The Body Retreat

The Body Retreat

Women Only Weight Loss & Wellbeing Retreats

The Invisible Damage Sugar Causes

The Real Worry About The Damage Sugar Causes To Health & Wellbeing

One of the most obvious signs that high sugar consumption is causing damage to health is excessive weight gain but the damaging effects of sugar are not always visible,..yes over consumption of sugar can make you gain weight but most of the damage is happening internal, increased inflammation, diabetes, impaired mental function, imbalanced energy or mood.  This is long and growing as we learn more about just how damaging sugar can be.

This is borne out in the women who join us on the Sugar Detox Retreat over half the women who join us are not particularly overweight. They come because their energy levels are unstable and they have been propping themselves up with carbs and coffee and know that cant last.  Or they are concerned about the lack of control they have around certain foods, usually simple sugars or processed carb based foods.  They want to regain control.

The key interest for us here at The Body Retreat about the impact of sugar was firstly as a clinical hypnotherapist and women’s wellness coach I was fascinated by the effect of sugar on the brain, in particular the reward centres of the brain and how this in turn leads to over eating and ill health.

Sugar behaves in the same way as alcohol, drugs even gambling and sex…sugar fires off the reward centre of the brain which we know with repeated reinforcement can become compulsive addictive behaviour.

We are programmed to enjoy sweet foods and to dislike bitter foods…this is an evolutionary protection that meant that when foraging we would be less likely to eat anything poisonous.  So we are born with a sweet tooth…. but when you mix and sweet tooth with reinforced reward at a cellular level in a society when sweet stuff is available 24/7 and for a fraction of the cost of whole foods then its trouble.

What we have found is that it is exactly the addictive nature of sugar that makes it so hard to kick…even if you want to.

Lets say you cut out bread and cakes..they are famously sugar laden…so instead you eat Rye Crackers and Fruit Salad.

Except that its just sugar again in a different form.

Your sweet tooth will find a way to sate itself… but you feel that you are doing something good.

But actually this may prove to be more harmful because now you are over consuming “healthy” invisible sugars… Disaster.

Or even worse you buy the sugar free alternative so you can keep the great sweet taste with no sugar…. so now you are consuming artificial sweeteners, they may be zero calorie but that doesn’t mean they are a good sugar alternative.  Your brans still registers the sweet taste and so your pancreas is tricked into releasing insulin, and the sweet taste also means that you are keeping your sweet tooth artificially heightened…actually making your crave more sugar in the long run ( the hormone leptin is released in response to the sweet tastes, but when the calories don’t come the level is not sufficient to make you switch off eating as you would with whole foods)

What we have found at our Sugar Detox Retreat is that we remove up to 80 of all sugar…so thats fruit, starchy veg, dairy, grains.  The reason is firstly to reset the taste buds.  This means at the end of the week as you start to reintroduce real whole foods with natural sugars …say an apple..it will taste off the scale sweet..this happens time and time again.

We are also looking at rebalancing leptin levels by having a diet that is high in good quality proteins, fats and fibre..the fill you up foods.

By the end of just one week appetites are rebalanced and energy levels are stable.

Next up its looking at the brain and finding new ways to manage the reward pathways… nature hates a vacuum if you just remove the reward you will feel depressed, anxious and very likely to relapse. so we look at tangible ways to fill that gap.

Just this week I watched a video of a health professional claiming that sugar is not addictive…it only creates addictive behaviours…I’ll leave you to think about that one.  They suggested that you simply replace the reward with something else that makes you feel good…a hug from a loved one or some breathing exercises!!  Obviously they have never really experienced the pull of sugar addiction when you would sell a kidney to get your hands on some thing to give you that lift.

Sugar is complicated.  It comes in so many forms.  So even when you think you are eating clean you may still be unwittingly creating problems for yourself.

You Should Be Planning Your Spring Clean Detox Now

Spring cleaning is often a term that applies to the big house clean we like to do around this time of year, but the technique can also be so easily applied to spring cleaning our own bodies.

Traditionally this is the time of year when my thoughts turn to spring cleaning.  Its a time to get rid of the heavy feeling of winter, clear away the cobwebs and prepare for the hope of warmer weather… that will show its face (eventually!!)

I love a good spring clean, it feels so good to clean out from top to bottom, you feel in control, and really quite virtuous. In fact I just spent the weekend spring cleaning my office in preparation for the new year.

Over the winter months you may have started to hibernate, stocked up on heavy rich foods, indulged in a little more treats than usual.  Winter may literally be weighing you down.  Don’t wait until its summer time and you find yourself “suddenly” faced with an uphill struggle to regain your body, health and fitness.. Act Now and you will breeze thorough spring


The body already is detoxing all the time, it has to.

Your inbuilt cleaning system is dealing with toxins every day.

Toxins are everywhere, our bodies are bombarded by them, in the air you breath, the food and drink you consume the products you use around the home and even on your body.

Under natural circumstances, the body is able to eliminate many of these toxic substances, however if your system is out of balance then the bodies ability to do this can become compromised.

Signs You Need to Detox Now:

  • Dry, botchy skin
  • Outbreaks of spots
  • Headaches
  • Fungal infections
  • IBS symptoms (eg bloating, constipation, flatulence)
  • Lack of energy, but poor quality sleep at night
  • General feeling of heaviness
  • Super cravings for sugar or carbs
  • Super strong cravings for sugar or carbs

How to Detox Safely

Detoxing is safe, effective way of supporting your bodes ability to heal itself.

But… and there is a big BUT… we are not advocating quick fix juice only detox plans, those which suggest you eat nothing at all, but drink juices. In our opinion this is not a way to support your system and can actually decrease your energy levels.  Any detox plan you choose to follow should not be too low in calories, it should be nutrient rich and have a varied meal plan.

Detoxing is a way of giving your body a new start. A safe detox combined with a gentle exercise programme and tools to support a positive attitude towards life gives a fabulous boost to everyone.

At The Body Retreat our Sugar Detox Retreat is designed to provide the tools, resources and environment to make detoxing not only, simple and safe but also a real pleasure.

Our Detox Programme incorporates healthy nutritious but light meals. The purpose of the plan is to reduce the load on your digestive system while at the same time flood your system with enzymes, vitamins and minerals in an easily digestible form. While at the same time its an opportunity to rid yourself of the sugar habit you may have been struggling with, whether that be bread, soft drinks, wine, ketchup or even fruit.

When you are detoxing you do not want to redirect your bodies energy into high intensity exercise, that just makes you feel wrung out but increasing your activity levels will support the detox process as well as provide you with a mental lift.  So it is a great time to explore low intensity exercise, Pilates, yoga, nordic walking, swimming are all great options.

The body detox is only half of the equation.  This is also a fantastic opportunity to detox your mind, to lose the internal negative chatter or toxic emotions that may be keeping you stuck in situations that are not healthy for you.

On our Sugar Detox Retreat we use NLP along with relaxation techniques and guided visualisations to help overcome any mental obstacles that may have held you back in the past and help you to refocus on new positive goals.

When body and mind are detoxed you feel lighter, brighter, clearer ad re-energised ready to embrace life. At our Sugar Detox Retreat there is the added benefit of around 6lbs weight loss which gives a great confidence boost as you start to look forward to first signs of spring and the opportunity to shed your winter layers.

Want to try a detox plan at home?

Top Tips  For Spring Clean Detox.

  • It will come as no surprise that increasing your water intake is No1 on the list.  Aim to drink at least 1.5 litres per day
  • Start your day with the juice of half a lemon with hot water to give your liver a boost.
  • Get into the habit of dry skin brushing daily, it will take a bit of time to begin with but you will soon find a rhythm and you will be amazed at the difference in your skin tone.
  • Cut out Caffeine, Dairy, Meat, Carbs from your diet.  Your meal plans should be 80% veggie based, go organic and local where possible.
  • Go Green… green veggies are packed with  chlorophyll helps flush out environmental toxins.
  • Garlic in almost everything, it activates liver enzymes that help filter out wastes. Counteract the garlic by eating lost of parsley, which also happens to be a great detoxifier 😉
  • Keep the good fats in, Avocado, rapeseed oil, seeds and nuts all in small quantities
  • Get into the fresh air for at least 15 mins every day and breath fully and deeply
  • Spend at least 5 mins every day in quite contemplation or practice mindfulness
  • Get your hands on The Detox Plan by Jane Alexander, this great book will take you through a weekend or month long safe detox programme


Why our Detox Retreat Isn’t Really a Detox!!

We are currently on the last day of our Sugar Detox Retreat and in conversation around the breakfast table we were chatting about the retreat and one lady said that our detox retreat isn’t really a detox retreat. Come Again?? I nearly fell of my chair!

The Oxford English dictionary defines “Detox” as Abstain from or rid the body of toxic or unhealthy substances.

Isn’t that what we are doing here at The Body Retreat’s Detox??????

Then conversation became clearer… Having spent some time looking for a retreat many of the ladies had seen the same old detox blurb time and time again. Eat little, move less, have a few treatments then home.

What Makes a Detox Retreat a Detox Retreat?

When you think of a detox retreat what comes to mind?

Well probably a few things, depending on whether you have ever been on a detox retreat or not, but there may well be a few common threads…

Juice fasting, raw foods, herbs & supplements, yoga, mediation, lounging around in fluffy robes and perhaps even colonic irrigation or other holistic detox treatments.

On the whole this is a pretty fair overview of many detox retreats at the moment. Based on the principle that the body needs to be cleaned from the inside out, purging the body of toxic overloads that have built up from your sloppy modern lifestyle, detox retreats promise your leaving with your insides squeaky clean and everything working just as its should do.

Here’s the thing, your body comes fully prepared to detox itself …without outside intervention. Your kidneys, liver, lungs and skin are all part of your body’s waste management system, ensuring that you don’t end up in need of serious medical attention

So why do so many people claim to feel better after a detox? It may be due in part to the fact that a detox diet eliminates highly processed foods. Avoiding these high-calorie low-nutrition foods for a few days may be part of why people feel better.

Aren’t you simply making the case NOT to go to a Detox Retreat at all?

Yes and No.

Don’t go to a detox retreat expecting to be some how fixed in a few short days. It’s not the days on retreat that make the improvement in your health, but rather what you do when you return home.

Really think about what you want to achieve from your time at retreat, weight loss, kick start a new healthy eating programme or perhaps you are just looking for a break away from a hectic lifestyle?

Make sure your retreat will suit your goal.

Why Our Detox Retreat is different.

Thinking back to the common threads of detox retreats what about The Body Retreat?

Well at The Body Retreat we do have juices…but only once a day. Every afternoon we have a greens juice as it’s a great way to really blast your system with vitamins, mineral and antioxidants in a format that is really easy to digest. Juices never take the place of real clean whole foods. Yes, we agree that it can be useful to lighten the digestive load from time to time, allow your body to play catch up without overloading it with rubbish or hard to digest foods. To that end there are also some raw food dishes during the week long retreat, but as part of balanced meal plan and not the main staple of the retreat.

We also have yoga during the week, but as part of a varied exercise and activity programme. A very important part of supporting your body’s natural waste management system is movement. Movement increases circulation and lymph drainage. If you are existing on a very low calorie diet of juices then the chances are you don’t have the energy to move very much or very far. In fact to do so would be counter productive to your health as you could find yourself cannibalising muscle to give you the energy you need. At The Body Retreat we have a programme that includes walking, swimming, yoga and toning classes.

There are no colonics or enemas at The Body Retreat. We are not anti-colonic ourselves, but we feel that the decision to have a colonic is one that should not be taken lightly and should be undertaken with the support of a professional. Hosepipes and buckets and a “give it a go” approach are not for us.

Our Detox has a pretty specific purpose…its all about Sugar. Or rather it’s all about getting free from the clutches of sugar. Sugar is endemic in our food these days, hidden in the most obscure places from sausages to hummus, combine this with the over availability of sweet treats, soft drinks and processed foods and you really do have a health time bomb. Of course not all sugar is in the crap we know we should be eating less of, you can over consume sugar in an attempt to be healthy, eating too many high sugar fruits, dried fruits, smoothies even starchy veggies can all add up to a high sugar intake. Quitting sugar is hard, so our retreat is an opportunity to begin the process of detoxing the sugar from your body while at the same time detoxing your mind of the cravings, triggers and self sabotaging thoughts that can lead to over consumption of the sweet stuff.

Oh and course there are robes to lounge in, if lounging is your thing. R&R is an important part of every Body Retreat not just the Detox Retreat, so there is time every day to sleep, curl up on the sofa and read, hit the hot tub or pool, whatever your R&R is.

But the real difference with The Body Retreat’s detox is that it is not designed to be a quick fix. Yes, you will lose pounds and inches on the week, but that is only the start of the real result. You leave us with a four week at home programme that helps you to maximise your result. Having felt for yourself how your body feels eating clean whole foods, how your energy levels rebalance, how your skin tone and hair condition can have improved, you may even see improvement in some chronic conditions like reflux, eczema, IBS etc So it feels natural to want to carry on choosing to eat, move and behaviour in much the same way at home.

So there you have it…The Body Retreat’s Detox Retreat. Are we a Detox Retreat? Or might we be something more……

Ready For A Sugar Shock?

We have known for a long time that a diet that is high in processed food and refined sugar is bad for your waistline. We know now that beyond the superficial concerns about a spare tyre that sugar consumption is also linked to a host of health concerns from heart diseases, diabetes, stroke and even blindness.

Sweet treats and products made with refined sugars are not just bad for your waistline and health… sugar directly contributes to wrinkles, age spots, blemishes, lack lustre skin and cellulite!

Sugar is a major cause of AGE – Advanced Glycation End Products- which form in the body when excess sugars connect proteins, including collagen and elastin in your skin into stiff rigid bonds. The result is that your skin begins to wrinkle, sag and thin, they damage blood vessels and create free radicals and inflammation in the body…making you look and feel older than your years.

The bottom line is that Sugar is bad for your skin. Sugar steals nutrients and hydration from your skin, suppresses your immune system, feeds bad bacteria and curbs the ant aging hormones in your body. You may enjoy eating that ready meal, slice of cake or soft drink …but they are causing you long term damage, inside and out.

The only way to stop this vicious cycle is to kick your sugar habit.

Remember that sugar isn’t just the white stuff that is added to tea & coffee, nor is it resigned to sweet treats and soft drinks.  Its is entirely possible to be a sugar addict while eating a diet that is high is fruit, vegetables and grains.

On our Sugar Detox Retreat we work on Removing the Hidden Sugar, Reducing the Elective Sugars and Re-Thinking the Natural Sugars.  With a focus on health, wellness and beauty from the inside out.  You not only see the difference on the scales but you can also see the difference in your face.  You skin begins to glow, your eyes shine bright and you hair will look and feel luxurious.

Call me shallow but if there were ever single reason to cut sugar then taking years off your face is a pretty good one 🙂

Tame Your Sugar Monster in Just 3 Steps

It is estimated that we now consume about 1Kg of sugar every day!  That’s around 35 teaspoons of sugar a day.

Seem like a lot?  Well actually it’s very easy to consume this and a whole lot more.

Here’s a confession…

I’m a bone fide Sugar Addict!!

I have a real sweat tooth, always have, since I was a little girl.  It’s little wonder, being brought up by an Irish grandmother there was a pudding after almost every meal, even if that was just a piece of fruit.  Then there were the sweet rewards for doing well at school, the sweet treats to celebrate high days and holidays…sweet..sweet …sweet.

As I grew into a young woman and had my own money to spend I continued the sweet treat behaviour.  By the time I was in my 30’s I was a fully fledged sugar addict.

Of course I’ve been around the diet block… I know only too well the pain and drama of the yo yo diet roller coaster.  My weight went up and my weight went down, but one thing still remained constant.  My sweet tooth!

Actually more than that..my reliance on sugar.  Cereal and sweet tea to get me going in the morning, a little something sweet mid morning, a sandwich meal deal for lunch, another little something to help me beat the afternoon slump and keep me from falling asleep at my desk, pasta for supper and of course a little something sweet to finish the meal.  My whole diet was pretty much all based on sugar in some form. I always had some sugar craving.

Something had to change. I had to get a hold of the sugar in my diet.  Beyond my little daily sweet treats, I didn’t think there was much sugar in my diet. Boy was I wrong! My Sugar Monster had a strong hold on me.

Sugar is Just Sugar isn’t it?

Its the stuff in the sugar bowl, in the chocolates, in the soft drinks. That was the sugar I needed to cut down.

Well NO.

Sugar Explained

There are many sources of sugar in our diets, some we may not even have considered as sugar before.

First there are the Natural Sugars. Sugars contained in fruits, vegetables, dairy produce and complex carbohydrates. These Natural Sugars are slower to be absorbed by your body and are a great source of natural energy.

Then we have Elective Sugars. As the name suggests these are the additional sugars you choose to add into your diet. Often in the form of sweets, chocolate, soft drinks, jam on your toast or sugar added to beverages.

Finally we have Hidden Sugars. This is probably the most dangerous of sugars…this is sugar that has been added to everyday foods like yoghurts, bread, sausages, pasta sauce etc etc to make it taste better.  The reason this type of sugar is so dangerous is that because it is hidden it can be hard to calculate how much you are eating and even harder to cut from your diet.

Not all sugar is bad, BUT, we must relearn to consume sugar in moderation. This can be hard as our taste buds have become some accustomed to tasting sweetness in almost every food that we eat.

Taste Buds Corrupted by Sugar.

Quite frankly life is too short to not have a little sweetness in it. But there is no denying that we have become a nation of Sugar Lovers.

Our taste buds have changed, for example we have become used to the sweetness of canned tomato soup, so that now a real tomato tastes bland. We are used to the sweetness of soft drinks that plain water tastes insipid and natural yoghurt is so boring with nothing to tip onto the top or discover at the bottom. You can see how this begins to escalate frighteningly quickly.

Sugar, Sugar, Sugar!

Do you remember a time when you tasted the first strawberry of summer and it tasted divinely sweet? That’s when your taste buds were uncorrupted by Sugar.

The Body Retreat’s 3 Step Plan 

At The Body Retreat we recommend the following 3 step plan to start to reclaim control of your sugar habit, break that sugar addiction for good.


Remove the Hidden Sugar, Reduce the Elective Sugar and Re-Think your Natural Sugar Consumption.

First and very importantly. Remove the Hidden Sugar.

Start to get label savvy… read the labels of the foods you consume most often. You can only avoid it if you are looking for it. Look for sugar in all its guises.  It may not be listed as just sugar, look for cane juice, brown rice syrup, agave syrup, fructose, maltose..in fact look for all the “tose’s”.  You probably already know that the ingredients are listed in order of amount, so you don’t want to see sugar in any form too high up the list of ingredients…or to many times.  Once you are savvy with your labels begin to cut out those dishes or foods with lots of added sugar.

Reduce the Elective Sugar.

Be honest, how much sugar are you adding into your daily diet?  Are there sweet treats, soft drinks, sugar in your tea.  Begin over the next week to make a concise effort to simply reduce this little by little through the week.

Re-Think Your Natural Sugar Consumption.

If you have a sweet tooth, don’t simply replace sweets and treats for fruits and other natural sugars.  You can still overcome sugar through natural foods.  For example a glass of orange juice can around 28gm of sugar, to put that into context, a can of coke has 40gm, not as much difference as you may have thought.  When you have fruits, starchy veg, cereals, grains etc…remember that they are a form of sugar so re-think the amount of these food that make up your daily diet.

Now, you might be tempted to think that you can bypass this process and simply swap your sugars for artificial sweeteners…well no. Thats a whole other unhelathy can of worms and I’m going to get into that in the next post,  Sugar Alternatives, the Good, the Bad and the Down Right Ugly!

If you want to find out more about how you can quit sugar then why not download our free 5 Day Sugar Detox Programme.

p.s We love questions here at The Body Retreat and to us there is no such thing as silly question.  So if you have a question about this post or about quitting sugar in general then please pop it in the box below.