After indulging in far too many chocolate treats and easter eggs during March I made a decision to try and cut down on my sugar intake throughout April. It's quite a challenge to cut out sugar altogether as there are so many different kinds of sugars to consider! I decided to start off with a simple solution, banning chocolate (expect dark), sweets, ice cream, sugary cereals, spreads and to check ingredients for unnecessarily high levels of sugar. Here's 10 things I've learnt from my sugar free month:
1. Sugar is everywhere, hidden in everyday items like juice, peanut butter, sauces even some soups and bread! Simply switching brands or making your own versions can be a good fix. I made the switch to Meridian Peanut butter which is 100% blended nuts and still as delicious. Soups are so easy to whip up and then freeze in individual portions, sauces with tahini, lime, garlic and ginger are divine and so easy to make from scratch too - great to accompany noodles, rice or stir fried veggies!
2. Finding breakfast meals that are low on sugar is hard. Breakfast foods are my weakness. French toast, croissants, sugary cereals and pancakes my downfall and I'm not really one for savory breakfasts like eggs, potatoes and avocado (although I'd eat them for lunch any day!). I found it quite hard to avoid sugar in the AM and so I stuck to a fail safe meal of hearty Porridge made with oat milk. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon, fresh raspberries and maybe a dollop of almond butter for flavour, it's delicious!
3. A square of dark chocolate can help to keep chocolate cravings at bay. Lindt Excellence dark mint intense is my flavour of choice, it's delish!
4. I feel better. In general, happier and my skin looks so much better.
5. But, I'm pretty low on energy, I need to keep snacking on nuts and fruit to keep my energy levels up.
6. My Spiralizer and NutriBullet have been my best friends. Spiralized courgetti, ribboned carrots or potato curls, blended nut butters, smoothies or hummus - the options are endless. They're ideal to help to change things up a little and keep things interesting.
7. If you do cave, dont give up. Don't let that krispy kreme/cadburys/ice cream moment of weakness be your downfall. Don't feel too guilty, pick yourself back up again and carry on!
8. Almond butter spread on a rice cake is my favourite mid-morning snack. Ever.
9. Cook books like Deliciously Ella's are great to flick through for meal inspiration.
10. When you want to use/reintroduce sugar, find healthier alternatives like coconut sugar, maple syrup or honey.
In the end, aim for a healthy balance, my aim was to find better alternatives and new staple meals. Realistically I'm never going to be able to give up chocolate or pancakes but if 80% of the time I'm eating well and making better, healthier choices, then I think that's ok.