alchemysalad

Living lower sugar…in Bali

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

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

Why am I in Bali?

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

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

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

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

I’m eating out 90% of the time

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

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

rawlunch

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Experimental vs. home comfort

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

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

gadogado2

Breakfast

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

breakfast

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

eggsandtomato

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

clearcafeeggsbreakfast

scrambledvegeggs

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

savourygingerbreakfast

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

mountaineggsbanana

Vegetarian focus (Ubud)

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

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

tempehlasagne

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

gadogado

Sugar on the side

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

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

ricetea

Drinks

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

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

limejuice

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

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

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

Watching out for natural sugars

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

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

blissball

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

Finally…chocolate banana pizza!

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

chocolatepizza

 

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

The final message

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

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

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

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

@happysugarhabits (lower sugar lifestyle tips and inspiration

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

 

 

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.

 

sugar-free-avocado-on-toast

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

 

avocado-and-chilli-on-toast

 

Cottage cheese & pumpkin seeds

 

avocado-and-cottage-cheese-on-toast

 

Ham

 

avocado-and-ham-on-toast

 

 

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.

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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!

 

 

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

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!

 

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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.

 

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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.

wine

5 Lessons my sober October can teach you about happier sugar habits

Last month I successfully completed sober October. Well, I officially ended it a tad early at 7:15pm on Friday 31st dressed as a zombified schoolgirl, but by then I’d completed a full 35 days without a drop of alcohol so I’d class it as a success.

What has this got to do with sugar though? How did it compare to a sugar detox? Do read on, because there’s tremendous insight around sugar from this experience that I know is going to help you think deeper around the usual questions of these ‘vice’-type detoxs – is it really worth it? Isn’t life too short? etc. etc. yada yada yada….

Why I did sober October

wine

So first of all, a little background. I have been low sugar for a few years now but I have still drunk alcohol pretty much throughout. I’ve always been very social – personality wise, I am in my element when I’m surrounded by loads of people and get my energy from being out rather than in. Thus alcohol, being interwoven into our social fabric (much like sugar), has established a place quite firmly in my lifestyle. And well, I just really like good wine and a cold refreshing beer at times (yes yes I know it’s not great for health or blood sugar but I still do).

My close friends in London decided to embark on the challenge which obviously made it easier because we could support each other and this also came at a time when I have been starting to question the role of alcohol in my life a bit (quarter life crisis?!). I also was deeply inspired by my friend Stuart Ralph and his 30 day challenge….so I went for it.

What can you learn around sugar from my sober October learnings last month?

1. Making the decision

It took me just over a week to make the decision, I was unsure if I wanted to really do it. Indecisiveness ultimately boils down to one thing – fear. I was worried this was going to make me sad, that my social life – which is what I deem as a ‘primary food’ – was going to suffer and I would be starved of a form of nourishment that makes me happy. I was also worried I wouldn’t stick to it and feel really crap about myself if I gave in half way through. That ‘I would rather not try than fail’ thought was niggling around.

This demonstrates very similar fears to those considering a sugar detox. It’s important to recognise we have these fears – it’s normal. The longer you take to make a decision, ultimately the more fear you have. As scary as it is, it’s so SO much better to try and fail than fail to try at all.

2. Committing

Once I had committed, it was amazing how I started taking incredible positive action to support myself. I got out my diary and filled it with other fun social engagements. I felt excited about the challenge. Creative fun non-alcoholic ideas just appeared in my mind.

Only when you’ve really made that commitment can the true magic start to happen. Sitting on the fence just doesn’t bring out the most of your resourceful self. If you’ve been deliberating for a year or month about taking serious action regarding your sugar habits, you can’t know the impact it will have on you until you really commit. I see this in my clients a lot. Usually as soon as they sign up with me, many stop eating the Haribo/Chocolate/Ice Cream almost instantly. The commitment and accountability is uber powerful in bringing out your best, don’t underestimate it.

3. A reminder of the gain

I did 6 weeks tee-total about 4-5 years ago just to see what would happen. It was such a long time ago I had kind of forgotten if and what the real benefits were of less alcohol. This being the case I was curious just to see what impact a month without would have and if a reminder of the benefits would serve as motivation to keep my intake more ‘moderated’ than it sometimes is. It worked. Like sugar, this toxin gives me spots and my skin is one of those teenage self confidence war scars that I am overly conscious about. I also realised that it doesn’t add as much to social situations as I thought it did and I enjoyed exercise more.

If you don’t know the benefits of a life a little less sugar then how are you going to really motivate yourself to live one? Having a mindful period to experiment and focus on one thing allows you see more directly how it is impacting your health, mental wellness, productivity etc. The gains you see let you weigh up the cost benefit with more personalised evidence than just the generic notion that ‘sugar is bad for your health’.

4. Confidence in yourself

There was one night when I really wanted a glass of red wine – my wine pushing friend even bought around a bottle to tempt me (she’s the equivalent of your sugar sabotager). In the grand scheme of things that one glass of wine wasn’t going to do that much damage to my health but I knew it was going to have an impact on my own self trust and confidence in myself. By this point I was in it for the sheer challenge and to prove I could do it. I’ve tried to do loads of things and end up giving up on them before, thus often class myself as not being able to ‘stick at things’. I wanted to do this just to build my self trust up a bit more on this front. Waking up the next morning, I was so chuffed at myself, all the other later temptations were a breeze.

When that ‘one isn’t going to hurt’ excuse pop’s up, remember that you’re also building your health up in terms of your confidence and self trust. Achieving something that you didn’t think is possible is so rewarding and motivating. Just prove yourself strong once and relish the feeling you get after. The craving for that can then become stronger than the craving for the sugar in question.

5. Control and consciousness

So has old sober October changed the role and amount of alcohol in my life? Good question. I can definitely see that I don’t need the excess in various places and will seek to be more moderated from now on. This month proved I can quite happily be content without it, however, I’m not signing myself up for endless fresh lime and soda waters just yet. Alcohol like sugar now, is just going to be a bit more moderated where I’m more aware of the frequency and amount. Also my body is more sensitive to both that I can’t have as much anyway. That’s the difference, I am in control of it and I’m making the conscious decision knowing full well what the benefits and costs are to me on a number of fronts.

Ask yourself that question to determine your dependence. Could you go without sugar for a period of time quite happily? Do you need it or do you choose it? Let this be the guide to the action you take, rather than what people say or the outlandish health claims you read on a daily basis.

Want to take action?

Feeling inspired? (that is my hope!). If so commit to watching my free 4-videos around getting your ideal balanced lower sugar life. Or check out any of the support programmes I offer. Or just get in touch via e-mail (laura@happysugarhabits), Twitter or Instagram and say what you’re going to do. It’s all in taking action!

Over to you

Is your relationship with alcohol similar or different to that of sugar? Do you recognise any of those fears in your progress towards control around the sweet stuff? Comment below or just share this article if someone you know will find it helpful.

Hope it helped…now where’s that cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc… ;)

Laura xx

Challenge_Final_3D

How to use 30 day challenges to beat sugar

There’s no doubt about it, structure and focus help with change and could potentially really help you with healthier sugar habits. When I look back over successful and unsuccessful things I’ve done (health and non health related), doing things in a defined period of time or with some accountability has usually worked the best. Thus, I’m really thrilled today to introduce you to my friend Stuart Ralph and his 30 day challenge philosophy which is a fabulous structure you can use to beat sugar in a number of different ways.

Stuart Ralph

I met Stuart just over 2 years ago at a London ‘Meet Up’ group for people venturing into blogs and online ventures. We stayed in touch and have supported each other along the adventurous ride. He’s a self help junkie like myself, gets frustrated at unethical marketing (where sugary foods are usually a common culprit) and has provided much inspiration to help me grow Happy Sugar Habits into what it is today.

I’ve also just devoured his wicked book Challenge Yourself, I Dare You: A Better You In 30 Days which is a short, but extremely powerful read that will make you want to take action and set yourself a challenge. I’m still deciding what mine is going to be in October…Do comment and commit below if you feel inspired to start a 30 day challenge of your own.

Challenge_Final_3D

Stuart has kindly shared his experience with sugary drinks and offered some fantastic tips….

How a 30 day challenge gave me a healthier respect for sugar

In 2005 I couldn’t help myself, every day I was consuming sugar. Unaware of what it meant to be healthy at that time, I didn’t see anything wrong with it, nor did I know how good I could feel on a more natural diet. That was until I went to the dentist. Laying there on his dentist’s chair, shoes squeaking against the plastic, mouth open, he looked at me and said “if you don’t stop drinking carbonated drinks you’ll need fillings… And you’ll get diabetes”. Wow. I’d always liked my dentist, but now I love him. His candid remakes were the kick up the arse I needed to be healthier.

This happened around the Christian holiday lent. I decided to participate in lent for the first time. My challenge, to give up the consumption of all sugary drinks; both natural and refined sugar. I have since gone on to do more lent like challenges, throughout the last 10 years. These 30 day challenges have made me healthier, happier and a more interesting person – if I don’t say so myself.

The first time I gave up sugary drinks, was unbelievably tough. My unhealthy consumption of refined sugar had spanned across 3 decades. Over the 40 days (and nights) I only consumed water, milk and straight alcohol. At first it was mentally tough, cravings came fast and often. However, slowly over time it became a little easier, eventually I could taste the difference between mineral water brands (let me know in the comments below if you think I’m lying or not).

Because I don’t want you to struggle like I did, here are my top tips for removing sugar from your life for 30 days.

Success tips (in no particular order)

1. Read the Happy Sugar Habits blog

Someone told me it was very good. Joking. Laura knows her stuff. She has written a lot of fabulous articles to inspire and educate. Great for empowering yourself before the challenge and motivating yourself during, especially if you’re having a down day.

2. Remove everything sweet from your house

This was one of the biggest mistakes I made during my first no-sugar challenge. I’ll never forget the pain I felt on day 2, opening up my fridge to see a big bottle of Coke. Reaching for it. Only to realise it was a no go zone. I paused for about 10 seconds, mentally battling that little mischievous voice in my head saying “Who cares just drink it”. You’ll be happy to know I didn’t grab it. Instead I had a nice refreshing water. Learn from my foolishness. You may have world class will power and discipline, but don’t test it during this challenge. Remove all sugary drinks and/or food from your house, work environment etc. Set yourself up to win!

3. Fill your fridge with exciting healthy alternatives

So this may be challenging if you’re giving up sugary drinks. If that is the case, use the money you would have spent on carbonated drinks and fruit juices to buy some mineral water. Go wild, buy some sparkling water. Buy some premium milk. Treat yourself to some Cravendale – you crazy cat (pun intended). Do what you need to keep things exciting. It’s when you hit boredom that your cravings will be the loudest.

If you are quitting the foods rammed with refined sugar, use this 30 days to buy healthier foods that have always intrigued you but you never got round to trying. Fill your shopping trolley with the healthy foods you already love.

4. Visualise yourself succeeding

Seeing the outcome you want it very important. Visualising your outcome i.e. more energetic, happier, will give you a reason to put up with the challenge and see it through. I once heard that the mind can’t tell the difference between a vision and reality. Your brain doesn’t distinguish between what you are seeing in your mind or through your eyes. So think about the outcome, see it in your mind’s eye. Write it down if that helps, keep it to hand. Even if you never call on your vision during the challenge, the fact that you consciously thought about it before you started your brain may be being driven by it, even unconsciously.

5. Reward yourself

This challenge will test your discipline (as well as build it) so make sure you reward yourself each week with something that excites you. That may be a hot bubble path, a trip to the cinema or simply sitting in front of the TV watching your favourite show.

Before you start the challenge decide an extra special treat you will give yourself upon completion. Firstly, because you deserve it. Secondly, because when times get tough, the thought of your reward will push you through.

The results. Upon completion of my 30 day challenge without consuming sugary drinks again, I went from drinking those dubious liquids once a day to once a week. Since my initial challenge I have quit sugary drinks 3 times and sugary foods once. Each time awakening me to their damaging effects, and encouraging me to seek better knowledge around food. I’m somewhat of a health freak now, but I still enjoy a Coke from time to time, as a luxury not a staple.

I have more energy, better skin and hopefully have increased my life span.

The 30 day challenge can be applied to anything in your life whether that’s removing a bad habit or implementing a new skill, give it a go. I dare you! Leave a comment below on what you feel inspired to do.

To your success,
Stuart

About Stuart
Stuart is author of the book ‘Challenge Yourself, I Dare You: A Better You In 30 Days’. Stuart’s focus is on empowering good people to realise the majesty that lies within them. You can find out more about Stuart here.