Lose half a stone on the no sugar diet like TOWIE’s Frankie Essex!

With her favourite foods including Pick ‘n’ Mix sweets, cakes and pink lemonade, Frankie Essex most definitely has a sweet tooth.

Frankie Essex after WEB

by Closer staff |
Published on

So when she ditched sugar for four weeks, the TOWIE star admits finding it “the trickiest diet I’ve ever tried”.

Now she’s not only 7lbs lighter and bursting with energy, 5ft 7 Frankie, 26, has now made changes to her eating habits for good.

Frankie says: “Not only am I now a size 10 again, it’s been a great way to break bad habits.”

Frankie was desperate to slim down after being papped in a bikini while on holiday last year in Greece with her boyfriend, building site manager John Lyons, 27.

Weighing nearly 12 stone and bordering on a size 14, she told Closer: “My confidence was shot and I cried after seeing those photos. I knew I was out of shape and I didn’t feel good about my body at all. I knew I had to do something.”

Frankie, sister to I’m a Celebrity star Joey Essex, remembers: “It was our first holiday together but all my memories are of me feeling fat and hating myself, even though John kept telling me I looked lovely, I didn’t believe him.”

So, determined to stabilize her weight for once, she decided to try cutting out sugar for a month after hearing about new book ‘The Sweet Poison Quit Plan’ by David Gillespie, which explains how to remove it from your diet.

Frankie was shocked to discover the huge amounts of ‘hidden sugar’ in processed foods.

“Ready meals, ketchup, Indian and Chinese takeaways, salad dressings, sauces – all of them contain sugar,” she says.

“There can be more sugar in BBQ sauce than in chocolate sauce!”

Before starting the plan, Frankie used to start the day with a cup of tea (two sugars) with poached eggs and smoked salmon.

Lunch would often be a bagel, which has twice the sugar of plain bread, and dinner might be a Chinese takeaway followed by Sticky Toffee Pudding and then sweets.

She says waiting to film scenes on TOWIE also meant lots of boredom snacking on junk food and sugary treats.

She says: "I’d start the day with the best intentions but after hours of waiting to be filmed, I couldn't help picking at unhealthy snacks and once I start I find it very hard to stop.

Sometimes it would get me down when I look around at the other girls' bodies as it's hard not to compare."

The NHS-recommended maximum daily sugar intake for women is 50g, which is around 12tsp of sugar, but Frankie worked out that if she was having her usual seven cups of tea and one latte, plus a bottle of her favourite Lucozade Pink Lemonade, she would be consuming over 30tsp of sugar a day – and that was just in her drinks!

“The book talks about sugar being an addiction, like smoking and now I think I was a sugarholic,” admits Frankie.

But she says that sticking to the first week of the plan was a real challenge.

“While John’s been having dessert, I’ve been having a bath!”

“When I first tried tea without sugar I thought it was just like warm watery milk,” she says.

“It didn’t taste of much at all.”

As the sugar left her system, Frankie started suffering from withdrawal symptoms.

“I felt shaky and dizzy,” she says.

“I had no energy, but wasn’t sleeping well.”

The book talks about how it’s important to break habits associated with eating sugar; for Frankie, this was her Pick ‘n’ Mix fix in front of the TV every night with John.

“I’ve been having celery sticks dipped in salt instead.”

And Frankie’s found a novel way of breaking her post-dinner pudding habit: “While John’s been having dessert, I’ve been having a bath!”

With so many processed foods containing sugar, Frankie realised that the only way she could guarantee that her diet was sugar-free was by preparing meals herself.

“It takes longer, but I enjoy cooking and it tastes better if you’re making things from scratch. The other night John was having BBQ ribs, so I did myself a chicken breast with garlic and when it came out of the oven he was well jealous, as it smelt so good.”

While on the plan, Frankie – who isn’t currently doing any exercise - would stick to her usual breakfast of poached eggs and smoked salmon (although some smoked salmon contains sugar) with sugar-free tea, then have a salad dressed with olive oil and vinegar for lunch, while dinner might be a homemade stew.

After a month without sugar, not only has Frankie lost weight she is seeing other benefits too.

“I’m sleeping really well and I’ve got more energy,” she says. “I hadn’t bought myself any new clothes in ages, so I went shopping yesterday and it felt great when I fitted into a size 10 dress.”

Frankie's Vital Stats

Age: 26

Height: 5ft 7

Weight before: 11st 11lbs

Dress size before: 12-14

Weight after: 11st 4lbs

Dress size: 10

Sugar Swaps


Choose: raspberries, blueberries, pears. All vegetables are fine

Avoid: grapes, pineapples, melons


Choose: Sourdough, wholemeal

Avoid: Bagels, fruit loaf


Choose: Marmite, cream cheese, peanut butter (check labels for sugar)

Avoid: jam, honey


Choose: unflavoured porridge oats, Shredded Wheat, Weetabix

Avoid: All the rest!


Choose: Soy, full-fat mayo

Avoid: BBQ sauce, hoisin, sweet chilli, ketchup, brown sauce, balsamic vinegar


Choose: gin or vodka with no-sugar mixers, dry red wine

Avoid: cocktails, cider, liqueurs, sweet wine


Choose: unflavoured milk, natural yoghurt with no added sugar, butter, cheese

Avoid: sweetened soya milk, fruit yoghurts

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