We all know that we could be healthier, could workout more and could spend more time on our mental wellbeing. This year I have put a huge focus on these three areas and I think I have done really well, overall. After a bumpy start to the year I gradually got better at focussing on positivity and taking my life in a direction I wanted it to go, I have worked out really hard I needed to and have allowed myself to relax more when I haven’t needed the extra work. One of the steps that was hardest for me, was going sugar free. We always thought that we ate really healthily but Mr C and I, like so many others, fell prey to the savvy marketing of the “healthy” lifestyle that is packed with hidden and just unknown sugars. So the second half of this year was really trying to focus on our diets, reduce portion sizes and find out what we needed to include and leave out so that we were eating completely sugar free. I’m not going to lie, it has been so hard, for me particularly. I never realised just how addicted to sugar I was, because I hadn’t noticed how much I was eating. But now I have been completely sugar free (minus chai latte once a week and my Mum’s birthday cake) for 9 weeks…yes, I’ve counted. Prior to 9 weeks ago I was trying really hard to be sugar free but just hadn’t got there yet and kept slipping up which I wasn’t happy with. I know this isn’t uncommon in many goals and that is why I thought I would share my 7 tips for quitting sugar, and more importantly, remaining off it. Because it isn’t easy, trust me.
You might also be interested in how you can eat healthily, without breaking the bank!
If you want to do this you really have to commit. But I think that it’s worth every ounce of will power it takes, sugar is absolutely horrendous for your body and your mind and if you have never tried to give up, I challenge you to try, because you don’t realise just how addictive and ingrained in our society it is until you do.
Some of the best resources I know, specific to sugar free are Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar website and books and 8 week program (affiliate link). I love her and she is a wonderful inspiration to living healthy in a very busy and business-orientated world. The documentary That Sugar Film is inspirational and eye-opening. Check it out on Netflix ASAP and you will be counting your sugar intake at breakfast tomorrow (I was!). Jamie Oliver is also doing amazing things in his fight again sugar, namely soft drinks so check that out too.
But if you just want to stay off sugar, then these are my secrets for you. Grab a pen, these will come in handy as you battle withdrawals and sugar lows (sounds like fun, hey?!)
Plan your next day’s food each night and write each meal (completely) down on a scrap of paper.
This was one of the best tricks that I used in the first few weeks and still use on days that I spend at home. When I am at work it is easy to stick to my meal plan because there is nothing else for me to eat, but at home I find I snack. And snacks can be the devil. I even wrote down what tea I was going to have with each meal, so that I couldn’t have a weak moment and just slip in a latte on a whim. I planned it at night, because that was when I was the most motivated – if mornings work for you I don’t see a problem with that, just try and do it every day if you have temptations around you.
I still have to use this. It is just a little pause that you take when you see something that you want to eat or think about something. I just say no for a moment, until I am past the kitchen or shop etc and then the urge goes and I can stop thinking about it. This ongoing desire of your brain to have something sweet is due to the addictive nature of sugar and my mind will always remember the high it gives me, but if I just pause for a second, tell myself “no” and keep walking then it’s ok.
Don’t have sugar in your house
This is hard if your partner/family is not on board with the sugar free lifestyle, luckily Mr C is all over it. It made a big difference once we didn’t have anything left, as I have mentioned before the addictive nature of sugar makes it hard to resist when it’s right there – so take away the temptation.
Do you have any idea how much sugar you consume each day? I didn’t. We were substituting carbs and packaged food with honey, fruit, “healthy” cereal, coconut water, frozen yoghurt and dried fruit and never realised that some of these things were up to 85% sugar! Seriously, use the resources such as IQS or just Google different foods and see how many grams per day you are consuming, it is staggering! So instead don’t go for “healthy” foods, don’t be sucked in by trends and marketing and just eat completely raw ingredients.
Have healthy snacks
If you have healthy snacks available then you will fight that temptation again. Still focus on whether you actually need the snack or are just, well, snacking. Writing down your meal plan helps here too. My snacks are: carrot sticks, celery sticks, olives, pumpkin/sunflower seeds, rice crackers and yoghurt.
Pay attention and take responsibility
This I stole from Pamela Druckerman’s beautiful book Bringing up Bebe when she mentions that French women “pay attention” to what they eat, opposed to complete limitations. I combine it with my rule of absolutely no cheat days, I don’t believe in the concept at all. A cheat day implies you can eat whatever you want with no consequence. This is not the case with sugar because one backwards step isn’t easy to get back in front from. Instead, just pay attention to what you are eating. At a party or event if you want to eat a cake but it’s loaded with sugar, if it’s important to you to eat it, do it! Life is short (shorter if you eat a lot of sugar though). But don’t go “well I’ve done it now so I can eat whatever for the rest of this day and start being good again tomorrow”. If they bring over seconds, think about whether you want it again. I have a chai latte on Fridays at work, because it’s a Friday, but I am exactly the same for the rest of the day, it’s not a cheat day. It is your choice to be living this lifestyle, remember why you do it and also realise that it is your choice if you break it. Take responsibility for your actions.
Have fun with it
I cannot tell you how much fun I have had with food after making this switch. I love the challenge of making recipes and once you start looking they are everywhere. I love Sarah Wilson’s recipes, they are the ultimate encyclopaedia for living sugar free and I strongly recommend them ( I must disclose that the link below is an affiliate link and I would generate income from any sales made through it, but that is just how much I love it!). Pinterest is amazing at sugar free, just like everything else. Look around and soak up the lifestyle and culture of sugar free – you will start to feel pretty amazing once those cravings subside!
The real reason that I was able to take sugar out of my diet completely, while all this tips helped me to do it, was because I wanted to be living a different kind of life. I pictured a life of fun, energy, health and happiness. I had those goals on my vision board. I knew that cutting sugar from my diet was the best way to achieve that lifestyle that I wanted. This mindset shift gave me the confidence and the motivation to put all these secrets into action. And it works for anything that you want to achieve in your life. If you want change or you want to improve your current situation then you need to be able to visualise and feel those changes to motivate yourself and you need to change up your mindset so that you can make the changes you need to take. Take my FREE 4 day mini course on mindset shifts for success if you have anything in your life that you want to change!
So, if you are struggling with cutting sugar out from your diet, I completely understand I struggled so much I was shocked with myself. But it gets easier and it is so, so worth it you will feel a million dollars.
You may be surprised with how much of this is a mindset thing – you just need something else to focus on and the belief that you really can give up sugar. If you want more help with your mindset then sign up for my free 5 day email course where I give you the quick steps to uplevel your mindset so you can achieve anything – even quitting sugar for good.