Look at your food log. Today you’re going to look for entries that contain Straight-Up Sugar – SUS for short. Write this next to each item that you know contains sugar. These foods include:
Any food or drinks you added sugar to – for instance, a few teaspoons in your coffee or tea or sprinkled onto your cereal in the morning
Agave syrup, honey, maple syrup
Sugar-sweetened drinks – fizzy drinks, juices, blended-coffee drinks, lemonades or iced teas, fruit-flavoured drinks, chocolate or strawberry milkshakes, sports drinks
Jams, chutneys, pickles and preserves
Chocolate in its many forms – puddings, cakes, sweets, cocoa
Sweets – jelly beans, gummy sweets, liquorice, mints
Granola or energy bars
Cupcakes, doughnuts, biscuits, pies and other bakery items
Cake, muffin or sweet-bread mixes
Ice cream, sorbet or frozen yoghurt
Fruit or flavoured yoghurt
Count the number of items and write them down in your log. If you chose to write down your serving sizes, you can estimate the grams of sugar you’re getting from these foods. For assistance, look at the item’s nutritional label. Add up the grams and divide by four to get the number of teaspoons of Straight-Up Sugars you typically eat – there are four grams of sugar in one teaspoon. Remember that the eventual goal of the Shrink Your Sugar Belly diet is to make sure you eat between six and nine teaspoons of added sugar per day. Are you close? Congratulations! If not, don’t worry. Use that number as motivation as you go through the plan.
Your sugar preferences
Next, take a close look at all of the Straight-Up Sugars you eat. What time of day did you eat them? How were you feeling when you ate them? (This is where the mood and hunger information on your food log comes in handy.) Are there some you ate out of habit rather than pleasure?
Note any cravings that pop up at the same time each day. For example, let’s say you “need” ice cream after dinner. Noticing – and honouring – such cravings can help you say no to sugary items during the day. You might come to realise that no sugary treats throughout the day come close to satisfying like that nightly dish of ice cream does. (At least for now, while you’re still prepping.)
Now for the question we want you to think hardest about: which of the Straight-Up Sugars you marked on your eating log did you really, genuinely enjoy, as opposed to scoffed down without actually thinking about it? Or, to put it another way, if you could only have one sweet hit, which one would it be? Maybe a morning without a pastry feels impossible or you’re wedded to your evening ice-cream fix, or you can’t do without coffee and a brownie at your desk come 3pm.
You’ve just identified the one or two favourite treats that are your key sugar sources. Have them, but otherwise don’t eat any other Straight-Up Sugars today. And look at the table on the following page for alternative options for the three most popular sugar weaknesses for the next three days.
Kitchen makeover, part 1
Today’s task is to remove all of the Straight-Up Sugars lurking in your fridge, freezer and kitchen cupboards. But don’t feel too sad! You’re making room for the new, deliciously healthy foods you’ll soon be enjoying when you start the eating plan.
Start with your fridge first, then move to your freezer and cupboards. Lay out all the Straight-Up Sugar sources on your kitchen tops and take one last look at the cereal bars that pack 25g of sugar per serving, the ice-cream syrup that’s liquid sugar and the sweets you retrieved from your secret “in-case-of-emergency” stash.
These sugary seducers have had their moment – it’s time to move on. Bin them or give them away, except for the one or two treats you’ve already chosen, as per the previous page. Those items are your musthave sugars, for now, and you’re free to enjoy them for the rest of this preparation period.
This long goodbye to your sugary foods can make it a bit easier to let them go – for now. Just as important, it introduces the idea of “spending” sugar on foods where you notice and enjoy it most. Remember, the more sugar you eat, the more it takes to satisfy you and the less of a treat it is. Conversely, the less sugar you consume, the more special it becomes and the less you’ll “need” it.
Unopened packets to ditch? Think about giving them to a local charity.