Escaping the 9 to 5 with Laura Thomas

healthy eating coach Laura Thomas

This month’s career change interview is with Laura, whose story starts with a blog about Happy Sugar Habits.

The concept of eating low sugar is one that is deeply familiar to me, having first been introduced to the Montignac low GI diet in 2001. My dad as well as my aunt and uncle saw the extra pounds melt off and I saw good results too in coming back down from my chocolate chip cookie-induced weight gain at the American school from which I had just graduated. Since then, my diet of choice moved on to the low-carb approach of Atkins and to the most recent LCHF (low carb, high fat – sounds bad, no?) method that has become so popular in Sweden. This has meant a good 13 years of eating vegetables, salad or quinoa with my meals instead of pasta, rice and potatoes, upping my protein intake, eating more eggs than toast and cereal for breakfast… and facing a constant struggle to stick to all this in the face of a barrage of sweet temptations.

It’s quite easy to stick to actually when I’m at home, at a restaurant or a hotel where I can choose freely from a menu, with my family or with close friends who know my habits. It’s harder when I’m visiting someone and they serve up huge plates of pasta, or a huge portion of dessert is placed in front of me. It’s also hard to resist in the office when there are brownies and muffins and cake, oh my, or while travelling, with most cafés and bars serving only sandwiches, cupcakes, cheesecake, sweetened yoghurt… Recently I’ve been good again, being open and honest with everyone so that it’s easier to say no. I find that I’m good at being strict – but as soon as I make an exception, my will power collapses.

The power of sugar is psychological as much as physical. Even though I find a lot of cakes and chocolates too sweet these days, sugar still has an emotional hold on me that goes back to my childhood. My mum likes to regale our friends with any number of stories involving sweets and me. Take your pick from when I was four and barricaded the door to my bedroom in order to stuff my face with the chocolates our family friends had given me; when I was seven and snuck Fazer mints out of my mum’s office drawer over a period of many weeks, thinking she wouldn’t notice – but unfortunately she did notice when she eventually opened that drawer to find an empty box; when I was nine and we were at a restaurant that had a big bowl of mints out in the hall, and my mum went to pick up my cardigan only to find hundreds of mints falling out of their hiding place and bouncing down and across the floor; when I was twelve and ate a whole 100g bar of white chocolate then stuck my fingers down my throat to throw up (okay, that one’s not so funny).

The odd thing is that my mum was fully aware of the dangers of sugar and did all she could to instil my sister and me with healthy eating habits, for the sake of our teeth as much as the empty calories that came with sugar. We had fruit and wholemeal toast at home while our friends’ mums gave us jam doughnuts and ice cream. We only rarely went to McDonald’s as a special treat. We drank Light Ribena and bought sugar-free chewing gum. But as soon as I had my own pocket money, I would stuff my pockets full of sweets at the local newsagent’s or at the school’s tuck shop.

Today, I’m 100% convinced of the need to avoid sugar and the benefits of eating a diet of more fat and less carbs than traditional dietary advice would recommend. Going sugar free has huge benefits, not just related with weight but also for me avoiding migraines, blood sugar lows and mood swings. I believe it is catching on and slowly, slowly, the world is adapting. Of course, there are lots of people who can stuff their faces with white bread, pasta and pizza, cakes and biscuits, and not gain weight (though my sincere hope that they are rotting on the inside…!). There are others who have enough will power to eat in moderation. Sadly I don’t belong to either group…

All this to say that I wholeheartedly admire and support Laura and her efforts with her Happy Sugar Habits blog and programme! Read on for her story…


Healthy eating coach

Laura ThomasLaura Thomas was a management consultant at IBM before taking a sabbatical to set up her business Happy Sugar Habits, which helps people get control over their sugar cravings. Laura now coaches individuals one-to-one, runs workshops on sugar, and has created a successful online sugar detox programme. After her sabbatical, Laura returned to IBM in a part-time role training the graduates whilst continuing to run her business alongside. She currently spends 50% of her time in each.

1) At what moment did you decide it was time for a change?

It was during the 2012 Olympics. I was watching the athletes achieve such incredible things through their hard work and dedication. It truly inspired me that there was something bigger out there for me to do in this life. I didn’t actually know exactly what it was but I had already started my Happy Sugar Habits blog earlier that year, so thought I’d spend my savings and time on developing this into something more serious.

2) What was the biggest challenge you faced in making the change?

By a mile it was the isolation of setting up a business and working solo. I didn’t anticipate the challenge of this but it’s something I have to consciously manage these days. Finding a role at IBM that I love and that gives me such a people and team ‘fix’ energises me to be able to work solo for the rest of the week. Occasionally I feel like I have a double life, but I love the fact that my career and personal journey is completely unique in its own right.

3) Where did you get the support you needed to make it happen?

In terms of emotional support, my friends have been nothing short of incredible. They remind me of what I’ve achieved and have spurred me on when I’ve felt like giving up. Financially, I put aside some savings before taking the sabbatical, which gave me the time to work things out and formulate my business idea more clearly. I believe it’s not a case of the one idea, but really working things through by doing.

4) What’s the best part of your lifestyle today?

The fact that I am wholly fulfilled by my work and constantly challenged, learning very quickly. Emails from clients and subscribers to my blog about how I’ve made a difference in their lives give me the best feeling and fill me with purpose. I am also grateful that I currently get the best of both worlds and this has led me to really appreciate the pros and cons of each type of employment lifestyle.

5) What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is considering making a big career or lifestyle change?

Know that you might not ever ‘know’ or be sure what your next move might be or how exactly it will work out. You will grow and learn significantly as a person regardless of what happens. There are options you may not see now that will only come to light once you are on your way.

You can read about Laura’s business at Happy Sugar Habits and get her tips on her blog (like this one: Ready for sugar-free change? Ask yourself these questions) or follow her on Facebook.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You might also be interested in these articles

“Everything you’ve ever
wanted is one step outside
your comfort zone.”

Book a free consultation

Get on the phone with Anna to discuss your unique goals and situation to determine the best programme for you, so you can start taking action towards creating the business and lifestyle you desire.

Get a free assessment of your business

Download this scorecard to review where you are on each of the 5 pillars of building a life outside of the 9 to 5, and get clear action steps to help you fill the gaps.

We will use and protect your data in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Looking to grow your expert business?

Download this FREE Business Assessment to identify the gaps that are preventing your growth so that you can take actionable steps towards building a more successful and sustainable business.

We will use and protect your data in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Download the brochure

Find out more about our flagship mentoring programme for experienced professionals who want to translate their skills and experience into a profitable business that brings them more freedom, flexibility, and fulfilment.

We will use and protect your data in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Privacy Policy

This privacy policy sets out how One Step Outside uses and protects any information that you give One Step Outside when you use this website (

One Step Outside is committed to ensuring that your privacy is protected. Should we ask you to provide certain information by which you can be identified when using this website, then you can be assured that it will only be used in accordance with this privacy statement.

One Step Outside may change this policy from time to time by updating this page. You should check this page from time to time to ensure that you are happy with any changes.

What information we collect and why

We only ever collect the information that we need in order to serve you.

Generally, this just means collecting your first name and email address that you enter, for example, when you request a resource, register for a webinar, or submit a message via a contact form.

If you are a paying customer, we also collect your billing information including your last name and your postal address.


When visitors leave comments on the site we collect the data shown in the comments form, and also the visitor’s IP address and browser user agent string to help spam detection.

An anonymised string created from your email address (also called a hash) may be provided to the Gravatar service to see if you are using it. The Gravatar service privacy policy is available here: After approval of your comment, your profile picture is visible to the public in the context of your comment.

Contact forms

We use Gravity Forms to allow you to contact us via the website. We will use the information you submit for the sole purpose of that specific form and will explicitly ask you to provide your consent to allow us to do so.

Embedded content from other websites

Articles on this site may include embedded content (e.g. videos, images, articles, etc.). Embedded content from other websites behaves in the exact same way as if the visitor has visited the other website.

These websites may collect data about you, use cookies, embed additional third-party tracking, and monitor your interaction with that embedded content, including tracking your interaction with the embedded content if you have an account and are logged in to that website.

Advertising and Analytics


We use Google Analytics to track and optimise performance on this site as well as embedding video content from YouTube, and this means that your web browser automatically sends certain information to Google. This includes the URL of the page that you’re visiting and your IP address. Google may also set cookies on your browser or read cookies that are already there. Apps that use Google advertising services also share information with Google, such as the name of the app and a unique identifier for advertising.

Google uses the information shared by sites and apps to deliver our services, maintain and improve them, develop new services, measure the effectiveness of advertising, protect against fraud and abuse and personalise content and ads that you see on Google and on our partners’ sites and apps. See their Privacy Policy to learn more about how they process data for each of these purposes, and their Advertising page for more about Google ads, how your information is used in the context of advertising and how long Google stores this information.


We use the conversion tracking and custom audiences via the Facebook pixel on our website. This allows user behaviour to be tracked after they have been redirected to our website by clicking on a Facebook ad and enables us to measure the effectiveness of our Facebook ads. The data collected in this way is anonymous to us, i.e. we do not see the personal data of individual users. However, this data is stored and processed by Facebook, who may link this information to your Facebook account and also use it for its own promotional purposes, in accordance with Facebook’s Data Usage Policy

You can allow Facebook and its partners to place ads on and off Facebook. A cookie may also be stored on your computer for these purposes. You can revoke your permission directly on Facebook here: For more guidance on opting out you can also consult

Who we share your data with

We use a number of third parties to provide us with services which are necessary to run our business or to assist us with running our business and who process your information for us on our behalf. These include a hosting and email provider (Siteground), mailing list provider (GetResponse), and a payment provider (Stripe).

Your information will be shared with these service providers only where necessary to enable us to run our business.

How long we maintain your data

If you leave a comment, the comment and its metadata are retained indefinitely. This is so we can recognise and approve any follow-up comments automatically instead of holding them in a moderation queue.

For users that register on our website, we also store the personal information they provide in their user profile. All users can see, edit, or delete their personal information at any time (except they cannot change their username). Website administrators can also see and edit that information.

The main reason for collecting this information is to be able to send you resources, updates and, sometimes, information and products and services, as well as for internal record keeping.

The rights you have over your data

If you have an account on this site, or have left comments, you can request to receive an exported file of the personal data we hold about you, including any data you have provided to us. You can also request that we erase any personal data we hold about you. This does not include any data we are obliged to keep for administrative, legal, or security purposes.

How we protect your data

We are committed to ensuring that your information is secure.

Where we have given you (or where you have chosen) a password that lets you access certain parts of our site, you are responsible for keeping this password confidential and we ask you not to share a password with anyone.

Unfortunately, the transmission of information via the internet is not completely secure. Although we will do our best to protect your personal data, we cannot guarantee the security of your data transmitted to our site; any transmission is at your own risk. Once we have received your information, we will use strict procedures and security features to try to prevent unauthorised access.

Links to other websites

Our website contains links to other websites. This privacy policy only applies to this website so once you have used these links to leave our site, you should note that we do not have any control over that other website. You should exercise caution and look at the privacy statement applicable to the website in question.

Changes to our privacy policy

We keep our privacy policy under regular review. Initially created on 18th November 2016, it was last updated on 23rd May 2018 to be compliant with GDPR.

Contact information

If you have any questions or concerns related to your privacy, you can get in touch here >>