My name is Scott and I am a recovering sugar addict.

Yes, I know, I know, since turning 30 I am just one long list of clichés. I’ve found a love for gardening, I barely drink alcohol these days, I listen to Radio 4 and in the last fortnight the horror is complete; I’ve given up sugar.

To clarify, I mean refined sugar. Haribo, ice-cream, beer, milk chocolate, sweet and sticky barbeque marinades and distressingly sweet chilli sauce. Why? Well, it *may* have been commented upon that my mood and energy levels are affected by my diet. And I *may* have researched a little and found out that sugar is linked to anxiety, depression, mood swings and lethargy. Now, this might sound obvious to most people, but I’ll admit I kind of thought I was immune to sugar affecting me. It’s been a part of my life for so long my daily intake crept up on me. Do you want to know just how much?

Confession time:

Breakfast: Pop tarts or Nutella on toast or yoghurt and honey followed by fruit

Elevenses: Cake or flapjack or Haribo

Lunch: Sandwich with lots of chutney or sweet chilli sauce

Snack: Haribo, fruit

Dinner: Probably something healthy but with a side of tomato ketchup, sweet chilli sauce and a few beers. Pudding an ice cream sundae or chocolate biscuits

Well, that was embarrassing.

So I went cold turkey which initially was absolutely fine. I really was immune to the effects of sugar! And then three days in, the crash hit. I slept and slept and slept. Here are my main observations of how eliminating refined sugar from my diet has affected me:

Better sleep

I now need more sleep. I used to get by on 4 – 6 hours of sleep each night. Often very poor quality. Lots of waking up, short sleep cycles and a long list of conditions which needed to be adhered to before slumber would find me. Now I find I need 7 – 10 hours and sleep deeply.

Clearer skin

My skin just looks healthier in general but noticeably the dark circles under my eyes have reduced.

Reduced anxiety

I’ve blogged before about my anxiety. Turns out reducing my sugar intake is part of the answer. And eating lots and lots of whole foods including green leafy vegetables.

More consistent energy

My energy levels are consistent now. Less crashing lulls, but also less manic peaks. It feels a whole lot less stressful.

My new diet

Which brings me to what I’m eating these days (for those who are interested). It’s not that easy giving up refined sugar. It’s hidden absolutely everywhere. I’ve gotten a lot more interested in reading labels, I’m being more careful when I eat out and I’m scratch cooking more. Here goes:

Breakfast: Eggs, mushrooms, rocket, sometimes hummus. Or a refined sugar free banana, nut and very dark chocolate oat bar. (Recipe here). Or natural high fat yoghurt with fresh fruit.

Elevenses: An apple or very dark chocolate.

Lunch: Wholemeal wrap with peanut butter, salad and absolutely no chutney or sweet chilli sauce

Snack: Oat bar or a handful of brazil nuts/almonds/cashew nuts

Dinner: Meat/fish with lots of vegetables. Pudding is a low sugar trifle (sugar free jelly and fruit with a layer of custard made with Stevia to sweeten it and topped with whipped double cream) and then a plate of cheese with oat biscuits.

To drink: This has been hard but it turns out a ‘skinny b*tch’ as it’s called in London, is really a very refreshing and low sugar drink. Lots of fresh lime juice, vodka and soda water over ice.

If you want to know more about giving up sugar and how it might work then this website is a great place to start. Sarah Wilson (who owns and writes for the site I Quit Sugar) has also published some great books on the subject with recipes as well as our home grown Davina:

I Quit Sugar Simplicious

I Quit Sugar 8 Week Detox Programme

I Quit Sugar Slow Cooker Book

Davina’s 5 Weeks to Sugar Free