, and every block is broken through.

If you’re ready for a total transformation I would love to hear from you. You can contact me here. I’m excited to see what this amazing change brings for you.

Laura xx

Do you trust yourself around sugar? Would love to hear from you in a comment below.

 

Screenshot 2015-01-16 20.55.52

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.

Screenshot 2015-01-16 20.55.52

 

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.

sugar-shame

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