Why does our goal to cut back on sugar seem so doable Monday through Thursday, only to become an impossible dream once the weekend rolls around? Out comes the ice cream (we swear we're just going to have one bite) and five spoonfuls later we've finished the whole damn pint. Suddenly it's a blur of mimosas and muffins and wine, and then it's Monday—and our sugar hangover is severe. Help.
The team at I Quit Sugar to the rescue! Nutritionist and recipe developer Olivia Kaplan shares how she spends her weekends in Sydney, Australia (which happens to involve way less sugar than ours) and proves that we can still live our best weekend life without burying ourselves in the sweet stuff. Here's what we learned.
Choose cheese over dessert.
At IQS we’re all about enjoying life and food. Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually pretty easy to enjoy your weekend without sugar with a few simple adjustments (hear me out). The great thing about quitting sugar is that you really don’t crave it anymore. That way, when you do choose to indulge (as we all do every now and then), you’re satisfied after just a few bites.
It’s just about making the right choices: Opt for low-sugar drinks (kombucha’s my fave), choose cheese over dessert, and take the time to relax and enjoy your food.
Show gratitude for the small things (like your coffee).
Mornings are my favorite time of day (striking sunrise, hello!), and as soon as I’m up, I want to get out the door, move my body, and soak up some of the beautiful views we have in Sydney. Some days I head out early for a boot camp session, and others, I just walk along the cliffs of Bondi. I’m a sucker for a good audiobook too, so this is the perfect time to get in an hour of listening. At the moment, I’m listening to 10% Human by Alanna Collen, and it’s totally opened my eyes to how important our gut health is.
The most important part of my morning ritual, however, is gratitude. For me, it’s not a matter of writing lists in a journal and meditating; it’s much more simple. I pick a spot that I pass every morning and I stop to really feel gratitude without distractions. It may be as simple as being excited about my morning coffee, the morning bus ride, or a stranger who smiled at me! I don’t think it needs to be anything more than that, but I can guarantee it totally steers my day toward positivity, and now, it’s a habit that I can’t not do.
Eggs and cheese over pancakes and syrup any day.
My weekend eating habits follow pretty much the same pattern, with a few tweaks here and there. As a nutritionist and foodie, I enjoy delicious, healthy food in abundance all week long, so I don’t get to the weekend feeling totally deprived.
But weekends do mean brunch! So usually, it’ll be a slower start to the morning, and a nice big brunch either out at a cafe or simply in my kitchen. I naturally gravitate to the low-sugar options... give me eggs and haloumi over pancakes any day. Sometimes I’ll do some baking, and yep, it’ll be very low in sugar, but no one should have to miss out on brownies.
Where I’d differ on the weekends versus a normal Tuesday is that I'll eat dinner out. I’ve yet to have any issues staying healthy though. I love giving new things a go, so I’ll generally order something I’d rarely make at home: slow-cooked meats, cheeses, yummy sides, or whatever comes highly recommended. My favorite way to eat out is tapas-style, sharing with friends and fam and tasting everything.
Mojito time, without the sugary syrup.
I enjoy alcohol but I just make sure to incorporate a few alcohol-free weekends into my schedule. When I do indulge, I mix it up between red wine and my drink of choice: a mojito sans the sugary syrup. You may get some weird looks for asking for it, but you’ll thank yourself in the morning (I promise!). Plus, fresh mint and lime make the most delicious, refreshing drink, so there’s no need for sugar. I’ll go for this over the typical order of a vodka soda to keep things a bit more interesting.
Sometimes I’ll reach for cider, but I’ll always opt for the driest variety possible, as ciders tend to be higher in sugar. But let’s be honest, there’s nothing better than a cool crisp cider on a sunny afternoon.
Work out for enjoyment, not to burn off food.
Real talk: I never work out with the goal of burning off something I’ve eaten; it’s a terrible way to live. I exercise because I enjoy it. Weekends always involve yoga classes, long walks, and swims in the ocean. I get active in the morning and love how it sets up my mood for the day.
Make your mornings count.
Put simply, if I’m not active in the morning, it just won’t happen. Weekends often involve jumping from commitment to commitment, so sometimes it can be pretty impossible to fit in a workout. I start every Saturday morning with a walk and now it’s a habit I look forward to.
My advice? Weekends are a great time for catch-ups, so organize a walk, dance class, or hike with a friend… not only are you now bound to a plan, but you get the best of both worlds, a bit of movement and the latest goss!
Enjoy food when you travel to new destinations.
This can be tricky at times, but when you’ve adopted a sugar-free lifestyle, it’s exactly that… a lifestyle. This means that no matter your circumstances, you can always make it work in some way or another. I love food and traveling, so for me, it’s a time to explore different cultures and cuisines, and I often plan ahead and decide on a few good cafes and restaurants I want to check out.
My travel staples include a block of 90 percent dark chocolate, a pack of macadamias, and a heap of water. These keep well in my handbag and are enough to keep me (and my tum) happy if the timing between meals is stretched.
Hiking is one of my favorite ways to incorporate movement into my travels, and it allows me to explore my latest destination. I still can’t get my head around people who plan out what gyms they’re going to attend while they’re away; I’d much rather be outdoors!
Eating well over the weekend is a balancing act, and if it’s stressing you out, then something isn’t working. If you’re having cocktails later, stay away from the pancakes at brunch. If you’re attending a long lunch, start the day with some movement. If you’re planning a big night, drink a heap of water throughout the day (I swear by this).
Above all else, weekends are a time for enjoyment and setting yourself up for a good week… that means prioritizing things you enjoy while not going so overboard that come Monday morning, you want to bury your head in the sand. It’s important to find a rhythm that works for you.
Need more help cutting back on sugar? I Quit Sugar is giving our readers a 20 percent discount for their 8-week program that gives you all the tools you need to cut sugar out of your life. Use code GREATIST20 at checkout. Offer is available through December 31, 2017. Head over to Greatist's Instagram this weekend, where Olivia Kaplan will be taking over our feed and stories showing us how she lives her weekend life.