If you’re more interested in cutting out sugar yourself than hearing about how my emotional state’s been since I’ve reduced my sugar intake, I’ve put together a sample, one-day meal plan to get you started.
It’s high in protein and fats and low in carbs, to keep you feeling fuller for longer and help you reduce or eliminate your sugary cravings:
Breakfast (mixed plate)
- Eggs. Any which way you fancy. High in protein, low in fat and versatile enough that you won’t get bored with them. Creamy scrambled eggs are my absolute fave.
- Avocado. Sliced, smashed or whole. Sprinkle on some rock salt, black pepper and some dried chilli flakes for an extra little kick. A drizzle of good quality olive oil also works a treat.
- Lean meat or fish. I started out by eating processed turkey ham but decided that as I didn’t know what most of the ingredients were, I would just have plain turkey instead. This, however, proved to be really dry, so I’ve moved on to skinless, boneless sardines. If you’ve got the budget for it, smoked salmon is also a winner.
- Cheese. Grilled halloumi is an awesome option, but a small lump of cheddar would also do the trick.
- Fancy-pants salad. Not just any old salad: I’m talking olives, nuts and seeds, mixed leaves, tomatoes, artichokes, boiled new potatoes, roasted red peppers, beetroot and mozzarella. Add some lean meat if veggie’s not your thing. Having such a variety of ingredients makes it a lot more filling than your average lettuce, tomato and cucumber number. The difficulty I’ve had is finding a decent dressing that doesn’t contain sugar because both balsamic vinegar and soy sauce are loaded with the stuff. Here are a couple of alternatives:
- French dressing(ish): 1 crushed garlic clove, 6 tbsps olive oil, 2tbsps white wine/red wine/cyder vinegar, sea salt, black pepper, squeeze of lemon juice. There’s no wholegrain mustard in this…because it contains sugar.
- Tahini dressing: 2 tbsps tahini, 2tbsps warm water, 3 tbsps lemon juice, 1 crushed garlic clove, sea salt, sprinkle of cayenne pepper.
- Cooked salmon fillet… Rub with olive oil, sea salt, pepper, lemon juice and parsley and lemon herb seasoning. Cook in a hot griddle pan, skin-side down until cooked through. Sprinkle on some toasted sesame seeds to add some crunch.
- …with crushed new potatoes and wilted spinach with garlic. Cut and boil some new potatoes in a pan of salted water. Once cooked, drain well and use a potato masher to soften them a bit. Heat a pan with butter and chopped garlic. Keep an eye on the pan so the garlic doesn’t burn. Throw in the potatoes and cover them in the butter/garlic mix. Add a good handful or two of washed baby spinach leaves and stir in with the potatoes for about a minute.
- Serve the salmon, potatoes and spinach with a dollop of greek yoghurt blended with lemon juice and black pepper.
- Mixed nuts. Very tempting to eat an entire handful in one go, but try to take your time with these bad boys as they’re loaded with fat and are really, really filling. I feel sick if I eat too many.
- Apple with peanut butter. Slice up an apple (keep the skin on for that extra fibre) and spread on some good quality peanut butter. Don’t use the processed stuff as (surprise, surprise) there’s sugar in that too. Although apples are high in naturally-occurring fructose, combining it with peanut butter lowers its GI making it harder to break down and keeping you full.
- Chopped veg/crudités.
Reading this over, I realise it looks a lot like a diet/’healthy eating’ plan. It isn’t, because diets don’t ever work and I wouldn’t encourage anyone to embark on one. There’s just one rule: no sugar. You can eat anything you want (like macaroni cheese, roast dinner and bread), provided it doesn’t contain sugar. It’s not easy because we’ve evolved to favour sweet tastes – sour/bitter tastes usually signified something was poisonous. That, and the fact that sugar has managed to wheedle its way into almost everything we/I eat. It’s no wonder I feel addicted to the stuff, but I’ve quickly learned to read the ingredients of everything I buy (not the fat content), because you never know where that sneaky sugar is hiding.