Taking on the Sugar Smart Challenge

We’ve been working with Bristol Council and Jamie’s Food Foundation for the past year to help promote sugar awareness and transition Bristol into a ‘Sugar Smart’ city. As a company, we’ve already made some steps towards being Sugar Smart with a healthier outlook and changes here and there, but this month, our Account Director and keen marathon runner Sally went one step further, taking on the Sugar Smart challenge by adopting everything we’ve learnt into her day to day eating habits.

Let’s hand over to Sally and find out how it went!

Here’s a confession. The day I signed up to the Sugar Smart challenge to cut out bad sugars for a month, I had eaten a slice of cake, drank numerous cups of tea with sugar and eaten a handful of sweets. I was buzzing…

I’m ashamed to say this was a fairly typical day for me. Sugar is my Achilles heel. I eat chocolate most days and sometimes in the evening too. I have sugar in my tea and eat ready-made food and takeaways for convenience. This was going to be a big challenge.

On my first day, the Sugar Smart challenge met me square on. Someone had brought in cakes and savoury goodies. It was like a child’s party but somehow I resisted temptation and from then on, throughout the month, I’ve managed to resist treats in the office. A HUGE breakthrough.

Now, a month later the big question is… did I 100% successfully cut out ALL bad sugars ALL of the time? Truthfully? No. Not all of the time.

At the weekends I still had the odd treat, but did make big improvements which I will continue with:

  1. I cut sugar out of my tea. Given I drink on average three cups of tea a day, this alone equated to 90 teaspoons of sugar (or almost half a bag) over the month. Scary!
  2. I stopped eating chocolate every weekday at lunchtime. I found the mantra ‘it’s not a treat if it’s every day’ really helpful.
  3. Instead of an unhealthy snack, I now have a piece of fruit to see off that sweet craving.
  4. I have started to meal prep at weekends and have been making my own lunch. One of the biggest eye-openers was becoming aware of the amount of hidden sugar in food – especially processed food. In the past, I had not given too much attention to nutritional values on packaging. Now, I try to stick to less than 5g (green flag). And by making food from scratch I have more control of what I am putting in my body and I am saving money too.
  5. I switched to wholemeal pasta, wholegrain cereal with less than 5g sugar and brown rice.
  6. Drinking water in place of fruit juice and squash.

I have learnt that it is not about an ‘all or nothing attitude’. Being Sugar Smart is about little, manageable changes that can be taken forward as part of a healthier lifestyle. So now, when I’m out running and need the sugar, I reach for an apple rather than a bar of chocolate. It’s ok to have the odd treat, so long as it is not every day.

This can be summed up nicely by another helpful saying: ‘not never just not today!’ 

If you want to read more about the work we’ve done with Sugar Smart, take a look at our case study. To find out more about Sugar Smart Bristol, see the Bristol Council website.

Sally Gillo

October 30, 2017

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