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healthy eating

We have already started stuffing our faces with Christmas cookies and cakes and December isn’t even here yet. As much as we love Christmas feasts and sweet treats, we want to make sure our bodies aren’t overloaded with junk food all the time.

That’s why we were pretty intrigued by this latest study. Scientists believe that peanut butter may be the key to losing weight.

Apparently, peanut butter helps boost a feeling of fullness and even improves your insulin and glucose responses.

Tucking into peanut butter once a day can stop you from gaining extra pounds, thus improving your health.

It is understood that there is less risk of gaining weight if you opt for peanut butter when snacking throughout the day.

However, experts do suggest eating peanut butter without the added sugar.

It is also important to remember that bodies come in all different shapes and sizes.

Gaining weight over the festive period is nothing to be ashamed of but if you do feel like shedding a couple of pounds in order to feel healthier and happier then perhaps peanut butter is the one for you?

We’ll certainly be trying it on our toast in the morning.

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If like us, you love nothing more than a big dirty helping of spaghetti carbonara, then oh boy, have we got news for you. 

We've long been told that our infatuation with pasta isn't doing us any favours – mostly due to the high carbohydrate content and low vitamin and mineral count – but to be honest, that has never stopped us from indulging in our favourite dishes. 

However, it seems we no longer need to feel guilty about our dinner choices, because new research suggests that the Italian staple isn't the carb-loaded monster we were once led to believe. 

In fact, scientists have discovered that including pasta as part of a balanced diet may actually contribute to healthy weight loss. 

Published in BMJ Open, the study looked at how pasta consumption impacted the body weight and BMI of 2,488 participants. 

Those taking part in the study ate an average of 3.3 serving of pasts per week in conjunction with a low-GI (low-glycemic) diet. 

Unlike other refined carbohydrates such as white bread and potatoes, pasta typically has a low-GI, meaning it raises your blood sugar at a slower pace. 

Result showed that participants who ate pasta rather than other refined carbohydrates actually lost a small amount of weight during the study. 

"The study found that that pasta didn’t contribute to weight gain or increase in body fat,” said Dr John Sievenpiper, consultant physician at St Michael’s Hospital and lead author of the study.

"In fact analysis actually showed a small weight loss. So contrary to concerns, perhaps pasta can be part of a healthy diet such as low-GI diet."

And while the discovery doesn't actually prove that pasta is some kind of miracle weight loss aid, it does show that it can be enjoyed without packing on the pounds. 

"In weighing the evidence, we can now say with some confidence that pasta does not have an adverse effect on body weight outcomes when it is consumed as part of a healthy dietary pattern."

More research needs to be conducted as to whether the effect would be seen when combined with a different type of diet, but for now, we'll enjoy our bolognese in peace. 

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While it's not uncommon to enter the New Year on a total health buzz, we were surprised to discover that women are almost twice as likely to do so when compared to their male counterparts.

A recent survey conducted by iReach Insights looked at the resolutions made by 1,000 Irish adults, and found some pretty big differences in the way men and women chose to interpret the 'new year, new me' mantra.

Rather surprisingly, results showed that just over one quarter of us made any New Year's resolution at all this year – though 39 per cent say they are starting a new diet plan this January.

Surely a new diet plan counts as a resolution, no?

Anyway, whatever you want to call it, 50 per cent of Irish woman plan to eat healthier over the coming year, while just 28 per cent of men intend to do the same.

The figures highlight the pressures and unrealistic beauty standards facing young women today.

Sure, there's no harm in trying to shed those Christmas lbs, but when the female population are almost twice as likely to want to do so, it's worth looking at the bigger picture.

What's more, another recent survey conducted by iReach Insights found that 51 per cent of Irish females felt deflated and low upon returning to work after the Christmas holidays, compared to 44 per cent of men.

Chin up ladies, you're doing great!

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We LOVE chips – gimme them with ketchup, mayo or salt and vinegar. 

And for all the vegans out there, you know how chips are your trusty back-up when restaurants do not cater for us.

Have them skinny or chunky – dip, drench or dunk them, they're just potato perfection. 

That's why we are having none of this new Harvard study.

Supposedly no more than SIX, yes six measly chips, should be eaten at one time, to avoid the negative health consequences associated with over-consumption.

The guideline comes from nutrition scientist, Professor Eric Rimm, and the news just goes from bad to worse.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition last year, found that those who consumed fried potato such as chips, crisps or the divine hash brown more than two or three times each week were cutting their life short.

In fact, they doubled their chances of an early death in an eight-year period. 

However, we must point out before you ditch potatoes entirely, that the study DIDN'T include whole, mashed or boiled potato – only deep fried.

The wholefoods don't pose a risk because it doesn't have the same fats as the fried potatoes said the researchers.

These unhealthy fats have been linked to heart disease risk factors and pro-inflammatory processes in your bod – so basically, you need to avoid them.

But the Professor didn't stop there – he introduced the phrase "starch bombs" – which honestly sounds delicious.

Nevertheless, he explained that fried potatoes are made up of processed potato that impacts the blood glucose levels and are combined with artery-damaging processed fats that are heated to extremely high-temperatures many times over – and voila, this is a starch bomb. 

And one of the main issues when it comes to fried potato habit is our growing portion sizes.

The recommended serving of fries is just 15 individual chips – 15?!

If the local chippy gave me that I'd hand it back – and don't get me started if someone dared to serve me 15 chips after a night out.

But the research means we probably have to re-evaluate our addiction to fried potato foods. 

 

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The term 'clean eating,' is now one that evokes both eye-rolling and a considerable amount of backlash online. Its devotees swear it's the key to a healthier lifestyle while its critics are quick to point out how unsafe it is to swear gospel to terminology that became a phenomenon on the back of many foodie bloggers and Instagram stories.

Blogger and author Ella Woodward, now Mills, AKA Deliciously Ella is one who knows how fast the tables can turn – she is regarded as the one who spearheaded this, despite never once using the term on any cookbook or product.

She has always affirmed that when it comes to eating healthy and eating well, it's about simple dishes that taste great – and more importantly that you enjoy eating. At the launch of her latest range of products – you'll find them stacked with plenty of healthy food options in SuperValu, she spoke to SHEmazing about self-care, her favourite dishes for a woman on-the-go and why doing this one thing is the key to successfully changing your diet.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Deliciously Ella (@deliciouslyella) on

Tell us a bit more about your latest range of products?

We’ve just launched our energy balls, oat bars, granola and muesli, which we’re so excited about. They’re all made with a few simple plant-based ingredients with a big focus on flavour. Each one is vegan-friendly and gluten-free. 

So many hear the words Vegan or Gluten Free and think that the food will compromise on taste, what advice do you have for someone wanting to eat healthier but is afraid to take the plunge?

Start experimenting with your cooking, adding lots and lots of herbs and spices to everything you do – that’s the key to veggie cooking. It’s not about stripping things back and taking flavour away but celebrating flavour, texture and deliciousness. Try something like our five bean chilli; the Thai curries or a spread with a black rice, piquillo pepper and pistachio salad, roasted aubergine, tomato and pesto salad and sweet potatoes with spring onions, chilli and tahini.​

Many women on-the-go want to eat better and cut out the gluten or eat more plant-based foods but are fearful these type of meals will just eat into their time. Do you have any particular meals or foods that you like to prepare if you're in a hurry?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Deliciously Ella (@deliciouslyella) on

Stews, curries and dahls – they take just a few mins of prep time, they’re so hearty and filling and they’re brilliant for batch cooking and freezing. The recipes in the orange chapter of our new book, The Plant-Based Cookbook, are my go-to’s when I’m busy. Each dish is full of warming, toasted spices; hearty veg, potatoes and beans; lots of creamy coconut milk and so much flavour. The Tuscan bean stew, cauliflower lentil dahl with dried apricots and the Thai curries are such winners in our house.

Tell us about your self-care routine – how important do you think it is to have one?

Looking after myself is really important, as we work 14-15 hours a day often seven days a week, so I need all the energy I can get! Yoga is a big part of this, I practice every morning before my day starts and it really helps me create a positive headspace – I absolutely love it, it’s magic for my mental health.
If you're planning to kick-start a new diet change, what are your top tips?   

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Deliciously Ella (@deliciouslyella) on

For anything to be sustainable it has to be enjoyable, so find things you love and don’t be too hard on yourself – go slow and steady and think about what you’re adding in not just what you’re taking out.    

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Snacking and healthy eating aren't usually topics that go hand-in-hand.

For most of us, snacking involves picking at biscuits, cake, chocolate, and whatever other treat our hand reaches for in the cupboard.

But as we become aware of the importance of eating right, more and more of us are looking for alternative and healthy foods to snack on. 

In fact, according to a survey by SuperValu, 90 percent of Irish consumers are worried about what they eat, and are starting to change their habits. 

The shift sees snacking evolving from an indulgence into a habit of “purity” and is now commonly known as The Fourth Meal.

How do we decipher what is healthy and what ‘healthy snacks’ are really fit for purpose though? 

Well, that's where SuperValu comes in.

The retailer, together with Health and Wellness ambassadors Bernard Brogan, Lean Mean Momma, Cliona O’Connor and Nicola Halloran of The Wonky Spatula, is enabling people to decipher what healthy options will truly suit their lifestyle.

If you want healthier snacking options that don't involve a bag of crisps or bar of chocolate but offer the same satisfaction, you should opt for something made from healthy ingredients packed into one product. 

So what products do they recommend?

  • Go Raw is right on trend being organic and sprouted with healthy inclusions such as flax seed and chia.

  • Madegood is another tasty healthy treat made from dried fruits, whole grains and all-natural ingredients.

  • If you make your own snacks but find flavour a challenge, PBfit is the ideal solution to add yumminess to your rice cakes or shakes. PBfit is peanut butter powder made by pressing gently roasted peanuts to remove most of the fat and calories. It is then ground with some coconut palm sugar, and a pinch of salt.  

  • Whey Box, a convenient on the go protein in a 20gm format in three different flavours ideal for your gym or hand bag.

  • ROS Nutrition, a 100% Irish product, is the exclusive nutritional partner to the Dublin GAA team, over 25 Irish Olympians, athletes such as Sean O’Brien and has just been announced as nutritional partner to the Guinness Pro14 rugby league.

  • Paul’s Quinoa Meals available in Mild Curry, Tagine or Provençale – organic, gluten free and vegetarian.

  • Upton’s Jackfruit is an ideal meat replacement in three different flavours; just add to tacos, burgers, salads, sandwiches, wraps or simply over rice.

  • Or if you're into Deliciously Ella, you can pick up a range of her free from products from oat bars to granola or Bircher muesli.  All products are from natural ingredients, gluten free, dairy and refined sugar.

So, if it is for breakfast, lunch or dinner or anytime in between SuperValu has all of your healthy options sorted for you.

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Swap milk chocolate for 70 or, even better, 85% dark chocolate. 

Rich in minerals, good fats, antioxidants, low in sugar and often dairy-free, dark chocolate is a healthy treat that you should indulge on a regular basis this year. One or two squares after a meal pleases the taste buds, totally guilt-free. The flavours are so strong, you won’t need the whole tablet to feel satisfied. 

Swap white for brown

White rice, white bread, white pasta: these can all be replaced with their whole grain version, organic if possible. The health benefits? More nutrients and more fibres, which are key to a healthier gut, help control blood sugar and maintain a healthy weight. 

Swap juices for fruits and water

Juicing may have been a huge food and health trend for the past few years, yet some experts would like you to drop the juice to go for the whole fruit instead. Fruit juice passes through the digestive system more rapidly than whole fruits, which are full of fibres, and have a much higher glycemic index. More generally, try and eat your calories instead of drinking them. 

Make your own food whenever you can

We know that a busy life often means ready-made food but each little swap matters. Homemade soup, homemade salad dressing… some staples are so quick and easy to cook, you don’t have any excuse to buy it pre-made. Plus you can make them in batch and keep in the fridge or freeze them.

Once you try homemade dressing – which is basically one teaspoon of mustard, 2 tablespoons of vinegar, 4 tablespoons of oil, salt and pepper – you can never buy a supermarket one again.

Swap your chocolate bar or biscuits for an apple with nut butter

Avoid chocolate bars and their empty calories. Packed with fibres, vitamins, minerals and good fats, apples and nut butter are one of the healthiest snacks you can make at home or in the office, without sacrificing taste – it’s actually so good you might become addicted.

Cut your apple into quarters, spread some peanut or almond butter, and sprinkle with cinnamon for added nutritional value and taste. If you are watching your weight, just don't put too much nut butter on your apple are it is very heavy in calories. 

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Whether you want to feel your best on your annual holiday or you're feeling sluggish after winter, the summer months are a great opportunity to get fit and healthy.

However, a lack of any spare cash can mean that signing up to the gym or even talking to a nutritionist are out of the question, and it can be hard to motivate yourself when you don't really know where to begin, right?

Thankfully, LloydsPharmacy, Ireland’s leading pharmacy chain, are inviting customers to get fit and stay well for the summer with the launch of its Change Your Health Direction programme. 

Exclusive to LloydsPharmacy, Change Your Health Direction is a free 8-week health and wellness programme personalised for each customer.

At sign-up, customers will receive a blood pressure and BMI screening and discuss their goals with a trained LloydsPharmacy Change Your Health Direction colleague.

After, you'll receive nutritional advice, a diary for food logging with health and wellbeing tips and a smoking cessation plan (where applicable). 

For the remainder of the programme, you'll visit your local LloydsPharmacy for a weekly weigh-in where your coach will support and track your progress and offer tips and healthy lifestyle guidance.

The programme is available in every one of LloydsPharmacy’s Irish stores, many of which have late-night and weekend opening hours.

"The Change Your Health Direction programme is about giving LloydsPharmacy customers support to take more control over their health and wellness without the need to spend huge amounts of money—or, in fact, any at all," Life Coach and Training Specialist Lisa Walsh said. 

"Over the course of eight weeks, under the specialist guidance of our colleagues, participants will learn to monitor their weight, eat healthier food, exercise more, and quit smoking. When you stick to the plan, there are fantastic results: in January, every Change Your Health Direction participant lost an average of 2kg.

"We want to demonstrate that a pharmacy is more than just a place you go to pick up a prescription. LloydsPharmacy is continuously investing in its value-add services and colleague training so that our customers stay well and healthy for longer."

For more information, click here.

The launch of Change Your Health Direction comes as LloydsPharmacy announces they are the Official Pharmacy Partner of WellFest 2018, the health, fitness and wellness festival taking place at the Royal Kilmainham Hospital this weekend, 12-13 May.

This year, the festival will feature appearances from Davina McCall, Joe Wicks, Madeleine Shaw and Deliciously Ella. 

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No matter how often we hear of the benefits of a healthy eating plan, there are few among us who don’t, on some level, associate the lifestyle choice with restriction, boredom and deprivation.

Even the most dedicated health and fitness bunny will admit that despite oodles of self-discipline and tonnes of willpower, there comes a point when they teeter perilously close to the edge of the wagon, before regaining their momentum.

And with that narrative at the forefront of our minds, it’s no surprise that our perception of healthy eating is somewhat skewed, and often conjures images of self-induced deprivation.

However, realising it doesn’t have to be this way is the first step on the road to a healthier lifestyle, while schooling yourself on the food ranges which cater to your needs is all the ammo you need to feel great!

Here are just seven reasons why healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring…

1. Discover new foods

If there’s one thing we love in life, it’s discovering new foods. And a healthy eating regime is a prime opportunity to just do that.

Weaning yourself away from your standard grocery list, and introducing new and exciting flavours is all part of the process, and it ensures you won’t feel deprived in any way as you get used to your new lifestyle choice.

Believe us, there will come a point when you’ll find yourself stunned that you lived without certain ingredients for so long.

2. Create new recipes

In addition to introducing yourself to new ingredients, you’ll find yourself encouraged to create new recipes, and that is a guaranteed way to stave off boredom.

Knowing that you can create super-healthy dishes which you will genuinely find tasty means it’s unlikely you’ll fall off the wagon any time soon.

Remember, hearty meals are just as easy to create with healthy ingredients, so there is no need to assume dinner-time will take a hit.

3. School yourself

So many of your favourite brands cater to your needs, and it’s just a case of schooling yourself on which ones!

Why not tuck into guilt-free treats like Activia’s No Added Sugar range which has just hit the shelves?

It’s perfect for budding health-focussed foodies as It contains the same great Activia taste you know and love, but now it’s even better for you… and your new goals!

4. Eat little and often

Healthy eating has not, and never will be, synonymous with deprivation, so the sooner we all internalise that, the better!

Snacking is a major part of ensuring your metabolism stays ticking over, and if you’re going to be doing it as often as you should, it’s vital you get creative with your choice!

Colourful snacks are appealing to the eye, so mix fresh berries with yogurt or snack on nuts if you’re on the go.

5. Maintain a balance

A surefire way to get bored of your healthier lifestyle is to tell yourself that certain things are totally off-limits.

Our grandmothers were right when they said ‘everything in moderation’, and it’s important you adhere to this rule when it comes to your own plan.

There’s nothing you cannot have as long as you have it in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

6. Get Insta-happy

Why not document your new journey with the help of your Instagram account?

Photographing the meals you create and the snacks you opt for will ensure you stay enthusiastic about your new choices.

And as the likes roll in and the new followers start engaging, you’ll be even more determined to stay on track!

7. Enlist the support of a pal

Everything is more fun when a friend is involved, right?

Why not choose the same ingredients as your mate and challenge each other to a cook-off?

The person who comes up with the most creative (and tastiest) dish wins.

Brought to you by

Activia® is available in a diverse amount of fruit flavours with a range of styles, including smooth pre-mixed fruit flavours and layered yogurts. New Activia 0%, now with no added sugar.

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year, filled with mulled wine, mince pies and selection boxes. Soo hard to resist…

BUT it seems like a diet rich in fresh fruit, vegetables, lean meats, and fresh fish – with the odd indulgence, is the best go-to, low maintenance, way to stay in shape.

If you are looking for ways to stick to a cleaner diet and stay in shape this holiday season, why not some inspo from the Victoria Secrets models fitness regime?

1. Adriana Lima

Adriana Lima who follows a diet rich in fresh fish, fruit and vegetables, swears by her buckwheat shakes.

We all know the body repairs itself while we are sleeping so this protein packed shake not only helps in building muscle, it is also a great metabolism booster.

Lima suggests mixing with hemp milk (you could try almond) and honey.

2. Martha Hunt

Salad dodger Martha Hunt, eats plenty of meat and eggs to achieve and maintain her toned figure.

Martha ensures she has protein in every meal, due to her extensive workout regime which includes going to the gym, yoga and Pilates. She does admit to indulging in pizza from time to time though – well, she is only human after all!

“If my body is really craving something, I don’t deny it,” the model previously said. “You need to eat bad food in moderation. It’s good for peace of mind.”

3. Bridget Malcom

Vegan Bridget Malcom enjoys a diet rich in plant protein including almonds, soy, and tempeh.

In order to curb overeating, Bridget follows the Japanese principle ‘Eat until you are 80 percent full’, and leaves 12 hours between lunch and dinner.

4. Rachel Hilbert

Prone to suffering from food boredom, Rachel Hilbert frequents many New York restaurants such as the Souen, Soho which specialises in macrobiotic Japanese food.

When cooking at home, the Victoria Secrets' model regularly eats a breakfast of eggs and avocado, grilled chicken and avocado for lunch and baked white fish with vegetables for dinner.

Coming up to a show, Rachel admits: “I drink a lot of water. . . and I usually double the amount of greens I eat. They give you a glowing look.”

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After the indulgence of Christmas, your body (and your bank balance) are no doubt worn out.

If you're feeling sluggish, low in energy or just feel your metabolism needs a kickstart, why not try a short-term detox in the New Year?

Rather than going on a crazily restrictive fad diet, a clean-eating detox simply involves eating more of certain foods and less of others. It may be hard to beat certain cravings, but keep in mind that this is only for a week.

Here are our guidelines on how to get started, what to eat and what to cut out. 

If you have any health concerns regarding diet changes, please do consult your GP or a diet professional.

The guidelines

1. Keep things simple: Don't leave yourself in danger of getting overwhelmed with ingredients lists and buying a cheeky oven pizza at the last minute. Each meal should include a portion of whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats – keep that in mind and you'll be good to go.

 

2. Check your calendar: If you have an event or party to attend, it might be worth re-scheduling your detox week. While in theory it might seem like no problem for you to avoid the buffet or only eat a light salad while out with friends, when faced with the temptation it's a lot harder to resist. Choose a quiet week with no big indulgent events.

 

3. Avoid snacking: Plan three meals each day that you'll really look forward to eating, and steer away from mindless snacking in between. If you know you're a stress-eater, keep some healthy snacks to hand like raw almonds or cut veggies.

 

4. Don't panic: Nobody is made of stone and we all get cravings from time to time. Don't punish yourself for falling off the wagon – it's no big deal. If you do find yourself at the end of a family size bag of crisps, just dust those crumbs off, readjust your meal plan for the day and move on.

 

What to include this week

  • Non-dairy milks like rice or almond milk
  • Egg whites
  • Non-gluten grains like brown rice, quinoa or buckwheat
  • Fruit and vegetables: Go for non processed, non-sweetened produce. Eat your fruit fresh or blended into smoothies, and eat veg raw, steamed, sauteed lightly, juiced or roasted.
  • Protein sources like fish, lean chicken, lean turkey, lamb, lentils, beans, chickpeas, green peas and edemame
  • Nuts and seeds like walnuts, almonds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds
  • Liquids like water, decaf herbal teas or soda water
  • Non-sugar sweeteners such as stevia or agave nectar
  • Oils and condiments like olive oil, coconut oil, flax oil, canola oil, vinegar, herbs and spices.

 

What to avoid this week

  • All dairy and egg yolks
  • Grains such as wheat, corn, cous-cous and barley
  • Fatty spreads and sauces like butter and mayo
  • Fattier sources of protein like pork, beef, shellfish and soy products such as tofu.
  • Peanuts and peanut butter
  • Alcohol, coffee, tea, soft drinks and other caffeinated beverages
  • High-sugar sweeteners like white/brown sugar, honey and maple syrup
  • Sugary sauces and glazes like BBQ, teriyaki, ketchup, relish and chutney
  • Salty and sugary snacks such as crisps, biscuits, chips, chocolate, sweets and cakes
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We all get to a point over Christmas where we cram the final chocolate caramel in our mouths and vow that that will be the last grain of processed sugar that will ever pass our lips.

Ooooh, warm mince pies? Eh, yes please.

Resolving to embrace a healthy, sugar-free diet is a fairly standard December resolution for many, but it’s not a simple task.

It takes dedication and perseverance, but the new start might be exactly what you and your body are looking for.

If you’re serious about trying a sugar-free diet in the new year, then here are some handy tips to get you started on this life-changing path.

1.  Remember it’s not going to be easy.
Like any big change in your life, a diet overhaul takes some getting used to so don’t expect to embrace the sugar-free life with open arms in your first week!

2. Do NOT go from eating sugar every day to banning it from your life entirely.
 This is a recipe for disaster, so be sure to gradually reduce your sugar intake day-by day – by no longer taking sugar in your tea or coffee, for example.

3. Do NOT replace sugar with sugar substitutes and sweeteners
You’re only going to have to start weaning yourself off those too, so don’t put yourself through it.

4. Familiarise yourself with labels.
You will be shocked by the sheer amount of sugar in the food we eat, so things that you may have deemed healthy in the past will need to be left on the shelf from now on.

5. Include as much protein in your diet as possible.
The protein you obtain from eggs, fish and nuts is extremely satisfying, so filling up on these will reduce your chances of being hit with a sugar craving.

If you truly want to cut down on your sugar intake or exclude it from your diet completely, it’s important to educate yourself on sugary foods, from fruit to fudge cake, be realistic with your goals and remember that a sugar-free life is possible!

And one more thing; if you slip one day and eat an entire chocolate cake, so what? Tomorrow’s a new day!

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