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

 

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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!

donal-oneill-interview-cereal-killers

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

 

 

sugar-free-reviews

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

 

 

 

quit-refined-sugar-for-lent

Quitting refined sugar for lent? Read this first

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

sugar-free-for-lent-honey

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.

quit-refined-sugar-lent-almonds

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?