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”

Sugar

The IQS 8wp weeks 1+2 roundup

Hi everyone,

As promised, today’s post is a wrap up of weeks one and two of the I Quit Sugar 8 week programme.  In my last post here I gave you the low down on the facts and figures of the programme but today I’m giving you the ‘behind the scenes’ details about what I’m eating, how I’m feeling and what’s going on generally as the weeks unfold.

The first thing you’re probably wondering is what have I eaten?  Well, week one is fairly gentle and there are no strict rules about completely cutting out sugar.  You are strongly encouraged to start reducing the sweet stuff (and you have lots of information available on the site and forums to help you become more mindful of where the sugar is coming from in your diet) but it’s not until week two when the sugar ban comes into force.

Continue reading “The IQS 8wp weeks 1+2 roundup”

Sugar

The I Quit Sugar Programme – the details

Hi friends,

After enrolling on the I Quit Sugar 8 week programme at the start of the month I wasn’t sure whether I would share a weekly progress update on here (because I wasn’t sure if you’d be interested) but after an overwhelmingly positive response to my posts over on Instagram (here btw, if you don’t follow me already) plus number of people asking me a whole range of questions these past two weeks I thought each week I’d do a little wrap up of how it’s going and give you guys a space to ask me anything you want to know about the Programme.

So, as I’m moving into week three here’s some basic programme information to help you decide whether it’s for you and on Wednesday I’ll do a full run down on weeks one and two.

Continue reading “The I Quit Sugar Programme – the details”

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”

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

How sweet is your sugar?

Hi everyone,

Next up in the sugar mini-masterclass we are comparing the various sugars I’ve been discussing over the past few posts (if you’ve missed any you can catch up here because sadly not all sugars are built the same.

They all have varying levels of sweetness and when ranked against one another you can start to see how out of control sugar habits can get when we consume the same volumes of sugars which have different levels of sweetness. Our taste buds become acclimatised and we start to want and crave more and more, which before you know it can get a liiiiiiitle out of control.

Continue reading “How sweet is your sugar?”

Food hacks, Uncategorized

Quick and easy make ahead breakfasts

When I wake up in the morning one of the first things I think about is what to eat.  Which is great if it’s a weekend because I have the time to make something delicious like breakfast burritos, pancakes or French toast and omelettes.  I’ve even been known to have multiple courses (croissants then toast followed by a fry up since you ask) but during the week I simply don’t have time for all that.

Most weekdays I roughly leave myself 30 minutes between my alarm going off and getting out the door to drive to the train station.  This is easily done as my clothes are sorted the night before, my work bag is packed and my food is in the fridge ready to go.

But being quick doesn’t mean I want to compromise on taste or flavour. I want the best of both worlds – and don’t even think about suggesting those instant oat sachets that are stuffed with sugar and other nasties.  They give the illusion of being quick and easy but in reality, they’re junky and you could cook regular oats in the same time (eye roll).

The good news is that there lots of different breakfast options you can make in advance which will take you minimal preparation time, taste amazing and you can simply grab and go during the week.

Continue reading “Quick and easy make ahead breakfasts”

Food hacks

Simple ways to reduce your sugar intake

So I think we can agree that we all know we should be reducing the amount of sugar* we are consuming, yes?  Yes.  But how to do this in reality can sometimes be confusing and end up in you eating more sugar than intended, which defeats the object and can be morally deflating.

If you’re trying to cut down on your sugar consumption but don’t know how, let me give you a few pointers on some simple swaps you can make which will help to cut your sugar load but with minimal difference to your day to day eating habits or your wallet.

*Before I begin, let me clarify what I mean when I say sugar.  Our bodies need sugar for energy.  Glucose is our main energy source and we get this from the foods we eat (such as fruits and vegetables) and there are other types of sugars we consume found naturally in foods (like lactose from dairy).  This is completely normal and natural and I’m not suggesting we need to cut down on consuming these kinds of foods.

What I’m talking about are the artificially processed or added the sugars that are sneaked in to foods where they have no place to be – like in mayonnaise, or pasta sauces or even in yoghurts.  These are the kinds of sugars we sometimes don’t even know that we are eating but are having a detrimental effect on our health because of the volumes we consume them in, or the things we’ve traditionally have been told are healthy (and therefore we can consume in abundance) which in reality are ok on occasion or smaller quantities but mindful consumption of these is advised e.g. fruit juice.

1. Cut out ‘low fat’ versions of foods

Contrary to their promise of being better for you, low fat versions of products are actually stuffed full of sugar and other junky ingredients.  When companies remove the fat content they have to replace the taste and texture with something to make the food palatable again and so what do they use to fill this void? Sugar!  Low fat flavoured yoghurts are one of the best examples of this:

As you can see from the above, just one pot of these contains 19.8g of sugar (see: ‘carbohydrate, of which sugars’).  That’s 4.9 teaspoons! By switching to plain full fat yoghurt you’ll instantly save on sugar.  Natural yoghurt contains some sugar (lactose) but it should only work out about 4.7g/ 100g of yoghurt.  Always check the label – anything over that is added sugar and should be treated with caution.  The great thing about natural yoghurt (apart from all the great bacteria) is that it is infinitely customisable and you can get creative with toppings such as berries or low sugar granola or even dark chocolate (because you’ve made your sugar saving and a square or two of dark chocolate won’t kill you  – I’m talking about moderation).  By eating the full fat version you’ll feel fuller for longer and it will taste delicious.  I promise you.  We need to stop being so scared of fat as a nation (which is not carte blanche to go and east a stick of butter a day) but the ‘low fat’ label needs to be recognised for what it is – junk food in other disguise.  If you are dairy intolerant coconut yoghurt is great alternative but again, go for the naturally unflavoured options.

2. Reduce the amount of fruit juice you are drinking

I know, I know.  What could be more healthy than a glass of OJ in the morning?  Unfortunately there’s the same amount of sugar in a glass of apple or orange juice as there is in a can of Cola.  ‘But it’s natural sugar!’ I hear you cry.  The thing is, on a basic chemical level our bodies don’t distinguish between ‘natural’ sugar or ‘processed’ sugar because they all look the same, so our bodies treat them the same.  When we eat the whole of the fruit it also contains lots of good stuff (like fibre) which prevents our bodies from going crazy on the sugar.  But when we juice fruits we are essentially just extracting the sugar and leaving all the good stuff behind.  Which means unfortunately that a glass of juice isn’t all that healthy.  I’m not saying don’t ever drink fruit juice again – I certainly still do – but make it an occasional glass of fruit juice or even better try diluting it with water (I prefer sparkling) which also has the added bonus of making a carton stretch further (and you know I love getting value for money out of my food).  Seeing fruit juice as an occasional rather than a daily ritual can help to dramatically cut down on sugar.

3. Reduce the amount of dried fruit you are eating

Following on from the above, another easy way to reduce sugar consumption is swapping out your dried fruit for fresh.  When fruit is dehydrated (the water is removed) the sugar levels are sent rocketing.  Those super sweet raisins in your muesli aren’t the best idea first thing as they’ll give you the initial sugar spike and then leave you craving more later in the day.  And portion wise, I can easily eat a whole bag of dried apricots but if I tried to eat the equivalent amount of fresh fruit and I would struggle.  Dried fruit is a great little treat now and again but to mitigate the sugar crash I try to eat it only occasionally and combine it with good fats or protein to help slow down the sugar spike e.g. dried apricots and some yoghurt or nut butter.

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4. Swap your snacks (‘cereal bars’ for hummus, veg, cheese etc.)

I’m planning on doing a whole post about this but a good one is to swap your sugary snack for a savoury one.  Instead of cereal bars (yep, even the vegan, wholefood ones made from dried dates) try some hummus and carrots, or a block of cheese, or a handful of nuts with an apple, or some crackers and smoked salmon.  There are lots of yummy savoury options which won’t send your sugar levels in to the stratosphere. My top tip is to be creative – I love sweet potato wedges (roasted and left to go cold) dunked in to really garlicky hummus.  I can highly recommend that one.

5. Upgrade your chocolate

Life is too short to go without chocolate.  You’ll never hear me argue in favour of completely eliminating chocolate from our diets but I do think we can be smarter about the type of chocolate we eat.  The bog standard or cheaper stuff we can buy in the supermarkets doesn’t contain a high cocoa percentage and is filled full of extra junky ingredients such as vegetable oils, sugar alcohols, and emulsifiers such as E442 or E476.  By swapping to better quality chocolate you’ll still get your chocolate fix but with some added benefits: dark chocolate contains essential minerals that we need like iron, magnesium, calcium and it is full of antioxidants (which helps to repair cell damage).  Again, this doesn’t mean eating a whole bar a day but now and again by swapping out your regular chocolate fix you’ll be doing your insulin levels a favour.  I try to choose 75% cocoa level or above (I’ve even tried 100% which I like but it isn’t for everyone), and places like Hotel Chocolat are great for finding darker chocolates without compromising on the fun element or if these are too pricey I’ve noticed that Aldi and Lidl so a range of over 75% cocoa chocolate which come in at under £1.50 for 125g bars which is pretty affordable. 

Ok guys, that’s my top five tips for reducing your sugar consumption.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this and I you have any smart tips you like to use let me know – I’d love to hear from you.