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How I’m Trying To Cut Down On Sugar (and failing horrendously)

Goodbye Coco Pops…

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I love sugar. I always have. When I was younger there was nothing quite like a couple of penny sweets on the way back home from school or an iced bun at break time (I was well known for always having an iced bun in one hand). As I’ve got older I’m still rather fond of Coco Pops for breakfast (my stomach just let out a little rumble as I wrote that) and when the after dinner mints come out in the evening I am always there for first dibs. I’m the kind of person who looks at the dessert menu before looking at the mains. I’ve got a case of the ‘sweet tooth’, bad.

Whilst I feel like I’ve calmed down a fair bit on the sugar front over the past couple of years. I’ve really started to notice how it’s been affecting me. After going heavy on the sugar I feel buzzy for an hour or two and then I feel sluggish, like I want to curl up into a ball and sleep for a day or two. I see it in my skin too. My skin gets agitated and looks dull. A tiramisu dessert manifests itself into a raging whitehead the morning after. Then when I cut my consumption down my energy levels dip to a point where again I feel like curling up into a ball and sleeping for a day would be a great idea. Going cold turkey is gross and that’s why I need to belt up and ride it out for a while.

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I’ve read books in the past like Sarah Wilson’s ‘How I Quit Sugar’, where she recommends cutting out all forms of sugar – fruit and all – and whilst I’ve given it a go, I’m one of those people that when I’m under a restriction not to have something, I want it more. I get hungry for it and all of a sudden my mind is filled with a million and one dancing chocolate bars. It just doesn’t work for me. Moderation is my thing when it comes to what I like to fuel my body with; a quinoa salad here, a pizza there, chocolate ice-cream for pudding. Lovely. This balanced blend is key and is something that with my impending travels, is going to be a little harder to stick to. So I’m putting in the groundwork now and attempting to get into habits and mindsets that allow me to consume my favourites, but in a way where I’m not somehow sneaking them into breakfast lunch and dinner (and dessert)…

Don’t buy it in the first place. If you don’t buy the biscuits in the supermarket, then they never make it into the tempting place that areΒ your kitchen cupboards. In order to stick to this step I aim to have a shopping list whenever I enter a supermarket and I try to keep to it and make my trips super speedy so I haven’t even got time to peruse anything else.

Meal planning is key. Whenever I haven’t been to the shops and there’s nothing in the flat, I always find that I have the ingredients I need to make, say crepesΒ for breakfast, or that tub or ice cream could do me for lunch, right? However, if I’ve planned out what I’m going to have each day for breakfast, lunch and dinner I rarely stray from it and if I do there’s a load of fruit, veg and just generally healthier options to pick from. Have a read of my Meal Planning Post that contains print-out PDF’s if you need some help in that area.

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Better alternatives. Of course the pang for something sweet is still going to come, so making sure I have slightly healthier alternatives on hand is always helpful. My favourites are Madeleine Shaw’s Ultimate Chocolate Cookies, my Salted Caramel Protein Balls or just fruit, nuts and greek yogurt. I often snack on the latter with a scoop of vanilla protein powder stirred through after a workout to get in some protein and stop me stopping by the service station on the way back from the gym to pick up some Percy Pigs.

Drink water. Recently I’ve been horrible at getting my recommended water intake in and my skin is letting me know about. Hello dehydration! My brain and I can never seem to work out if I’m hungry or thirsty, so in those moments when I feel like devouring my bodyweight in chocolate I try to sip my way through a large glass of water and often it’s exactly what my body was calling out for. I just didn’t quite know it.

Have a bleedin’ chocolate bar. There are those occasions when you really, really want a chocolate bar and nothing else will just quite cut it. When I feel like that I just have the bleedin’ chocolate bar; no guilt, no worry. I haven’t undone all my hard work at the gym through one bar of chocolate, nor has my day gone completely off-track food-wise either. Chocolate is a beautiful thing and it’s there to be enjoyed, in moderation and as part of a balanced and nutritious diet – blah, blah, you’ve heard it all before – now pass me the Diary Milk Buttons.

Disclaimer: I am not a registered nutritional or dietician professional. These are my personal experiences, thoughts and feelings. If you’re looking for advice check out the British Nutrition Foundation or if you feel like you need to talk to someone about your relationship with food head to Beat.

Photos byΒ Lauren Shipley


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Comments

  • Laura Torninoja

    Ugh I definitely know the struggle! I have the same problem with salt too – it’s so difficult to give up once you’re used to the flavour it brings! I think you’re right though in your last point, it’s definitely all about balance πŸ™‚ Baby steps! x

    Laura // Middle of Adventure

  • Oh gosh –
    I was the coco pop queen when i was 10. No jokes, my breakfast was a huge bowl
    of coco pops, with each spoonful dripped of milk so i was left with homemade
    chocolate milk to finish… but oh, no it wasn’t over there, i followed that up
    with Nutella on toast (sometimes 2!). I think i ate my lifetime allowance of
    sugar in a year! Dark chocolate is my go-to now, I’m a 70% and greater kinda
    gal now, if you work yourself up to 85% you really don’t get the same cravings
    as the sugar isn’t there to give that blood-sugar roller-coaster πŸ™‚

    http://www.honestyforyourskin.co.uk

  • I share your pain, Anna. This is an ongoing feat for me too, sugar addiction!

    Kristine | http://www.callmekristine.com <3

  • Freya Fleming

    I’m the opposite of you, haha! I’ve recently started going to my dietician again, because I simply cannot do it on self-discipline alone (I’m weak). But, like you, I am cutting out sugar and opting for more protein-filled meals and I have to say I’ve lost a few pounds already! I’m currently still in the “strict phase” of my protein diet, so no cheat meals just yet, but I do agree when you say you sometimes just have to eat the chocolate bar and not feel guilty about it – treating yourself to something delicious yet unhealthy every now and then is not going to undo all of the effort you put in before! This is a great post, Anna; loved reading it. πŸ™‚

    xoxo
    Freya
    thatgirlyt.wordpress.com

  • Loved this Anna! I find moderation is always best for me with sugar. Letting myself have a little bit now and again, while keeping healthier 80% of the time!

    http://www.natalieleanne.com

  • I’m in the same boat as you. I do the whole don’t buy it thing as well (except when i’m weak). I also like to buy biscuits I don’t like thaat much so I can have them with tea and satisfy the sugar craving without going crazy.

  • I am in the exact same situation! I love all your tips! Thank you for sharing!
    -Maddy
    cheers-maddy.com

  • I’m the same as you Anna, I love sugar and find it really hard to cut down but if I don’t have them in the house then that helps! (Also a little tip- if you mix up hazlenut butter, tahini, some mixed fruits/nuts and honey or agave syrup then it tastes like a Ferrero Rocher!) Steph x
    http://www.stephstyle.com

  • beachamy

    Here is a great recipe I tweaked from a book my sister passed on to me. I cook mine about twice as long because I found it didn’t get crisp enough.

    https://iquitsugar.com/recipe/coco-nutty-granola/

  • I did the Get The Glow challenge in January and went cold turkey with sugar. It was horrible for the first two weeks, but went pretty well afterwards. But then, after the challenge, birthdays and cakes happened, and while I still ear less sugar than I used to, it is again more than I would want. It seems I am not the best when it comes to moderation.

    Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

  • Could definitely not go cold turkey! I’ve just had two slices of cake now! Oddly enough sugary treats always make me feel good about myself rather than bad!
    http://www.flareaforte.com

  • Anna this post couldn’t have come at a better time for me! I have such a sweet tooth and although I wouldn’t have a big treat everyday there would always be some form of chocolate as part of my daily diet! I’ve decided to go chocolate free for the whole of April and I’ve found with that I’ve cut down on so much sugar because chocolate is my favourite treat haha! I noticed after day 4 i felt so sluggish I was almost falling asleep in work! Definitely made me realise how much of a negative impact it has, regardless of how good it tastes! Going to be referring to this every time I feel like the cravings are going to get the better of me, such a helpful post xx

    Jodie / jodiemelissa.com

  • I’m exactly the same with the dessert menu! Like you, I find sticking to a meal plan really helps with avoiding sugar at home, but I’ll be honest, everything goes out of the window when I’m out and about! Realistically, it’d be impossible to go fully sugar-free for me, I’d be a miserable nightmare – it’s all about the balanced diet!

    Alice / Alice Grace Beauty

    x

  • Nicola

    You always manage to hit the nail on it’s head with your posts πŸ™Œ It’s so hard to escape sugar – even our brains make fructose. Completely agree with the good proven method of moderation and also finding ways to adapt our sweet treats at home with ‘healthier’ ingredients. We should never feel guilty about food!

  • I love that as I was reading this post and thinking “YES, this is so me” it was announced in our office that there was leftover food downstairs from an event and I ate a brownie. HA! Totally weak when it comes to sweets, no discipline whatsoever.

  • Florence

    Can I just first say thank you for telling people to seek advice from a registered dietician! With internet, anybody can improvise themselves a nutrition specialist, so it’s nice to see someone in your position admitting your limits and providing helpful links!

    And as a registered dietician with a sweet tooth myself, I wholeheartedly agree with your suggestions on how to limit sugar intake and eat a balance diet.

  • Emily

    So true! I always feel so much better when I reduce my sugar intake. One of my favorite snacks when I’m craving sweets are raspberries with unsweetened apple sauce and a little cinnamon πŸ™‚
    xo,
    Em http://www.organicallyemily.com

  • Izzy Fewster

    The Meal Planning PDF link doesn’t work for me πŸ™

  • Omg, looking at the dessert menu before the mains I thought I was the only one doing that! Thanks for sharing these tips, I seriously have to get back on track. It’s sooooo easy to just buy some biscuits thinking I’ll only eat a few during the weekend (the pack will be long gone by that time). x http://www.justsavxnnah.com

  • I’m trying to reduce my sugar intake – I’m in the process of replacing it with natural sugars (chocolate with fruits mainly) then I’m going to try and ween myself off step by step

    – Natalie
    http://www.workovereasy.com

  • I love this read. Reducing sugar is a huge thing!!!

    http://www.berkleysboutique.com

  • I actually heard that the feelings of thirst and hunger and similar, so before reaching for something to eat, drink a glass of water first and see whether you feel ‘that’ hungry still. I’ve noticed that most of the time I’m actually thirsty more than hungry, so that’s been helpful in not grazing constantly.

  • Haha, I love and relate SO much to this post! I am a complete sugar fiend. I bought Davina’s sugar free book with recipes in a bid to crack down on my intake, but no. lol I made sugar free pancakes this morning.. and dunked them in golden syrup. Yup, I did that.
    Again like you, I don’t believe in cutting any food groups out, sugar included. Limit it yes, but don;t cut it out completely. L always allow myself a treat, a biscuit a sugar in my tea if I want one. The worst I can do is try going cold turkey.

    Caroline.x
    http://www.carolineelgeywhite.com

  • Lucia

    I wanted to cut sugar, too. Failed miserably though πŸ˜€
    https://luciakesiarova.wixsite.com/luciakes

  • A really well considered post Anna πŸ˜€ I am definitely of the ‘moderation is key’ mantra too, I don’t think completely cutting out things you love forever works! I am sure I still eat way too much sugar but I think I’d be a bit miserable without it haha πŸ™ xx

    Nicole | Nicole Laura

  • Erin Russell

    I really struggle with sugar too, I just love it. Peppermint tea has helped me a lot, as much as I hated it to begin with – it has been worth putting up with until I liked the taste lol

    Erin || MakeErinOver

  • I know I eat way too much chocolate, and have way too much sugar in my diet is actually quite appalling – I really need to look into alternatives that might be a little bit better for me haha!

    Lucy | Forever September

  • japan HDJAV

    I wanted to cut sugar, too
    https://lambangcaptoc.com/

  • Mari

    Putting my hands up as a dietitian over here with the most ridiculous sweet tooth (who also reads the dessert menu first!), and this is perfect advice Anna! Great read! X

  • I am such a sweet tooth as well! But trying to opt out for fruits helps some times πŸ™‚

    Lii
    https://byliil.wordpress.com/

  • My family recently has been talking about reducing the amount of sugar we have in our diets. We won’t put extra sugar in our foods anymore but it’s the hidden sugar which we want to be more aware of and make changes there! I agree moderation is key, I think this is so important! Really great post πŸ™‚ Em xx

    http://edoublemamurray.blogspot.com.au/

  • I absolutely need to cut down on my sugar intake too. I don’t know when it happened, but one day I converted from a savoury person to a massive sweet tooth and my health has definitely taken a toll.

    Thanks for inspiring me to try cutting down!

    http://www.lattesandhighlighter.com

  • Chantalle

    I’ve recently also been trying to make a conscious effort to cut out/decrease my intake of sugar and carbs – which is incredibly hard for me to do as they are basically my favourite food group! But i am the exact same, the more I restrict and cut out certain things, the more I crave them! Moderation definitely is key! Great post! xx

    Chantalle | http://www.ceceandgrace.blogspot.com.au

  • Maria Mantzorou

    We often talk about cutting down sugar, but what we mean is free sugars. The sugars that come in food like fruits, milk and plain yogurt don’t count as free sugars!!! We love fruits and veggies and according to the eat well guide, which is evidence-based and the formal guide for nutrition in the UK, we should aim to eat at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables every day!

    Take a look at this infographic about sugar(s)!
    https://static1.squarespace.com/static/586aa524e3df2872ac57caed/t/588fa8c3e3df2828e8cddb10/1485810001842/FREE+SUGARS

    Due to the misinformation and the fact that anyone can call themselves nutritionists in the UK, you should be very very careful concerning who you trust for nutrition advice. Make sure that your dietitian is in fact an RD (Registered Dietitian) and that you nutritionist is ANutr (Registered Associate Nutritionist ) or RNutr (Registered Nutritionist)! You will be amazed by how many “celebrity nutritionists” don’t qualify for ANutr/ RNutr!

  • Maverick Baking

    I really like the angle you’ve taken with this post, a very sensible one! I think it’s majorly unrealistic to try and cut out any foodstuff altogether unless you’ve been medically advised to. Your tips are good ones, thank you for a relatable and balanced post among many unattainable ones! If you do ever find yourself feeling guilty about it, I wrote a little post on 7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Give Up Sugar, if you fancy a read! You can find it here if you like: http://maverickbaking.com/7-reasons-shouldnt-give-sugar/

  • Jamie

    Ugh, girl I feel you. I did the whole 30 a few months back and letting go of sugar is rough! There is sugar in everything!

    http://mentallymessy.blogspot.com/

  • I read the giving up sugar book a few years ago, and I managed to give up fully for about 10 days. I was the crankiest, nastiest version of myself ever – it culminated in my partner throwing a chocolate bar at my head to make me a little more sane. The headaches are insane when you give up chocolate!

    Maddie | http://www.maddiesbeautyspot.com

  • The Ada Project

    Love this post. I’m trying to cut out sugar too and like these tips.

    I’ve also been just trying to cut out all the obvious sugars and not got nuts on reading labels that way I don’t feel like I’m missing out so much.

    Easier said than done with Easter around the corner.

    http://www.theadaproject.com.au

  • Taste of France

    My method is procrastination. I try to hold off any sugar consumption until mid-afternoon. That means protein for breakfast–nothing sweet, not even fruit. I usually have a variant on vegetable chopped salad, with quinoa or beans, for lunch, and then in the afternoon I’ll have a snack of fruit or plain Greek yogurt with frozen fruit (unsweetened) mixed in. As you eat less sugar, the sweet things you do eat, such as fruit, taste all the sweeter. I have an afternoon snack because noon lunch to 7 p.m. dinner is just too long. It has been working well. I have a lot more energy.

  • i am trying too but i just can’t have my tea without sugar!!!
    http://www.thestyletune.com

  • Laura Dembowski

    I did the Whole30 and that really helped me. I love love love sugar too, but after being about a month out from the Whole30, I love it a lot less. I have indulged in dessert a couple times and I enjoy it and then I am done with it. I do not recommend cutting out fruit at all. It’s so good for you and a great way to get a sweet fix with no guilt. Last tip, brush your teeth right after dinner. I also put my retainers in and I have to REALLY want something to go through that effort.

  • Love this post– I am a total sugar addict, too, and would rather cut just about anything else out of my diet if it meant I could chomp on Sour Skittles for the rest of my life. I have also tried to cut back in moderation, and one of the things that helped me was noticing what times of day I was craving sugar– the 3:00 to 4:00 time period was a killer for me, but if I had a cup of coffee during the danger zone I could sometimes avoid a candy binge.

    Sonia | http://www.prettylowmaintenance.com

  • Natalie Redman

    Water is so good for just keeping your body in good shape. I’ve made it my mission to try and intake on 1.5ltrs a day. It’s tough but it’s great once you manage to get through a whole bottle!

    http://www.upyourvlog.com

  • William Penrose

    I’ve managed to lose weight following The Diet Groove. And, while I eat a lot less sugar, they do positively recommend a small square of dark chocolate a day. OK, it’s not a sugar hit, but it still has that melty taste and it makes sense how it makes the diet work.

  • Mary Tilden

    I’ve never completely tried to cut-out sugar. I should probably try. Are there any popular UK recipes with little to no sugar? I’m just a silly American girl who’s trying to taste every popular UK dish that’s possible to make in the US. I wrote about some of my experiences with UK imported foods at MaryLovestheUK.com.

  • We love fruits and veggies and according to the eat well guide, which is evidence-based and the formal guide for nutrition in the UK Women’s Bota Cuello Vuelto Chukka Boot

  • Olivia Adams

    I’m currently in the middle of Whole 30 and as it’s difficult it’s definitely a do-able body reset. As someone who is self-proclaimed carb addict this really helps you take a step back and reset your cravings/addictions with food!!

  • Spencer Eckis

    Anna, love your jeans and t-shirt! Who makes them?