NAS Challenge- the summary

The Draw of Snacks. Planning is paramount to any diet regime , keeping a close stash of healthy options helps to bat off bad eating decisions before you make them.

I have to say I started penning this post on the Sunday afternoon of the end of my no added sugar challenge with every intention of a rum and coke and a slice of vienetta and no regrets about not seeing it through to the turn of the week at midnight.

It didn’t quite work out like that, in fact the day was dusted off with some roast chicken and a walk to the pub. I made it, but with few conclusions. Or rather, with the one conclusion that the whole thing was almost pointless.

Do you know by ruling out added sugar products I actually consumed more sugar (mostly in the form of fruit) in this challenge week than I would normally? I’ve also been cranky, tired and in a borderline state of panic at planning my meals and those of my long suffering Mr, but this should be mostly disregarded as I write to you now from a Monday sponsored by lemsips and yoga pants. I felt tired and crap because I was coming down with lurgies.  The panic state was more down to the fact that I was not always prepared for the hunger pangs which, with hind site, may also have been more to do with a pending cold than what I was eating.

So forget the lowcarb flu because I wasn’t low carbing despite the sugar ban. Was this a great lifestyle change?  No, it was just a pain in the arse. Did I lose any weight? I’m 200g down from last Sunday so probably not in any real terms.

Is a week long enough to know? Possibly not. Maybe longer term, without the bugs, I might hit on lower sugar no sugar options and see more benefits. Maybe I would crack the weekday code enough to not be craving ice creams and booze when the weekend hit. Though the weekend wasn’t the challenge I expected to be honest, as it felt like there was less pressure to eat quickly or at my desk as the week had mostly been. A leisurely, filling brunch of toast and eggs and avocados doesn’t tend to materialise from the break room microwave at the office that often. The lesson for me in all of this is that I can clean up my day to day eating a bit, but I need to be in control of this and plan ahead.

Do I want to decrease my normal refined sugar intake? I don’t really care, because at heart I’m all about the macros and in the week of subbing yoghurt bars and crisps for bananas and apples I saved calories. Not thousands, but enough to make a dent. Enough to make a weight loss calorie goal that little bit easier to hit day in day out. And when it’s easier to hit, you don’t have that easy excuse of oh well I’m over target anyway so screw it I’ll have a pizza too.

The other big take home point for me is that I eat pretty well when I put my mind to it. There weren’t that many points of my daily feed I needed to change to meet this remit, so that’s not to say it isn’t a useful exercise for those seeking a spring clean of their usual meal routines especially if you frequently eat out of a packet.

I’m sorry not to be more conclusive. Count calories. Read ingredients. Sugar might be everywhere, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat all of it.


NAS Challenge Day 5

It’s a not-much-to-report-day today. General happiness of payday and important and absorbing business of talking sh*t with friends made the morning fly by without snack breakdowns and staying on the no added sugar waggon has been easy. I came in to work armed with all the right things today- big lunch salad and small bit of bread, tubs of nuts for snacking, big fat water bottle and nice coffee. I’ve only had that salad and probably couldn’t eat right now if you paid me. Beany bloat from yesterday perhaps?  However I’m almost half a kilo up since Sunday, which is not a thrill. I am currently debating where I stand on the whole alcohol argument as, well, Friday. Technically, the sugar in most wine came from a natural grape source so that doesn’t make it added. And as I said, Friday.

The weekend will be a real challenge for me. Weekends are treat times on the whole. We have eggs on toast, not espresso whey shakes. We have a sneaky curry or some scones or steak and chips and SAUCE GODSDAMMIT!!!!! I miss sauce still, but this may yet be helped by the Mr who has just informed me that there will be a beef stroganoff for tea which he will keep legal. That has sauce. I might not ask exactly how he intends to do this as he’s a pretty clean cook anyway. let’s say he wont let me down. Pending  Sunday dinner in law could be a problem but I will try to dodge those culinary bullets as they are dished up on to my plate. I’m going to try not to eat out. I’m going to have wine.

Happy bloody Friday.

NAS Challenge Day 3

sad editors note- due to my lack of attention skills the crisps I raved about in this post turned out to be stealth sugar holders. See later updates on that 😦


Lovely Ten Acre crisps, saviour to my office bound mind afternoon munchies.

Urgh. Today. It was all going too easily!

The pain of today is lunch out with Bestie, which obviously isn’t a pain in itself but is becoming a bit of a drag in terms of what I’m going to be able to order with a clear conscience. Go to lunch here for me at this venue is a fishfinger sandwich. No way I can rely on industrial breadcrumbs and tartare sauce to be of the no added sugar variety. Ok so they make great chilli…….which will have tinned tomatoes in it…………….as I discovered last night tinned tomatoes are generally a no go……..nuts.  I thought I had it nailed by planning on an omelette and chips, hold the salad dressing and no ketchup. Fine. Only I just ate 2 eggs for my morning snack and another 3 for lunch is over doing the ovulations I think so that’s no good. On another day I would have ditched the eggs from my snacks and had a yoghurt break bar thing but obviously that’s out. Humph. Unless the menu has changed dramatically I’m thinking I will be limited to a baked potato with cheese (meh, no good without coleslaw which can’t be trusted on the dressing front) or a bacon sandwich as a reasonably safe bet but kind of boring. I don’t get the bacon joy of current food fads at all. Ok maybe their chicken salad, with no dressing or crutons. Is their chicken fresh or reconstituted? Don’t they use sugar to do that? A cheese panini, without the onion chutney. Do they put sugar in panini rolls? They shouldn’t but many do, that’s why I stick to M&S bread most of the time as they only use flour, salt and yeast and I’m happy with that but mass catering paninis? What’s in those? AAAAAAARGH. And what am I going to drink? I’m dosed for caffeine today and have ruled out diet drinks as against the rules. Usual lemonade is off. Ok fine lime and soda no wait, lime cordial is basically made of sugar. I’m going to be that bore in the pub having tap water? I may have to chuck back a couple of vodkas just to keep things festive.

I’m off to google the ingredients in a panini roll.


Cut to the early evening and the summary report.

Morning- usual shake but with skimmed milk, boiled eggs and celery sticks as a morning snack.

Lunch- chorizo and mozzarella panini (I think these are safe) with salad and chips and vinegar and no saucey condiments of any kind. I miss sauce. No vodka either so my esteemed colleagues were treated to my fizzy water burps for the remains of the day.

PM-Really hungry for much of the afternoon, took a vending machine gamble on a pack of ten acre crisps after an apple didn’t fill the hole and thankfully they were compliant but arguably not so diet friendly. But could have been much worse.

6pmish now and again I have the tiredness and squeezing headache and nausea as experienced last night. Currently inhaling some carrot sticks and waitrose hummus while Mr gets the dinner on. Said dinner will be chicken legs with Berebere seasoning and vegetables of some kind. I didn’t count today on my macros etc as eating out makes this too hard to guesstimate.

I feel like utter rot and don’t want to talk about it any more.

NAS Challenge- Day 2

Once again I am going to ask if you are reading this and you are diabetic that you please ignore anything I say and speak to your doctor about your sugar intake and no one else. No one!


The results are in! Perfect carb score today, this never happens.

Ah, the sugar. Yesterday I noted a 45g allowance of sugar on the macros calculator I use to track what I eat, and I could find no formula or reason for it so today I’ve tried to look more at this number and who says what and why. Most people say something different with no apparent reasoning.

The NHS recommends no more than 30g of added sugars in the diet and offers no limit on naturally occurring ones.

American Heart Association advise that you should aim for below 25-30g (gender dependent) of added sugars but do not offer a cut off for naturally occurring sugars.

Jamie Oliver- everyone’s favourite petition waving celebrity chef- says 90g a day total sugars based on all the hoomphy research he has done for his latest crusade against obesity/campaign for sugar tax in the UK.

Livestrong also goes with the 30g/5% of daily calories or less from added sugar then advises on lower sugar wholefoods without putting a limit on them.

This information isn’t really helping and is leading me back to a favourite conclusion of my late grandfather’s- which is that they don’t bloody know, do they? All this kerfuffle and sugar scaring about getting fat and getting diabetes and all dying early doesn’t seem to have the back up of an actual number. After all if we limit free sugar shouldn’t we also limit sugar that’s locked up in other stuff too? It is still sugar.  I much prefer to deal in absolutes when it comes to these things, especially if the advice comes in hand with someone trying to sell me a diet book or workout or whatever. Are we fat because we eat sugar? No. Are we fat because we eat too many calories? Yes. Do people eating too many calories eat a lot of sugar or does eating sugar make you eat more calories? This is the question. Does sugar count or is it a convenient calorie scapegoat? What I mostly mean is can’t I swap this banana for a kitkat? Pleeeeeease?????

I went to the forums to ask the opinons of my peers on the subject and to see if any other My Fitness Pal users knew what the sugar tracker value was based on. Where does this 45g come from? For reasons unknown, a moderator deleted the entire thread so I am still none the wiser. Nice. That made me cranky so I ate a banana.

 The Day In summary:

The morning- usual breakfast shake plus a couple of black coffees and mid morning snack of boiled eggs and carrot sticks.

 Lunch- green salad with home-made dressing, tomatoes, linseeds, the smallest avodaco in the world and a slice of sourdough bread.

Through the afternoon- a large banana and a small apple, then a chunk of cucumber and some  100% peanut butter as a pre work out filler as I was feeling slightly hungry. Weird point of the day occued when a 30 minute highish intensity yoga stream was exhausting to the point of my feeling shaky and pukey and needing a long sit down afterwards. Not a million miles away from when I over did some cycling training without enough breakfast a couple of years ago. A half hour exercise blast on getting home from work is standard issue for me, so shouldn’t have been a problem. Let’s see what tomorrow brings on this front.

Dinner- baked sweet potato, corn on the cob and pork fillet stirfried with onions and a red pepper. I missed being able to chuck in some hot sauce or soy or even just a tin of chopped tomatoes to this, for a dinner without sauce is a sad dinner indeed. I did however discover too late that morrisons savers passata is a no added sugar item, so that will be in the mix later in the week.

Once again I avoided the stealth sugars, I came in under my 1600 calorie goal and went over the 45g sugar goal but by less than yesterday. Macros were spot on 40% for carbs and slightly over with fat at 34% and protein just under at 26%. I would say I’ve not been too hungry but following hitting the yoga wall and putting away the plain pork I am now hankering for the generic supermarket brand fake magnums I know are in the freezer.

Stupid freezer.

The Skinny Thing: NAS Challenge

Baked beans, off the menu.

So, in brief, I’m going into this week with the challenge ahead to avoid all added sugar in my eatings. 

Why? Well, the summer is dwindling, the salads and ice water appeal is dropping with the temperature and with longer nights and festive parties on the horizon it is the time of year when my waist watching always goes to pot. By cutting out added sugar i pretty much immediately throw out the vending machine snacks that tempt me away from the good and nutritious snack path. A quick, easy diet win. And I need a diet win with bridesmaid fittings and a last minute sunshine blast in Tenerife booked in the not too distant future.

Also, carbs. I love carbs and I tire of their constant demonisation by the dieting community. I’d like to show that if you count your calories and make reasonably clean decisions you can still eat plenty of carbs and be full and happy if you just knock off the excesses, often stealth excesses sneaked into sauces and convenience foods. In related experimentation my weight has not budged for the last month but I have a noticeable increase in spare tyreage which I’m putting down to a lax attitude towards bakery products and crisps where once there were oatcakes and bananas. 

I should say this won’t be a massive challenge for me in planning as I have been on a strict very low sugar diet in the past for medical reasons. I know the theory- drop the jars of sauce and the sweets, don’t get into pre made sandwiches or pastas. Meticulously check ingredients lists on anything that isn’t a plant or a lump of raw meat. The theory is easy. The practice when you are hungry or cranky or just plain sick of carrot sticks is the hard part.

So how have I prepared myself? I just ate a swan song cappchino ice cream bar for a start. I also stocked up on salad items, chickpeas, fresh fruit and veg for the week plus avocados and expensive tea to sub in for the kitkats and sneaky soft mints I will not be treating myself with. I’ve told the Mr and now you that I want to do it, opening up to some accountability and I’ve started my diary. I will still log my daily calories and aim to hit roughly 40% of those calories from carbs, just not sneaky added sugary ones.

For the sake of clarity I am dumping anything that has sugar as an ingredient, rather than a natural component. So nutritional sugar in apples, carrots and sweetcorn is fine. Sugar in a bar of dairy milk, not fine. Sucrose, maltose and HFCS off the menu too. Weird milk related additives based on lactose, gone. I have already lost my usual lunchtime cup a soup and had to rule out the pickle jar. No bloody gherkins as there is sugar in the pickling mix and I am not happy about this one bit. Gah. I will also not be going for faked sugar subs either, so no weird fake chocolate no sugar generic diet brand aspartame breakfast bar thing or diet cokes either. In case it didn’t go without saying I won’t be adding my own sugar to anything and honey and agave and the like are no go items for the week. 

I take my coffee black and have a fresh packet of apples to hand. I can do this.

Why the hell am I doing this?