SUGAR! 10 tips to cut it out!

So with all the latest (and welcomed) publicity around sugar and its negative effects on our health, I thought I'd show you what a "low sugar" way of eating looks like, with a few pointers on how to go about it yourself. You'll see below there's lunch and dinner and snack ideas. Wheres breakfast?! My own breakfast is exactly the same as the lunches. In fact I'm not even sure which I had on a given day for breakfast or lunch!

  1. IF YOU FAIL TO PLAN, YOU PLAN TO FAIL! - Preparation is key! If you're going to avoid certain tempting foods then you need to have your own, better, sugarless versions at the ready. This means getting off you ass on a weekend and hitting the shops to stock up on a weeks - or at least half a weeks worth of supplies - means shopping and bulk cooking twice a week. The next step is cooking it all! Maybe you need more tupperware or jars to store it. Get some! Don't let little obstacles get in the way. The time you put in on your days off, means you don't have to think twice about what you'll eat for the next few days.

  2. MEAL VARIETY - Personally, I'm not someone who needs a different combination at every meal (as you can see!) but if you do, then your oven/cooker should be firing on all cylinders. You could be roasting a chicken on a bed of veges at the same time as frying up some steaks, poaching some salmon and steaming your greens. Choose herbs and spices of your choice to add variety of flavour. This doesn't include maple glazes, sugar marinades, dried fruit added to salads etc. It means fresh or dried herbs, and spices - the sky's the limit!

  3. PROTEIN + CARBS + FAT = THE TRINITY! If you base your meals and snacks around this, then your cravings for sweet foods will greatly diminish. Eggs with avocado and veges or steak and sweet potato and buttered greens are all typical meals. Nuts and seeds with maybe an apple or flax crackers with hummus/parma ham or avocado on top are other ideas for snacks.

  4. HOLD THE GRAINS! - Yep. Grains - rice, wheat, oats, barley, rye, millet etc. are just another form of sugar. They metabolise into sugar once digested and stored as glycogen in muscles and liver. What's not used for energy, sits happily around your middle, counting your button holes. So limit your carbs from grains to match your activity level, or weight loss goals.

  5. CONSIDER OTHER CARBS - Depending on your health goals, if you choose to omit those grains (which in my opinion is taking the low sugar mantra to the next level) consider sweet potato, rice (after training) or quinoa as alternative options. Root vegetables are some of the best types of carbohydrates and include beetroots, carrots, squash, turnip etc and again, depending on your goals, should be regularly included in your diet.

  6. HAVE YOUR SNACK OPTIONS AT THE READY - But, if chocolate is your downfall, then just bring a square or two with you and leave the bar at home. I'm happy with 1-2 squares (this 81% has pretty big squares) so saves on other temptations. I hate how people say - "Oh no you couldn't eat the whole bar of dark chocolate". Eh...I totally could - so just bring a piece with me to prevent it!

  7. NOTICE YOUR CRAVINGS - I work in a health shop so its super easy for me to pop out on my break and grab some undesired, high carb, sugar filled snack to have for dessert, so here's what I do. I get the snack I would like to eat. I sit it there and continue on with my break, but I ALWAYS have my dark choc square there and I make sure to eat that first. I can eat the sugary one if I like. But I must admit that I'm always satisfied and have yet to eat the second snack. It's not forbidden. I'm not on a diet. I'm not denying myself anything.

  8. KNOW WHERE TO SHOP - There's a huge boom happening with alternative snacks and foods so there's no excuse to be snacking on Mars Bars and Muffins! I grabbed a few ideas from the shop - nut butters, hummus, mackerel pate, flax crackers, kale chips, avocados etc. Even if you're out for a coffee with friends and know you'll be tempted by cake or something then choose the cafe yourself. Have your little treat in your bag, or try Butlers Cafe - you get a complementary chocolate that should hit the spot! Of course these have sugar in them but in general, its not going to undo being on track for the other days.

  9. BE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR DECISIONS. This is not a list of foods I think you should eat. You're not me. You will have a different set of aims, a different lifestyle, different stressors, hormone and health markers as well as different food intolerances and tastes to me. So make your own adjustments. Get over your own obstacles.

  10. DON'T BECOME OBSESSED WITH THIS. I don't eat like this all the time, but most of the time its something like this - that's all I'm prepared to do. I like to have the option to relax at weekends if I want to - aka the half bar of dark choc I ate on Friday night. Life is to be lived. There will be times when you need that emergency comfort food when you've had your heart broken or when you want a piece of birthday cake at your friends party or you just want to eat what everyone else is eating at dinner! So by being prepared and conscious about what's going into your gob at least 80% of the time, then 20% of indulgence aint gonna kill ya!

Hope this helps!

- Grainne

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