The Body Retreat

The Body Retreat

Women Only Weight Loss & Wellbeing Retreats

5 Steps to Quit Your Fizzy Drink Habit

5 Steps to Quit Fizzy Drinks. 

If there is one thing that you should ditch from your regular diet today, this is it.

It’s time to quit fizzy drinks.

When you drink fizzy drinks, you’re ingesting a slurry of controversial chemicals that are messing with your weight, your health, your energy levels, your mood and your life.

If you read my last blog post on 5 Reasons to Quit Fizzy Drinks you’ll know the impact of fizzy drinks.

It is possible to quit fizzy drinks with a minimum of fuss or withdrawal symptoms with this simple plan.

Aim to put this plan into action over a two week period.

The Body Retreats’s 5 Steps to Quit Fizzy Drinks Habits.

  1. WHY?  Start by thinking about why you want to quit fizzy drinks.  This probably sounds like a no brainer, but it is an important step. Depending on how long you have been drinking fizzy drinks, how many you drink a day or week will dictate what your withdrawal will be like and how long it will last…because this is not going to be easy…but it will be so worth it.  Those first few days will be hard and so it will really be helpful for you to keep in mind why you want to quit.
  2. WATER. Next is to up your H20.  Remaining hydrated is really important.  You are probably using fizzy drinks as a way to hydrate and to bolster flagging energy.  So really make a concerted effort to up your daily water intake.  Aim for at least 2 litres of water.
  3. PHASING.  Depending on your fizzy drink habit it might be a good idea for you to begin to phase out your drinks.  Starting by reducing your intake by 50% in the first week and then in the second week reducing by 50% again.  Slow and steady is the way to ensure long term success.
  4. REPLACEMENT.  Have a replacement drink to fill the gaps.  The water you are drinking is to keep you hydrated and giving you energy…but there are going to be times when you will want a long cool refreshing drink.  This is when you will be vulnerable to fall back into your old fizzy drink habit.  Why not try our Citrus Green Tea Cooler as a great replacement.
  5. SLEEP.  Last but not least, for these two weeks make sleep your priority.  The fizzy drinks have perhaps been propping up your energy levels and when you take them out there is going to be a short period when you are feeling a bit pants.  Sleep is going to help you feel a whole lot better.

If you have any experiences, questions or suggestions, feel free to add a comment below. Also please share this replacement plan with your friends and family. Making this change is one of the most important things a fizzy drinks drinker could do for their health.

Do You Have A Healthy Breakfast?

What’s For Breakfast?

I was reading through the Conscious Cooking Blog and it hit me… about 70% of the recipes are for breakfast. Bircher Museli, Power Porridge, Pancakes, Omelette…so many great healthy breakfast ideas. Maybe too many breakfast ideas?

It was then it struck me… that when I reflect on it, breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. I love breakfast. I love that sense of setting yourself up for the day, setting your intention of the type of day you are going to have.

Will it be an “on the go” breakfast, a energy sustaining healthy breakfast, the lazy breakfast, the big celebration breakfast ..or what about that crazy combo …brunch? So many ways to breakfast and yet as a nation breakfast is often the meal we seem to give the least attention to.

You probably know that breakfast comes from the old English term to break fast, but breakfast has not always been a popular meal. Recently it’s a meal that has been completely hijacked by marketing and manufactures.

The History of Breakfast

We used to be a nation that went out to work on an egg or a bowl of porridge oats but that all changed thanks to the Kellogg’s bothers in 1880 and the invention of the Corn Flake. A breakfast that needed no preparation, simply pour and eat. It took a while to catch on but when it did…WOW. Have you been up the cereal aisle in your local supermarket recently!!! Shelves after shelves, rows and rows, every grain imaginable in every shape, favour and even colour!

But cereal is not consumed on its own… no, there are the breakfast accompaniments. As Britain emerged from the post-war years into the economically liberated 1950s, things like toasters, sliced bread, instant coffee, pre-sugared cereals and orange juice invaded the home. Daily Breakfast as we now know it today was manufactured and marketed as the best thing since the bread got its hair cut..

I can honestly say that I cannot remember the last time I had such a breakfast. Cereal, toast, fruit juice… it’s just a sugar crash waiting to happen.

It just doesn’t seem like a sensible or healthy way to set up your day.

Why Choose Breakfast Cereal?

Lack of time is the biggest reason we hear week after week on retreat as to why people are still stuck in the cereal breakfast cycle.

There is no denying that it takes only seconds to open the box, tip into the bowl and cover with milk. Its takes only minutes to consume and then you are ready to go…oh and don’t forget that the cereal is probably fortified with vitamins and minerals. Sounds like a win win doesn’t it?

All those precious moments saved in the morning. But wait… easy come and easy go. Yes this cereal option is an easy hit of fast acting energy that can get you out of the house quickly…but what happens when that fast acting energy is used up.

Energy Rockets 

Like a rocket blasted into space, your blood sugar levels rise quickly after eating this food and you are literally flying ..for about 60 – 90 minutes. Then you start to drop…quickly. Like a rocket with zero fuel you are on a one way track to a crash.

As your energy levels begin to drop so does your cognitive functions, it’s a little harder to concentrate, your thinking slows down slightly, you may become distracted thinking about when you can get your next energy hit. Queue the vending machine or coffee shop. If you do make it to lunch time your energy reserves are so depleted that you are grateful for the carb heavy Meal Deal lunch option (but that’s a whole other blog…read step away from the sandwich here)

I understand that time is precious and that even a few moments saved in the morning can seem the difference between family sanity and a house full of crazy. But just because you are time poor in the mornings doesn’t mean that you need to set yourself up for a bad day.

The Bad Breakfast News

Here’s the headlines… refined carbs and processed cereals are like sugar bombs for the body. The odd one isn’t going to hurt anyone but a steady stream of sugar bombs is declaring war on your health.

You set yourself up for an energy roller coaster that means that you will consume more food over the course of the day, you are consuming high amounts of sugar which is linked to a host of disease and ill health and you are messing with your brain chemistry in setting up reliance and tolerance to sweet foods.

So make another choice… think proteins and good fats. Reduce the sugar content of the breakfast and you set yourself up for a steady release of energy.

The anti cereal healthy breakfast needn’t take a morning to prepare. Below are just some of our favourite breakfast choices, some of which take minutes to prepare and some are prepared the night before.

Top 4 Super Fast Healthy Breakfast Recipes

(clink the link to go through to the Conscious Cooking Blog for the recipe)

On the go breakfast smoothie  On The Go Smoothie

Coconut Bircher Museli   Bircher Museli

From the conscious cooking book   On the Go Fritatas.

Avocado on Toast  Avocado Toast

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.

Sugar And Stress

Sugar & Stress


So which way is it for you?

Do you get stressed and reach for the sugar?


Eat sugar and then feel stressed?


The truth is, it doesn’t really matter which way it goes because bombarding your body with either stress or sugar for extended periods of time, is simply a sure way to sabotage your health, happiness and wellbeing.


For many people caught up in the hamster wheel of working all hours –being stressed and eating fast food of some sort may seem your only option. The fact is that you do have choices. However, first you need to become conscious of how you are thinking and handling certain situations that are making you stressed which in turn is making you crave the sweet stuff.


Sugar and Stress – The Relationship


Blood sugar spikes seriously affect stress and inflammation levels in your body. Spiked blood sugar causes stress in your body, which causes your adrenal glands to produce cortisol. Cortisol manages stress and it also manages blood sugar levels too.

When blood sugar levels change too quickly cortisol is used to pull it back up again. Your blood sugar levels rise as it triggers the release of stored sugars into the blood to help with the energy that you may need when the fight to fight reaction is processed. Unstable blood sugar can make you feel the same as you feel when an event makes you angry, frustrated, frightened, e.g. STRESSED! So… sugar makes your stress response worse.


Even when you can’t control every cause of stress in your world, the simple act of keeping your blood sugar levels stable will make you more resilient, less irritable and better able to handle your sugar cravings.


Our Top Tips for Beating Sugar and Lowering Stress

Start your day off right and balance the relationship between sugar and stress.

  1. Eat a high quality protein fuelled breakfast


Kick Special K out of your kitchen, because those, along with high sugar breakfast foods (bagels, overly sweetened yoghurts) sabotage your blood sugar, your mood, and your waistline. You will function SO MUCH better if you eat a healthy, balanced breakfast.

Stick with high quality protein, eggs, paired with good fat sources such as coconut oil and avocados.


  1. Don’t skip breakfast


Having no food lowers your metabolism. This makes you less able to burn fat for fuel. You will also crave more sugar when the 4pm sugar slump arrives!


  1. Stay away from high amounts of caffeine


Caffeine gives you energy by raising your blood sugar in the same way that sugary food does. Then comes THE CRASH. Drink organic green tea with a slice of lemon instead.


  1. Get active


Anything works: walking, running, yoga, you name it! It helps regulate your blood sugar level too. Insulin sensitivity is increased, which means that your cells are better able to use any available insulin to take up glucose during and after exercising.



What about you?  What links have you found between sugar and stress?  We’d love to hear from you, please leave us a comment in the box below xx



Five Health Foods That Are Actually Sugar Traps

Making healthy food choices is a part of every day but with so many mixed messages on what is healthy its hard to make the right choice.  Often manufactures and marketing companies play up the health properties of their products to make them sexier and sell better.

Research shows that many of the food and drink products we consume every day use up our sugar allowance in one fell swoop while others, which on the face of it appear to be health foods actually exceed the amount of sugar you should have during the entire day.

The World Health Organisation has reported that we are now eating almost 4 times the amount of sugar than our grandparents , much of that sugar is hidden on processed foods.  When fat and is taken out of many foods it is replaced with sugar or artificial sweeteners.  So we find ourselves consuming more sugar than we intend.

Here are our Top Five Health Foods that are actually Sugar Traps.


Low fat and flavoured yoghurt in particular. Yoghurt makes a great addition to our diets, it’s a good source of protein and calcium. But choose wisely as you can find that many yoghurts on the shelves would actually qualify as a pudding rather than healthy snack. Yoghurt has naturally occurring sugars in the form of lactose which gives its own slight sweetness but most have added sugar to really stimulate our taste buds and keep us coming back for more.

Yeo Valley Fat Free Vanilla Yoghurt – serving contains 21gms or 5 tsps of of sugar

By contrast

Rachel Organic Greek Style Yoghurt – serving contains 5gms or 1 tsp of sugar.

When choosing yoghurt always go for organic natural yoghurt and then you can add your own sweetness at home by adding a little raw honey, some fresh fruit or just enjoy plain.



Granola hit the shelves as the prefect healthy antidote to the boxes of sweet flakes that predominate the cereal aisles. Most granolas are based on whole grinas such as oats or rye combined with nuts and seeds they are a nutritionally packed option. But the problem is that on their own oats, seed and nuts taste bland.. they “need” a little sweetness. And so manufacturers add in dried fruits, honey, syrups etc   Most add in natural sugars, but still sugar and often in large amounts.

The Food Doctor Fig & Cranberry Granola – serving contains 9.4gms or 2 tsps sugar

By contrast

Dorset Cereal Simply Nut Granola – serving contains 5.6gms or 1.5 tsp sugar

The best granola you can eat is the one you make yourself at home, but if you are going to buy a branded product then use a half serving and sprinkle on top of some delicious natural organic greek yoghurt for a low sugar high protein start to your day.


Fat Free Foods

So often when trying to achieve a health goal we think that low fat means high health and that just isn’t the case. Natural fat in foods is good, beyond its nutritional benefits it adds flavour, texture and gives you a feeling of satiety. Remove this and you need to add in ingredients to replace these requirements and often that means adding in sugars, sweeteners, sodium, emulsifiers, thinking agents, bulking agents and gums..none of which sounds appetising but in the hands of a clever chemist they can create taste alchemy.

Hellmans Fat Free Salad Dressing – per 100 mls 11gms Sugar

By contrast

Hellmans French Dressing – per 100mls 6gms Sugar


Dried Fruit

From cereal bars to breakfast cereals, fruit winders and gums and of course bags of dried assorted fruits are promoted as being 100% natural. Just because a food is labelled 100% natural doesn’t mean it isn’t loaded with sugar. When fruit is dried the water is removed and so concentrating the natural sweetness making them very delicious perhaps dangerously so. The problem here is portion size, you may eat one or two whole apricots but be able to eat 5 or 6 dried apricots.

Fresh Apricot – Serving contains 3.5gms or just under 1 tsp sugar

By contrast

Dried Apricots – Serving contains 13gms or 3.5 tsp sugar

The key here is moderation, dried fruit is a great addition to a healthy diet but the first rule of fruit is to eat 1 – 2 portions of fresh seasonal fruit so that you are consuming the fibre along with the sugar and have dried fruit only 1 -2 times per week.


Health Bars

Often considered a better alternative to a chocolate bar when it comes to a snack choice. These bars seem to actively promote health, labesl whole grain, 100% natural,..even at times 25% less sugar all adding to the myth of being the optimum health. Similar to the granola the mix of whole grains, nuts and seeds is a great basis for a snack but it’s the sugars that make it taste good and that is what we want in a snack. Enjoy these snacks in moderation but don’t be fooled into thinking you are eating a low sugar snack

Eat Natural Brazil Bar – serving contains 20gms or 5 tsp sugar

By contrast

Snickers Chocolate Bar – serving contains 20 gms or 5 tsp sugar

What health foods have you found that wasn’t good for your waist line or health? Leave us a comment below.