How to get rid of your sugar addiction – when going out (4/4)

Friends at cafe eating (blog)

Going to a bar, café, sports game or the movies can seem almost impossible if you are planning to eat or drink anything at the venues as sugar is added to most things. Many of these businesses capitalise on the fact that you are going out to enjoy yourself. Who wants to go to a place with delicious food and drinks and feel deprived?

There is a fair few things you can do to make sure you can still go out and enjoy yourself without feeling like you are being difficult and still adhere to your life-style choice.

  • Ask your regular places (or find some new ones ) how much sugar there is in the various recipes you would normally eat or drink. Then ask for alternatives. You can ask when you are there or you can call or email them in your own time, so that when you go with your friends that, just like them, you can just look at the menu, picking something, and then enjoy it. Sorted!
  • If you are going somewhere you haven’t been before you can still contact them ahead, but if you don’t have time or only find out last minute – do some research in general. Get street-smart on sugars, know your stuff. Find out what the biggest culprits are on restaurant menus and which are the best options (this would depend on what type of food you normally go for). This will allow you to make easier choices when you have a new menu in front of you. You can, of course, always ask the staff in the venue.
  • If you have to choose something from a café to takeaway, there are usually a couple of gluten free and dairy free options, however, sugar-free is still highly unlikely to be on offer in your typical café. If you have time, order something from the sit-in menu and ask if you can take it away. Many things on lunch menus are naturally sugar-free but ‘glass cabinet’ offers typically aren’t if you are looking for lunch.
  • Finally, if you are going somewhere you know has zero options which are suitable for you, for example the cinema, bring your own snacks! (just keep in mind that some places don’t allow people to bring their own food)

I hope these tips were helpful. Please share any of your tips 🙂

If you would like to see more articles like this and sugar-free recipes you can follow me here (via email, see top right on this page) or on Facebook.

 

 

How to get rid of your sugar addiction – visiting friends (3/4)

At home friends in the kitchen

Visiting friends or going to parties can be a minefield if you have food intolerances, allergies or you life-style choice isn’t very common (i.e. sugar-free). Hopefully you have lovely and understanding friends who accept and support your new life-style choice (that would make this easier for you). Pot lucks are great as you just cook something that you want to eat, and then bring that (check out savoury ideas here on the blog). However, you might find that some friends might hesitate to invite you over for a regular dinner because it’s too hard to figure out what to cook for you. You can, however, explain to them that, main courses shouldn’t be too difficult. Home-made, wholesome dinners don’t often have heaps of sugar in them (with the exception of a few cuisines which has many sauces with higher sugar content), so I don’t usually fret about that (it’s far more likely to have gluten in it, e.g. pasta).

Make it easy for them and say that you will bring drinks for yourself and dessert for everyone. When it comes to drinks, water is of course always best, just not as exciting as other drinks. You could jazz it up a bit and drink sparkling water and add slices of lemon and strawberry. If you are not too worried about the usual effects of alcoholic drinks on your body, just choose wisely (sugar-free or low in sugar) – keep an eye out for my post on drinks soon.

Desserts and treats are the most difficult ones to deal with – they are after all meant to be sweet and sugary. I have dragged many recipes (which are now here on the Ex-sugarholic) to work with me and asked my very helpful ‘taste panel’ to rate them and give me feedback. My aim was to make free-from recipes which tasted just as good as the sugar-laden stuff (to ‘normal’ sugar addicts). This meant that I could still bring cakes and sweets to work, have friends for dinner or visit them and everybody satisfied and happy. That being said, I don’t actually eat sugar-free ‘treats’ very often. When your body and taste buds are cleansed from the sugar addiction you just don’t feel like it that much and I tend to go for foods which are just naturally sugar-free rather than recreating something I miss. But, I like to have the option so that I can choose.

PicMonkey Collage - bring to visit friends

Luckily, you don’t have to worry about all the testing I did. Just try some recipes on this blog and then go visit your friends 🙂

Have you got any questions? Please let me know.

If you would like to see more articles like this and sugar-free recipes you can follow me here (via email, see top right on this page) or on Facebook.

DIABETICS: Please note that the recipes containing glucose (including the following terms: dextrose, rice syrup and glucose syrup), as far as I understand, is not suitable for people with diabetes. Please see my recipes with no added sweeteners or just the natural sugar from fresh fruit. If in any doubt, please contact your health professional

 

How to get rid of your sugar addiction – at work (2/4)

business meeting with sweets

In the previous post we focussed on getting your home sugar-free, now, let’s look at what we can do about the abundance of treats which present themselves at the place we spend the majority of our wake hours during weekdays – work!

The challenges

Work was my biggest pitfall. There was always sugary treats available, in the lunch room, in the kitchen, at people’s desks and at meetings. It was hard to resist because:

1) You’re addicted, so you crave it

2) You want (need!) it if you are stressed, sad, upset etc

3) You don’t want to be rude if someone offers. “No thanks” or “I’m good thanks” (said with a smile) are the shortest ways of dealing with this (if you don’t want to spend the next 10 minutes explaining why you have gone sugar-free).

4) You don’t want to be seen as the odd one out and you want to feel a part of the group. At work, sugary treats are used as a bonding experience (the boss brings cake, going out for an ice cream, having a drink after work etc).

The solutions

1) And 2) are eliminated when you have successfully withdrawn from sugar (you simply don’t feel like it). The withdrawal itself though, takes a while and it is hard work.  I had almost uncontrollable sweet cravings, head-aches and mood swings to match a pregnant woman (now that I know what that’s like!). When I first went sugar-free, I felt a bit like Pavlov’s drooling dogs for the first two weeks whenever I sat in the vicinity of the sweet stuff. I crumbled a couple of times, but started resisting all the time with much difficulty. Then I started seeing the first benefits and gained strength and willpower from then on. After 4 weeks I noticed the ease of which I started to avoid sugary things and after 6-8 weeks I didn’t feel like it any more at all and reaped all the benefits of a sugar-free life-style.

To make this as easy on yourself as possible, make sure that you bring a lunch from home that will fill you up. Just as important – bring snacks!!! Lots of safe snacks are critical for those in-between meal cravings or if you have just been to a meeting where there was a plate full of delicious chocolates that everybody else was scoffing down. Those first couple of weeks you may last it through the meeting, but then you might feel like secretly sneaking off to a kiosk or vending machine to get a sugar kick (don’t judge me, I was an addict after all!). So, look out for my posts coming soon on weekday breakfasts, lunches and snacks (easy to make in and suitable for bringing to work).

I DON’T HAVE THE TIME! If you really, really don’t have time to prepare anything from home,  educate yourself on the amounts of sugar in food and drinks available at, or near, your work. Ask them which of their products have no added sugar (or the least, low sugar) and are low carb. Give them a call in a break or after work if you don’t want to ask in front of your colleagues. Sure it requires a little work at first but then you get to know the menu/offering at you (new) fav places and can make informed decisions on what to pick. If you can’t avoid it, it’s definitely better to reduce the amount you consume rather than carrying on eating loads of sugar.

3) And 4) – feeling ‘rude’ and left out – unfortunately won’t disappear, you just have to think about how you will deal with it. I don’t explain anything to people that I only meet briefly, if offered, a simple “I’m good thanks” will suffice. With work colleagues that I worked with often, I started explaining that I quit sugar and why (health reasons, life-style choice). After that, everything became so much easier as they actually helped. They would stop putting cake in front of me and asking if I wanted muffins, chocolate (or whatever else treat was there that day). Although the “oh you can’t have this” popped up a few times – which really just makes you feel annoyed as you want at least to be asked if you want any. After a while though, it will become a non-issue for you as you and your colleagues get used to your new life-style (but they might still think you are a bit odd, but think about all the odd habits your colleagues have, I’m sure it’s no weirder in the grand scheme of things). However, if you don’t wan’t to explain exactly why you are doing this or really don’t want to be seen as being different, you could always just say that you are “watching your weight” or that you are “on a diet” – nobody thinks that is weird, after all, most people are doing it on/off which is completely accepted part of society (although, probably not very good for you). Why not make one of the recipes from my blog and bring to your next meeting (try the banana cake – I haven’t met anyone who didn’t like this). Sorted!

If you have any questions, do ask away in the comments below and keep an eye out for the next post in this series.

If you would like to see more articles like this and sugar-free recipes you can follow me here (via email, see top right on this page) or on Facebook.

DIABETICS: Please note that the recipes containing glucose (including the following terms: dextrose, rice syrup and glucose syrup), as far as I understand, is not suitable for people with diabetes. Please see my recipes with no added sweeteners or just the natural sugar from fresh fruit. If in any doubt, please contact your health professional.

 

How to get rid of your sugar addiction (1/4)

lady eating sugar cubes - how to get rid of your sugar addiction TEXT

Are you unable to go a whole day without eating anything sweet? Are you an emotional eater? Are your energy levels throughout the day like a roller-coaster? Do you NEED something sweet to get you going during the middle of the day, but then your energy levels drop again soon after? Are you unable to say no to people offering you treats?  If you answered yes to some or all of these questions you are likely addicted to sugar. And who can blame you – sugar is added to most processed food these days. If sugar is as addictive as cocaine and tobacco, it is really no wonder that we get hooked!

If you know that sugar is bad for you (if not, check out my last post) and you are ready to take the leap and become sugar-free, here are some top tips for kicking the sugar in a series of four blog posts 1: Starting out – at home, 2: At work, 3: Going out and 4: Visiting friends.

At home

Living on your own might make the start of a sugar-free journey easier than if you are living with someone. However, if you do live with a partner or have a family, I’d start out by getting them on-board first. If there is chocolate lying around, you might not be able to help yourself (unless you are one of those superhuman people who have an ironclad willpower). If you don’t think that this is a good option in your household, start this journey on your own but know that the sugar-free community is growing rapidly everyday, there is always help and support to be had if you know where to look (you could always start here, by following this blog by email or on Facebook). When the rest of your household witness the changes in you (For example, loosing weight, better skin, loads of energy and how much happier you are) they might be encouraged to join you on your journey. This is NOT another fad diet to try out, it is a life-style choice which will make you happier and healthier.

Before you start whipping everything out of your kitchen, just make sure that you are prepared with sugar-free substitutes. You need to have alternatives ready for when you house is ‘clean’ and you are suffering serious sugar withdrawal (no, it’s not fun the first two weeks). Otherwise, you are setting out to fail. So, if you are new to this, I’d recommend saving the link to this series of posts and then go back and start here when you have read them all). I will be following up with posts about weekday breakfasts, lunches and dinners and how to prep in advance to make life easy.

Now, are you ready to make a change? Start out by going through your pantry, make it a cool challenge, get your partner/kids to help. First, start of by binning the obvious ones, your regular sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar etc. Then proceed to look at all the processed foods (check the labels) – has is got more than 5% sugar in it? (5 gram per 100 gram). Put it all in a pile on your kitchen bench. All the whole foods (oats, coconut flakes, seeds, nuts etc) are fine, only natural (tiny) amounts of sugar there. Don’t be surprised if your seemingly innocent cornflakes, toasted muesli or energy bars are crammed with sugar. While you are at it – remove all your (wheat/gluten) flours. Gluten and wheat are just empty calories which will be turned into sugar in your body.

Woman looking into fridge

Then pull everything out of you fridge which aren’t whole foods (veggies, fruit etc). Look at the back of the labels and add anything which has more that 5% sugar in it (and wheat/gluten) to your pile on the kitchen bench (unless the sugar content it is not added sugar and comes in its original ‘packaging’, e.g. a can of apple sauce with nothing whatsoever added to it).

Now, stand back and be amazed by the amount of food that makes up your pile (hopefully your fridge and pantry are completely empty!). How big was it? If it’s wasn’t much – congratulations, it seems you sugar addiction isn’t being fuelled at home (but perhaps rather when you are out and about). Decide what to do with your haulage of sugar but make sure it leaves your house or lock it in a box and burrow it in your garden with a note as a time capsule for your future self (kidding away, I would suggest actually throwing it in the bin so it doesn’t harm someone else!).

Empty fridge      Healthy fridge

Excellent. You have taken a huge step, now you need to replace all the sugary foods with sugar-free ones. The best way is to make wholesome foods yourself and not buy any processed foods since it’s ridiculously hard to find any processed foods which aren’t sugar-free (and it’s far better for you anyway). You don’t have to make everything from scratch though, use some ‘shortcuts’ if you want. Such as buying unsweetened chocolate (instead of making the chocolate yourself – in some countries it’s really easy to get, whilst in others like NZ it’s almost impossible to find), ready to use gluten and wheat free flour-mixes, unsweetened rice-milk etc). This is where the Ex-sugarholic comes in handy – browse through and see which recipes you like/need, then go shopping and get cracking on your amazing new sugar-free lifestyle.

For weekday breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas and how they can be prepped in advance, please keep an eye on up-coming posts which will be focussing on these particular topics.

If you would like to see more articles like this and sugar-free recipes you can follow me here (via email, see top right on this page) or on Facebook.

DIABETICS: Please note that the recipes containing glucose (including the following terms: dextrose, rice syrup and glucose syrup), as far as I understand, is not suitable for people with diabetes. Please see my recipes with no added sweeteners or just the natural sugar from fresh fruit. If in any doubt, please contact your health professional

 

How you got hooked on sugar and why it’s so bad!

sugar syringe

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you that sugar is not really healthy. Right? But, what most people probably don’t realise is just how bad and addictive it is. If you are currently a sugarholic, read on! (and keep and eye out for my next post on how to become an ex-sugarholic). If you are already on a sugar-free journey, a reminder of why we choose this lifestyle is always good.

So, how did you get hooked in the first place? Well, sugar binds itself to the same opioid receptors that drugs, alcohol and tobacco do! Following the fat-free ‘revolution’ in the 70’ies much of the fat in processed foods was replaced with sugar. This, unfortunately, means that there is added sugar in most processed foods. So, the generations growing up after the fat-free ‘introduction’ never really stood a chance of not becoming addicted in our modern and very convenient world. If we had all stuck with making everything from scratch like previous generations did, we probably wouldn’t be facing the global obesity epidemic that we are today.

The majority of this sugar consists of fructose and glucose.

Glucose is produced in our bodies and ingested through food and beverages and can be naturally broken down by every cell in the body. Glucose is the main energy source for our brain and for various processes in the body. We NEED it.

Fructose, however, is not essential and can only be broken down in the liver. Small amounts are okay as the liver can handle it and turns it into glycogen which is stored until it’s needed. If we flood our bodies with fructose the liver can’t keep up though and it’s forced to convert the fructose into fat which can cause havoc on our bodies in a multitude of ways (from tooth decay and obesity to fatty liver, diabetes, kidney failure, erectile dysfunction and heart disease). Natural fructose ingested through whole fruit is okay (as the fibre slows it down from being absorbed too rapidly in the bloodstream causing a spike in blood sugar). Juice is the one to stay away from. Juicing fruits hides the bulk that you are drinking. Think about a large glass of orange juice. It could have taken 8 oranges to make – would you ever eat that many oranges in one day? And, as mentioned, it goes straight into your bloodstream. You might as well just inject sugar right into your veins. If you stick with non-juiced fruit, it is really hard to over-eat. Just be careful with dried fruits, it’s easy to be tricked into eating too much because they take up more space than fresh versions and, hence, more concentrated.

For these reasons, you will notice that a lot of my baking uses glucose/dextrose (in the shape of glucose powder, glucose syrup and rice syrup). Important to note though is that glucose has a high Glycaemic index (GI) and is not suitable for people with diabetes (instead, please check out my low-carb recipes with no added sweetener, just fruit). Also, please note that even though we need glucose, it is a sugar and an excess can be dangerous, potentially causing obesity, diabetes and a host of other issues. All the recipes with glucose should still be considered a treat (baked goods) although some of them only has low amounts. Just eat sensibly.

Generally, many of the recipes that you can find here I only make for special occasions and a fair few of them I created or adapted during my sugar withdrawal because I craved those things I would normally eat. On a daily basis though (when you’re past the withdrawal), the main bulk of my food is wholesome and made from scratch as this is the only way to fully know what goes into your body. Yes, sure, it takes extra time, but as with anything that really matters, good things take time.

Need more information to be convinced? Check out the following:

Dr. Robert Lustig – Sugar: the bitter truth (video)

David Gillespie – Ways fructose destroys your body (article)

Nigel Latta – Is sugar the new fat?? (video)

If you would like to see more articles like this and sugar-free recipes you can follow me here (via email, see top right on this page) or on Facebook.

 

 

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