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?

post-meal-sweet-craving-fixes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ask yourself the following:

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

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

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

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

1. Believe that you can change this habit.

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

 2. Swap milk chocolate for dark chocolate.

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

3. Embrace hot drinks.

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

post-meal-sweet-craving-fixes

4. Try a few glugs of coconut water.

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

 5. Add cinnamon to something

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

6. Unsweetened cacao powder in milk

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

7. Cashew nut snack packs.

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

8. Coconut flakes to mix it up.

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

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

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

yoghurt-for-sugar-craving

10. Try avoiding onions for a while.

 

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

11. Give it time

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

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

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

 

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

 

laptop tired

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

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

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

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

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

A perpetual cycle

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

laptop tired

Your habitual response over time

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

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

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

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

Three things you can do here:

1)   Avoid the trigger when energy is low

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

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

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

3) Examine the fat in your last meal

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

avocado energy boost

Your belief around sugar as an energy fix

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Laura xx

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

 

SUGAR BY INFOGRAPHICS

The 12 diagrams you need to kick the sugar habit

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

diagrams-to-quit-sugar

 

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

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

Uses for these visually appeasing and informative things:

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

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

1. Your Body On Sugar

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

sugar-in-your-body

2. 46 Sneaky Names for Sugar

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

names-for-sugar-chart

3. The Sugar in Your Drinks

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

how-much-sugar-in-your-drinks

 

4. Sugar vs. Cocaine

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

 

sugar-vs-cocaine

 

 

5. Emotional Eating

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

 

stop-emotional-eating-sugar

 

6. Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Guide to Sugar

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

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

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

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

 

sugar-guide-kris-carr

7.  Put Down Your Mexican Coke

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

fructose-glucose-sugar-infographic

8. How to Battle a Sugar Craving and WIN!

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

Sugarcravingflow

 

9. The Sweet Benefits of Crushing your Sugar Cravings

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

 

benefits-to-your-beauty-quitting-sugar

 

10. How Soft Drinks Impact Your Health

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

soft-drinks-in-your-body-sugar

 

11. Where’s the Fructose?

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

 

sugar-substitutes-fructose-comparison

 

 

12. Kids Sugar Barometer

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

 

 

sugar-in-kids-products

 

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

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

 

1

Is your inner perfectionist delaying your low sugar change?

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

Sound familiar?

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

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

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

Lining up the ducks

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

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

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

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

Perfectionism & failure

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t regret not starting sooner

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

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

Recognise your inner perfectionist when it matters

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

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

 

1

 

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

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

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

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

Laura xx

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

checkout sugar

What to think when faced with a mass of checkout sugar

You stand innocently in the self-service queue having quickly popped in to buy a birthday card or pint of milk. In my case, this morning, it was a pair of headphones from Sainsburys.

You’re minding your own business not really focussing on anything in particular when your eyes are absolutely bombarded from every angle with sweet food. You’re not hungry, you weren’t really thinking about sugar in any way, but suddenly, it’s inescapable. Oh look at those interesting gourmet chocolate wafers with chopped hazelnuts on top….Wow is that really a white chocolate mince pie flavoured Santa?!

Cravings suddenly descend and before you know it, a Maltesers reindeer has managed to scan itself through the check-out without you even noticing. Your habits are powerful. You can quite easily trick yourself in the moment if you’re not careful. Therefore it really important to making a conscious effort to manage your thoughts while you stand in that slow moving queue waiting to be served.

This is probably a very common dilemma at this time of the year for those of us who have had a history of less controlled sweet desires. I don’t have them so much these days, but I remember those feelings well and I know my clients have struggled with shop sugar pushers and clever marketing.

The worst culprits seem to be Tesco Metro, WHSmith (I just want a notepad!!) and,after today, Sainsburys in Old Street. Marks & Spencer used to be a culprit but I can appreciate that they’re at least trying to encourage a more healthy point of sale offering nuts and less sugary options.

So what can you do when presented with this dilemma?

Try tweaking the unbidden thoughts which come calling. Move from desire to curiosity, wonder, and blend it with a little bit of affirming thought.

This is quite a fun thing to do when you practice it a few times. It does help obviously if you’re not hungry having eaten a filling hearty savoury meal balanced well with fat protein and complex carbohydrates. Just take that out of the equation means you can’t blame use being hungry as an excuse.

Change your thought processes

Instead of saying to yourself ‘Oh gosh I could really eat one of those lattice mince pie right now’ say to yourself ‘I wonder if some people eat all of those lattices in one go and if they feel sick’ or ‘I wonder how many of people buy on impulse from here everyday and how much money they would save if they didn’t’. Let your mind wander with curiosity to help distract from those initial desires…

‘I wonder how long these have been on the shelves’
I wonder how many different ingredients are in that product’
‘How did society get to this point of sugar bombardment?’

Again, instead of ‘Wow that’s new, I really feel like I would be missing out if I don’t try it’ say ‘Seriously these guys are creative, they think of any way to get people to eat more sugar! I wonder what they’ll think of next’(then make a few guesses).

‘It’s only a £1, that is such a bargain’ think ‘I’m not sure I’d get paid a £1 to eat that in terms of what it’ll do to my health and cravings’

‘Today has been such a hard day, I really deserve a little treat’ try ‘Today has been really hard, what nice thing can I do for myself when I get home today’

‘Oh but It’s Christmas!’ say ‘I’m going to enjoy something much nicer than this when I am at [insert special event you’re looking forward to].’

Just play around with this.

Accept that it’ll work on some occasions and other times it might still fail – these things take practice because you’re working to change habits and impulse responses that could have well developed to be quicker than you. However you can slow them down and change.

Some things will work better for you than for others so it’s a case of finding your golden replacement thoughts that stop impulsive, pointless sugary buys that are just a big ploy by the shops to make more profit at the expense of your health.

Any other thoughts you have that I can whip out a counter to? Leave a comment below and I’ll reply with something else you can try. Please share with a friend or family member if they are also prone to these situations! They’ll save money for more valuable Christmas fun.

Laura x

low sugar style

Low sugar style: 3 ways to prepare for Christmas

Your first dilemma of the season is the chocolate advent calendar. Then it’s the dessert at the office shindig followed by the stollen someone bought into the office the day afterwards. FREE mince pies are presented to you only around TEN times during the month of December. Christmas day is full of sugary coated tradition and then there are all the leftover chocolates just lying around the house in full sight for that last week in December.

Sweet intentions

As Christmas kicks off and you’ve made the intention to be a little more sugar sensible this year, you might understandably be feeling a little apprehensive or nervous about the upcoming sugar warzone that is portrayed as all happy, jolly and white. It’s the time of year where you’re most likely to let it go, lose control and find yourself craving every sugary thing in sight.

Often is the case, the more you eat, the more you want and you’ve secretly consumed amounts of some things in previous years that you wouldn’t reveal to even your 4yr old nephew after too many proseccos.

The dilemma

It’s common to eat a lot more sugar at this time of year and chances are, you don’t feel good about it. You know you’re likely to put on weight, weaken your immune system and feel groggy. Not to mention you’re scared all the good sugar deeds you’ve done this year will fly out the window, where cravings and bad habits could come back with a vengeance.

It’s tough on the social side too – how is your old age relative going to feel if you don’t want one of her mince pies or your child has made a christmas tree biscuit just for you.

You want to somehow eat less sugar this year whilst not being a complete sugar scrooge right?

Christmas is a sugar minefield I know. I think because I’ve had a funny relationship with it, I’ll always be aware of it, especially because many of my favourite sugar treats come into their element this time of year (raisins, mixed peel, marzipan). Each year is different as I find myself at varying levels of control. Being a little more relaxed around sugar these days, I’m aware I do still need to watch it if I’m not to fall back into those old habits. A few tactics keep me in check.

Last year I recorded a slightly cringe video with 7 fun and easy low sugar Christmas tips and here are three more key strategies that go a bit beyond generic advice to help you:

1.  Indulge and feast on less sweet stuff

Technically it’s the season for feast and indulgence. You can still actually embrace that with less sugar by splurging on other foods that are still a treat but not of a crazy sugary kind. This will keep the cravings from getting a ton worse. A sausage roll, cheese plate or pastry savoury isn’t the healthiest option but it’s a festive treat that you could have instead of the sweet option.

2.  Plan and pick your moments

So you’ve got an office party, Christmas day and a visit to Grandmas that are the main things on your Christmas calendar. Make the conscious decision that you will have a little of your favourite something on these days (try to specify the amount or portion size) and then commit to eliminating all the mindless sugar stuff around these events e.g. the cheap mince pie at Debenhams, the daily onslaught of office treats. This will keep the small amount of sugar when you do have it really special, let you have things that are of highest value to you and ensure you cut down your sugar intake compared to previous years.

3.  Practice social sophistication

This year you might have learnt more about sugar than ever before and whilst you’re still on your way, you feel proud at the awareness and knowledge you have. This is great but be careful not to preach or start commenting on how much sugar each and every product has in it. People don’t want to know or don’t want to be made to feel guilty around anything they’re eating this time of year which is fair enough. Just do your own thing unless someone asks you a question around it.

If people notice you aren’t eating sugar like you used to then say that you’re saving yourself for xyz on Christmas day or emphasise the fact that you are loving the main course/starter or appetizer SO much, thereby shifting the focus of the foodie discussion. Working your way through the social minefields is as big a part of this so just have confidence in yourself to say no when you really don’t want something. Make your own choices and know that you’re the only one who knows where you’re truly at with the whole sugar thing, cravings, control etc.

Hope that helps!

How are you feeling about Christmas and sugar? Are there any situations that you’re expecting to be more challenging than others? Leave a comment and I’ll help where I can.

Laura xx

running sugar

Are you a running sugar addict?

Have you noticed that with running your sugar cravings have increased?

You’re feeling frustrated that you blast out an awesome 10k only to find yourself later  on the sofa with a packet of biscuits? You know it’s not the best way to refuel but hey, you’ve just run your arse off for the last hour – surely you deserve it?

If you suspect you’re a running sugar fiend (like I was!) then today let’s work through what’s going on here and start to identify what action can help you control your cravings, feel happier with yourself and help you increase your performance.

1)  Know that running can make your sugar cravings worse

Running (or for that matter any extended form of exercise) really can have a significant impact on your sugar cravings and play into the lack of control you now feel around sweet stuff. I know this because a) it happened to myself and b) a very high percentage of my clients are runners who find themselves with an insatiable sweet tooth (or a strong friendship with old Mr Haribo).

This is for a number of reasons…

Firstly, when you run your body needs extra energy, and when the urge hits you can be prone to crave the quickest source of food fuel available aka sugar in all its guises. Just being aware of this, you need to make sure you’re fuelling your body with a good source of energy beforehand so you don’t fall into the ‘give me anything I can get my hands on as soon as possible’ desperation.

Secondly, running burns off sugar calories. You don’t see the physical impact of them on your body, therefore it feels ok to refuel with whatever you want right? The danger here is that over time your palate accustoms itself to love all things sweet, thus cravings arise to haunt you much more than you’d like. It also goes without saying that sugar can damage your insides and do all sorts of other things that you can’t see or feel.

Just being honest with yourself here and observing your sugar habits around running and re-fuelling with sweetness is the first positive action to counteract the cravings.  I was in denial myself for a while which just made my sugar habit worse.

2)  Acknowledge your lack of control needs a different approach

You finish a race and your running pal gulps down a drink or energy bar. They however later pass on dessert (how can people do that!!??) and you know they don’t feel the daily need for sugar in the same way you do (it’s not fair!!). This is where you need to acknowledge that your relationship with sugar and sugary food is at a more unhealthy stage for you than the average Joe…and that’s OK. You’re not alone and you can do something about it. It’s important socially to recognise that others can use sugar and control their intake more than you because they’re in a different place with it (realising and accepting this will also stop you preaching – a big social no no!).

Again, be honest with yourself here and accept the fact that you possibly need to focus for a period of time on taming your sweet tooth and to do this you may need to adjust your running nutrition in a more personalised way to do so.

3) There are ways around this (watch sugar devil telling you otherwise!)

You perhaps feel like you have no choice – you have to drink that energy gel/eat that energy bar or you’ll pass out. You need those jelly beans because you’re tired. Running far and wide can provide you with almost guilt-free excuses to eat the sweet stuff – so watch that subconscious sugar pusher on your shoulder here. Yes sometimes you might need a little sweetness but, actually, there are other lower sugar alternatives you can opt for and it’s often the case you don’t need as much as you think you do.

A quick guide to help you

Recently I interviewed Jeff Gaudette, a professional runner coach who is the mastermind behind Boston Based www.runnersconnect.net. I’ve condensed some of his expert running nutrition knowledge and my practical coaching 4-pillar approach around working with sugar slave runners to create a quick Runners Guide to Sugar that will build further on this post. Enter your details on this page to get yours and start lower sugar post-run snack swapping!

The rest of the interview will be part of a new runners’ resource in Mentor Me Off Sugar. If you’re not already on the Front of Queue list for this, get on it now and 2015 could see you sort the sugar and smash your personal best. The Facebook forum has a whole feed dedicated to sweet-toothed runners (who have seen their performance improve during the programme) and I’m currently working on some helpful resources around recipes and protein powders.

What about you?

Have sweet cravings got worse or better with running? Do you find they are stronger at certain points? Have you found any great low sugar snacks that you can share to help others. Leave a comment below and share your insight.