I am currently using top Irish nutritional therapist, Elsa Jones’ new book ‘Goodbye Sugar’ as a guide to wean myself off sugar. Reading this book is a real eye opener to the effects sugar can have on our bodies and also explaining the reasons why we crave it. Elsa’s book has helped me understand my eating habits for example if I am eating as result of emotional trigger such as boredom or if it is just basic hunger, I am now a lot more aware of which is which when I go to eat something which is really helpful. When I began reading the book I thought to myself, there is no way I can give up sugar everything will be bland and boring but one thing I found as I delved in deeper to the book is that this is not the case at all. Elsa has come up with some amazing recipes that taste great and certainly do not need sugar.
Check out this gorgeous power pancake recipe the whole family will enjoy click here to get the recipe
We caught up with Elsa to ask her some questions about herself, the effects of sugar and also asking her to share her top tips for a healthier living.
1)What inspired you to become a Nutritional Therapist ?
I’ve always had a huge interest in how diet and lifestyle choices can affect how we look and feel. In 2010, after 3 years of training, I graduated from the College of Naturopathic Medicine with a qualification in Nutritional Therapy, which is the comprehensive study of Nutritional Science and Therapeutics.
In a nutshell, nutritional therapy takes the latest evidence based nutrition and applies it to improve the health of individuals based on their own specific health needs and goals. It encompasses the use of carefully chosen diet & lifestyle recommendations to help improve a wide variety of health concerns including weight management, low energy, digestive problems, high cholesterol, headaches, acne etc.
Since earning my nutrition qualification, I’ve been working passionately to share my nutritional knowledge and help as many people as I can to look and feel their very best. I do this through my 1:1 consultancy work, nutrition seminars and also through my work in the media as a health writer and broadcaster.
2)Where did the idea for the book come from?
The idea for my book ‘Goodbye Sugar’ was born out of a genuine need to do something tangible to help my clients achieve their weight and health goals. I would say that at least two thirds of my clients tell me they experience strong and persistent cravings for sweet foods on a daily basis. In fact, most say they feel ‘addicted’ to sugar and cite sugar cravings as their BIGGEST OBSTACLE to losing weight and keeping it off. I’d have to agree. Not only does sugar prevent you from maintaining your ideal weight, it also zaps your energy and mood and keeps you trapped in a cycle of wanting more and more.
It’s very easy to become both physically and emotionally dependent on sweet foods. Sugar is what many of us turn to when we want to comfort or reward ourselves. In order to break a sugar habit for good, you need to address both sides of a sugar dependency.
To this end, I created an effective two step program that combines sound nutritional science with powerful psychological tools to beat cravings, conquer emotional eating, maintain motivation and ultimately have a controlled and healthy relationship with all types of food, including sugar!
I found using this two pronged approach to be extremely effective in helping my clients change their eating habits for good. As my success rates rose, I began to think about how I could bring these tools to as many people as possible and so the idea for the ‘Goodbye Sugar’ book was born. This is a tried and tested plan I have created through years of experience working with people who struggle with unhealthy eating habits and weight. Bottom line, it works.
3) What are the benefits of reducing your intake of sugar to your diet apart from the obvious weight loss?
Reducing your sugar intake can have a knock on effect on many aspects of your health and wellbeing both now and in the future including your: weight, energy levels, stamina, mood, mental clarity, confidence, skin, sleep, digestion and heart health to name but a few.
If you’re looking and feeling your best, this in turn will have a positive domino effect on all aspects of your daily life including family life, relationships, work, social life, health risks, fitness etc. I see evidence of this every day with my clients, when you transform your health, you transform your life.
4.) What are the dangers of consuming a large amount of sugar in your diet?
Current research shows that the amount of sugar you consume directly affects your risk of developing nearly all chronic diseases. This may sound dramatic, but the reasons for this are simple. In a nutshell, excess sugar leads to weight gain. In fact, The World Health Organisation has identified a high sugar intake as being a major factor behind our current obesity epidemic. Being overweight or obese significantly increases your chances of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even certain forms of cancer. Of course the more overweight you are the higher impact, but, it may surprise you to know that the health risks associated with weighing more than you should start to accumulate as soon as you are as little as seven pounds overweight.
A high sugar intake is also linked to fatigue, mood swings, PMS, lowered immunity, digestive problems, premature ageing and the list goes on and on.
Try Elsa’s Chickpea Quinoa Burgers recipe here
5.) What top 3 tips would you give to people trying to give up or cut down on their sugar in take?
Stop fuelling your cravings
Once you address the root cause of your cravings, limiting your sugar intake becomes a lot easier. The more sugary foods you consume, the more your body will crave them. The less you consume, the less you’ll crave them. So, start by identifying and reducing the biggest sources of sugar in your diet. For most, the obvious culprits are chocolate, biscuits, sweets, scones, soft drinks etc. Within a week, you will notice a dramatic reduction in your cravings for sweet foods.
Know your emotional triggers
If you’re like most people who struggle with a sugar habit, much of your eating behaviour is probably driven by emotions. In other words, you don’t choose to eat sugary foods just because you are physically hungry. You choose to eat sugary foods because you want to change or enhance the way you feel, this is known as ‘emotional eating’. Take a moment to think about what feelings make you reach for comfort food? Is it stress, tiredness, boredom…perhaps there are certain times, people or places that trigger these feelings? Once you know, you’ll be in a stronger position to overcome them.
Get Sugar Savvy
Because sugar is added to so many seemingly ‘healthy’ every day foods, it’s important that we get savvy as consumers. On a food label, sugar comes under the heading of carbohydrates. Usually you will see something like ‘Carbohydrate 29g of which sugars 12g’. This tells us how much of the carbohydrate in the product comes from sugar. A really simple and useful way of gauging sugar content is to remember that one teaspoon of sugar weighs four grams. So, for example, if a granola bar contains 16 grams of sugar per serving, that’s equivalent to approximately 4 teaspoons which is rather a lot.
We all want something sweet so why not try Elsa’s Apple & Strawberry Crumble recipe here
6.) What tips would you give to parents trying to reduce their children’s sugar intake?
The best advice I can give to parents trying to reduce their children’s sugar intake is simple: Lead By Example!
If your kids see you eating sweet treats on a daily basis, they will want to eat them on a daily basis too. There’s no harm in children having a sweet treat now and again but sugary treats have become a daily habit in most households, this creates problems early on. Removing temptation at home i.e. not have a goodie press in the house crammed with sweet treats is the best way to reduce the whole families sugar intake. Out of sight out of mind, if there not there, you can’t eat them! Instead stock up on healthy snacks such as fruit, nut butter, oat cakes, home-made granola bars or banana bread etc.
Elsa Jones is a qualified Nutritional Therapist and author of the No. 1 Bestseller ‘Goodbye Sugar’ available in book shops and online here
Interview by Sarah Carberry