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.
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