5 tips to help you quit sugar

Hi, I'm Phil, I'm a recovering sugarholic.

In my last blog post I talked my plan to quit my diet of chocolate, biscuits and cakes for the next 30 days because I was concerned that I was addicted to sugar.

It turns out that I was right. Based on the withdrawal symptoms (headaches, lathergy, mood swings etc) and the cravings I've experienced this week, it's pretty clear that I have a sugar problem.

The good news is that I haven't caved. I'm still on the programme and I'm actually starting to feel better for it.

Here's some tips that I've used to help me get over the worst of it this week.

1 - Change your tastes

This week I've been experimenting with lemon water. I used to drink a lot of Pepsi - way more than water. I mean, water is sooooo bland, why would anyone want to drink it?

Lemon water is literally half a lemon squeezed into a glass of water (I use a big glass with about 330ml of water in it)

The first day I tried it I thought it was awful - bitter and unpleasant but I decided to stick with it as I was trying to reprogramme my taste preferences.

There are supposed to be health benefits to starting the day with a glass of lemony water but I have to be honest, I take anything a celebrity pushes as health fact with a pinch of salt until real science verifies it. At the very least I'll be getting a vitamin C boost.

Over the course of the week, cutting out all the sugary things that I used to eat and drinking my lemon water has caused my tastes to change - I actually enjoy the taste of it now. It's pretty refreshing and it doesn't taste anywhere near as bitter as I remember it being on day one.

Funny thing is that my lovely wife made me a cup of coffee earlier today. I asked her to only put half a sugar in it (I decided to give myself that guilty pleasure at the start but I'm trying to phase it out). It tasted like there was a full sugar in it.

Yeah, I'm pretty excited about that.

2 - Find other ways to satisfy your sweet tooth

I've eaten more fruit this week than I've eaten in months.

No matter what the sugar nazis out there might tell you, eating more fruit when you're giving up sugar is a good thing.

Yes, it's a fact that fruit is high in a natural sugar called fructose. The food police in the media will tell you that eating fruit is just as bad as eating a chocolate bar because of that natural sugar and to that I say, "Bobbins".

Look at it this way - which is better for you - a natural package of fibre, vitamins, minerals and bio-flavanoids that keeps orangutans in tip-top condition or a nutritionally devoid bar of chocolate?

If eating a bit of fruit helps you to keep you on track to give up chocolate bars, I'd say the fruit is the better option. Just don't go mad and keep an eye on how much you're eating. I'm using MyFitnessPal for that.

3 - Experiment with food

If you open your cupboard at home, you'll often find the shelves full of mysterious packets that you might have bought with good intentions and never opened. Obviously, if you're a student whose cupboard represents a supermarket after an apocalyptic looting, this might now apply to you.

Yesterday, out of desperation for something tasty to eat I tried throwing some quinoa in a pan with a teaspoon of mild curry paste, a handful of raisins and four dried apricots cut into small cubes. I covered it with water and boiled it for twenty minutes. I drained it and left it until later to eat. It was pretty awesome.

By not having comfort foods easily to hand, it's much easier to try new things that you might not have previously made the effort to make.

4 - Make short achievable goals

There's been so many times this week when I've been tempted to just have a chocolate bar, to just get a packet of chocolate biscuits or to just treat myself to a cream cake.

This has been my brain desperate to get the sugar-fix it's been accustomed to and I didn't do anything fancy to counter its argument other than to just tell myself, "It's just for thirty days. You can handle that, right?"

If I'd just decided that I'm never eating sugar again, I'd probably have caved by now. The very thought of never eating a tasty victoria sponge (jammy and creamy) or a Double Decker (chewy and so chocolatey) again just seems too much to bear to someone hopelessly addicted to such things.

But... thirty days. That's just over four weeks. I can do that.

Along the way, I'll change my tastebuds thanks to my lemon water, I'll eat more fruit, salad, nuts and vegetables and by the end of the thirty days I'm hoping that the way I feel will be way better than how I felt a week ago.

5 - It's your diet. Ignore the diet-dictators

If you choose to change how you eat to live a better life, that's your choice.

If you choose to eat fruit to help you to stop eating far more damaging sources of sugar, that's your choice.

If you choose to eat grain and fruit bars that have 9g sugars per 100g to help you to avoid the chocolate bars you used to eat that had 57g sugars per 100g then that's your choice. Oh, it's also a choice for bonus vitamin E, fibre, omega-3 oils and other good stuff too.

The point I'm making is that you'll always have people that will be telling you that if you "cut out sugar" then you can't possibly eat fruit and you mustn't eat grain bars and you must avoid sugar in even the tiniest amounts in the foods you eat.

The simple fact is: yes you can. You can eat what you like and you don't need their permission to do so. If you're making positive change to the way you live, that's great. If you're replacing large amounts of sugar with much smaller amounts of sugar, that's awesome.

You'll still be quitting your dependancy on sugar because the amount you're eating will be far outweighed by the fibre and other good stuff that you're eating it with and if you're sensible you'll probably lose weight too.

I've lost a pound this week, by the way.

Any thoughts?

If you've got any helpful tips you've found helpful when cutting out the sweet stuff, why not leave a comment below? I could do with all the help I can get and it might help others too. :)

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