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Your Guide to Eating at the Pub

Your local pub is the classic spot for Friday-night drinks, catch-ups with relatives and affordable dinners for lazy Sunday nights – but from the deep-fried fish and chips to the chocolate mousse, it can be some sugary territory. Here’s your comprehensive guide to getting through the night unscathed, from drinks to dessert.



Avoid: Skip the lemon lime and bitters, pink lemonade and coke. These popular pub soft drinks and flavoured beverages could have you soaring over your daily sugar limit in just a single serve – lemon lime and bitters can pack nearly 6 teaspoons of the stuff! As always, skip the fruit juice too. There are also a few alcoholic beverages that sneak in a sizeable amount of sugar:

  • Sweet wines like Rose
  • Vodka soda/orange juice
  • Rum and coke
  • Cocktails like mojito, long island iced tea, bloody Mary

These sugar-loaded drinks are your ticket to flying past the 6 and 9 teaspoon limits for men and women, respectively. Rose, for instance, can pack around 7 teaspoons of sugar in just one glass, while a long-iced tea can have around 6 teaspoons. Excessive, we know. Here’s what to order instead:

Order: Water is your right-hand man at the pub, it has no sugar, it’s hydrating and, well, it’s free! If in doubt, just pour yourself a glass from the table bottle. If you’re going for an alcoholic beverage, stick to a dry red wine as it’s essentially sugar free. Dry white wines make a close second, but are still a reasonably low-sugar drink. Any of the following hot drinks are also good options:

  • Black coffee
  • Flat white – no sugar
  • Tea


Avoid: The classic pub wedges with sweet chilli sauce are unfortunately worth skipping out on – that sauce is packed with added sugars, while the wedges are likely coated in refined oils, excess salt, sugar and other additives. Tomato sauce-based dishes are also best kept on your “avoid” list due to their concentrated sugars and lack of the fibre you’d find in whole tomatoes. This fibre plays an essential role in slowing the absorption of the sugars, giving our liver a rest – without it, the likelihood of developing visceral fat significantly increases. This is the dangerous kind of fat that increases our risk for obesity, heart and liver disease. These might include some tomato-based lasagne, pizza, spaghetti or soup dishes. Here are a few more dishes to avoid:

  • Fried fish and chips
  • Barbeque ribs
  • Burgers
  • Chicken parmigiana
  • Nuggets

Order: Salads are usually a safe bet – just be sure to ask for the dressing to be left out, or you could even ask if they can provide an olive oil and lemon dressing. This is a classic, tasty and safe way to enjoy a salad, without those sugary dressings and sauces. Grilled fish is another good option, along with slow-cooked meats, chicken breast, steak and steamed veggies.

Our tip: Leave the sugary sauces out of your meal, such as tomato, aioli, gravy and bearnaise.


Avoid: Many of the popular pub desserts are loaded with sugar on top of sugar – from the sugary cream-topped chocolate mousse to the sticky-date pudding, it’s hard to avoid. Here are a few of the other dishes to look out for:

  • Ice cream
  • Crème brulee
  • Affogato
  • Mud cake

Order: Your best bet is to stick to an after-dinner cup of coffee or tea, considering how excessively sweet some of the desserts can be. But that doesn’t mean you have to miss out – here is the I Quit Sugar rendition of a classic chocolate mousse. Smuggle it in on your next pub night out, or enjoy your creation back home. For more delicious recipes check out our range of eBooks HERE.

Super-Charged Chocolate Mousse



  • 1 1/2 tablespoons gelatine
  • 500ml coconut milk, full-fat
  • 6 cloves star anise
  • 100g 85–90% dark chocolate roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon rice malt syrup
  • To garnish: raw cacao powder


  1. Dissolve the gelatine in 1/4 cup of cold water and let it sit for 5 minutes until it has become gel-like.
  1. Heat the coconut milk in a saucepan with the star anise over a medium heat and leave to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove star anise from the pot and whisk in chocolate, a pinch of salt and rice malt syrup until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth.
  1. Remove from the heat and whisk in the gelatine until dissolved. Divide the mixture into glasses and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until it reaches a soft, mousse-like consistency.
  1. Top with whole star anise and a sprinkle of cacao powder to serve. Cover and store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.



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