Cutting out sugar: A healthy new challenge


As a huge fan of all things chocolate, ice cream, waffles, macaroons, cocktails and pastries I don’t know how it happened, but a couple of weeks ago I found myself agreeing to cut out sugar for 30 days.

Team Mode is currently on a bit of a fitness mission – we have entered a Tough Mudder event this September – and because training for a 12-mile obstacle course isn’t hard enough already, we decided to quit our favourite vice too: refined sugar.


A sugar addiction can be far harder to kick than you might think as the stuff is pretty much in everything we eat in our modern-day diets, unless you are insanely watchful and healthy. And it’s not just the obvious sweet culprits; your favourite savoury foods also often contain hidden additions of sucrose. Pizza dough, pasta sauces, burger buns… All of them can trip you up if you don’t watch the ingredients list very carefully.

Always on a mission to improve ourselves, my colleagues at Mode Media and I have decided to quit sugar as a team and see if we feel any better for it. Below are the rules we have set ourselves:

* No refined sugar whether it’s sweet or savoury
* No sugar-laden alcoholic drinks like beer, cocktails or wine
* Natural sugar found in fruit is allowed
* The only alcoholic beverage we can have is vodka with soda water and fresh lime


And we are taking it seriously! It took our Brazilian fitness bombshell Natalie all but five minutes to create a chart where we can record our progress (and slip-ups) every day, bikini body inspiration pictures have been put up (Miranda Kerr for myself) and every now and again you see the odd grapefruit rolling across the office.

On top of that, we have vowed to increase our workouts and started a lunch time running club. Okay, so far there has only been one jog around Regents Park but HEY! We are doing it!


I’m going to diarise my ‘efforts’ and let you know if it is indeed worth going sugar free. Before I started, my diet wasn’t the worst but every evening I’d be having, without fail, chocolates, biscuits or ice cream – or all three together. And that is without the rather generous amounts of wine and spirits I’d consume at press events or on a night out with my friends.

On an average day  – let’s call it a Friday, because after work drinks – my food diary would look something like this:



Black coffee
Leon’s breakfast pot with a poached egg, baked beans and ham hock plus one slice of buttered wholemeal toast – sugar content unknown


Green or peppermint tea
A piece of fruit with almonds


Still water
Crussh stew and salad – likely to contain sugar

Snack (This is where it usually starts to go wrong)

Vital Ingredient banana custard or jelly OR
Cadbury’s Marvellous Creations Jelly Popping Candy chocolate bar OR
Propercorn OR
Cake OR
Wine gums

Another snack! (On the way home. I have a long commute.)

Cheese & Onion crisps OR
Wine gum


Three large glasses of Sauvignon Blanc OR
Two double vodka and tonic
Tesco Roast Salmon Fillets Sweet Chilli
Avocado, tomato and red onion salad
Ainsley Harriot Spice Sensation cous cous

Dessert (No, not done yet!)

Half a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked ice cream AND/OR
Two or three Kit Kat chocolate bars AND/OR
Unknown amounts of McVities Chocolate Digestives biscuits


Perhaps surprisingly, despite crossing over into my thirties a little while ago, I am not the size of a house. Yet. Over the years, I have managed to keep up a reasonable fitness regime because I really love to exercise – check out some of my favourite workouts here – and I guess being above average height helps to hide the pounds that creep on every now and again.

Like a lot of people who work in an office, I spend most of my day seated behind a computer and often attend work events in the evenings. As exciting as some of them might be, canapés and champagne don’t really help you stick to your healthy eating intentions or gym ambitions, so I’d say I’m not in the best shape I’ve ever been at the moment and I would definitely like to tone up.


My weekly exercise ‘routine’ (used in the loosest sense of the word) before we started the sugar free challenge and committed to Tough Mudder was a little like:

60 minutes spent walking to and from the train station every day
45 minutes of Body Combat at Virgin Active
30 minutes of HIIT at Virgin Active
30-45 minutes of jogging at the weekend

So, before I hit you with some lovely ‘before’ pictures, my stats at the beginning of the sugar-free challenge are as follows.

Age: 32
Height: 1,72m or 5’7″
Weight: 60.2kg or 9st 6lbs
Dress size: 10



I’m writing this with a bit of delay (I’m currently on Day 11 already), but this is where I was at when we began the challenge. So far, I can confirm it’s testing but I am already seeing results, which I will tell you about soon.

Wish me luck!

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