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Going sugar-free: 11 tips to help you give up sugar

After over-indulging in chocolate and sweets over Christmas, I had been feeling rather uneasy about how reliant I’ve been on refined sugars to get me through the day. So I’ve been on a no-sugar mission since the start of this year.

It turns out it’s helped me lose weight and balance out my cravings for sweet foods. To read more about my no-sugar challenge, click on why I’ve gone sugar-free. If you’d like to give up sugar too – whether just for a few days or a longer period – here are some tips that I’ve learned along the way:

1. Start small

For me, this was key – I only pledged to give up sugar for three days. It seemed manageable. I could see the end of three days. I know me – if I’d said I would do it for longer, I wouldn’t have stuck to it.

2. Reassess daily

Then after three days, I added one more day each time. So that’s where I am now. I’ve been sugar-free for a month and can give up any day I want. Mostly, I don’t really think about it. It feels natural now to eat sugar-free.

3. Read the labels

I switched yoghurts after reading the label on my usual brand and getting a fright. Also watch out for hidden sugars in foods like ketchup, baked beans, cook-in sauces, and bread.

4. Go full-fat

Or at least be aware that some of half-fat/ no-fat versions of products may have more sugar, like yoghurt.

5. Cook from scratch if possible

Ready meals and cook-in sauces are often high in so if you can prepare your meals yourself, so much the better.

6. Do watch your drinks

I’ve ditched all cordials and squashes, even low-sugar ones as I don’t want to have that sweet taste at the moment. Alcohol is a source of hidden sugar too so do avoid it.

7. Do eat fruit…

I don’t care that some people think fruit sugar, or fructose, is A Bad Thing – I prefer to draw a distinction between natural sugars found in their natural state, eg fruit, and refined, added sugars. The fibre in fruit also helps to balance out the fructose. Plus give me a break – I love fruit and it’s the perfect ending to a meal.

8. …but choose low-sugar fruit

I’m steering clear of pineapple, melon, mango, lychees, figs, cherries, grapes and dried fruit, which pack a much bigger sugar punch. Instead, I’m eating berries (look in the freezer section of supermarkets for frozen berries, which are much cheaper than fresh at this time of year), apples and oranges.

9. Avoid juice and smoothies

Juicing fruit removes the fibre, the stuff that normally works to dilute the fructose hit. Plus you need a lot of fruit to fill a glass, which equals a lot of sugar. Smoothies are better but still not ideal.

10. Watch out for sushi

You think it’s healthy, right? I did too. But all that high-carb white rice – in itself a glucose hit – is also doused in lots of sugar.

11. Have an alternative treat in mind

When a friend asked what my evening treat was now that I’m no longer reaching for chocolate, I told her an orange or some yoghurt, and she looked aghast. But after a lot of thought about this, I think I must have reassessed my definition of ‘treat’ into something non-food during this sugar-free project – from reading a book in the bath to watching a fab TV show or a night out with friends.

I’m also currently splurging on a super-duper posh teabag at the start of the day, which makes me feel special at the very start of the day too.

Read more:

Going sugar-free: why I’ve given up sugar
Health resolutions for New Year: 9 ways to find wellbeing
No-sugar pumpkin muffins
10 mistakes parents make when brushing their children’s teeth
How much exercise do children need in winter?

Plus check out my sugar-free puddings from my blog The 30-Minute Cook for Healthista.


Comments (31)

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    Boo Roo and Tigger Too

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    I’m not sure I could go sugar free, although I’m hoping to give up chocolate for lent

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    Jessica Purbrick-Herbst

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    Hi Carole – I love that you have done this. Its amazing how much we consume without knowing. My love is greek yoghurt – and once I found out it was the equivalent of eating a tub of cream, I gave it up… and guess what…. 7 kilos less later, I’m feeling great! Who knew?
    J x

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    Cherished By Me

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    I think that’s the key isn’t it, don’t put too much pressure on yourself and be aware of hidden sugars. At the moment I can cope with everything in moderation but I have given up sugar in the past…I felt amazing but then slipped back into bad habits. Well done on your success!

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    otilia

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    Great tips. I am on a diet now actually and I barely eat any sugar. Have to say i feel more active and not so tired anymore.

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    Jen Walshaw

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    Really interesting for anyone giving up sugar. We are cutting back, but it is a real balancing act. I steer clear of sweeteners due to their association with cancer

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Thanks, Jen. I steer clear of sweeteners too – I’m very uneasy about them.

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    My Family Ties

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    We have gone sugar free just after the Christmas excesses and we all feel so much better for it too, some great tips here.

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    Phoebe @ Lou Messugo

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    It’s hard to be good when giving up sugar means giving up alcohol and sushi! I have a sweet tooth and would find it vey hard to cut out all sugar but I do try to limit it. Not today though as it’s pancake day in France and we’ll be splurging on crêpes this evening!

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    Vicki Montague

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    What a great post. I try to reduce the sugar I eat and have done pretty well but I certainly haven’t cut it altogether. All I can say to you is a huge well done. You are doing really really well!

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      healthiermummy

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      Thanks, Vicki. I feel so much better without it.

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    Globalmouse

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    I feel like I’m addicted to sugar, I’m always getting craxings for sweets or cakes!! I would love to cut down. Great tips – but sushi?? Oh no!!

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    Sara-Jayne

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    I had gestational diabetes for my third pregnancy and it wasn’t until I started reading the labels that I actually saw how much sugar was in foods and drinks! It’s terrifying.

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    VaiChin @RamblingThroughParenthood

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    Brilliant tips! I do like the idea of starting small and that treats can be non-food. Thank you for sharing these. Very inspiring.

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    Michelle

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    These are a great set of tips – I became really aware of sugar intake last year after using My Fitness Pal to count calories – the sugar tally was always really high for me -_- I’ve always said how low-fat (usually) = more sugar, the manufactures need to get the flavour in somehow.

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    Michelle

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    Some great tips, I really need to cut down myself, I’m a complete sugar addict! xxx

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    wendy

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    Brilliant ideas . It is amazing how much sugar we consume in a day isn’t it ?

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    Mummy of Two

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    My SIL went sugar free a few months ago and she has said it has helped her lose weight and feel so much better. I know I don’t have the will power at the moment but would definitely like to start cutting down.

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    Emma

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    Great advice there, I’m doing the gentle eat less and it’s working for me. I have started running and I found I eat better as I don’t want to undo the time i’m dedicating to running.

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    Louisa

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    Great tips thank you. I have recently gone off cakes and chocolate so have a lot less sugar due to this but I want to reduce it further and stop having it in tea as well.

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    Jess Howliston

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    Thanks for some fab tips! I have actually been trying to cut down on how much sugar we consume as a family so will be trying to apply some of your tips above!
    Jess
    owlcrazymummy.blogspot.co.uk

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    nessjibberjabberuk

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    I’m not sure what is supposed to be good for you and what is not these days. I weigh so little (my BMI is under 17.5) that I just have to eat what I can to maintain some weight!

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    Rachel

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    I was shocked to read about the rice in sushi, though in my defence I never add sugar to anything x

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    ninjacat

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    Great blog post and I know I could do with less sugar

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    bluebearwood

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    It’s amazing how easy it is to turn your taste buds once you make the mental shift althoug I am a believer in following your bodies natural cravings once you’ve got the excesses under control

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    Sonya Cisco

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    I am dieting at the moment, and while not cutting sugar out, it is something I am more aware of. Love your bit about a treat not needing to be food – that is exactly the approach I am trying to take, a new book or a hot bath are fab rewards!

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      healthiermummy

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      Absolutely. I also bought myself a bunch of daffs last week – they’re a lovely treat too.

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    Monika @family{m}adventures

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    Carole, you raise some excellent points. The most controversial is maybe the go full fat: we, as a society, have got into this fat free craze so much that we forget that fat (in small quantities) is an excellent appetite suppressant and will actually work for loosing weight. Fat free products often substitute the fat with other fillants, which are often sugars.

    The best point you’ve left till last: a treat should not be associated with a sweet. I’ve caught myself with this ingrained and sometimes find myself doing it with my kids.

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      healthiermummy

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      Monika, thanks for your comments. It’s so important that we eat full-fat products, I agree. It’s much more satisfying and better for you.

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    Kara

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    I had Gestational Diabetes when I was pregnant and it is shocking how much sugar is in some foods – I am more careful now

Comments are closed