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Going sugar-free: why I’ve given up sugar

It was my daily treat of two squares of chocolate every evening that did it. Over time this indulgence had morphed into three, then four squares, and sometimes more. But what really troubled me was that even when I didn’t fancy it, I would tuck in – as though it was my right.

Throw into the mix several elderflower/ lime cordials a day plus an overload of festive wine and pud, and I felt uneasy. These daily refined sugars had become a bit of a habit, regular treats keeping me topped up with sugar throughout the day.

Yet as a health writer, I know all about the reports linking a diet loaded with sugar to a build-up of fat around the liver, increasing your risk of fatty liver disease. I know that sugar raises your risk of diabetes and also Alzheimers, and increases your chances of fatal heart disease. I’ve heard sugar described as ‘the new tobacco’.

I decided it was time to break my chocolate habit and give sugar a rest for a bit. So since the start of the year, I’ve been on a no-sugar mission.

Is it hard? Yes and no. Yes, because it involves extra thought about your meals, diligent reading of the labels (I’m choosing foods that have 5g or less of sugar per 100g) and a certain amount of refusal.

But no in that my cravings have balanced out – making it a whole lot easier as I simply haven’t fancied sweet things as much. And no in that people seem happy to support you in a wierd dietary quest at this time of year – no-one blinks if you say you’re on a no-sugar mission.

What sugar-free means to me

Out: Booze, puddings, cordials, chocolate, sweets, bread, dried fruit, tomato ketchup and, interestingly, my usual yoghurt – the label gave me a a bit of a fright when I read it. Sushi slipped in once but then I read that the preparation of the rice involves lots of sugar, so that’s a no-no too. High-sugar fruits are out too – like mango, pineapple and grapes.

In: Oats, berries, apples, oranges, full-fat Greek yoghurt, lots of vegetables, unsalted nuts (for salads, stir-fries and snacks), chickpeas and other pulses, eggs, meat, potatoes, quinoa, rice, pasta. Balsamic vinegar is borderline but I’ve allowed it in for now. Cooking from scratch. Sparkling mineral water (not quite the same as a glass of wine, I agree.)

Close up of frozen mixed fruit - berries - red currant, cranberry, raspberry, blackberry, bilberry, blueberry, black currant

Why I think it’s worth it 

I’m not so hungry. Within days, I had none of those give-me-food-before-I-fall-down feelings. As my blood sugars have become balanced, I’ve stopped fancying chocolate and sweets, and this has helped me stick to a no-sugar plan as on a daily basis, it hasn’t seemed like a particular struggle.

Plus I feel leaner and my clothes are looser. I don’t weigh myself often so can’t give you facts and figures. But I feel pretty good at the moment – giving up sugar for a few weeks seems to be the key to sustained weight loss without experiencing gnawing hunger at bedtime. After all, I’m still eating three satisfying meals a day, plus snacks too.

Other people claim to have more energy after being sugar-free. I can’t give you any info on this, I’m afraid – I’m still a working mum-of-three, fighting dodgy sleep issues and juggling kids’ parties, this blog etc. So I still feel exhausted at bedtime. But I think that by day, I do have more of a spring in my step than before.

I’m not saying that I’ll be sugar-free forever, but now that I know it’s feasible, I think this could be the way forward. Well, most of the time at least. (Sometimes wine o’clock comes calling.)

If you’re interested in giving up refined sugars too, don’t miss my 11 tips for going sugar-free.

Read more:

Health resolutions for New Year: 9 ways to find wellbeing
How to cook steak for a special treat

Flexible working for a healthy life: not just a mum thing
Food to keep you feeling fuller for longer

 


Comments (18)

  • Avatar

    Ness

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    My problem with things like this is that I have to get the whole family on board and they won’t agree to do it. I can’t do it by myself as we eat together and this would cause a massive divide. Since I only weigh 7.5 stone I can’t say it’s for weight loss either!

  • Avatar

    otilia

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    i am kind of going sugar free too actually considering that i am not really eating cake or drink any sugary drinks…and you are right i do feel like i have more energy!

  • Avatar

    Polka Dot Family

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    I’d really live to give the no sugar challenge a go but fear I have no willpower

  • Avatar

    Jen Walshaw

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    Really interesting and I will be following with much interest. Sugar is the new fat,

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    Mina joshi

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    i tried to give up sugar a while ago. I still don’t have sugar but chocolate has always been my downfall .

  • Avatar

    agatapokutycka

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    I like my sweats so it would be extremely hard for me to give it up. No sugar in my tea or coffee but I can’t imagine giving up on a cake.

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    Emily Shepperson

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    Very interesting read.I always thought that I had a sweet tooth and I couldn’t possibly change that. I obviously could though and will help with my health. No more adding 2 sugars in my tea!

  • Avatar

    Mary Louise

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    I am looking forward to reading your next post.
    Great decision to give up sugar. I wish i had the will power!

  • Avatar

    Rachel

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    I dont tend to add sugar to anything, but im not sure I could give it up totally x

  • Avatar

    Clare Nicholas

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    This is really interesting. I’m currently trying to cut down on mine.

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    Cass@frugalfamilyc

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    We took part in a sugar swaps campaign a little while ago and it was really interesting – very hard to stick to for the kids though with school dinners x

  • Avatar

    Laura

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    I have the same problem with tea and could do with cutting back and opting for more fresh water instead. Good luck with your no sugar mission.

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Haven’t managed to cut back on tea, I’m afraid. I’m a bit of a tea fiend too.

  • Avatar

    Kara

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    We are trying to cut down on sugar here but I cannot bare to give it up in tea

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    Fritha Strickland

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    MY friend has done this and found it massively beneficial! x

  • Avatar

    Sara-Jayne

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    I had GD in pregnancy 3 and it was amazing the difference I felt without sugar!

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    Emma | The Mini Mes and Me

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    We are all trying to eat better this year as a family. We are limiting takeaways and I’m ensuring everyone gets their 5-7 a day… Whether they like it or not 😉

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    Nayna Kanabar (@citrusspiceuk)

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    You are so right a little everyday and soon it adds up. there are many sugar subtitutes one can use also.

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