Juice detoxing and sugar: what’s the deal?

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

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

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


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

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

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

To juice or not to juice

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

In the name of research: my story

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

What about sugar?

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



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


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

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

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


So what happened?



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



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


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

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


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



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


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

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

The end!


Benefits and learnings


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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

An appropriate dose of reality

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

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

Use at your motivation

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

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

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

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

What is diabetes?

Diabetes comes in two types:

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

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

What is insulin?

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

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

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


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

What’s the situation?

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

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


*Statistics from the International Diabetes Federation

What about pre-diabetes and gestational diabetes?

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

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

What are the symptoms?

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

What increases the risk?

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

What can you do today to help prevent?

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

Focus on sugar over other dietary changes

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

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

Priorities the most isolated sugar hits as your habit change priority

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

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


Make breakfast a slow energy release wonder

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

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

Add fat and protein to slow things down

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

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

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

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

Take action sooner rather than later

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


In summary…


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


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


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


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

Laura xx




How to conduct your own sugar lifestyle change review

How much do you stop, pause and reflect on the progress of your lower sugar lifestyle change or just any healthy lifestyle change you’ve been working on?

When every spare minute of the day can be filled with your smart phone – think Facebook, Instagram, E-mails and the lark, it’s very easy to forget to just sit and think or take stock.

The power in this activity is profound. I’d actually say it’s one of the biggest benefits of coaching of any kind, in that it provides and concentrated space for reflection, thought and clarity about a way forward in addition to appreciation of what you’ve achieved so far.

As we approach the halfway point of the year (end of June), I’ve got a sugar lifestyle change review you can do to help you feel positive and re-motivated to overcome the challenges that sweet things present in your life.

The inspiration: Press Pause


I owe inspiration to someone for this article. One of the new amazing friends I’ve met in here in Bali and had the pleasure of being guided by is Danielle Marchant – a natural and very talented coach who has helped me immensely over the past few months. Danielle embodies the notion of pausing and coming back to your own essence to guide you forward, and it works amazingly.

So how can you use this approach and philosophy into helping you overcome your sweet tooth?

I’m going to show you how.

 Conduct your low sugar lifestyle review

There are two steps to this. You can do it in about an hour. It helps to write actual answers rather than just thinking through. Grab a peppermint tea and get scribbling…

Step 1. Reflect on the past

Whizz yourself back to a year ago and ask yourself the following 5 questions. If you’ve made great gains just in the last 6 months, then go back to December.

  1. How much sugar was I eating day to day compared to now?
  2. Which sugary products have completely disappeared from my diet? (“Heck, did I eat that!!” kind of thinking!)
  3. How have my feelings changed towards sugar?
  4. What helped in doing this?
  5. What three things have I learnt about myself and sugar?

Answering these questions will remind you of how much you have changed and achieved. It’s very powerful.

If your answers don’t do this, it will highlight that embracing a lower sugar life hasn’t been a priority to you and may prompt you to re-consider it’s priority placing in amongst all else that is going on in your life.

Ask yourself this – Do you want to be answering differently by the end of this year? What are you going to do about that?

Step 2. Dream into the future

Here we do the opposite. We fast forward 6 months. When I do an initial session with someone these are some of the first things I ask to understand what their dreams are:

  1. Where do you want to be with sugar in 6 months?
  2. What does a typical day, a week and a month look like in terms of the sweet things you eat? (Include refined sugar, sugar substitutes and fruit in this)
  3. How do you want to feel around sugar when it’s presented in front of you and at social occasions?
  4. What physical and emotional benefit of your sugar change would you like to be seeing? E.g. weight loss, increased energy, emotional freedom.
  5. What would this mean to you? Your family? Your work etc.?

In terms of No. 2, really get specific of what you’d be happy with (not NOT what you think it should be). For example if you want to still be able to have something special e.g. a piece of birthday cake, you might say that twice a month you’ll have something like that. Or you’ll just seek to get sweetness in your diet from fruit and natural sources 3 times a week.

Note, there are no right answers here. If you’re eating chocolate everyday and you simply say that in 6 months you’d like to be eating it three times a week, that’s perfectly acceptable.

The current trend is to ‘quit’ or ‘give up’ sugar but I’m more in favour of someone crafting their ideal relationship with sugar that would make them the most happy and healthy, rather than follow the health trend just because it’s what everyone else is doing. Doing things more slowly is more effective and realistic that a complete sudden lifestyle overhaul too.

Be realistic

This brings me on to my next point. Try to be realistic and honest with yourself here.

I’ve developed the skill to detect when someone else is being ambitious with his or her health goals, yet frustratingly; I’m naff at detecting this in myself!

Ask yourself if you would be happy to put say £1000 at stake for reaching the goal. If it’s unrealistic, you’ll very likely not want to do this! Also identify what else you’ve got going on. If low sugar change is your number one goal over the next 6 months, then ask yourself if you’re happy for everything else to take a bit of a backseat whilst you nail this.

Something to add to your toolkit

You can use this exercise whenever you get a bit stuck, a bit downhearted with a setback or need some re-motivation. It really works.

Have a go before the end of June to mark the mid-year and see what comes up for you.

What progress have you made in the last 6 months with sugar and what would you like for the next 6? Comment below and inspire someone else…

Laura xx



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.



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).



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).


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.


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.



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.


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!


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!


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!).


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).



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.


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.


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).



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)



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.



Avocado on toast: Your ultimate guide

So I thought I’d dedicate a whole post to avocado on toast. YUM!

Why? It’s a nifty, quick, super nutritious & tasty low sugar breakfast that appeals to many and is good breakfast if you’re weaning yourself off of sugary stuff.

A lot of people come to me saying they don’t have time for eggs in the morning or they are short on time.

Well, avocado on toast works around this problem because it is super quick. By the time your toast has toasted, you can peel and mash half an avocado. 5mins tops.

Benefits of avocado on toast

  • Healthy fats & something green in your breakfast
  • Source of fibre, potassium and antioxidants
  • Feels decadent & indulgent
  • Can flavour or fancy to taste (salt, chilli flakes, herbs, seeds etc.)
  • Filling because avocado is a source of protein & fat
  • Children & fussy adults generally like it too (I’ve found anyway)
  • Oh, nearly forgot this one…completely sugar and sugar substitute free!

On top of this, there are some recent studies that show avocado really is flipping good for you. Read about the 12 proven benefits of avocados on Authority Nutrition if you’re still not convinced (or feeling still a bit scared of the fat).

So how can you have it?


Chilli flakes & salt




Cottage cheese & pumpkin seeds









You could also melt some cheese on top but I haven’t done this myself yet (I suspect it’s really good if you’ve had too many drinks the night before!)

I also found 7 other (more fancy) ways to do you avocado on toast on 700experience.com. Puts my pictures to shame and makes you hungry!

Don’t want to make? Eat out!

Of course you can make avocado on toast at home pretty easily, but you can also now get it out and about. Eggs will always be a brunch winner, but avocado on toast, now more widely available could be another winning savoury option.

I recently spoke to the lovely Natalie Glazee – author of The Nutritionista which is a nice little healthy website full of helpful interviews & reviews.


Natalie knows the London avocado toast scene a lot better than I do so I picked her brains for list of places that could accommodate this sugar-free request.

Even if you don’t live in London, you could keep this list to hand in case you ever visited. I’ve certainly got some on my radar.

Note: Even if somewhere doesn’t do avocado on toast, you can always ask for it – I suspect quite a few places will oblige.

Do you like or have you tried avocado on toast? Is it something you’d consider? What is your favourite way? Comment below with any other suggestions!




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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.