Sugar Detox to get healthy in the New Year

I don’t know about you, but I’m done with the excesses of Christmas. But I’m not done with it in a ‘ready to stop’ sort of way. I’m just looking to my annual January health kick, and this year it will involve a sugar detox.

Christmas is the one time when I manage to totally stop working for a few days and relax. And like most people, this results in self-reflection and a few life-changes for the New Year. Health-wise, I feel like I’m on a slippery slope at the moment. I’m consistently attempting to eat better, exercise more and lose some weight. And failing.

My sugar addiction

I don’t have a bad diet as such. I cook most meals from scratch to make sure the children eat well. But then the afternoons arrive bringing cake and biscuits. And the evenings tend to bring a glass of wine and maybe some chocolate. All full of sugar. So maybe it’s just another fad diet, but this January I’m going on a sugar detox.

If your new year's resolution is to get healthy, find out why a sugar detox is the best way to do it Plus some vegetarian sugar-free meal, snack and drink ideas.

Why a sugar detox?

According to the NHS, most people in the UK – both adults and children – eat too much sugar. There are various types of sugar but the ones we over-consume are called free-sugars. These are the sugars added to processed food and drinks, but they also occur naturally in fruit juice, honey and syrup. They’re high in calories but have little nutritional value and adults should consume no more than 30g per day. That’s equivalent to 7 sugar cubes.

Eating too much sugar leads to weight gain, lack of energy and tooth decay. And it also leads to addiction. We should only eat sugary foods occasionally, gaining most of our calories from other sources. But sugar is added to most processed foods – because the truth is, it makes them taste better. So even if we think we don’t have a sweet tooth, we probably consume too much sugar.

My sugar detox

I have been doing some research on sugar detox and I’ve made a few decisions. I’m not going to follow a set diet because it’s too difficult with a family. I need to cook big meals to feed us all. They need to be healthy and quick as well as sugar-free and I’m also vegetarian. So instead of sticking to one diet, I’ve looked at various different tips to come up with a list of sugar-free meals and snacks.

Are you looking to cut down on refined sugar? Find out how I've gone on a sugar detox for the New Year. Includes sugar free product and recipe ideas.

Sugar free breakfast

Most breakfast cereals are full of sugar – even the ones that claim to be healthy. Bread also contains sugar, so my alternatives don’t include bread:

  • Porridge with a tiny pinch of salt to taste and some cinnamon to sweeten
  • Scrambled eggs wrapped in a lettuce leaf wrap
  • Poached eggs and avocado
  • Omelette
  • Fruit smoothy

Some sugar detox books recommend cutting out fruit, particularly while you are acclimatising to the lack of sugar. Fruit does contain naturally occurring sugars and short sugar-detoxes tend to focus on getting rid of your sweet tooth, so you don’t crave sugary snacks. This can be easier if you go completely without sweet tastes for a while.

Sugar free snacks

For me, snacking is one of the main sources of my sugar intake. I’m too quick to reach for the biscuit tin every time I have a cup of tea. Or grab a chocolate bar when I’m bored. Or have a slice of cake because it’s Monday. Or Tuesday. Or Wednesday – well, you get the picture. But what I don’t want to do is try to eat less at the same time as cutting down on sugar, so I’m replacing snacks instead of stopping them. Here are a few ideas:

  • Raw vegetables such as carrot, cucumber and celery
  • Sugar-free crackers
  • Rice cakes
  • Nuts
  • Pickles such as gherkins
  • Olives

Sugar free lunches

  • Cous cous with vegetables
  • Salad with chickpeas
  • Home made soup
  • Jacket potato with cheese
  • Boiled egg with sliced asparagus and mushrooms to dip in it
  • Egg fried rice with stir fried vegetables
  • Pasta with home-made tomato sauce

Some diet plans suggest cutting out starchy carbohydrates such as bread, rice and pasta because they can contribute to sugar addiction. Some also advise cutting out dairy products and caffeine. But I won’t be doing any of that.

I don’t consume much dairy at all anyway but don’t intend to cut it out completely at the same time as reducing sugar. I may cut out bread because I know it contains sugar, but I won’t cut out rice or pasta because it seems like too much to do at the same time. And as for caffeine? I think I’m going to need that!

Sugar free drinks

I don’t drink fizzy drinks and only tend to drink juice once a week. So I find it quite easy to suggest a few alternatives to those. But for me, the difficult thing is cutting out alcohol. So I’m not going to. Well, not totally. I intend to only drink at the weekends – Friday and Saturday. I look forward to a glass of wine at the weekend so I’m going to keep this as a treat.

If your new year's resolution is to get healthy, find out why a sugar detox is the best way to do it Plus some vegetarian sugar-free meal, snack and drink ideas.

Here are my sugar free drink suggestions:

  • Tea or coffee (without sugar)
  • Herbal teas
  • Water
  • Cocoa (made just with cocoa powder and milk or sugar-free milk alternative)
  • Home-made smoothies

Sugar free dinners

If I don’t cut out pasta, this is quite an easy one for me. Although making sure we get enough protein is important, especially as we always eat the same as the children. Here are a few ideas of vegetarian sugar-free dinners.

  • Home-made moussaka with chickpeas, lentils and vegetables
  • Stir-fried vegetables with Quorn pieces and rice noodles
  • Shepherd’s pie made with sugar-free mince
  • Fajitas with sugar-free tortillas
  • Chilli made with sugar-free mince or vegetables, served with rice
  • Pasta bake with home-made tomato sauce
  • Egg and chips with vegetables
  • Home-made pizza

The beauty of cutting out sugar is that other things that aren’t particularly healthy are not off-limits. You’re not calorie-counting or avoiding fat or carbs.

The weekends

I mentioned above that I’ll still be having a glass of wine at the weekends. I’ll also be allowing myself the odd treat. My aim for my sugar detox is to keep it all in balance. I want to curb my sweet tooth and stop craving sugar but I don’t want to allow food to become an issue.

I also hope to keep this up. Maybe not for the whole year but it would be nice to make it to the end of January! After last year’s ultramarathon I decided to enter a half-ironman as this year’s challenge. I’m hoping that the varied exercise and cutting down on sugar will get my fitness back on track. Wish me luck!

What are your New Year’s resolutions, do you have big plans for 2017?

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7 Comments

  1. December 27, 2016 / 1:09 pm

    Good luck! I like the sound of your meal suggestions. I must admit I never make resolutions, but I do know I eat too much sugar. As a teetotal, non-smoking vegetarian who doesn’t even drink tea and coffee, it is my only vice! I spent years eating rice cakes and now can’t stand the sight of them!
    Look forward to reading about how you get on – and if you think it helps your training at all!
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted…Being MummyMy Profile

  2. December 27, 2016 / 10:07 pm

    Good luck! I find that if I don’t completely deprive myself of something then I don’t crave it. So by allowing that treat every now and again really helps me to focus and achieving being good most of the time. x
    Laura – dear bear and beany recently posted…Living Arrows 52/52My Profile

  3. December 28, 2016 / 9:41 am

    Oh lovely I’m going to save this post. I weaned myself off sugar a couple of years ago and although I still eat sugar I’m so much better than I used to be!!

    My pregnancy unfortunately has brought out my sweet tooth again but I’m determined to get back on track in the new year!

  4. December 28, 2016 / 10:58 pm

    Oh I am with you on this one. I didn’t know that about fruit though as that is my snack substitute. I have to say a veggie smoothie does kill the hunger pains and fill me up. Good luck with it.
    Pinkoddy recently posted…Enlightenment: A Catch up with me postMy Profile

  5. January 2, 2017 / 3:56 pm

    I’m hoping to lose some weight this year but I’m trying to do it by exercising more and making healthier choices rather than following a diet. Sugar is the one thing I do want to cut down though so these suggestions are really helpful for giving me ideas for meals and snacks. Good luck to you too with your sugar detox and thank you for sharing 🙂
    Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love) recently posted…From the mouths of babes #101My Profile

    • monsterid January 3, 2017 / 3:10 pm

      Thanks Louise. Oddly I’ve only cut out sugar for a couple of days so far but my appetite has decreased massively, it seems like a really natural way to eat a bit more healthily. I’ll let you know how it goes!
      Nat.x

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