words by Laura Thomas of www.happysugarhabits.com

Trying to change your sweet habits can be a long and emotional journey. With temptation usually around every corner and often at every other social engagement, cutting sugar out of your diet can be difficult and overwhelming. Keep it simple and pick a few habits to focus on that will have the biggest impact straight away. Get these 5 habits right, and you’ll be well on your way to kicking sugar for good.

Stop drinking sweet 

Pretty simple this one. Minimise your guzzling of sweet tasting drinks, the obvious ones being fizzy soft drinks and sugar in your tea or coffee. However, also be aware of fruit juices, smoothies and squashes. Although seemingly ‘healthy’, some bottled smoothies you can buy at the supermarket can pack in around 35g of sugar in one hit. Better instead to opt for the fresh berries as they come. Stick with water and milk during the day, and ideally choose a vodka, soda and fresh lime if you do fancy an alcholic tipple.

Avoid invisible sugars

If you’re going to eat sugar, make sure you know about it and choose to. Cut down on ‘invisible sugar’ and you won’t miss it, I promise. Check for sugar in the ingredients lists on all of the packets you buy, and make yourself aware where it’s hidden. Tomato pasta sauces, shop bought soups and condiments can all contain added sugars that increase your total intake. Swap for no sugar versions or the lowest sugar version you can find. Even better, make your own so you know exactly what’s going into your food.

Get off to a good start

For many, sweet breakfasts are familiar and easy. A quick bowl of cereal or some porridge with banana and honey. Starting your day off with sugar and a higher proportion of carbohydrates will lead to potential sugar and carbohydrate cravings later in the day. Try to bring more savoury breakfasts into your diet more regularly, and up your protein as much as possible. Vegetable and egg omelettes, fritattas and casseroles are all great options, along with cheese, smoked fish and meats.

Balance your blood sugar

Keeping your blood sugar steady throughout the day will help you reduce the likelihood of cravings, as you should now be satisfied. You’ll avoid those energy dips that make you reach for an instant quick fix. Regular meals and snacks to steady blood sugar will also help you differentiate between real hunger and pure sweet craving. This is important when you are trying to recognise and develop new habits.

Find replacements you like 

There’s no point forcing yourself to replace your favourite afternoon treat with a snack that inspires you enough to chuck it straight in the bin. Chances are you’ll eat it and still want your favourite treat anyway. Look for substitutes that you really enjoy and actually like, eg. your favourite cheese or a creamy full fat Greek yoghurt. Experiment to find the snacks that work best for you and your lifestyle before making sure they’re in arms reach when  temptation appears.