Back so soon? It’s day 4 already and today’s post is to help those of you who want some tips to help live day-to-day life without sugar. Giving up sugar can be hard and there are days where you might want nothing more than to dig into a big bar of chocolate or a tub of Ben & Jerry’s. There may even be days where you wonder why your doing it and to have the right tools to deal with those days. So here goes my top tips for surviving sugar free.
Tip 1 – Make sure you eat! I know this sounds a bit ridiculous but when you’re hungry you make bad choices! So make sure you fill up on plenty of healthy foods like vegetables, protein or healthy-fats (Peanut butter is a personal fav as an occasional treat). If you’ve eaten sugar your entire life you’ve trained your body to want sugar when tired or hungry to give you that energy boost; you need to over some this habit by filling up on good foods.
Tip 2 – Get plenty of sleep. This tip follows on from the previous. If you don’t get enough sleep then you end up tired. Being tired is a fast route to wanting more sugar and carbohydrates to ‘wake you up’.
Tip 3 – Find snacks you enjoy! Some times you still need a bit of a pick me up and snacking through out the day is also a good way to keep your self from binging and a chance to get some good nutrients. Some ideas include – bananas & peanut butter, roasted chickpeas, nuts, protein bars (sugar free of course), carrot sticks/ peppers & hummus, homemade protein balls, protein yogurt (or regular low sugar yogurts), seeded bars, homemade flaxseed bread toast or chia seed pudding.
Tip 4 – Be prepared! The hardest times to avoid sugar are when you’re out and about. It’s very difficult to walk into many shops or cafes and find sugar free items. If I’m going out for the day I always make sure I have a couple of snacks with me, usually nuts or a protein bar depending on what I’m doing.
Tip 5 – Visualise the sugar! One of the biggest tools I used when I first started living sugar-free was reading food nutrition labels. When reading food levels I would always look at how much sugar there is per serving and asked myself would I ever eat that amount of sugar straight from the bag? Roughly 4g of sugar is a teaspoon full, so when you read a label picture how many teaspoons of sugar there are in that item. For example if something contained 20g of sugar, as your self do you really want to eat 5 teaspoons of sugar. Be warned however not all sugar is equal and some items contain natural occurring sugars which are different to the refined stuff and so it’s unfair to use this tactic in the same way. At the beginning though it is a useful way to wean your self off. If you can’t be bothered with doing the maths there are now apps that can do it for you. The ‘Change4life Sugar Smart’ app is a brilliant way to find out how much sugar is in your food.
Tip 6 – Learn how to make homemade chocolate!! Maybe not the most conventional tip but it’s definitely an important one. It’s inevitable, there are days you will want a treat and lets be honest you probably deserve it! It’s much easier to remain sugar free if you don’t feel like your completely denying your self of all foods you love. Even if you only make them for special occasions it’s important to have some sweet recipes (using natural sugars only of course) on standby to get you through. These Homemade Peanut Butter Cups are by far my favourite for special occassions. Just don’t make them too often!
Tip 7 – Make a reward chart! This may sound slightly juvenile but trust me they work. Last Christmas I had a ‘fitbit’ band which tracked my steps each day. If you manage to reach your daily steps you get a star on your calendar. After a couple of days a serious case of OCD started to kick in. The thought of not getting a star on my perfect little calendar would drive me to walk around the kitchen and garden for ages!! All to achieve a star for that day. I then put this to use with sugar free. For each day I remained sugar free I would get a star after a could of weeks, once again the thought of not getting a star meant I didn’t stray. You could even reward your self after certain amounts of time with things like gym clothes, cook books, spa day or meal out.
Tip 8 – Fill up on omega 3! Omega 3 has an effect on serotonin which plays an important role in the body. Omega 3 can help curb craving and even help control your mood. Both important when trying to reduce your sugar intake.
Tip 9 – Get into Green Tea! Green tea is amazing. Not only is it jam packed full of goodness but it’s also a brilliant distraction. There’s noting like sitting down to a cup of tea but more people either add sugar to their tea and the plain stuff has much less nutritional value. If you aren’t a lover start with some flavoured ones, you could even try it as an iced tea. Whenever a craving hits simply brew yourself a cup of tea instead.
Tip 10 – Revise! Like I said previously, one of the toughest times to remain sugar free is when you’re out and about. The best ways to combat this is to suss out where you’re going before hand. If you know you’re going somewhere in particular, most restaurants have their menu online these days. Many even have nutritional information online too. Decide what you’re going to have before hand so you don’t have to deal with tough decisions when you get there.
Tip 11 – Forgive yourself. This is by far the most important. There may be days when you fall off the wagon; these days are not the end of the world, they are simply a speed bump on the long road to sugar-free. Don’t leave a meal turn into a day or leave a day turn into week. Just shake it off and keep ploughing on (Notice how I didn’t say start again because that is not what you’re doing).
So I hope these tips are helpful and I hope they help you on your journey towards sugar-free (or at least reduced sugar!) It can be quite daunting at first but keep setting your self smaller goals and celebrating small victories (even if it’s just saying no to a chocolate biscuit in the break room). It’s not about planning for the rest of your life right now but for trying every day and being hay with little achievements. If you keep persevering it is worth it!