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Sugar-free for Lent and beyond

1st March 2017

“What are you giving up for Lent then, Sarah?” was the question posed to me on 10th February 2016 by my colleagues. I flippantly replied “sugar!”

Needless to say, they fell off their chairs laughing as my tendency to indulge in biscuits and cakes was well known. They doubted I would last till 9.30 am, and bearing in mind it was approximately 8.00 am, I was not shocked by their lack of faith in me! I decided I would avoid processed sugar and similar products, i.e. golden syrup, raw cane sugar and so on.

Photos of Sarah SextonA day without sugar passed, and I survived! This became a week and I did not have sugar during the whole 40 days of Lent.

People started to comment that my skin and eyes looked brighter and that I was losing weight. For me the real advantages were those others didn’t see: my energy levels were constant throughout the day, I had not had any migraines and I wasn’t binge eating. I felt more confident and began to exercise – Zumba on a Wednesday evening was, and still is, one of the highlights of my week!

People ask me how I have lost weight, (3 stone in a year) and when I say I don’t eat sugar and that I exercise, I can guarantee that 9 out of 10 people will say “Oh, I don’t have sugar either”. And therein lies the key to the matter: not having sugar is NOT the same as not eating sugar.

Sugar is hidden in so many everyday items, and in some cases is the second or third ingredient, for example:

  • pasta sauces
  • salad dressings 
  • crisps
  • low fat yoghurts
  • some breads
  • sushi
  • soups
  • diet ready meals 
  • breakfast cereals 
  • and many more

I have done Weight Watchers more times than I care to count, have tried Atkins, calorie counting and any other “diet” you want to name. Whilst I have always lost weight quickly, I have always put it back on, and more.

Now I eat natural foods such as fish, chicken, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, grains and pulses and I try to adhere to “meat free Monday”. I eat what I want, but as my tastes have changed so much, what I want tends to be the unprocessed healthy stuff!

I exercise because I enjoy the buzz, it is “me” time and it helps me switch off from work. This time last year I was out of breath walking up a flight of stairs; last Saturday I completed a “virtual” triathlon (i.e. in the pool and gym!) to support a friend: I swam 400 metres, cycled 12 km and ran 4 km!

If I have one regret about giving up sugar, it’s that I was 46 years old when I discovered this way of eating! What will I give up this year I hear you ask…? Well I am considering giving up cheese. 

By Sarah Sexton, Business Support and Communications Manager

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