Sugar

The I Quit Sugar Programme is no more

For those of you who have been reading this/ following me on Instagram for a while, you’ll know that I’ve been a member of the I Quit Sugar community for the past few years.  Since my first programme in February 2016 I’ve since completed three rounds of the structured 8 week course and undertake my own 8 week programme (using the recipes) whenever I feel like my sugar habit has been spinning out of control.

So it was a sad day when I heard that Sarah Wilson, the founder of the IQS movement, announced that she was closing down the programme and the site.  You can read the full announcement here, to focus on her mental health and food activism work instead.

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Sarah has since announced that although the site will close and the programmes will be no more, Sam Wood will be hosting the free recipes over on his site here and that the paid programme material can also be accessed there too (it’s currently being integrated into Sam’s programme and the money he receives from the paid IQS content is going to charity.  You can read all about it here.)

I couldn’t let the end of the site go without writing something about how I felt and signing posting you to the resources if you’ve ever been curious about the programme but didn’t want to pay the full fee (I’ve also written about this myself here).

It’s a bittersweet feeling for me knowing that there will never be another opportunity to just ‘do another round’ when I’m feeling a bit off centre – meaning I shall have to take responsibility for giving my diet a motivational kick up the arse myself (although for the sake of full transparency that’s going to be re-visiting the old programme menus I’ve saved) and I will forever be grateful for the amazing connections I’ve made through the programme.

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To that end, if you don’t already read Rani’s wonderful blog then you should check her out here, Sarah is an ex-UKer living in Aus now and has another great blog here; Angie is a fit mum who is really inspiring and has a no BS approach to food and life, you can find her here ,not to mention the many other lovely others (too many to mention) whose Instagram accounts are worth a nosey if you want your food healthy, low sugar (mostly) but definitely not boring: Mel is a gorgeous crafter and foodie, Rowena is a herbal medicine student who gives me lunchbox envy and Bonni is a UK based fellow foodie fan and all round great lady (she gave me my first SCOBY and has since been responsible for my kombucha obsession.)

They (amongst hundreds of others) have been super supportive throughout my own sugar quitting experiment and so to them and Sarah Wilson (I know she will not read this but I want to put it out there in the universe, just humour me please) I say a huge thank you. Thank you for tearing down the BS ideas I thought I knew about food, health and nutrition back in my ‘low fat’ days, and for being the reason I became so interested in food and health which has now led on to this amazing studying path and subsequent career change.  Sarah will never know how much it has meant to but you guys do and I’m grateful that you keep reading and wanting learn more with me.

So here’s to continuing on what IQS help me start.  See you Sunday.

Katie x

Sugar

The IQS 8wp week 3 roundup

Hi friends,

How has your week been?  This week has been a busy one work-wise but I’m feeling pretty good as all my food has been taken care of so I’ve not needed to eat junk or rely on pre packaged food to get me through the week – and that feels pretty great (plus my bank balance is looking much healthier than usual towards the end of the month).

So, I’m into week three, there’s still no sugar (including fruit) but I have to confess there have been a couple of times when I’ve deviated off plan and so I think I’m setting myself up for some harder sugar withdrawals next week if I don’t nip it in the bud.  Full disclosure I had a slice of chocolate vegan cake that someone had baked at work and a chocolate eclair because someone was leaving at work and there may have been red wine almost every night this week…

Continue reading “The IQS 8wp week 3 roundup”

Food hacks

Back to work (or school) health hacks

Hi everyone, how are we doing now we are ‘properly’ back into January? I’m feeling fairly fresh and energised (which I’m attributing to some newly implemented habits) but if you’re not then this post might come at the right time for you.

Today I am sharing some quick and easy things you can do help keep your healthy habits on track and your wellbeing a priority as the day to day routines settle back in and the year rolls on.

If your good intentions are starting to slump and your motivation is waning then read on for some easy ways to inject some goodness into your January – without investing in a new gym membership or embarking on a crazy diet.

Continue reading “Back to work (or school) health hacks”

Christmas

Christmas Eve wisdom for surviving tomorrow

Happy Christmas Eve everyone.  In this shorter instalment of ‘surviving the festive season’ series I’m here to give you some festive cheer and some sensible tips for surviving tomorrow.  Whether you’re chief present giver, head chef or in charge of keeping the children entertained whilst others get on with making the day run smoothly this post has something for everyone.

I know that from the minute the house wakes on Christmas Day to the minute we go to bed that night it can be go, go, go and tensions can run high – especially when families get together and spend protracted periods of time in each other’s company.  It’s common to find yourself reverting back to stroppy teenage behaviour too easily when Aunty Gladys asks again why you don’t have a ‘lovely boyfriend’ or Uncle Bob makes a snide comment about vegan diets.  So how do you deal with it?

Continue reading “Christmas Eve wisdom for surviving tomorrow”

Christmas

A simple festive soup recipe

Hi everyone,

For today’s ‘surviving the festive season’ post I’m sharing with you my go-to winter soup recipe which comes on so handy when you need something healthy, filling and easy during this crazy time of year.

I make batches of this soup and freeze them so that if unexpected guests arrive you’ve always got something healthy to serve them. Or if you come home after a long day of work or festive shopping you can simply heat this up and in under 5 minutes you’ve got something hot and nutritious to eat.

Continue reading “A simple festive soup recipe”

Self development

How to have a merry mindful Christmas

Hi everyone,

I’m currently ‘out of the office’ as it’s my birthday weekend & I’ve been put on an enforced no social media ban. Whilst I take some time out the lovely Alexandra is kicking us off in the first of my new series about how to navigate the festive season without losing your head or eating everything in sight – but also still having fun (it is Christmas after all).

Alexandra is a qualified and accredited Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist Coach who works within a therapeutic counselling framework. She coaches her clients on a one-to-one basis to help them discover what they truly want to achieve. She has experience of working with a range of different issues, including anxiety, low self-confidence and debilitating habits. Regardless of the problem, her clients always realise their full potential and get a new energy for life to start living their dreams after working with her.

I’m so happy to have her here on the blog and I hope you enjoy reading this post as much as I did. Without further ado, here we go…

Continue reading “How to have a merry mindful Christmas”

Sugar

Sweet treats that won’t leave you feeling sour

Hi everyone,

In the final post of my sugar mini-series we are on to the good stuff: the sweet eats.  So far we’ve covered the different types of sugars, how to reduce your intake, how to deal with your cravings and finally (finally!) we’re on to the post you’ve all been waiting for: the desserts.

Now this is not me giving saying it’s ok to go and eat as much sugar as you want, because that’s never going to happen.  Today’s post is a reminder that it is possible to eat sweet things occasionally as long as it’s not all the time and when it’s a mindful choice – not a binge off the back of a sugar craving.

The great thing about these recipes are that they are all low sugar (all mostly low fructose which is even better) and can be knocked up quickly, in batches and kept in the fridge or freezer for when you feel like a treat.

Continue reading “Sweet treats that won’t leave you feeling sour”

Sugar

Sugar masterclass part 2: processed and refined sugars

Hi everyone,

Following on from the first post in my sugar masterclass series last week, this week we are talking about refined sugars i.e. those sugars that are processed (whether naturally occurring or not).  These are the kinds of sugars that have seen a huge rise in popularity recently and you may or may not have heard of all or most of them but I can guarantee you’ve probably eaten most of them (whether knowingly or not).

I’ll do a quick post on sugar alcohols and alternative sweeteners such as Maltodexrose and Aspartame (sound scary but they’re not once you break it down.  They’re just bad for your health) on Wednesday, along with a ‘how sweet are these’ scale to help you gauge an idea of how much sugar we are really eating but for now let’s get started on the most common refined or processed sugars you may encounter on a daily basis.

In alphabetical order, here we go…


Continue reading “Sugar masterclass part 2: processed and refined sugars”

Favourites

(Very late) August favourites

Following on from my July Non Foodie Favourites post here I thought I’d start a series of regular monthly favourites post.  Those who know me IRL (in real life) know that when I find something I love I can’t help but talk about it.  So I wanted to extend that to this space and hopefully share with others who aren’t in my immediate friends and family but would be interested in maybe trying something new.

First up this month, you will not be surprised to learn, is a book.  I finished reading Brené Brown’s The Gifts Of Imperfection last month and started on ‘A Pukka Life’ by Sebastian Pole, the founder of Pukka Herbs.  For those who aren’t aware of the brand Sebastian and his business partner Tim Westwell founded the company in 2001 and they do a huge range of organic herbal teas and supplements.  Sebastian is a qualified herbalist and follows traditional ayurvadic practices with his clients.

Continue reading “(Very late) August favourites”

Food hacks, Tips and tricks

Falling off the wagon

If you’re anything like me then your eating will go in cycles which range from the extremely ‘good’ i.e. lots of fresh fruit, veggies, and the like versus the extremely ‘bad’ which consists of burgers and fries, pizza and ice cream on an almost daily rotation.  Most of the time I’m ok but I’ve noticed that recently I’ve started to let my good habits slip and I don’t feel too great for it.

Now you know I’m all about balance.  I firmly believe that life is too short to deprive ourselves and I’m completely against the idea of cutting out entire foods or food groups (unless it’s for a specific reason like an intolerance). You’ll never hear me say ‘never eat desert again’ and I’m certainly still an advocate for a really great burger; so what happens when you can’t seem to master the art of moderation?

Well, today I wanted to talk about just that – falling off the wagon and what you can do to get back on.

Ok, so your healthy eating regime has slipped and you’re starting to feel like sh*t?  That’s ok, you’re human & it’s not the end of the world. I’ve been there too. In fact, I’m just coming out of one of those unhealthy eating cycles recently (which prompted me to write this post).  It’s almost like I have eaten so much rubbish recently that my body cries out for veggies. Sound familiar?  Yeah, I hear you.

Now I don’t know about you but I find the hardest thing is trying to crawl my way out of the unhealthy cycle.  Because the more rubbish you eat, the more you want it.  I even start to consider chocolate for breakfast – no, seriously I do.

I’ve started to notice though, each time I slip back into the bad habits there are always a number of things I come back to which help me to recalibrate and get back on track until one day, I chose salad over fries and just like that the healthy eating is back on the up.


First off I go easy on myself.  I know this sounds cheesy but having that initial ‘I recognise that my diet isn’t where I want it to be but I’m going to make an effort to make better choices’ conversation with myself helps to set an intention and genuinely makes me think twice the next time I reach for food.  Let me be clear, it doesn’t always stop me but when I go in for the bad stuff it’s then a conscious choice rather than a mindless nose dive into the biscuit tin.  Try it, see if the little pep talk doesn’t shift your point of view even ever so slightly.

Second up: Moderation, moderation, moderation.  Easy to say but harder to do.  To try and get back into balance I start off really small.  Acknowledging that it’s going to take a week or so to get back into a better place with food and making one small change per day makes it so much more achievable.  Because if you go fully restrictive and ban all sugar, caffeine, alcohol and unhealthy food in one go you’ll last all of a day before you’re miserable and go heading for the first kebab you can find.  

The more ‘virtuous’ I try to be the least likely I am to stick to it.  It’s better to try and cut out one extra glass of wine that week, or stop yourself from having one less doughnut that day than banning everything in one day.  Being gentle and kind to yourself in this way is much more effective and will lead to long term moderation overall.  Plus, it’s easier to tell yourself you’re going to eat one less set of biscuits with your tea rather than ‘I MUST eat at least 9 portions of veggies today and NO biscuits, NO treats and NO wine’. That’s just a recipe for no fun.


Next up is an easy one: out of sight, out of mind.  I find that if I buy rubbish food and it’s in the house, even if I’m not hungry I’ll gravitate towards it like I’m caught in a trackter beam.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s kettle chips, chocolate, chocolate biscuits or jelly sweets. If it’s there, it’s going in my belly.  Similarly at work, if someone brings in treats (and we seem to be a team of perpetual cake eaters, there is *always* something on offer) the minute I have one cake/ biscuit/ mini flapjack it’s all I can think about for the rest of the day.  So a really quick and easy trick for me is to either get the treats out of sight or to throw it away. You know I despise food waste so ideally you’d donate your unwanted treats to family, colleagues or even neighbours.  Unopened items can even go to food banks which will welcome the donation.  I can’t eat something I can’t see – and if I can’t see it I won’t crave it.

Which leads me on nicely to my favourite: the ‘add-in principle’.  Put simply it’s where you crowd the bad stuff out with the good stuff.  Instead of thinking ‘oh I can’t have that packet of sweets/ cake/shortbread’ try to add IN healthier fats and protein in to your existing meals so that  you feel fuller for longer and therefore are less likely to want to snack on something unhealthy.  For example, try adding in some extra nuts to your breakfast in the morning (a small handful, don’t go crazy, this is just a short term measure to get you over the hump), or an extra dollop of yoghurt.  Or at lunchtime try adding in half an avocado to your salad, or add some hummus to your plate. Adding in the odd healthy item to each meal won’t feel like an arduous task but you’ll soon notice that you won’t be craving the sweets and treats as much, if at all.  This also works well when you’re in the grip of a craving and can’t think of anything else.  In these instances I reach for a healthy snack first (yoghurt and berries, hard boiled egg and spinach or a handful of roasted chickpeas) first and then if the craving remains or resurfaces then I can chose to eat something less than virtuous and eat it mindfully rather than because I’m about to go over the edge if I don’t have chocolate now, now, now.

Lastly, be prepared!  I find that by slowly getting in to cooking again I start to get my meal prep and planning mojo back, which in turn leads to leftovers and voila instant healthy lunches.  As with the moderation point above, sometimes just cooking one meal with enough for leftovers the next day is enough to jolt me out of an unhealthy rut.  Go slowly and don’t put pressure on yourself to cook a week’s worth of meals, just do one.  In the same vein, pack one snack in your bag or pack one tea or coffee to go rather than buy one on the go.  These small actions (if taken one by one) won’t feel overwhelming but will gradually get you back in to healthy habits.


By incorporating a few of the above tweaks after about a week or so I start to notice that my unhealthy habits start to tip back into healthy ones.  It takes time, so don’t pressure yourself to change your diet overnight, but with small consistent efforts you’ll start to see these small changes add up to big ones.

Before I sign off completely remember that drinking lots helps too.  I reach for peppermint tea (or the Pukka detox herbal teas) when I’m about to make a bad food choice.  Having a drink makes me stop and think about whether I genuinely want to eat that burger/ cake/ cookie and also helps to fill me up – plus, I think peppermint tea is the best.  The act of taking 20 minutes for a cup of tea might make the difference between a healthy choice or an unhealthy one.

Remember to be consistent, be kind on yourself and be patient. You’ll get there.  And even if you fall off the wagon again, it’s ok; it’s all part of the journey.  Get back up and try again, your body won’t judge you – and neither will I.