Thursday, 16 January 2014

Give it up...

How to give up sugar. Some top tips. 

Image courtesy of Martyn Wright /
1 Go cold turkey

Stop eating [and drinking] it. Just stop. Now. January is the perfect time to get moral support for eating well. You probably have a friend that's started their post-christmas diet so keep close to them and spur each other on... Just don't join them in the low-fat sugar-laced snacking! 

2 Where's it hiding?

So you've decided to go cold turkey but that's hard when you don't know where sugar hides. Alcohol may be your main offender, but with so many people going t-total for January now's the perfect time to jump on the band wagon!
For drinkers and non drinkers alike, check out the articles that point out sugar quantities in your favourite foods. Most of them are enough to put anyone off! No more fruit juice, dried fruit, high sugar fruits (pineapples, mangos, bananas. Instead, try to eat low sugar fruit in stead such as apples, berries and peaches; google "low sugar fruits) alcohol, chocolate, sweets, biscuits, cakes, sugary cereals, smoothies, low fat snacks.
Check packets for added sweet stuff. Avoid anything ending in -ose [sucrose, glucose, dextrose etc]. Try to give up everything in the list above and if you're not sure don't eat it. A general rule is anything in a packet, tin or jar is a suspect, so proceed with caution. You'll soon learn what's safe to eat and what's not.

3 Get inspired

Celebs such as Gary Barlow and Gwyneth Paltrow are heralding the fight against the white stuff. Get some inspiration from Gary's weight loss and Gwyneth's healthy lifestyle. If they can do it, why can't you?
And Gwyneth's blog:

4 Think about the benefits

Just some of the reported plus sides to giving up sugar are less bloating, easier weight loss, improved sleep, fewer cavities, healthier gums, 
Once sugar is out of your system you'll start to notice how much better everything tastes. It may sound cheesy but I was amazed at how sweet carrots really are when your taste buds are cleansed of artificial sweetness!

5 Follow a plan

If you need a bit more structure follow a diet plan. One I've mentioned before is the Harcombe Diet 5 day detox phase. It's a great starting point and after 5 days you'll feel the benefits enough to carry on. By setting a realistic goal of 5 days you'll feel more capable of succeeding. If you want to continue past that, you can see how you feel and decide. My advice is to plan the 5 days for when it suits you. If you have an event or party at the weekend that might slip you up then start after that rather than struggle through. Start at a time when you know those 5 days will be uninterrupted and you'll have more control over your diet. 

6 Avoid the 'health' trap

Years of being told to swap your fuzzy drinks for glasses of orange juice and smoothies may be engrained into your psyche by now but it's ALL sugar. Ignore Change4life's advert and drink tea or water. 
Don't swap out sugar for honey. Natural sugars are still sugar. Sweeteners should be avoided where possible as they trick your body into thinking it's getting sugar anyway. If you need a sweet fix, coconut or low sugar berries are one option, but only in emergencies. 
And don't go for the low fat option. Taking the fat from our food generally means replacing it with taste enhances such as sugar. It may seem unfamiliar after years of bad advice but give it a miss. Instead eat real food and real, whole fruit. Even better, eat vegetables!

7 Be realistic

Going cold turkey with sugar is like giving up any drug, it will be hard and make you feel crappy. Understand this at the start and it will help get you through. 
When I gave up sugar I got headaches, back ache and lethargic. However, after 5 days or so I felt amazing. Think if sugar as a toxin leaving your system and the aches and pains will be more bearable. No-one wants poison coursing through their system so grin and bear it until it's out!

8 Keep carbs down

Complex carbohydrates raise insulin levels in much the same way as sugars. If you can manage it on top of the sugar-cull try to eat fewer carbohydrates such as white rice, white bread and white pasta. There's tons of info available about the benefits of a low carb diet. Just looks for websites about the paleo diet, or caveman eating, in simple terms. For those that have given the Atkins diet a go, it's a similar rule book. Cutting out carbs completely can be difficult though so where possible just eat brown bread, brown rice and whole grains such as oats.

9 Stay positive

Keep smiling. As with all good things it won't be easy but it'll be worth it in the end. Good luck!


  1. Swedish authorities are recommending a change in dietary guidelines to reduce carbohydrate consumption and increase fat content and this message is slowly being taken up by other countries, albeit very slowly:

  2. Such good news, full fat tastes so much better, thanks for the link!