Welcome to Sugar-Free September!
It always used to be said that fat is the enemy- recent studies are suggesting that in fact it’s not fat we should be steering clear of, but sugar.
Aside from an increased risk of diabetes, a high-sugar diet has been found to increase weight gain; risk of heart disease; risk of cancer – the list goes on.
I’m no expert so rather than explain all the scientific theory behind what too much sugar does to your body, I suggest you do your own research on the intranet – here are a few articles and websites I’ve found particularly interesting.
I Quit Sugar blog (and book)
I don’t believe in the demonization of food and that sugar should be Public Enemy #1 – and I’m certainly not going to completely cut it out of my diet. But I do need to lose weight and I think this might help – and we could all do with eating less sugar.
Scroll to the end for some links to some of my favourite sugar-free recipes.
An old school friend of mine, who writes a brilliant parenting blog called Single Mother Ahoy, cut out sugar for a month last year and saw some really positive benefits. Earlier this year I bought the book I Quit Sugar on her recommendation, and did a good job of cutting down on sugar for a couple of months before my wedding. I didn’t cut it out entirely, as a health professional I visited recommended 5 sugar-free days a week and eating a little sugar on the other two days if I wanted. It’s worth emphasising that this included foods with hidden or natural sugars – from fruit to bread (there can be up to 3g of sugar in a slice of processed bread) and even potatoes – starch converts into glucose when it is digested and potatoes have a very high proportion of starch. So 5 days out of every 7 I didn’t eat potatoes or bread, which meant I had to make some big changes in my typical lunches and dinners!
I also was advised to stop eating breakfast as the only way my body would use up its fat reserves but this seems to be quite a controversial point and I’ve read a lot saying you need to kick-start your metabolism in the morning by eating something. I haven’t eaten breakfast (other than rare occasions) for several months now, but I haven’t really noticed much effect in terms of extra weight loss (if everything else in my diet remained the same) so I’m going to go back to having small, healthy, protein-rich breakfasts. But definitely sugar free!
Last month Vicky at Single Mother Ahoy asked who wanted to sign up to take part in Sugar Free September with her again this year and I did so immediately. She has a Facebook group specifically for this challenge that you can join to get support and ideas.
I post my meal plans on my blog every week and will be sharing a sugar-free recipe every Wednesday, along with some links below to get you started. I’m also going to do a ‘5 sugar free breakfast ideas’ post this Saturday so look out for that if you are struggling to think of ideas!
However, if you want to avoid sugar entirely, you might not be so keen on the other recipes on my blog. I want to point out that I normally try to eat quite healthily – I don’t make cakes that often, don’t eat out a lot at the moment, and most meals during the week are healthy. But posting a recipe for grilled chicken and vegetables, or poached salmon and broccoli, isn’t really that interesting – which is why the recipes I post are often more indulgent. Also, I don’t post things right away so there will be some recipes going up this month for things I’ve made previously. I just wanted to point this out so people don’t start posting comments asking why I say I’m doing sugar-free September and then posting recipes that are full of sugar!
My blog is designed to be a bit of something for everyone and I think it’s good to strike a balance between healthy eating and occasional treats, so I will continue to share recipes for cakes and other sweet treats while mixing in healthier meals, as I normally do, but with some extra sugar-free recipes this month.
Some people think going sugar-free means cutting out refined sugar so continue to eat fruit; others replace caster sugar with honey or even sweetener. I think at least for this month that defeats the purpose of Sugar-Free September so my recipes will be as purely sugar-free as I can get them.
So here are some recipes that you might enjoy, and will help get you started if you are taking part in Sugar-Free September. If you are, let me know in the comments how it goes!
(come back this Saturday for some more ideas)
Bacon and cheese omelette (note: cheese does have a very small amount of natural sugar)
Sugar-free coconut milk pancakes
Easy lunchbox salads
Quinoa cheese tartlets
Roast cauliflower, sumac and rocket salad
Spiralized courgette with carrot, lemon and tuna
Slow cooker Thai green beef curry
Low-carb fish pie with cauliflower mash
Spiralized vegetables with broccoli pesto
Chicken en papilotte with orange veg
Butternut squash quinoa risotto
Spiralized salmon and broccoli balls with carrot pineapple rice (leave out the pineapple)
Spiralized butternut squash with prawns and mascarpone (cheese has a small amount of natural sugar)
Roasted cauliflower steak with stilton
Prawn Mooli stir-fry
Sausage ragu with spiralized butternut squash
Chicken topped with homemade houmous