How to kick the sugar habit

Food & Nutrition

You probably haven’t spent a whole lot of time wondering what happens to your body after you eat something sugary – it goes in there with all the rest of the food you consume and keeps you alive – end of story.


Well, sugar is definitely important to staying alive. Carbohydrates are our primary source of energy and play an important role in the functioning of the internal organs, the nervous system and the muscles, but our systems do not need sugar in the quantity that we are used to.


Today, an average Briton is consuming 161 teaspoons of sugar a week which is 92 grams a day, the equivalent of about 23 teaspoons.  UK Children alone average 3 times the healthy limit of sugar every single day!


The World Health Organization would like to see the number get down to 25 grams a day for both men and women (6¼ teaspoons).

High amounts of sugar can wreak havoc on our immune systems, hormones and digestion. Some of the negative effects  include premature aging, weight gain, fatigue, bone loss, mental fatigue and depression plus it is a major contributing factor to diabetes, heart disease and cancer.


How much sugar do you consume in a day?


At first thought you probably think, “not that much”.


Let’s have a look, starting with breakfast. For example, you begin your day with 2 slices of toast with jam and a small strawberry yogurt – a total of 31 grams of sugar.



Mid-morning you have a blueberry muffin from your favourite coffee shop – 29 grams of sugar.


For lunch you decide to go easy on the calories so you have a salad with Italian vinaigrette and a slice of whole wheat bread – that’s another 14 grams of sugar.


For an afternoon pick-me-up you have a can of pop – 39 grams of sugar.


And then for dinner you have some pasta with grilled chicken and store bought tomato sauce – that’s 9 grams for the sauce and about 2 grams for the pasta.


The GRAND TOTAL: 124 grams of sugar or 31 teaspoons! (Remember you are aiming for 25g or 6.25 teaspoons)


That’s a bit of an eye opener for sure and I’ve been amazed at just how much sugar

is hidden in things I didn’t even realise had sugar in them!


7 Tips to Help You Break the Addiction

To get you started here are 7 top tips I use in all my programmes with my clients.  See if you can incorporate them into your everyday life and see the benefits on your waistline and energy levels.

1 – Grab a Drink – and no I don’t mean wine! Often cravings are a sign of dehydration or thirst so try drinking a glass of cold water first and waiting 5 minutes.

2 – Stop fluctuating and start balancing: Get your blood sugar levels steady first by eating breakfast within an hour of waking.  After that make sure you are eating regularly and have healthy snacks every couple of hours. Eating a balanced meal while sitting down calmly is very important (and not in front of the TV!)

3 – Start combining: Eat carbohydrates with a fat and protein at each meal and snack. When sugary foods are taken on their own it can quickly satisfy hunger and lift energy, but it leaves room for future cravings when energy begins to slump a few hours   Protein and fat will help you stay full and keep you blood sugar levels more even.

4 – Plan your day: Meal planning and grocery shopping might seem like an added stress as I know you are already too busy, but really it can be a lifesaver.  Planning your meals means that you can control your sugar intake on a meal to meal or day to day basis and if you have planned meals and snacks ready to go you are less likely to fall off the wagon or reach for convenient sugary food choices.

5 – Make a list: Why do you want to quit sugar?  Make a thorough list of why it is important to you and then refer back to it when a craving.

6 – Satisfy your sweet tooth with fruits, sweet veggies and spices:       Nature provides us with an abundance of naturally sweet foods (which when you stop eating refined sugar will start to taste sweeter as your tastes change).  Ensure that you include things like sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, figs and cinnamon into your diet and when a craving hits why not try eating a piece of fruit instead.

7 – Assess your mood:  Are you feeling unsupported, tired, angry, stressed or overwhelmed? Try to observe when you reach for food in these situations and find waysof dealing with these issues before you reach for the sweets.  For a quick fix take 3 deep breaths – it has been clinically shown to reduce stress.



Abby is a Certified Health Coach that specialises in supporting busy women to become healthier, lose weight and have more energy so that they can be more confident in themselves, feel comfortable in their clothes, wake up in the morning raring to go and have the energy to keep up with their kids. She enables them to achieve what they haven't been able to do by themselves and to create a sustainable healthy lifestyle that fits around the demands of their existing life. Abby has a Psychology degree and 20 years experience in People Management, before retraining and turning her coaching skills to the health and wellness sector. She lives in Warwick with her Husband and toddler Son. You can find out more about Abby at her website:

Diane’s Story

Two years ago I made the jump ….. I did a sky dive and jumped 15,000 feet from a plane in New Zealand. I knew if I could do that I could do anything.

I then returned home with my family and left a 28-year marriage, three businesses a beautiful home and a lifestyle!!!!

 The marriage in it’s final stages had become very much an abusive one.
However in the early years it was a happy marriage, driven by young love.

I married at 24, coming from a strict family upbringing.

I was not allowed to move into the house I had bought with my fiancée until I was married.

After being married for three years, aged 27, Hannah was born and at 30 I then had a son.

My son we later identified having ADHD and dyslexia.

My husband committed adultery when our son was just one.

I had a very hyperactive child who liked to wake at 5am.

Business took my husband away from home a lot and finally it became apparent there was someone else in the relationship.

These were the first cracks in the marriage.

However I chose to forgive him, as I still very much loved him and he in turn said he had made a huge mistake and he loved me dearly.

In hindsight …. which is a wonderful thing, I should have ended the marriage then.

Why didn’t I? I had two young children who I felt needed a father in their lives and I did not want to share my children of a weekend. Also who would want me with two children. In turn, one being both beautiful and hyperactive, all at the same time.

I chose to stay with a very low self-worth.

From the outset it was always a happy marriage, with dark episodes every 6-12 months. The dark episodes left me feeling very disempowered and wanting to leave the marriage. However some family event would be happening.

It was my sons birthday my daughter was graduating, my father was ill the dog was poorly…. Does this resonate!!!!

It was never the right time to leave.

We would then have a family holiday, this left me feeling, this is not as bad as I think it will be ok I just need to try harder.

I was a dedicated wife and mother, however I always worked and enjoyed it immensely. I chose to sacrifice a career, for my family, as they were my priority.

My husbands business was always his priority and I supported him in every way to enable that to become a success.

When the children were still at school I realised I was not utilising my academic skills and needed more mental stimulation.

I decided to retrain as a psychotherapist and Life Coach. This was incredibly empowering and rewarding, I felt alive again.

Having retrained I then became a senior BACP Accredited therapist.

I initially worked with children who had been sexually abused within Barnardos. I then moved on to work within Higher Education.

I eventually set up my own business with a private practise as a Counsellor, Life Coach and Trainer, winning a contract to work with doctors and nurses within the NHS.

In turn I also delivered Stress Management and Group Work to corporate clients, Jaguar Land Rover being one of those clients.

My work still always revolved around my role within my husbands business and the children.

Yes you may ask when did I sleep?  ….. I did, but had very little life other than work and my family.

Something had to give, so more of me disappeared ……

Whilst everything else on the surface looked like the perfect life.

I developed M.E.

When I was diagnosed my husband said go away for the week and have some rest… Not I will take you away for the week and look after you.

I would shower in a morning and have to lie down afterwards for 15 minutes to recover, the illness is so debilitating.

I could not even remember the way home from work. I can remember driving on the motorway thinking where am I going. I was on the M42, a journey I had done hundreds of times. I had to pull over and stop for a while until it came back to me where I was.

But I still continued to try to be the prefect wife and mother.

I overcame the M.E, again with the help of Hannah who took a week off work and took me away to a hotel to just relax and do nothing except sleep. Something I would not have been able to do at home, as my husband still if I was there expected me to do the ironing or pay the wages or whatever else needed doing. I was also privileged to be in the industry of self care and I knew from my knowledge of the illness and my understanding from a therapeutic perspective of how to take care of myself.

I had done a really good job of becoming burnt out!!!!

I was the epitome of a graceful swan on the outside, desperately paddling underneath the surface in order to keep afloat. A neighbour knocked the door one day as our new home did not have a door bell and said “What do you buy the lady who has everything”

I wanted to scream “If only you knew how unhappy I am”.

Breaking away from the marriage was the hardest yet most empowering thing I have ever done.

Yet then the next challenge came along ……. getting back into the world as a single woman!!


Hanna’s Story

People underestimate the understanding children have of circumstances around them, from such a young age. But children are very inquisitive, they know what is happening.

People talk about a mother’s maternal instinct, I believe as a child you have that instinct within you for your parents well being and in my case very much for my mother.

I can remember many things throughout my childhood and teenage years. I can remember being sat on the corner of the spiral staircase, hidden whilst my parents argued. Throughout all of the arguments I did not need to hear the words that were being said, but just to know that everything was ok.

I can still remember distinctly I was around five and I heard my mom crying in the hall, there had been raised voices. I did not know if he chose to or, she had told him to leave. But at age five I just remember wanting to be there for her so I could stop her pain. It was later on I understood it was because he had had an affair.

You will hear people say the impact it has on a child when parents separate and you yourself will have your own opinion, of what is right and what is wrong.

Well I was a child of a ‘failed’ marriage whose parents did not separate until later on in life. A Large part of me wishes my mother had left when I was younger, because I witnessed every part of the love that was in their relationship disappear and turn to hatred.

But it did not effect my education – it was instilled in me that school and education were essential; it led to opportunities in life and gave you choices. I had left school, got though colleague, and because of my parents I went on to do a degree at Westminster University in business and fashion buying which I loved. Realizing for the first time, I am intelligent, I can achieve top grades despite my dyslexia, I just have to try a lot harder and put in more hours than others to attain it. I was able to use my passion and drive to push my capabilities, and achieve a first class honors degree.

But I know it could have been a very different story if my parents had separated as a child and it had happened during my school years.

A key part of my story is the relationship we share as mother and daughter. We have always been so close. We shared some dark times together, however we supported each other.

It helped having a mother as a therapist and counselor, although rather annoying at times for a teenage girl, I was very much aware of her understanding of human behavior, she did not miss a trick but it bought us closer.

Over the years, the bond we shared compelled me to support my mother even more. I recognise I compensated for my father.

Not being there for her when my grandfather passed away.

The emotion and pressure I felt to support her when she explained she had M.E. Begging him to be more understanding to take it seriously, to take some pressure off me because I could not always be there.

It is safe to say he always worked, he loved success but stress affected him. Work was the priority it came first before his family. I felt he did not really know me because of his absence. There are always secrets behind closed doors but to me it was clear day-to-day that there was a lot of unhappiness in my mother’s life. Although he tried to compensate with a beautiful home, nice cars, expensive gifts. It was not real, it does not build a relationship and it does not make you happy. It was just his way of showing love and saying sorry.

I knew when my mother left I would have to be very strong. I had wanted the marriage to end many years before, I question maybe if I had been strong enough to support her like I have now we might have left sooner.

When she had finally had enough. I knew it would not be easy, I knew my mother would need to be very strong to do it because my father would make it very difficult. He did not want his wife to leave that cooked, cleaned, the mother of his children, his personal assistant and joint director in the businesses. I knew how strong she would have to be, and I knew in turn how strong I would have to be.

I was right because it has been two years and there have been and still are so many hurdles. I reduced my social life felt guilty anytime I spent away from my mother, even when I was at work. I felt responsible and I knew mom had no one else that understood the pain like I did. You can talk to friends but you know they do not understand because they are not living it as you are and it is hard to imagine the raw emotion until you are. There are only so many times you can cry to your friends about the same issue.

But who supported me, I needed support in supporting my mother, as a child you want to help and being older, I did support her but I felt a big weight on my shoulders. I always picked myself up but there were dark days, times when I just wished someone understood the pain. We supported each other, as she likewise was the only person who I felt understood my pain. In the end I decided to see a counselor to help me manage my emotions, to have an outsider to talk to.

There are hurdles before you leave and there are the ones we face now. Divorce impacts your life for many years.

I am proud of what I have done; I am proud to say that I supported my mom and I would not have changed a thing. I also would not wish it on anybody; it is heart breaking, emotionally exhausting why should it have to be that hard?

The question everyone asks me is do you still have a relationship with your father. To that the simple answer is no. The pain he put me through, at this time I have no forgiveness left for him. You can only forgive someone so many times when they continue to make the same mistake for years, I did and I now have to think of myself.

A man that I am meant to feel the most love and safety from look up to and go to for advice is someone that has hurt me the most in the world. He was someone I most feared before we left.

He continues to hurt my mother and our freedom will come when the divorce comes through. We left two years ago and he still impacts our lives.

We have already overcome so much and from our situation AspireYou, has been born, in order for us to be able to help other women to make the change, to support them and to make a difference in their lives

A quote my mother showed me resonated, you have to climb a mountain before you can see the view.

We are so close now I can nearly see the view.


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