Set Yourself Up For Success On The 10 Day Sugar Challenge!
I’m a big believer in the saying ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail’. In order to be successful with any dietary changes, you will first need to set yourself up for success. In practical terms, this means taking a bit of time to get yourself organised and prepare your environment before you start on the 10 Day Sugar Challenge.
Below are several steps that will help you do just that:
Remove temptation – It’s advisable to limit your exposure to trigger foods when you’re starting out, Over time, you will have less cravings and will develop skills to resist temptation, but, ‘out of sight, out of mind’, is a good policy for now.
As such, I’d recommend that you go through all of your food cabinets, fridge and freezer, and, if possible, give away or else throw out foods that are not on your food plan and/or foods that are personally tempting for you i.e. the foods you reach for when you are feeling emotional, tired etc. For most people that’s chocolate or biscuits! If they’re not there, you can’t eat them! If this is not possible because of other members of your household, move these foods to a high shelf or to the back of the fridge or cupboard.
Ask for Support: If you share your kitchen with others at home or at work, you may want to ask them for their co-operation and support in helping to keep tempting foods out of your sight as much as possible, particularly at the start. Rather than demanding that they also make changes, phrase your request in a nice way, for example, ‘would you be willing to help me by….? ‘could we come to some agreement whereby…?
So for example, when Susan started her eating plan she made a ‘no sweets in the house rule’ for the whole family. However, as a compromise she agreed that once a week her husband would take the kids to the shop and they could choose one serving of whatever sweets they wanted as a treat. That way the kids learned that sweets are not an everyday food and Susan was removed from all temptation.
Plan your meals & snacks – have a good look at the list of foods allowed on the 10 day sugar challenge as well as the meal suggestions and see which ones appeal to you. Then plan what you are going to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner & snacks for the next few days. Once you know this, you can make a list for the supermarket and stock up on what you’ll need. Having the right foods to hand is half the battle and preparation is key!
Cook Smart: If, like most people, you are time starved and/or sometimes feel too tired to cook from scratch in the evenings, then I’d highly recommend that you cook a few dinners, soups etc. in advance and freeze them so you have healthy options to hand at all times. For example, whenever I make a up a Bolognese sauce or a curry, I cook up double the amount and either store it in the fridge to eat a day or so later or else freeze it for later use. This comes in so handy, particularly on days when you know that you’re likely to be particularly busy or tired.
Healthy Snacks: I’d also recommend that you get into the habit of keeping healthy snacks close to hand at all times so you will have no excuse when hunger and temptation strikes. So, for example, I always carry a container with nuts, oat cakes and fruit in my handbag so that I don’t get caught out and tempted to reach for the biscuit tin. You may also like to keep a few healthy snacks in your car or at your work desk too.
The 10 Day Sugar Challenge is available on my website for free, give it a try!
You can purchase my ‘Goodbye Sugar’ Book in Irish Book Shops and on Amazon UK
I’m a big believer that what you choose to eat for breakfast sets the stage for blood sugar control and thus dictates your food choices for the rest of the day so its important to choose wisely!
If you’ve ever started the day with a coffee and a pastry you’ll know that you’re much more likely to continue eating in an unhealthy manner for the rest of the day so start as you mean to go on folks!
To give you some inspiration, below are several suggestions for healthy breakfast options, some are healthier than others – but lots to choose from whether you’re a grab & go person or someone who likes to take their time and indulge in a king’s breakfast!
Cereal based breakfast
Porridge Oats (cooked or raw) – made on water or milk of choice. Add some chopped nuts or milled seeds to add protein and healthy fats. To sweeten try cinnamon and/or fruit such as grated apple or berries.
Muesli/Granola – Most store bought brands of muesli/granola are high in sugar as they’re loaded with dried fruit. You can find a sugar free muesli with no dried fruit at your local health store. Choose one that’s oat based with plenty of nuts and seeds or add your own. If you like granola, Lizzi’es Granola is a good low sugar option, you can buy it in health stores & in supervalu. Serve with milk or natural yogurt and top with fruit of choice. Alternatively, you can try my easy peasy granola recipe below which is really delish!
Wholegrain Cereal – Good options include cereals made from one or a combination of different whole grains including wholewheat, buckwheat, rye, millet, quinoa etc. Just make sure to check the label for sugar and fibre content, see guidelines below. Click here to read my top pics for shop bought cereals e.g. weetabix
Pimp Up Your Cereal:
- Add 1- 2 tbsp of chopped nuts or milled seeds to your cereal to add protein and healthy fats
- Sweeten your cereal with low glycemic fruit such as apple, pear or berries for added vitamins and fibre.
- Try adding spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger for added flavour.
- Opt for shop bought cereal/muesli with less than 5g sugar per serving and at least 3g of fibre per serving
Eggs - Starting the day with an egg is a brilliant choice as it gives you a good dose of protein & mood boosting nutrients first thing and keeps you full for longer than cereals. One or two eggs cooked as you wish served with a slice of wholegrain toast (optional) or a couple of oat cakes is quick & easy. For added vitamins and fibre, add some veggies such as tomato, mushroom, spinach, avocado or asparagus. I love poached eggs with sliced avocado & cherry tomatoes drizzled with balsamic vinegar!
Fish - Smoked salmon/haddock or kippers served on a bed of steamed spinach drizzled with olive oil.
Pancakes – I recommend you try my sugar free power pancake recipe which are super quick and easy to make as well as being nutritionally balanced. They’re made with oats, egg, cottage cheese, cinnamon & blueberries & taste delicious. Pictured Below.
On the move Breakfasts
Smoothies – a smoothie is a good option for an on the go breakfast. Ideally use low- glycemic fruit such as berries and add some protein and healthy fats with ground nuts or milled seeds such as flax, chia or hemp seed. Natural whole milk yogurt adds protein too or you can use a variety of non dairy options e.g. almond, oat milk etc. Try out my LOW GI Supercharger Smoothie Recipe here!
Nut Butter – try a couple of teaspoons of nut butter e.g. almond/cashew nut butter spread on a couple of oat cakes, sliced apple or a slice of wholegrain toast.
Yogurt – a few tablespoons of natural yogurt topped with fruit and a tablespoon of milled seeds makes for a speedy but nutritious breakfast. Whole milk natural yogurt is ideal as low fat natural yogurt can be a little bitter and is less filling. If you choose a probiotic yogurt you’ll also be boosting your digestive health.
Nuts - A handful of nuts with a piece of fruit is a fairly good on-the-run breakfast albeit less substantial than previous options. Very handy to throw in the bag and gobble en route to work or at your desk! And a hell of a lot healthier than a breakfast bar
Elsa Jones is a Qualified Nutritional Therapist & Author of Bestselling Book, ‘Goodbye Sugar: Hello Weight Loss, Great Skin, More Energy & Improved Mood’. www.elsajonesnutrition.com
When it comes to embracing a lower sugar lifestyle, the topic of fruit and fructose confuses so many people.
Should you eat fruit on a low sugar diet? Will fructose make me fat? Aren’t all forms of sugar bad? How much per day is recommended? Which are high/low sugar fruits?
In my opinion, there is information overload out there on this topic so I’m going to try to make this blog as simple & succinct as I can!
So, as we know, fructose is a naturally occurring sugar found in fruit (and vegetables but to a lesser degree). So, should we eliminate fruit from our diet if we want to follow a low sugar diet? In my opinion, no, we shouldn’t.
Fructose has gotten a lot of bad press in recent years because we now know that eating too much of it can have a negative impact on our weight and heart health. However, it’s the concentrated, man made forms of fructose we need to be most wary of i.e. High Fructose Corn Syrup and Crystalline Fructose that can be found in soft drinks, juice drinks and sweets. Concentrated Fructose is not found in fruit, or anywhere else in nature. As a result, our bodies don’t recognise it and we digest it differently than the natural fructose found in nature, i.e. fruit.
Fructose naturally occurring in whole fruits is not isolated or concentrated, it’s bound to other naturally occurring sugars and is accompanied by natural enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fibre, and fruit pectin which allow our bodies to digest and utilise it in a more healthful way.
So, whilst we should limit our overall intake of fructose, we should not eliminate fruit from our diet. I would also encourage you not to buy into the latest ‘you can have any type of sugar as longs as it’s not fructose’ craze either. ALL forms of sugar are detrimental to our heath if over-consumed not just fructose.
That said, I do think it’s important to have an awareness of the varying sugar content of fruit and vegetables so you can choose wisely particularly if you have blood sugar issues and/or are trying to manage your weight. In my opinion, 2-3 portions of fruit per day will give you a good amount of vitamins, minerals and fibre without causing problems.
Sugar Content Of Fruit & Vegetables
In a nutshell, some fruits and vegetables contain higher amount of fast releasing sugars than others and so need to be eaten in moderation and in smaller amounts. These include starchy vegetables such as potatoes, parsnips, swede, yams and sweet fruits such as bananas and grapes.
The table below will help guide you in terms of which carbohydrates (including fruits and vegetables) to eat more often and which to eat less often and in modest portions;
Carbohydrates – Better Choice Guide
|Grain/Seed based foods||Vegetables||Fruit|
|Great Choice The slow release carbohydrates in this category are ideal choices because they are relatively low-glycemic foods which means they’ll keep your blood sugar levels stable so you’ll feel fuller and energised for longer.||OatsQuinoaPearl BarleyBulgur Wheat
|AsparagusBroccoliBrussels sproutsBean sprouts
Green Leafy Vegetables
Onions (all types)
|Good Choice The foods at this level will trigger a moderate glycemic response which means they’ll raise blood sugar levels at a reasonably steady rate provided they’re eaten in moderate amounts.
The foods in this category are nutritious foods but still need to be eaten in moderate amounts.
|Brown RiceWhole-wheat pasta/ noodlesWholegrain breadSoba noodles
|Adequate ChoiceMost of the foods in this category contain fast release carbohydrates so will raise blood sugar levels fast and provide only short term energy. Although the fruit and vegetables within this category do offer nutritional value, they need to be eaten in strict moderation to maintain healthy blood sugar balance.||White riceWhite pastaEgg/Rice Noodles||White PotatoesParsnipsSwedeYams
Elsa Jones is a qualified Nutritional Therapist & Author of Bestselling Book ‘Goodbye Sugar’.
Who doesn’t love banana muffins? These ones are a healthier alternative because they’re made with wholewheat flour, healthy fats and no refined sugar. Most muffins you’ll find in cafe’s/shops are made with white flour, sugar and margarine which makes them light, fluffy and sweet but unfortunately not very good for you!
These ones are naturally sweetened with just bananas and a very small amount of honey so they will taste less sweet (I did say they were healthy muffins after all!) They’re also denser in texture from the wholewheat flour and oats making them high in fibre and very filling. Perfect for an on the go nutritious breakfast or a mid morning/afternoon treat with you’re favourite cuppa – A real family favourite!
Healthy Banana Muffins (makes 10)
- 1 ¾ cups whole wheat flour
- ¼ cup oats
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup of mashed ripe bananas (about 3 bananas)
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup honey/maple syrup
- ⅓ cup olive oil or melted coconut oil
- ¼ cup milk of choice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional extras: 1/4 cup of finely chopped nuts/seeds
Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Grease approx. 10 cups of your muffin tray with a little butter/oil or else use muffin cases.
In a large bowl, beat the oil and honey together with a whisk. Add the eggs and beat well. Mix in the mashed banana and milk, followed by the vanilla extract, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
Add the flour and oats to the bowl little by little and mix well with a large spoon until fully combined. (Now is the time to add in any optional extras you desire such as chopped nuts, seeds)
Spoon the mixture into each muffin cup/case, about two-thirds full. Sprinkle the tops with a little oats if you wish. Bake muffins for approx. 23 to 25 minutes, or until a skewer/toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
Allow the muffins to fully cool before eating, at least 30 minutes (hard I know!) Store in an air tight container for up to 3 days – enjoy!
Elsa Jones is a qualified Nutritional Therapist and author of Bestselling Book ‘Goodbye Sugar’. www.elsajonesnutrition.com