The Body Retreat

The Body Retreat

Women Only Weight Loss & Wellbeing Retreats

The Confusing Problem With Sugar

Are you confused about the sugar you are eating?

It comes as no surprise that chocolate, fizzy drinks and sweet treats are full of added sugar. We all know that and as such many of us make the conscious decision to limit these sweet treats in our diets.   However, there are other surprising culprits that we might not associate with being a cause for concern. Many processed foods contain high amounts of hidden sugar and as we consume these foods daily  you could be unwittingly having regular sugar binges which could be playing havoc with your metabolism and insulin levels, making you store fat.

The problem with sugar is that it is highly addictive, we know now that sugar has the same chemical composition as cocaine, with the exception of nitrogen, so it is little wonder that when we consume a little we find ourselves  craving a little more then a little more.  You know how that story ends.

Thesedays more questions are being asked about where sugar is creeping in.  Consumers are slowly but surely starting to be switched on to these hidden sugars.

Just recently the photo at the top was published in a national newspaper to act as a guide for sugar consumption and on the face of it, it makes sense.  You can see clearly at a glance how much sugar is contained in various foods.  Some of which may or may not surprise you.

But this picture only adds to the confusion about sugar.  You can clearly see that for example a can of coke has less sugar than a mango.  Of course, this may be true but it ignores the fact that the coke is nutritionally empty, filled with chemical additives and preservatives which impact how our bodies systems work.  While at the same time ignores the fact that the mango contains antioxidants, fibre, vitamins and minerals.

So perhaps mixing fruits, whole foods, sweets and processed foods in the same guide is not as helpful as it could be.  Its suggests that the measure that they are presenting is the most impotent one…but of course this is newspapers…their job is to inform and to an extent educate…but mostly its to make stores that sell newspapers. If those stories add to the confusion about health then thats another story opportunity.  The only losers are the readers who buy into what they are reading.

We know that there is a lot of confusion about sugar in all its forms, we meet ladies on our Sugar Detox Retreat who have been trying to cut back on their sugar consumption but find themselves getting pulled back time and time again into the grip of the white stuff.  Intelligent, professional women who are trying to follow a healthy eating plan or support their weight loss but when they fancy a sweet treat are confused about what the best thing is to have.

Guides like this can encourage them make a choice that isn’t really a healthy one.  Follow this guide and you could be tempted to have a couple of Oreo biscuits and a can of Red Bull as your snack, after all they contain less sugar than the Mango!!  But of course once you have consumed the biscuits and drink your blood sugar levels will have spiked and crashed so quickly that you will be left feeling low and more hungry then before.  Then you end up eating more than you need.

Our ethos at The Body Retreat is that we should all look to Remove the Hidden Sugars in processed foods, Reduce the Elective Sugars in sweet treats and Rethink the Natural Sugars in whole foods.  We need to learn to listen to our own common sense about what we are eat and not blindly allow ourselves to be lead by guides, especially those printed in newspapers.

Stick as close to nature as you can and if you fancy enjoying a mango as part of a healthy balanced diet then enjoy every juicy bit of it.  (Maybe do your blood sugar levels and favour and have a little protein  or fat to help slow down the absorption and you really are onto a winner)

Tried & Tested Belly Busting Blowout Recovery Plan

Today’s post is part advisory guidance and part confession…..

You see on Sunday this week I had a blow out… I was having a celebratory lunch with a girlfriend. We had planned it months in advance and so I knew it was going to be a feast of a lunch. Somehow….no additional questions please 😉 … my planned lunchtime indulgence cascaded over into the entire day.

The Belly Busting Food Diary
Breakfast : Large bowl of Bran Flakes
Mid Morning Snack: Slice of home made Pork Pie
Lunch: Crab Tiane with Smoked Salmon, Roast Pork & Mash, Baileys Creme Brûlée, Sauvignon Blanc
Supper: Vegetable Crisps, Smoked Mackerel Crostinis, Garlic Prawns, Garlic Mussels. 2 Cosmopolitan Cocktails

Unsurprisingly the next day I felt ROUGH…. now I cannot blame the cocktails or vino as I actually drank in moderation… what I didn’t do was eat in moderation. I was overcome by the “What the heck, it’s a celebration” voices in my head and had over indulged at every stage.

It wasn’t just the amount of food I ate but the type of foods. Just the amount of processed carbs alone was enough to throw my digestive system out of balance and left me feeling bloated, uncomfortable, groggy, with a fuzzy taste in my mouth. The next morning I felt sluggish and really quite down and unhappy. My entire mood being affected by how I felt physically. My stomach was stretched and felt as tight as a drum. Physically and emotionally I was not in a good place. To be honest I felt so bad that all I really wanted to do was lie on the sofa. I was very thirsty and because I felt so sluggish I was craving sugar to give me an energy boost.

It’s a Slippery Slope!!

Does this sound familiar?  This is the point when in the past I would have given in the physical craving for sugar, carbs and diet coke and hit the corner shop… but now I know that only leads to a serious downwards spiral.  One that ends up with about an extra stone around the middle.  I’ve been there.  I know only too well how slippery that slope is!!!

I also see it with my clients, time and again I see the same self destructive behaviour the day after a blow out.  Its as though the blow out wipes out all good intentions, cancels out any good work gone before, confirms that you can’t do this healthy living stuff! They worry that this over indulgence will stop their weight loss.

But Im here to tell you that is just the cravings talking….like any addiction this is when you are at your most vulnerable.  So now is a time for action…but mostly now is a time to be kind to yourself.  Pick yourself up, accept that the blow out happened, but just more forward.  No looking for excuses, no guilty recriminations , no negative self talk…the blow out was yesterday. Today is a new day and you can make a new choice right now.

The question is…what choice do you want to make?

To help you get back on track I’d like to share with you my tried and tested Belly Busting Blowout Recovery Plan. Just five simple steps to having in you feeling like yourself again in now time…and more importantly to stop you slipping down that slope into daily over indulgence.

The 5 Step Belly Busting Blowout Recovery Plan

1. EAT
Yes I know this might seem a contradiction when feeling over indulged. But it is important to keep your metabolism moving  and your blood sugar levels stable. So today it is important to eat but EAT LIGHT.

Belly Busting Recovery Food Diary

Breakfast : Detox Greens Juice (You can find the recipe in our blog or on our FB page)
This will set you up for the day, flooding your system with goodness while at the same time being very light to digest.

Lunch: Green Eggs & Ham
A great protein based lunch, add chopped spinach to two scrabbled eggs and serve with a a slice of ham. The ham helps to satisfy salt cravings.

Afternoon Snack: Apple & Walnuts.

At the apple with help to keep you hydrated while irving natural sugar and fibre and the walnuts really pack a nutritional punch as the oils also help to balance your insulin levels.

Supper: Chicken & Barley Soup

Again keeping it really light and hydrating this tasty soup helps to satisfy your hunger which will have begun to build during the day. Again you can find a great recipe for Chicken soup on our blog.

Water, water, water. Today it is especially important to drink lots of water, aim for about 2 litres in total of fresh plain water. If you really feel like you need something bubbly (I know I did) then avoid carbonated soft drinks. Instead add the juice of one whole lime and one whole lemon to a large glass of sparkling water. This will refresh you instantly.

You really need to get moving and not become a couch potato…even though every part of you will be urging you to just sit it out and wait for the discomfort to pass. Get outside into the fresh air…regardless of the weather. Walking for an hour is great, half an hour is good and 15 mins is the absolute minimum. This walk will lift you physically and mentally.

Having consumed a large about of dairy, sugar and proceed carbs my system was totally acidic. I was feeling totally backed up and very uncomfortable (if you know what I mean!!). I needed to get my system back into alignment as soon as possible. Gentle exercise and light eating both help to achieve this but you can super-charge this process by adding supplements into your diet right now. Both Julie  and I always have Alkalising Salts at home. (I take them for Gastro Oesphical Reflux Disorder and Julie  for an energy boost when she feels sluggish) Making up a glass of alkalising salts morning and evening will help to

Also if you have them take 2 probitotics before you got to bed at night they will also help to bentley get things moving regularly by morning.

The day after a blow out is usually when the guilt and negative self talk sets in. I was disappointed in myself. I hadn’t meant to over indulge…it sort of crept up on me!! My mood was so low that I found myself ruminating on negative thoughts….. in short i was beating myself up for my behaviour the day before. This isn’t helpful. Instead, acknowledge that you perhaps didn’t stick to you plan, but also acknowledge that this one day doesn’t make you a bad person. There is no reason to be guilty and punish yourself. Instead lift your mood by treating yourself to something you really like to do, maybe its have a massage, a manicure, run a bath and take a magazine to enjoy a whole chunk of you time. Whatever is going to lift your spirits.

Let me know how you get on with the plan…it never fails to make you feel better fast.  Follow this plan and you will undo that over indulgence in no time and find yourself back on track.

Please leave me a comment in the box below, I’d love to hear how you get on.

Are You Stuck in the Sugar Trap?

Sugar Is A Devious Thing.  

It’s not just found in the usual suspects of sweets, chocolates, soft drinks etc. It is naturally occurring in many food groups but it has also insidiously crept into all kinds of everyday food, including breakfast cereals, bread, pasta sauces, stock cubes, yoghurts, and many products masquerading as “healthy,” “low fat” and “natural.”

There is so much Sugar to choose from these days Granulated, Cane Sugar, Honey, Glucose, Fructose, Sucrose, Maltose, Lactose, Maize Syrup, Agave Syrup, Molasses the list of sugars goes on and on. Then of course there is the killer in the pack High Fructose Corn Syrup (often shortened to HFCS on labels).

In the long term, too much sugar in the diet can lead to weight gain and diabetes, but it can be harmful in the short term too. Even moderate regular sugar intake is linked with a host of conditions from brain fog, fungal infections, mood swings, low energy levels, mucous production, inflammation and lowered immunity.

The other problem with Sugar and its various understudies is that it gives you an endorphin rush, which over time becomes very addictive. Also your brain runs on Glycogen and if you don’t give your brain the right fuel then guess what? Your brain actually sends you straight to eat some carbs to replenish its energy levels… but of course you don’t go for a plate of healthy slow release carbs like whole grains or veggies…. Not when you are habituated by Sugar…. You hit the vending machine!

Swapping to Artificial Sweeteners.

You might think that you are ok because you have substituted artificial sweeteners for many sugars in your diet.

Artificial sweeteners were designed to be sugar substitutes as a calorie cutting alternative. These artificial additives mimic the flavor of sugar but with virtually no useful energy. Cancer concerns aside there are numerous reasons why artificial sweeteners are bad for your overall health (I will blog about that one another time) but also very often these sweeteners have a little added sugar for taste.

There Is An Answer.

If your diet has been sugar rich lately, or if you have been feeling tired and run down, chances are you could benefit from a sugar detox. It’s not as hard as it sounds. The trick is to eat the right foods in the first place in order to avoid sugar cravings, balance your blood sugar and then if you would like something sweet, to surround yourself with healthy options.

Below are 3 Steps To Combat Sugar Reliance Now.

  1. Eat more protein with each meal. This balances your blood glucose and creates a slower release of energy to reduce sugar cravings.
  2. Eliminate processed carbohydrates. White carbs turn into glucose far too quickly in the body, resulting in a release of insulin by the pancreas. This leads to blood sugar fluctuations and sugar cravings. Avoid these types of carbs and replace them with whole grains like whole rolled oats, wholegrain basmati rice and quinoa.
  3. Avoid processed foods. These often contain hidden sugars, so if you are really stuck during your detox period and you must use them, make sure you read the labels carefully. Look for anything which ends in “-ose” (such as fructose, glucose, maltose etc etc) as these are just other types of sugar.

Quitting Sugar Can Be Tough

When giving up sugar, the first few days are often the hardest, but gradually your blood sugar will become more balanced, your skin will start to glow, and you will begin to shed a couple of those stubborn pounds. Best of all, your mind will feel clearer and you will discover an abundance of energy you had forgotten was possible.

Need Help Overcoming Your Sugar Habit?

Join us at our Sugar Detox Retreat where our carefully designed programme balances your blood sugar levels, resets your hormones and supports your body and mind to beat this vicious cycle and put you back in control of your health permanently.

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The Danger of Pre Supper Snacking

Do you often arrive home from work feeling so ravenous you could eat a donkey with the saddle on?!?!

If you do then you might find yourself routinely grabbing snacks before you’ve prepared a proper meal in the evening. This isn’t the worst crime in the world of course but if you’re aiming to gain control of your weight and what you’re eating then pre supper snacking can be a real problem.

I can tell you from my own experience that keeping hunger pangs at bay after a long day at work is not easy. In fact, back in the day when I was office bound I even found myself coming home from a day at the office and rummaging through my fridge without even having taken my coat off!

But it doesn’t have to be this way. At The Body Retreat we believe that balance is the key to keeping hunger in check.

Follow our simple tips below and you will soon find yourself in almost zen like control as you open your front door of an evening. Believe me, you will feel a whole lot better for it!

The Hunger Scale

You may already have read or heard about the Hunger Scale but even if you have then it is worth looking at again because it is a really amazing tool. We use it all the time at Weight Loss Retreats because it really helps provide a focus when we’re trying to take back control of what we’re eating.

The Hunger Scale is all about thinking more precisely about how hungry or full you are whenever you eat. It isn’t a magic solution that works wonders overnight but if you use it for a while you are sure to see some very worthwhile benefits. The scale is easier to use on retreat because there’s more time to focus but, if you find a way to use it in everyday life too, then it can make a massive difference to the way you think about and enjoy food.

As you can see below, the Hunger Scale goes from one, which is where you are so physically faint from hunger you could barely lift a fork to your mouth, through to ten which is feeling so full up that you could be sick in a bucket…(yes it really is that gross).

The Hunger Scale

1. Physcially Faint
2. Ravenous
3. Hungry
4. A Little Hungry
5. Neutral
6. Satisfied
7. Full
8. Stuffed
9. Over Faced
10. Sick in a Bucket!

Ideally we want to stay between 4 and 7. When we don’t eat or when we don’t eat well and we allow our blood sugar levels to drop down into the realms of 1,2 and 3, we find ourselves at the mercy of a brain in survival mode.

The Problem with Flagging Blood Sugar

When your blood sugar levels drop low your brain, which always has your very best interest at heart, senses the lack of energy and sends out a very compelling message that it needs high energy sources ASAP.  The result is that your brain will literally send you in search of fast acting carbs that can be easily converted to energy.

Now there is great sugar in a carrot, but, here’s the thing, when you are low down the Hunger Scale you make bad choices.  You open the fridge door, you see the carrots, you see the hummus you see the natural Greek yoghurt, but no.  You need or rather you want starchy CARBS!!!  So you close the fridge and turn to the bread bin…

The problem with eating starchy carbs on an empty stomach

As starchy carbs are quickly converted into glucose you start to feel better, but your body is also producing insulin to convert the glucose either into muscles for energy or into your fat stores.

In large amounts insulin prevents fat burning and stores surplus nutrients in the fat cells. After some time (a few hours or less) this may result in a shortage of nutrients in the blood, creating feelings of hunger and cravings for something sweet. Usually at that point people eat more. This starts the process all over again and that’s why snacking can be such a problem and why the associated cravings are often so hard to control.

In a recent study at Cornell University, students who consumed starchy carbs before or at the very start of a meal ate 47% more calories in their meals than those who ate vegetables or salad.

If this all sounds a little too familiar then you will be pleased to know that there are some very simple steps you can take to break this vicious cycle.

The Body Retreat’s Top Tips for Avoiding Pre Supper Snacking

Avoid having a glass of wine while cooking.

There is no need to come over all Keith Floyd in the midweek kitchen.  Not only is the sugar in the wine converted in exactly the same way as the sugar in the starchy carbs but on an empty stomach you may find yourselves being a little too enthusiastic in tasting the meal as you prepare.  Ever found yourselves saying…. “Mmm, nice” and then having another couple of spoonfuls?  Leave the vino until you are at the table eating.

Drink a glass of warm water and lemon juice instead of wine.

Lemon juice is traditionally understood to support digestive hydrochloric acid in the stomach to aid digestion. This is why in ayruvedic or yogic traditions it is drunk upon waking.  But drinking a glass while you are preparing your meal can also help to take the sting out of your appetite.

Eat a good lunch.

Soup or Salad makes a great lunch

Soup or Salad makes a great lunch

Having a high carb lunch will leave you feeling empty by supper time (see our blog on why sandwiches may damage your waistline).

Having a mid-afternoon snack is a MUST!!

Back to our Hunger Scale.  If you allow your blood sugar levels to drop too low then you will put yourself into the snacking danger zone.  Ideally you should aim to have a small protein based snack midway between lunch and supper.  So if you lunch at 1pm and have supper at around 7.30pm then having a snack around 4.00pm will help to keep your blood sugar levels balanced.

The thing to remember is that no one plan suits everybody, so you need to learn to listen to your own body and eat when you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied.  That way you are respecting your body and giving it the nutrition it needs and deserves.  At The Body Retreat we work with all our clients to create a plan that works for their lifestyle and their goals so that they can build healthy habits that work for them. Our Weight Loss Retreats are based on the principle of balancing blood sugar which combined with the behaviour element of the programme ensure that clients are set up for long term success once they return home.

What are your thoughts and experiences of Pre Supper Snacking?  We would love to hear from you, so please leave us a comment below.

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Helpful Snacking beats the Afternoon Slump

Believe it or not we often have women who join us at The Body Retreat who tell us that we feed them too much!!!

Yes, you did just read the right.

Of course we don’t over feed our guests, but we do feed our guests frequently.  When it comes to not only weight loss but achieving health we believe that blood sugar stabilisation plays a major part.  Not only does this help to balance hormones, reduce cravings but it also makes sure that you have the right amount of energy to do what you want to do.

If you find yourself looking and feeling like our poster girl above then it may be that your blood sugar is out of balance and you have literally run out of energy for your body to get through the next few hours until supper time.  Your brian, thinking that you have slipped into some survival situation will send out very strong message urging you to eat quickly and to eat something that can be quickly converted into energy…so it sends you to the vending machine for some chocolate or to the cafe for a coffee and a muffin.  And guess what you will feel great…for about half an hour, then …whoosh you are right back where you started, feeling drained and tired.

This can seem like such a hard cycle to break but choosing the right foods will make a huge difference to help blood sugar stabilisation.

If you find yourself crashing in the afternoons rethink lunch, ditch the processed carbs at lunch, so forgot the sandwich in favour of a soup or salad.  Pack the  protein into your lunch choice,  this will give you a slower release of energy to keep you going for longer.

Plan to have a mid afternoon snack, lets be honest if you have lunch at 1.00pm and then supper at about 7.00pm thats a long time to go without fuel.  So plan to have a great snack to keep your energy levels stable.  Some of our favourites are listed below.

  • 2 oatcakes with nut butter
  • Bounce Bar ( have you discovered Bounce yet?)
  • Apple with 3 large brazil nuts
  • Celery Stick with a tablespoon of cottage cheese
  • Home made flapjack (not the huge sugar laden ones from the coffee shop!!)
  • 2 tablespoons natural yoghurt with 2 walnuts (chopped and sprinkled on top)  and a squeeze of honey

On all our retreats, whether that be Weight Loss, Fitness Holiday, Detox Retreat or our Stress Reset Retreat achieving balance for both body and mind though good nutrition is a the heart of what we do.

So don’t be too surprised if you join us on retreat of our love of snacks 🙂