'I've entered the sugar-free zone and I'm 8lbs down – but it wasn't fun getting there'

I’ve always enjoyed a love/ate (sorry hate) relationship with sugar – I adore anything that’s made with that sweet little minx. And while I know it’s not good for either my waistline or my mood, sometimes the truth is not easy to digest – especially when you can wash it away with a glass of red and a nice bar of Dairy Milk. So eliminating refined (and natural for the moment) sugar in order to get some control back is not something I was looking forward to.

Thankfully for this kick-start to a new me, I have support. Daniel, my trainer from elate.ie, is on hand to help with motivation and advice on a daily basis and I’m also in a group chat with other women of a similar age who will be doing the same programme at the same time. There’s definitely comfort knowing I won’t be alone.

As an added bonus, I’m also accountable to you, the readers, who will be following my progress online and in the paper. No pressure there so.

I have been overwhelmed by the support my first article received – it just illustrates how each of us is on some kind of journey, stumbling around in our own way. No one really has it all figured out.

The key for me though is knowing my strengths and weaknesses – truth be told, the weaknesses I know only too well.

But strength is something you need to dig deep to find and sometimes asking for help is the hardest part, but once you’ve embarked on the journey, it starts to get easier, I promise. This particular programme and journey is working for me, but everyone will be different and some will find something else that works better for them. It’s a very individual process.

So without further ado, let me begin.

Due to the fact that sugar is in, well, everything, some of the things that will no longer be part of my weekly shop include: pizza, white bread, pasta, pastries and red wine – you know, all the stuff I love. There is, however, an upside – honest.

To counteract the sugar cravings, I’m allowed to increase my fats for the short-term, which means plenty of cheese, butter, nuts, and generally anything full-fat. This I can get on board with.

So armed with my food plan, I braced myself to do battle at the supermarket.

Day one, and things went really well: I found myself eating to plan, I was full, no real cravings and thought I had this withdrawal thing under control.

Day two was pretty much the same: I’m obviously some kind of genius who has cracked the sugar code! But, of course, that would have been too easy. Fast forward to day three and things had changed radically. The headaches had begun, my brain became foggy and I was so tired, I took a cheeky nap in the car on the commute home (I wasn’t driving) – my partner was thrilled; cranky was now on the list too.

I found myself doing laps around SuperValu next door to the office checking if there was anything remotely healthy I could have with my afternoon tea. After 10 minutes of looking at the back of packets to make sure there were no hidden sugars lurking, I left with a bottle of water and decided to prepare some healthy snacks at home. The women in my Elate group seemed to be breezing through the withdrawal part and I was not happy. Until that is, day four, when they all started to feel the sugar withdrawal – I was secretly delighted. Solidarity me hole, if I’m miserable, I want everyone else to be miserable as well.

The withdrawal continued intermittently for the following few days and all I could do was go with it and head to bed early. I found it hard to concentrate, and I was really missing having my cheeky snacks during our tea-breaks in work – in short, I was a delight to live and work with. Thankfully, I didn’t have intense cravings as the extra fats were doing the job, but I couldn’t wait for the week to be over.

By Friday, I was through the worst. The headaches and fogginess had lifted. I was sleeping better and waking up feeling refreshed. It’s like my body had the reset it needed.

But there was no time to be smug because the weekend had rolled around – the danger zone. Saturday night has always been takeaway night in our household – not anymore, not now. Still, I reasoned I’d earned myself a nice gin and sparkling water (not tonic because, well you know, the sugar, but gin, oh yes please).

However, as I now have to be fully accountable for what I eat and drink and log it with the group every day, I only had two – and I worried because Daniel had told us that alcohol will slow down the process.

Thankfully, I’m not the only one who had a sneaky tipple, so we all got into bother together. This time, solidarity ruled!

I managed not to derail my success over the weekend and started Monday feeling brighter and more energetic than I had in a long time.

I was scrambling, poaching, boiling and basically making eggs my new best friend in the mornings.

The group has now progressed to using the well-known My Fitness Pal app to track what we are eating. The big difference using it this time is I’m no longer looking at calories – Daniel has advised us to concentrate on the protein/fats/carbs and it’s a first for me in all my years of dieting. I’m also pulling back on the full-fat now that the sugar cravings have gone, which is a shame as I was enjoying baking, frying and smothering everything in butter.

Another week goes by and this time it’s a lot easier. The weekend rolls around and another couple of cheeky gins are downed. Well, I never said I was a saint, did I?


⬤ In just two weeks, I’ve lost 14 inches all over and a whopping 8lbs, which is keeping me very motivated as I head towards week three and start the exercise programme which has been tailored for my back injury.

⬤ At the moment, I’m like a Duracell bunny, I’ve got lots of energy, but I’m also sleeping straight through and, to my partner’s delight, my snoring is no longer keeping him awake…and they say romance is dead. My mood is up and I feel great, long may it last.

Before you start any diet, it’s always advisable to get checked out by your GP first, especially if you have any health issues.

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