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Becoming “not as fussed” about sugar: Anna’s journey

This is a guest post from one of my close friends Anna. In January she completed Mentor Me Off Sugar with grit, grace and a stubborn determination that saw her through to success. I was least to say, incredibly proud of her.

You’re probably thinking of course my friend is going to say nice things about Mentor Me Off Sugar, but truth be told I was nervous about Anna going on the programme – out of everyone, she really would tell it how it is. This write up was for her blog and readers and was published last month. I’ve cut some bits out to shorten it for HSH, however you can read the full version at www.bloggedbyanna.com.

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Celebrating Anna’s birthday this year during the detox!

Anna’s success is proof that the nuts and bolts of the programme work – if you stick to the meal plan and stay on track, your taste buds will change.  More importantly she is a shining inspiration for all of you reading that you can successfully complete a sugar detox, be happy, and still live a (somewhat) normal life for 6 weeks. You just need to commit, accept there is no perfection and try. Anna even made it through a month of birthday celebrations without any cake (to the point I actually started to feel guilty it was because of me!).

Over to Anna..

I recently embarked on a 6 week sugar detox programme. Crazy? Brave? Health freak? You might be thinking them all and I certainly had them thrown at me when I started out. But I’m now an evangelical sugar preacher; so my friends, family and colleagues better be ready to hear more!

Firstly, I do need to point out that the programme, Mentor Me Off Sugar, was run by one of my best friends, so it may seem I’m just doing her a favour by writing this review. But I’m not. And here’s why.

I always considered myself to be healthy and have done a couple of low carb diets before, which often meant low sugar. I’ve therefore already looked into food that naturally has high-sugar content (beetroot in your salad and orange juice for breakfast may be the culprits that mean you’re not losing weight), or processed food which has an unnecessary amount of added sugar (bread, tomato sauce, cereal… the list goes on). But I still couldn’t resist a nice bit of cake with a cup of coffee when they were brought into the office and suffered terrible energy slumps afterwards.

Now, if somebody offers me a cake, I’m just “not fussed”.

I honestly didn’t think this would be the outcome – I thought it’d be a great detox after Christmas and that I wouldn’t be able to wait to scoff some Reeses Peanut Butter cups (my favourite, just to point out) once I was done. This hasn’t happened yet.

So I’ll tell you about the programme and see if you think you could do it.

It is 6 weeks of no refined sugar at all, and 3 weeks within the 6 of no fruit. The idea is that by not having anything sweet at all, your tastebuds kind of re-programme themselves to not expect anything sweet. And by the end of the programme, you appreciate the natural sweetness of fruit again.

 

Alongside the detox challenge, there are weekly guides on sugar and emotional eating to build your knowledge, but most importantly, to keep you going. We filled out various workbooks based on that week’s focus (e.g. facing fears or changing habits), which helped me understand what I was going through and reflect on my progress. Although I like to say I have strong will-power, this information and the workbooks were vital for me to get me through the 6 weeks, as I believe you need to understand why you’re doing something to finish a challenge properly.

Habits also formed part of the emotional side of things. Sugar and sweet foods are comforting – think back to baking scones with your gran or receiving treats whenever you were good as a kid. This varies from person to person and obviously some are more extreme than others, but the ‘emotional’ side of eating that I could relate to was the very simple feeling of boredom. So I’ve been using Laura’s idea to assess whether I’m really hungry, or just bored. If I’m sat at work and could fancy a cup of tea and chocolate bar, I ask myself “could I eat a tin of tuna right now?” Because if I was really hungry, tuna would suffice.

The best bit about the programme is Laura. Laura being there for me was a huge part of the 6 week process, as it’s so hard to do a detox like this alone. Also, the other people on programme were there for support, so having both them and Laura meant I had accountability. I told them when I got through my birthday without a cake and felt great when I got a virtual round of applause. If I had had a bad moment, I’m sure I would’ve confessed to the group in the same way. We shared articles we’d found online with each other and commented on the latest video Laura had posted, knowing that we were learning together.

As this is a long old post, below are my main take-aways from the programme:

  • My own aim throughout the programme was to have control over whether I want the cake or not. I don’t want to give up cake forever, but I now no longer have a sugar cube man on my shoulder telling me to eat the cake, rather than concentrate on my work.
  • I listened to my body throughout the whole process – and afterwards once I had my first dose of sugar. I now know sugar makes me feel very sleepy and my skin isn’t a fan too. Towards the end of the 6 weeks, I was waking naturally before my alarm clock!
  • New food! I’ve embraced whole milk and have a new-found snack friend in the form of nuts. Ryan [Anna's bf!] had to work around the programme as he cooks our main meals and he said coconut oil for cooking is the best thing to come out the programme. I think I’m going to have to become a food blogger to show you the amazing food I’ve discovered.
  • My birthday fell over the 6 weeks but I was perfectly happy to have a cheese and red wine evening, rather than a cake and chocolate couple of hours. I will admit I slipped up once during my birthday by having sambuca. It was kind of forced upon me…[Laura here - not by me!]
  • Speaking of alcohol, this was the only hard part for me. Really, I shouldn’t have been drinking as much as I did as my body was going through a bit of a detox. Except it was my birthday (for a month, as you may have recently read). Dry wine is OK on the programme, but I can’t drink a lot as, let’s say, it doesn’t sit well in my stomach. So my usually binge-style drink is spirits. But mixers generally are full of sugar. I therefore drank vodka and soda for 6 weeks, and it was little boring towards the end. Now I’m out of the programme, I can have ‘diet’ versions. Apart from making me worry about ingesting chemicals, the programme has also taught me that artificially sweetened drinks count towards the re-programming of your tastebuds. So it’s better to avoid them still if I don’t want to crave more sweetness. Perhaps my answer to this dilemma could be to just drink it straight on the rocks?

If a detox like this isn’t your thing, I’d advise you to read up on sugar anyway on Laura’s blog, as there are a few things about the little grains that you won’t expect or realise.

I do hope that this will be a life-long lesson for my eating habits, rather than just my stubbornness to get through the 6 weeks. But so far, I’m happy I’ve gone from someone who asked for “2 shugs” in my tea to someone who can, 80’s drug-style, “just say no”.

If you’re ready to start saying no to sugar then join the next Mentor Me Off Sugar programmes which are kicking off on the 12th May 2014. There are various levels of support available to suit your willpower needs with a brand new face to face course running in London (Maida Vale area). The early bird prices end on the 27th April so don’t miss out on them. 

Anna’s just recently written up on how she feels 2 months after the programme end so have a read if you want to know where she’s currently at.Any comments for Anna or thoughts on her journey? Does it bear similarities to yours in any way? 

Easter eggs

A 3 step guide to keep you sugar strong this Easter

Deciding on this weeks blog post was a bit of a struggle. I had a number of ideas and options and then I just thought, what would actually make the biggest difference? Like last years 5-step Easter survival guide, I decided it would be motivational and supportive to help you keep strong through a sugary holiday that personally doesn’t quite hold the same weight as Christmas, but can be unexpectedly hazardous.

Easter can get tricky because generally it’s a time when you’re back at home or doing something different with the extra time off. This puts you in another environment away from ‘home’ habits with the notion of a ‘special occasion’. If there are young kids around, then Easter eggs are a given, and you might find yourself presented with a foil-wrapped hollowed-out shell of some kind. I know how tempting it is to crack just a tiny bit off the chocolate egg (I remember even trying to strategically get the thick part where there’s more chocolate…or was that just me? Ha!).

Easter eggs

Your 3-step sugar-strong Easter guide

Here is a simple three-step process to use when those tempting, socially pressured situations pop up and you find yourself faced with a chocolate Shredded Wheat egg nest (or FOUR – ah!).

A quick note before we start: if it keeps you happy, healthy, in control and on the straight and narrow, then it’s worth a try right? So please read on…

1) Harness your motivation beforehand

Physically write down the reasons why you don’t want to scoff chocolate eggs all weekend on a bit of paper or an electronic notepad or something. I’ve started using Evernote more recently, so you could try some snazzy app if it makes you feel clever. This step does a few things. Firstly, it will clarify this ‘why’ in your head more clearly, which is an immensely useful exercise. Secondly, it’s a way of holding yourself more accountable. Thirdly, you can refer back to it in moments of need. Do it now. Write something down. Even a comment below will count!

2) Talk about something ‘new’ you’re going to do

Before you give in to temptation, say out loud something new, daring or exciting you’re going to try over the next week or month. Easter is all about new beginnings, re-birth and fresh starts – right? Commit to more meaningful Easter action so that you’re not just celebrating with food. Talk about this for 5 minutes before you eat anything to either distract yourself, or at worst, delay, and allow yourself time to consciously make the decision (I’m all about conscious decision making at the moment).

3) Give it a ‘social significance’ rating

Your daughter has made a one-off special Easter cake versus some cheap leftover chocolate egg that’s just lying on the side. Each sweet offering has what I call a ‘social significance’ rating. The made-with-love cake maybe scores 8 or 9 whilst the naff chocolate egg comes in at 1. If you’re struggling in the moment, give the sweet food a score and ask yourself if you’d prefer to use valuable sugar moments for things that are even higher, or save the ‘spend’ for another time.

Easter for me…

As usual, I’m heading to my Grandma’s this year for Easter, and I am really really looking forward to it. It’s a nice break and a chance to spend some good time with the family. I will of course be faced with sugar, in the form of hot cross buns, chocolate and no doubt when eating out, but at least my Grandma now knows (& accepts) that I prefer my eggs and avocado to my former love of lemon curd on toast!

What is your motivation this Easter to keep sugar-strong? What do you find the hardest and do you have any other good strategies to hand? Oh, and any thoughts on giving things a ‘social significance’ rating? Leave a comment and let me know.

Laura x

natural vs. greek yoghurt

Natural vs. Greek yoghurt (video)

So when I first was going low sugar, swapping from my Muller Lights to my natural yoghurt was a big (& at the time quite painful) step. I used to eat a fruity low calorie yoghurt everyday for years after my lunch.

After trying lots of different natural and Greek yoghurts over the past lower sugar period of my life, I decided it would be quite useful to know what the difference is and state the key things to look out for when buying healthy yoghurts. Hence the inspiration for this weeks video.

p.s. in the video I mention grams of fat and this is with reference to per 100g.

p.p.s. I’ve just noticed I’m wearing my same striped top as the last video. Bad wardrobe decisions there….

What brands of yoghurt are you currently eating? Do or did you have a low fat sugary yoghurt habit to contend with? I’ve now made it easier to leave comments below so please let me know your thoughts and I would love it if you’ve got any questions I can help with xx

Isolated avocado

5 ways counting calories is working against you

Everyone has to make choices about what they eat and healthy efforts can be extremely misguided by ‘the calorie’. Calories have been associated with weight loss and dieting so it’s easy to develop calorie tunnel vision where only this number matters. I know that when I was eating more sugar, I was conscious of calories and over time realised how this thinking was working against me. I’ve fallen down ALL of these traps myself so be aware of the following 5 ways that counting calories can backfire on you:

1. You eat less nutritious food to save calories

For example, you decide to swap 1/2 avocado (140 calories) for a Ryvita (40 calories). Your avocado is supremely more nutritious, natural and filling but you’ve got caught up in a small numbers game. Calorie counting works better as a larger ball park figure so small differences aren’t worth worrying about, especially if they deprive you of nutrients.

2. You chose artificial sweeteners over natural sources

This can be a grey area, particularly if you try to stick to a low sugar (or fructose diet). Whilst you can argue some natural sources are higher in sugar, continually replacing them with artificial chemicals is not the long term healthy answer. A whole apple with some nuts, whilst containing more calories and a little fructose, will undoubtedly serve your body better than a Diet Coke. You also need to weigh up where you are with your self control around fructose at that time.

3. You don’t eat enough calories so you compensate later

This classic downfall where strictly counting calories works against your natural hunger. Common problems are ‘healthy’ calorie-controlled lunch salads or sandwiches. These items fill you for only a few hours but you end up starving at 4pm. The protein and fat (& thus calories) just weren’t able to sustain you. Suddenly high energy or sugary foods become either tempting or convenient, so you fall of the wagon with unhealthy food thanks to your low calorie lunch.

4. You choose low fat products to save calories

Low fat foods don’t sustain your hunger for as long as full fat and you can end up compensating as mentioned previously. Low fat foods also increase the chances that you need to add sugar to make something taste edible. Ever tried to eat skimmed milk porridge with nothing added to it? I will also add that a low fat yoghurt for example, even if it’s got zero sugar in it, is more processed than it’s full fat counterpart.

5. You simply lose sight of the big picture

Sometimes you focus so much on counting calories to keep within a range that you fail to consider the nourishment perspective of eating real food. Ideally you should be eating whole foods and meals that don’t have a label informing you of the exact calories. If you’re carefully counting calories, you might also forget that you need at least 5 (ideally 7-8) colourful portions of vegetables or fruit a day to keep your body efficiently metabolising and processing the food you are eating.

Have you fallen into the calorie-counting trap to the detriment of your wider health or do you relate to any of these like I did? Do you look at calories more than you look at sugar? Let me know in a comment or e-mail laura@happysugarhabits.com – I always love to hear from you.

Sugar-free sweet potato cake

Sugar-free sweet potato & walnut cake

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe. I seem to go through phases of deep emotional sugar-related thoughts to a flurry of recipes and then back to the deep stuff. If you like or liked your cake (like me), then this recipe is for you.

In my eyes right now, this sugar-free sweet potato & walnut cake is quite simply awesome. It’s authentically, completely sugar-free. That means it has NO sugar substitutes in it. No dates, no coconut sugar, no stevia, nada. It’s naturally sweetened with the sweet potato and dessicated coconut which are both low fructose. It hits my cake texture craving spot perfectly.

Sugar-free sweet potato cake

As ‘sugar-free’ starts to go mainstream, I predict you’ll see the ‘sugar-free’ label a lot. You need to watch out because it’s being used all over the shop for things I wouldn’t really consider truly ‘sugar-free’. Just keep your wits about you on this one.

Anyway here’s the recipe…

Sugar-free sweet potato & walnut cake

Sugar-free sweet potato cake

Makes about 10 portions

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 ½ cups of flour (I used rye flour)
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 3 tbls coconut oil (could try replacing this with melted butter if you wish)
  • 4 tbls milk
  • ¾ cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • ½ cup walnut pieces
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180C and grease an 18 cm round cake tin or a loaf tin.
  • If the coconut oil is solid, stick it in a little ramekin and place in the oven for a few minutes to melt it.
  • Cook your sweet potato. I tend to put mine whole in the microwave for about 6-7 minutes until very soft and cooked through. Peel, and then roughly chop/semi mash.
  • Place the flour, walnuts, baking powder, bicarb, salt, dessicated coconut, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
  • Whisk the eggs, milk & melted coconut oil together in a smaller bowl
  • Pour these wet ingredients into the larger bowl containing the dry ingredients. Fold the ingredients through (It can get a bit tough and seem like there’s not enough liquid but bear with it.)
  • Mash in the sweet potato until really well combined with the mixture (this takes a bit of elbow grease).
  • Place mixture into the prepared tin and push down with a wooden spoon.
  • Bake in the oven for about 45-50 minutes then let cool.

Sugar-free sweet potato cake

What to do with your cake?

  • Have a slice as a snack with a cup of tea in the afternoon.
  • Have a slice as a quick grab and go breakfast (much better than a shop bought muffin or those breakfast biscuit things)
  • Cut into portions, wrap in cling film and freeze. You can defrost them instantly in the microwave in 60 seconds…voila!

Now this recipe isn’t gluten free I know. If gluten is an issue for you, you could make it gluten free by using buckwheat or quinoa flour. You could also make it dairy free by using almond milk. But note, I haven’t tried this recipe with either of these options so you’ll be experimenting. Let me know how it goes!

What do you think about ‘sugar-free’ cakes and bakes? Have you found ‘sugar-free’ recipes that you don’t really think qualify? Do you get ‘cake’ texture cravings like me? Have you tried cooking this and if so how did it turn out?

 

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Sugar and self doubt: 3 doubts to banish

Sugar is annoying. Self doubt is annoying. We indulge in both and we don’t want to…blegh WHY?

I write this because sometimes, like everyone, I feel some self doubt about things in my life. This makes me remember some of the doubt that I felt with sugar not so long ago. These doubts have now evaporated from my life but I think it’s worth sharing what sugar-related self doubt can creep up on you at times. I’m living proof that you can push through this doubt and I’m hoping that writing this helps you, but also reminds me that the things I’m thinking now, I will push through in a similar way.

Common sugar self doubts

1. Am I SURE I really want to eat less sugar?

Life is too short. Sugar is nice. I don’t care as much about the long term health impact, I’d rather eat my cake now, enjoy it and live a happy life. Do you know how many times I thought this when I was in the throes of changing my habits?…A LOT. There were many times when I wasn’t completely sure if I did want to eat less sugar, but I kept going and I can honestly say I’m really really thankful that I did. Forget working out if you’re sure or not, and just do it. Give it a try for a sustained period of time and make a decision based on a longer timespan rather than a moment like this. Chances are you’ll come out on the other side smiling and very willing to carry on.

2. I can’t give up sugar like everyone can, it’s just too hard for me

You think your emotional attachment to [insert sweet food] is too strong to break right? You love that sweet food way more than the average Joe and could never give it up forever. I thought this too… about muesli bars… yes muesli bars! I know, I know, most people are addicted to drugs and alcohol but I couldn’t go a day without some dried fruit-sticky-puffed rice concoction, it was a bit sad. Anyway, I don’t eat them now….like ever! They aren’t part of my life. I did go through a period of sadness about this, but it passed. I wouldn’t want to eat a Special K now if someone paid me to. Let me tell you, if I can leave my muesli bars behind, you can leave anything you want to behind. It can be done.

Now you understand why I decided to use this as the main picture on my website!

Now you understand why I decided to use this as the main picture on my website!

3. What will people think of me?

Well I can tell you, they don’t actually care THAT much. I have possibly been on the side of caring what people think of me too much in the past. This played into making me question changing my sugar habits when no-one else was because I was worried what they’d think and how I’d come across at times. No-one really wants to be that awkward one at the dinner party do they?

However, it turned out my friends like me exactly the same if I eat sugar or not; people were in fact more interested in what I was doing and saying rather than dishing it; and without knowing it, I secretly inspired people to change but they never let me know. I really wish I had know all of this when I was worrying about what people thought.

So it isn’t easy at times, in fact it’s not easy a lot of the time. These thoughts will come and go and it’s important for you to know that most people feel them. Like sugar cravings, self doubt just pops up and is not easy to instantly shake, but persevere and you can come out the other side as a winner.

Have you got any self doubts that are limiting your healthy low sugar efforts?

Photo by Sarah Macmillan

Photo by Sarah Macmillan

 

sugar detox gradual vs. cold turkey

Sugar detoxing methods: Gradual vs. cold turkey

So hey ho, you’ve decided you want to cut down on the sweet stuff and you’re feeling uber motivated with all the articles you’ve been reading about why you should eat less sugar. You’re ready to give it a serious go but perhaps you’re not sure what the best approach is.

Do you go hard with a brutal cold turkey sugar detox or do you go for the more gradual option, where you gently prise yourself away from your beloved chocolate? To answer your sugar detox method woes, I thought I’d weigh up both approaches with the pro’s and con’s. Then you can make a decision that suits you and your personality the best. I know it’s mega annoyingly cliche, but like many things, there isn’t a one size fits all with this.

Going gradual – the good stuff:

  • A gradual approach allows you to change without a drastic overhaul of your lifestyle. You don’t have to worry so much about the social dilemmas. This is great if you have lot’s going on and a sugar detox is not at the top of your agenda – sometimes the rest of life can just get in the way!

  • You have a greater chance of changing habits long term because just changing 1-2 things at a time, you allow yourself to focus. For example, you can simply work on reducing the sugar in your tea for a month and nothing else, knowing you’re still moving forward and making progress.

  • Things don’t seem overwhelming and you don’t feel down at the complete lack and deprivation of everything sweet (a feeling that I definitely know I felt early on).

Going gradual – the drawbacks:

  • Because fructose will still be in your day to day diet in some form, you will still feel (& need to resist) sugar cravings, potentially daily. This will require regular amounts of ongoing willpower and can get somewhat exhausting mentally.

  • It takes longer and you don’t make marked progress as quickly.

  • It’s harder to determine the differences that are directly related to sugar – there could be other things you’re changing or that are impacting on your health.

  • It’s easier to slip backwards without really realising.

  • You can stay in the same place for a while and get a bit complacent.

Cold turkey – good because:

  • You can make a marked step change in your physical cravings and increase your sweet sensitivity (basically you re-calibrate your tastebuds to sugar).

  • You can attribute any noticed health improvements directly to what you’re doing e.g. clearer skin, increased energy. This can provide you with great motivation in the future.

  • There are clearer boundaries and this is sometimes easier to stick to.

  • You learn a lot in a short period of time and can use the knowledge longer term to help you.

Cold turkey – unfortunately:

  • You’re in the unhealthy ‘good’ and ‘bad’ mental state which is dangerous, especially if you have binge tendencies.

  • Cold turkey isn’t as sustainable because it’s hard to keep everything up longer term.

  • You have increased chances of experiencing unpleasant detox symptoms.

  • You can get caught up on finer details and lose sight of the bigger picture e.g. fussing over a few grams rather than addressing the root emotional causes for your cravings.

  • Can be anti-social (but you can get around this if you want to!).

What did I do?

Well, I did a bit of both. I started off with gradual changes – changing the topping on my porridge, swapping lower sugar products into my diet etc.(If you sign up to Happy Sugar Habits, I send you some gradual tips to focus on each week to help you with this).

When I reached a place where I was still craving sweet but I had made lots of healthy changes and substitutes, I started playing around with some experimental detox ‘cold turkey’ periods. I then went back to being more relaxed but at a new baseline. I now float around a bit. For some periods of time there’s barely any fructose passing my lips and others there’s probably a little too much (for me, anyway). The main marker of success for me is feeling like I’m 100% control of things. I think this is a nice thing to aim for, but you need to understand what that looks like and what it feels like for you.

There’s certainly a place for both of these approaches and a blend of them depending on where you’re at in your life, what other priorities you’ve got, what you’re commitment level is and of course, the level of sugar you’re currently consuming as your ‘baseline’. Your personality traits will also come into play. Just know there’s not one right way and you will have your own individual journey. Weight up the pros and cons in terms of what is more valuable to you and give things a go.
What approaches have you tried? Do you think there’s a ‘better’ one? What did you find worked/didn’t work?

keep-going

Sustain your healthy efforts: 3 quick tips

You may be doing well with your healthy ‘eat less sugar’ efforts so far, but you need to keep going for a sustained period of time to really benefit from reduced cravings and longer term changed habits.

If your resolve is wavering, here are some quick tips to keep you on the straight and narrow as you soldier on:

1. Take it day by day

Just pretend today is the last day. Wake up tomorrow and do the same. This little tip worked wonders for me when I was really struggling with initial cravings. Some of those I’ve worked with who are finding things really tough break it down even further. Take it half day by half day, or even hour by hour if you need.

2. Get inspired with quotes

Surround yourself with inspiring health or ‘keep going’ quotes. I’ve started playing around with Pintrest where I’m collecting up my own collage of inspiring thoughts. Find your motivating quotes of choice, print a few out and stick them on your fridge. Add one as your screen saver, write another on the first page of your diary or even set one as your alarm if you can! You’ll be quoting in your Here are a few motivating quotes to set you on your way…

ignorejunkfood

littlebylittle

eatdrink

3. Affirm the positive out loud

Tell people about where things have gone well. Tell them about your bright spots (even the tiny ones) and highlight the things that have been working. Even if it’s not been plain sailing, make sure the out loud stories you’re telling are the more positive ones. This will help you firstly remember what you did that worked so well, and thus remind you to do it again.

So keep going, keep going, keep going my sugar fighting friends! Little baby steps. Small tweaks and improvements. Eating more (healthy food) rather than less, and of course, accepting it’s not meant to be a smooth straightforward ride. Embrace those bumps!

What other things are you doing to help you sustain and embed your new healthy habits?

notepad

5 reflective questions to ask yourself after Christmas

Ho ho ho! Did you have a very Merry Christmas? I hope you had a lovely day wherever you are in the world.

This time of year is so special and fun, you really don’t want to be feeling anything negative. But I know guilt and other annoying feelings can creep in at times, especially if you’ve an overexcited sweet tooth in there, that’s well and truly gone to town.

If you find your sugar habits have gotten the better of you over the past few weeks, here are some essential things you need to ask yourself post-Christmas for some deep nourishing reflection. They’ll set you up mentally to help you move onwards and upwards to tackle the sugar demons into 2014 and beyond.

1. Did it rock?

Seems a pointless question but is important before we go on. Did you have an absolute blast? I know technically it’s not over yet with New Year still in the pipeline, but this is just a question to remind you that the whole point of Christmas is to enjoy yourself to the max. Remind yourself of all the awesome things that have made it so great focussing on the special moments, memories and laughs rather than all the food.

2. How much control did you feel?

Did one slice of Terry’s chocolate orange spiral into a dozen? Don’t worry, this isn’t actually your fault, it’s sugar’s. Because fructose is meant to be rare, we’re biologically designed to gorge on it whenever we get a chance. That is the problem with being surrounded by it in ridiculous quantities.

Then again you might have found you had a portion of something and that was enough. You did feel more control than last year (yay!). Put the control you felt on a scale of 1-10. Remember 10 isn’t the strictest control ever, but a place that will make you the most happy with your choices. This question tells you a lot about how you feel about sugar.

3. What were your bright spots?

Ok so you had two helpings of Christmas pudding after all, but you managed to snack on nuts all day instead of chocolate and your lunch was piled high with vegetables. When we talk about change, Chip and Dan Heath in their book ‘Switch’ talk about using your ‘bright spots’. One of the most effective routes to successful change is to identify and focus what went well rather than what went wrong. You can then put your energy into doing more of that.

4. Did guilt rear its ugly head?

Guilt is one of the worst feelings, like ever. Did you keep it in check or let it suffocate you? Continue to be kind to yourself and free yourself from guilt. It’s the first step to sugar-savvy empowerment, but it’s easier said than done. Practice being kind to yourself all the time because it’s a skill that needs mastering like anything else.

5. Where do you want to be next year?

Are you happy if you are in the same place next year with your sugar habits? If yes, then great. If no, then what would next year’s ‘ideal’ Christmas look like from a sugar perspective? How much control would you like to feel? How would you like to deal with any guilt? This is a great question to ask over the next few days as you contemplate your renewed healthy efforts in the New Year and start to make plans.

notepad

What about my self reflection?

So this year was interesting because after a year of a low sugar diet and with new habits firmly cemented over a long period of time, I’m confident I won’t ever go back to eating sweet food like I used to, even after eating it. I did eat a little Christmas pudding and some dark chocolate on the day which were both delicious. I had a mouthful of my cousin’s rainbow birthday cake and can safely say I didn’t want any more. Really artificial sugar like that just doesn’t appeal to me at all anymore, give me raisins, dates and bananas instead please! You might think i’ve got it all together but I’m still working on things. I am near the top of my control scale, but perhaps not so much with nuts so I’ll try to reign that in a bit come 2014. I don’t suffer guilt with sugar but I am working on being kinder to myself in other areas in my life. Always work in progress. So there’s my share…

What are your self reflections and observations? What bright spots can you identify? Leave a comment below and you’re self reflection is done!

Want to take on sugar in 2014?

Of course, if you want help, support and guidance you know where to come…. I’m booked up now with health coaching clients starting Jan but Mentor Me Off Sugar Detox kicks off on the 6th Jan (book before Dec 30th) and there are a few spaces.

I’m here (and would love) to help you every step of the way… nutritionally, emotionally and socially. Like the bright spots, I’ve collected up lots of helpful habit changing theories to help you reflect and take on not just a diet, but a journey of self development – because that’s honestly what I believe this is.

I have a simple philosophy really. That you CAN live a lower sugar lifestyle, feel truly in control and still have a life doing everything that you want, without long term pain or ‘missing out’.

You’ve just got to take consistent action, commit to it and put some work in (a detox period and some self development) to get there. If you’re feeling ready to make 2014 your healthiest happiest year, and want me to help you, then don’t miss out and book today to secure your place.

Special MMOS ‘plus one’ offer

A big element of Mentor Me Off Sugar is the community and accountability it offers to help keep you on track. I also know this works even better if you’ve got a close friend, colleague or family member bobbing along with you.

So in Jan sales sprit, if you book between now and before Monday 30th December, you’ll get over a 50% discount off another place for your sugar-busting pal. So if you buy MMOS Core pacakage, you can get two places for £210 (£105 each if you split it). Just select the ‘bonus plus one’ option in the drop down menu when you book your places.