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My sugar journey: where I’m at

Being a relative newcomer to blogging, I’m still finding my feet. Opening up online is taking some getting used to.

I know from previous posts like ‘Why I Googled how to stop eating biscuits‘, that the harder posts to write do resonate and help others the most. So, I’d thought I’d open up a bit more and just lay down where I’m currently at in my sugar-free journey…

First up, a word of warning on this post. It’s bit deeper (& thus a lot longer) than my usual posts…but it’s important things I feel I need to communicate. 

My Happy Sugar Habits

Right now seems like a good and interesting time to let you in on where exactly I’m at with things. Last month I spent three wonderful weeks in America visiting New York, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and Boston. It was my first ever visit to America and a trip I’ve been dreaming of for years. It also gave me loads of time to think, recharge and I had some amazing ideas when it came to my Mentor Me Off Sugar programme and future sugar busting plans (watch this space).

Like you, I’m on my own journey with sugar. I was once addicted, yes. I have done some serious time without it (felt amazing for it) and it’s fair to say, I feel very differently about it now than I used to.

Interestingly though, at the moment, I feel like I’m changing and I feel the need to share these developments.

I say this because I’ve become a little bit more relaxed these days – I’m letting a little sugar enter the building, I guess, as an experiment. When I say a little, I’m really not going mad (before you have visions of me diving head first into a chocolate bath). What I mean, is a little bit more relaxed with natural fruit sugar (fructose); a little bit flippant with hidden sugar when eating out; and a dabble to see if very occasionally, I can have a smidge of dessert and feel 100% in control. That’s the end game here right? It’s not for me how I can eliminate every gram of sugar from my life forever, it’s about control, freedom, zero guilt, happiness and what I call my own version of ‘sugar harmony’.

The reason America comes into this post is because it’s where I observed and tested some new sugar habits. I wanted to share some of my experiences and how I felt these three weeks (plus show you some of the photos!).

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An amazing low sugar green juice I relied on out there // It wasn’t hard to find great salads in NYC //Appreciating cake art on St Patricks day // My last day in Central Park

Firstly, there is a lot of sugar bounding around. It’s pretty in your face. I guess it’s not too dissimilar to here in London, but I just think over here (where I live) I have learnt to become blind to it. However, when you’re on holiday, you notice things more. I noticed sugar everywhere, sometimes just for fun. I even took photos of it as a novelty like some sort of crazy sugar tourist…Look at this giant chocolate rabbit ha!

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Salad and wine in the MoMa museum // Me and giant chocolate rabbit (of course!) // Incredible view from the Empire State Building // Sugar addiction in it’s purest form!

What was nice, and made me feel safe, is that I really wasn’t bothered by most of it. Giant cookies didn’t appeal to me like they once would have. I had absolutely NO desire to buy anything in in the M&M store and the giant sweet shops made me feel sick (I just liked taking stupid pictures in them). Feeling this obvious change made me feel quite secure and safe. I think what I like most about my changed relationship with sugar is relishing in this control – knowing that I don’t desire sugar anywhere near as much as I used to.

That said, I’m not going to lie, there were some certain sweet looking things that did appeal on occasion and I did still get some cravings, often for particular things. Strangely, one of these was granola with fresh fruit and natural yoghurt (this used to be one of my favourite things). So I dabbled with some very posh expensive granola (might as well get the best right?!). It was really good, obviously pretty sweet and I didn’t need much of it. I did notice a bit of a slippery slope though. I wanted more and could feel the lure of this sugary food tempting me back in. I felt on the edge of control but I pulled back after a few days, resuming with green juice and egg breakfasts. I’m not going to be eating sugary granola at home, I learnt on holiday it’s still a sweet danger food for me, so that was a holiday special.

Expectations and ‘missing out’

As part of my American cultural experience I was aware that there were some foods I ‘should’ try. Like many, I absolutely love travelling and see trying different foods part of the experience, so I allowed myself some freedom here.

There was one day where I said, “right you’re allowed pancakes today Laura” (note an empowered decision). What was weird is that I just didn’t fancy them all day in the end. It got to lunch and I really really wanted this amazing salad I saw someone have – so I had that. I didn’t have pancakes or cheesecake the whole time. I intended to, but I just didn’t fancy that full frontal attack of too much sugar in my face and the occasion didn’t present itself. Again, nice satisfying evidence that I have changed.

Some will say I missed out. My holiday was jam packed with experiences as it was so I really don’t feel that way. I’m going to go back to America for sure, and I’m sure cheesecake and pancakes aren’t going to go anywhere!

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Amazing fresh sushi from a supermarket // Me in Times Sq // Me freezing to get a photo with a flag // Super healthy breakfast whilst staying with my IIN health coaching friend Kimberly

I tried plenty of other foods I had on my list. I had a traditional bagel with spinach cream cheese; a burger (a good quality one mind). I loved some of the traditional soul food. My favourites being black beans and collard greens. I did try corn bread (which is basically cake) and I knew straight away it had sugar in it.

That brings me to my next point. I quite often ate sugar in things when away either by accident or just because it was ‘invisible’. I really didn’t stress about this because I saw it as part of the social experience and I wasn’t scared these smaller amounts of sugar were going to take me back to my old sugar ways. I controlled sugar where I could, and let it flow the rest of the time.

Because I wasn’t diving into the cheesecake, this hidden sugar is probably where I ate it the most by being more ‘relaxed’. I had some delicious pulled pork which I know is made with sugar. I had some freshly made sushi with a good friend and realised the seaweed had sugar in it as soon as I tasted it. I had some bucks fizz (including orange juice) at a Harlem choir brunch (to be fair, I found that quite hard to drink with it being so sweet). I didn’t worry myself with all this too much because that’s not the life I want to live and is why I have to write this massive post to explain it properly.

The most guilt I felt was that I needed to tell you all about this where I was worrying that everyone thinks I’m this 100% sugar-free goddess all the time. I eat a very very low sugar diet yes, but I’m not completely virtuous. I help others with my knowledge and experience and I think my realistic approach does nothing more to enrich the support I give.

For anyone that knows me, I live my life very socially and I thrive on being out with friends and family. I know that I can do all of this without sugar in my life and for the majority of last year I did that (whilst I was getting full control and finding my way). Now however, I feel I could be friends with sugar again, just in a very measured way. I liken it to splitting with a partner. Only when you truely let them go and accept a life without them, can you become friends.

At the same time, sugar can be a very slippery slop and sometimes I feel a bit risky with this approach. As a result I’m still pretty careful. I can’t eat it completely in moderation like the average (not formally addicted) Joe, because I accept my relationship is still a little delicate for that (& might forever be that way).

I appreciate for some individuals, it’s too hard to be ‘friends’, but I think it’s what I’m aiming for long term. I’m 28 years old and I need to find what works for me, much like you maybe different point in your life and need to find what works for you. I’m learning lots about this working 1-2-1 with my wonderful sugar balance health coaching clients. I ask them and I ask you now…where do you want your relationship with sugar to be in a years time? How do you want to feel around it?

Home ‘healthy’ home

I can’t deny I was looking forward to getting back to my nutritionally dense diet after my holiday. I felt I did eat more sugar those three weeks in total than I have for a while, I think I sensed cravings increasing towards the end because of it. So I got back, had a week back almost fructose free and my home habits resumed.

I had the most incredible holiday. Really, I could have written a whole other blog on it. To think I’ve written just this much about the sugar!

I hope you found this post helpful in some way and that it aids your own healthy efforts. If you’ve read this far and you feel compelled, I would love to hear where you think you are at the moment in your sugar journey? What is your ideal outcome from all your efforts? Leave a comment. It’s amazing to share

Over and out,

Laura xx

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Me trying to look cool but I think she’s doing it better!

 

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16 replies
    • Laura
      Laura says:

      So pleased Heather (about the blog helping, not the diabetes obviously!). Do keep me posted on how you’re going with it all and let me know if any questions!

      Reply
  1. Roche
    Roche says:

    So good to hear you had a great time!! I am trying to follow a much cleaner diet at the moment and have cut out sooo much sugar in the last year, and i agree 100% with you, it feels great. Im no angel though, i love fruit and will have an apple a day, usually not more than one fruit a day. I love those Naked Bars when i really need something sweet as it doesnt have any refined sugar in it, and then the only other thing i have every now and again will be my protein shakes for the gym,which i probably have once maximum twice a week and have one thats not filled with added sugar, always with water or unsweetened almond milk. So basically, im trying!! I used to looooove chocolate, and i still do, but im at a point now where i can open it and have one or 2 squares and im happy. That happens maybe once every 2weeks, which i think is way better than my one choc a day habbit. I used to always love yogurt and would have one after lunch and usually after dinner aswell as i thought it was the best option when i always needed something sweet after a meal..now i know its not!! But so u learn, and its been fun!! I love that i can say “no thank you” when someone offers me something sweet, as i would Usually not even think twice. I also read a book by James Duigan- Clean and lean diet and it was his book that mainly got me off of the white stuff. I started reading alot of blogs,( yours being the best one ofcourse ;) ) and it has really motivated me to make better choices when it comes to food. I got married on the 1st march this year and lost 7kg by mainly eating cleaner and cutting out sugar,over the duration of about 3-4months. I still have my weak moments though, and will never deprive myself from a piece of cheesecake or choc mouse when were out for dinner, as i know i will just continue my healthy eating the next day. You have to live a little i guess. So thats where im at! Haha. Thank you for all your posts, it motivates us more than you know!

    Reply
    • Laura
      Laura says:

      Awe thanks Roche, great to hear your story and how you’re successfully going with everything. Must have felt amazing to have been so healthy for your wedding and it sounds like you’ve really found what works for you. So glad the blog motivates you, this comments means more to me than you know so thank you :) It can be crazy when you think how much you can change in a year and look back!

      Reply
  2. Betty Wilton
    Betty Wilton says:

    Thank you Laura . My experience with going sugar free is a little different as I am fructose intolerant . First the thought of giving up sugar was hard. But once I had been sugar free for awhile I knew that that I felt south better. No more cramps or vomiting . So the risk of eating sugar was like a punishment to me. I do crave for something occasionly . But I have to tell myself it isn’t worth it . I am also gluten intolerant . So it is a very bland diet and it is easy to think go on just this once but it takes a couple of unwell days to get it put of my system . Thank you once again for inspiring me to take the right path to better health .

    Reply
    • Laura
      Laura says:

      Hi Betty, wow congratulations on giving it up and being so aware of your own body there. I know that ‘it’s not worth it’ feeling as I’ve eaten somethings and really not felt that great afterwards too at times. As time goes on I’m sure you’ll learn how to make incredible tasting sugar-free and gluten-free meals. Sweet potato is really my saviour for eating gluten free as it’s just so delicious, tasty, nutritious and naturally sweet (with very low fructose). I’m so glad you’ve commented because it will help with recipe planning for the blog. Oh and THANK YOU for liking all my Facebook posts etc. It’s really been noticed and appreciated as I continue trying to get the blog out there!

      Reply
  3. Anna Roberts
    Anna Roberts says:

    Love this post Laura. It demonstrates why we love reading your blog – you show you’re a real person and therefore that a low sugar lifestyle can also be real. It sounds like you had loads of fun on holiday :) Its great you can now sense where there’s sugar in food its not ‘meant’ to be, as I assume the majority of people can’t and are therefore mislead. I also loved your metaphor about breaking up a relationship. I aspire to get to this stage x

    Reply
    • Laura
      Laura says:

      You are on your way missy! Yeah the relationship metaphor rings very true for me. I’m now having to gauge when I’m safe to test the water with ‘friends’ with a particular person. However I figure, when it doubt, it’s better to err on the side of caution and go a little longer without!

      Reply
  4. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    Love this post!

    Your reference to Googling also made me realise I made a very similar search which led me to your website – think it was something along the lines of ‘how to stop eating chocolate’ or ‘how to eat less sugar’.

    I did a mindfulness workshop earlier today at work and as part of it we had to eat a small square of chocolate mindfully. It was SO different and for the first time EVER, one square was absolutely enough. I found it fascinating and truly appreciated the taste and texture without shoving it in.

    I am on day 4 of consciously cutting down on sugar, and yesterday I felt hideous. Really foggy and a huge headache and was absolutely desperate (and I do mean desperate) for chocolate. Today I feel much better and aside from that amazing small square of chocolate, I haven’t had, nor felt the need to have, any chocolate or sugary crap.

    Feeling more positive today that I might actually be able to stick to a lower-sugar lifestyle!

    Reply
    • Laura
      Laura says:

      Hi Sarah, sounds like you’re pushing through the detox with resolve there and are already feeling the benefits :) Nice one! The mindfulness is such an important part of healthy eating and of overcoming emotional eating I found. A small square of dark chocolate eaten really mindfully is one of my favourite things. I think quite a few people come to my blog from the ‘how to stop eating post…’ which is really interesting. I’m really pleased though as it’s nice to know they’ve got somewhere nice to land in that small moment of despair! I hope it continues to go well for you, keep me posted!

      Reply
  5. Diana
    Diana says:

    Hi Laura, just want to add my appreciation for your continued motivational blogs and tips and your experiences too. Where am I on this sugar journey? Well I can’t remember exactly when I came across your website but it was sometime last year. What was so great is that everything made sense and worked. Information is power when faced with this sort of challenge and reading about another person’s experiences really helped. I am not totally sugar free but getting there. Having the ‘right’ food in the house was a major step forward for me – just don’t buy the sugary stuff! Sounds easy but it wasn’t for me to start with, the supermarket was my downfall but that has now changed almost all of the time. I do allow myself a little dried fruit as I find that satisfies any sugar craving I might get and, importantly, doesn’t ever seem to escalate into more sugar intake. I also have a chocolate dessert if I want one when we are out for a meal though some do now disappoint! As I progress I find the previously sweet things I used to enjoy are either now much too sweet or just taste awful. It is really great that I don’t experience those awful sugar lows any more.

    Keep up the good work! Diana

    Reply
    • Laura
      Laura says:

      Hi Diana, thanks ever so much for your comment :) It’s notes like these that do keep me going. I can totally relate to the supermarket being a tough hurdle, I remember that stage very well myself as I found it quite depressing to go in and see all the things that I was trying not to eat. Sounds like you’re on your way to a great place, I’m so pleased for you :) Keep going and I’m sure you’re inspiring better health in all of those around you too xx

      Reply

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  2. […] week I wrote a very long post on where I’m at, so this week I’d thought I’d give you some time back posting a recipe that is quick, easy and […]

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