#1 It’s harder than you think because it’s in more things than you think. Not just the obvious things like biscuits, cakes, chocolate and wine. Not just the-less-obvious-but-becoming-increasingly-well-known things like yoghurt, tomato ketchup, beans and bread. Not just the things with naturally occurring sugars such as fruit, vegetables, fresh juices and nuts. But things you would never in a million years think of as containing sugar… things like semi-skimmed milk. Yes, milk.
#2 You have to be vigilant, inspecting labels for ingredients and weighing up whether it’s really worth it. Hence you find yourself spending twice as long in the supermarket, turning into one of those label-readers that you used to inwardly tut at on sight. Either that or bemoaning the very lack of ingredient lists when placing a food order online.
#3 Fore-planned is forearmed. One of the easiest ways to stay strong and resist your favourite sugary treats is to avoid letting yourself get hungry. So have snacks to hand and eat them regularly: oatcakes with organic peanut or almond butter, a handful of whole almonds, an orange, a slice of wholemeal bread with banana and cinnamon ‘butter’ (banana mashed together with cinnamon, a spice thought to suppress sugar cravings) or little bags of frozen grapes or blueberries (the ‘frozen’ bit supposedly making them feel more sweetie-like but the 10thingsby.com jury is out on that one).
#4 In week one it seems an awful lot of effort for an awfully big sacrifice but stick with it and as early as weeks two and three you can start to see and feel the gains – clearer skin, more energy, greater patience, better concentration, less intense PMT and less belly into the bargain – all of which help boost your willpower as much as your mood. Weirdly, your tastebuds also seem to intensify.
#5 The more you read about sugar, the more you want to cut down on it. Read just a few chapters of Connie Bennett’s Beyond Sugar Shock detailing the strong links between sugar and around 150 serious health conditions – cancer, heart disease, stroke and infertility included – and the word ‘toxic’ springs to mind.
#6 By doing it gradually, for example by resolving to cut down on sugar weekdays then enjoy yourself at the weekends, you find that by the time the weekend does come, while you do indulge you don’t indulge on anything like the scale you previously would have.
#7 When you’re down to just a few treats per week you start to choose those treats far more carefully. A chocolate biscuit eaten distractedly without really registering it, a dessert you’re probably a little too full for anyway, a ready-made meal because it’s quick and easy – or a glass of chilled white wine to be savoured? No contest.
#8 You realise how hard it is to eat healthily when you’re out and about, with burgers, chips, doughnuts, cupcakes and muffins everywhere but very few healthy alternatives to be found. (It’s official, you ARE turning into the sugar police.)
#9 It helps if you and your partner both buy into it. It gives you someone who’ll share your joy at your home-made hummus and brown sauce (both sugar-free, obviously), someone to play bad cop when you’re feeling distinctly good cop towards the biscuit tin and someone who, during those occasional times when you both fall off the wagon, gets just how good a treat tastes after enforced abstinence.
#10 A little is something. If you’d like to cut down on sugar but the thought of it feels nigh impossible, try cutting down on it just a little. The better you feel for eating less sugar and the bigger the difference you see, the easier it gets to stick at it. Before you know it, you’ve survived month of breaking a lifelong habit and are headed into month two…
****Read the six-month follow-up, 10 things about cutting down on sugar (month six), by clicking here****
Tried cutting down on sugar? Leave a comment below.
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