Sugar

How sweet is your sugar?

Hi everyone,

Next up in the sugar mini-masterclass we are comparing the various sugars I’ve been discussing over the past few posts (if you’ve missed any you can catch up here because sadly not all sugars are built the same.

They all have varying levels of sweetness and when ranked against one another you can start to see how out of control sugar habits can get when we consume the same volumes of sugars which have different levels of sweetness. Our taste buds become acclimatised and we start to want and crave more and more, which before you know it can get a liiiiiiitle out of control.

Continue reading “How sweet is your sugar?”

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Sugar

WTF are sugar alcohols?

Hi everyone,

It feels like ages since I blogged but in reality a couple of weeks off from Big Job to study (and take exams) and a trip to Lisbon were just what the doctor ordered.

Now I’m back let’s jump straight back into the world of sugar.  Today I’m turning the focus on a couple of other sugars that you may have heard of – and are starting to get wider use and exposure in the health and wellbeing arena – but aren’t necessary the best alternatives to sugar.

Continue reading “WTF are sugar alcohols?”

Self development

Gone fishing…

Hi everyone,

This week there will be a break from regular posts as I’m taking a little holiday to Lisbon. It’s much needed after a few weeks of intense Biology exams and essays.

I’ll be back next Sunday with the next post in the series of my sugar mini-masterclass.

If you can’t wait that long I’ll be posting over on my Instagram account – expect lots of food and beach photos. Until then, have a great week all.

Katie x

Sugar

Sugar masterclass part 2: processed and refined sugars

Hi everyone,

Following on from the first post in my sugar masterclass series last week, this week we are talking about refined sugars i.e. those sugars that are processed (whether naturally occurring or not).  These are the kinds of sugars that have seen a huge rise in popularity recently and you may or may not have heard of all or most of them but I can guarantee you’ve probably eaten most of them (whether knowingly or not).

I’ll do a quick post on sugar alcohols and alternative sweeteners such as Maltodexrose and Aspartame (sound scary but they’re not once you break it down.  They’re just bad for your health) on Wednesday, along with a ‘how sweet are these’ scale to help you gauge an idea of how much sugar we are really eating but for now let’s get started on the most common refined or processed sugars you may encounter on a daily basis.

In alphabetical order, here we go…


Continue reading “Sugar masterclass part 2: processed and refined sugars”

Sugar

Sugar: a mini series!

Ok people, it’s time to tackle a thorny issue:  Sugar.  I am pretty clued up about the subject and could talk about it for hours (as some of my friends and family can attest to this) but I realise that not everyone is as informed as they could be.  And I understand it’s because the majority of messages out there in the media are confusing, but it’s also because some of you genuinely don’t have the time (or inclination) to undertake the research about sugar, especially when opinions on food seems to flip flop from one week to another.

Luckily for you over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing a series of posts with you which will hopefully break down some common misconceptions and beliefs about sugar, arming you with the information you need to make the best choices for you.  Health and diet is a personal choice and I personally believe all about balance. I’m certainly not going to tell you to never eat a cake or a doughnut again but I do think if you’re prepped with the right information about sugar you can consume treats mindfully and carefully.  Let me say it again, there’s always room for cake in life.

In this first post I’m going to give you an overview about the sugar family and in the rest of the series I’ll also be covering topics such as processed sugars, where sugar is found (or more likely hiding) in your food, how to consume it mindfully, how you can cut down, how to cope when you cut down, some resources to help support you and finally some low sugar sweet treats to show you that it’s not all doom and gloom without the white stuff.

Continue reading “Sugar: a mini series!”

Favourites

(Very late) August favourites

Following on from my July Non Foodie Favourites post here I thought I’d start a series of regular monthly favourites post.  Those who know me IRL (in real life) know that when I find something I love I can’t help but talk about it.  So I wanted to extend that to this space and hopefully share with others who aren’t in my immediate friends and family but would be interested in maybe trying something new.

First up this month, you will not be surprised to learn, is a book.  I finished reading Brené Brown’s The Gifts Of Imperfection last month and started on ‘A Pukka Life’ by Sebastian Pole, the founder of Pukka Herbs.  For those who aren’t aware of the brand Sebastian and his business partner Tim Westwell founded the company in 2001 and they do a huge range of organic herbal teas and supplements.  Sebastian is a qualified herbalist and follows traditional ayurvadic practices with his clients.

Continue reading “(Very late) August favourites”

Food hacks, Tips and tricks

Falling off the wagon

If you’re anything like me then your eating will go in cycles which range from the extremely ‘good’ i.e. lots of fresh fruit, veggies, and the like versus the extremely ‘bad’ which consists of burgers and fries, pizza and ice cream on an almost daily rotation.  Most of the time I’m ok but I’ve noticed that recently I’ve started to let my good habits slip and I don’t feel too great for it.

Now you know I’m all about balance.  I firmly believe that life is too short to deprive ourselves and I’m completely against the idea of cutting out entire foods or food groups (unless it’s for a specific reason like an intolerance). You’ll never hear me say ‘never eat desert again’ and I’m certainly still an advocate for a really great burger; so what happens when you can’t seem to master the art of moderation?

Well, today I wanted to talk about just that – falling off the wagon and what you can do to get back on.

Ok, so your healthy eating regime has slipped and you’re starting to feel like sh*t?  That’s ok, you’re human & it’s not the end of the world. I’ve been there too. In fact, I’m just coming out of one of those unhealthy eating cycles recently (which prompted me to write this post).  It’s almost like I have eaten so much rubbish recently that my body cries out for veggies. Sound familiar?  Yeah, I hear you.

Now I don’t know about you but I find the hardest thing is trying to crawl my way out of the unhealthy cycle.  Because the more rubbish you eat, the more you want it.  I even start to consider chocolate for breakfast – no, seriously I do.

I’ve started to notice though, each time I slip back into the bad habits there are always a number of things I come back to which help me to recalibrate and get back on track until one day, I chose salad over fries and just like that the healthy eating is back on the up.


First off I go easy on myself.  I know this sounds cheesy but having that initial ‘I recognise that my diet isn’t where I want it to be but I’m going to make an effort to make better choices’ conversation with myself helps to set an intention and genuinely makes me think twice the next time I reach for food.  Let me be clear, it doesn’t always stop me but when I go in for the bad stuff it’s then a conscious choice rather than a mindless nose dive into the biscuit tin.  Try it, see if the little pep talk doesn’t shift your point of view even ever so slightly.

Second up: Moderation, moderation, moderation.  Easy to say but harder to do.  To try and get back into balance I start off really small.  Acknowledging that it’s going to take a week or so to get back into a better place with food and making one small change per day makes it so much more achievable.  Because if you go fully restrictive and ban all sugar, caffeine, alcohol and unhealthy food in one go you’ll last all of a day before you’re miserable and go heading for the first kebab you can find.  

The more ‘virtuous’ I try to be the least likely I am to stick to it.  It’s better to try and cut out one extra glass of wine that week, or stop yourself from having one less doughnut that day than banning everything in one day.  Being gentle and kind to yourself in this way is much more effective and will lead to long term moderation overall.  Plus, it’s easier to tell yourself you’re going to eat one less set of biscuits with your tea rather than ‘I MUST eat at least 9 portions of veggies today and NO biscuits, NO treats and NO wine’. That’s just a recipe for no fun.


Next up is an easy one: out of sight, out of mind.  I find that if I buy rubbish food and it’s in the house, even if I’m not hungry I’ll gravitate towards it like I’m caught in a trackter beam.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s kettle chips, chocolate, chocolate biscuits or jelly sweets. If it’s there, it’s going in my belly.  Similarly at work, if someone brings in treats (and we seem to be a team of perpetual cake eaters, there is *always* something on offer) the minute I have one cake/ biscuit/ mini flapjack it’s all I can think about for the rest of the day.  So a really quick and easy trick for me is to either get the treats out of sight or to throw it away. You know I despise food waste so ideally you’d donate your unwanted treats to family, colleagues or even neighbours.  Unopened items can even go to food banks which will welcome the donation.  I can’t eat something I can’t see – and if I can’t see it I won’t crave it.

Which leads me on nicely to my favourite: the ‘add-in principle’.  Put simply it’s where you crowd the bad stuff out with the good stuff.  Instead of thinking ‘oh I can’t have that packet of sweets/ cake/shortbread’ try to add IN healthier fats and protein in to your existing meals so that  you feel fuller for longer and therefore are less likely to want to snack on something unhealthy.  For example, try adding in some extra nuts to your breakfast in the morning (a small handful, don’t go crazy, this is just a short term measure to get you over the hump), or an extra dollop of yoghurt.  Or at lunchtime try adding in half an avocado to your salad, or add some hummus to your plate. Adding in the odd healthy item to each meal won’t feel like an arduous task but you’ll soon notice that you won’t be craving the sweets and treats as much, if at all.  This also works well when you’re in the grip of a craving and can’t think of anything else.  In these instances I reach for a healthy snack first (yoghurt and berries, hard boiled egg and spinach or a handful of roasted chickpeas) first and then if the craving remains or resurfaces then I can chose to eat something less than virtuous and eat it mindfully rather than because I’m about to go over the edge if I don’t have chocolate now, now, now.

Lastly, be prepared!  I find that by slowly getting in to cooking again I start to get my meal prep and planning mojo back, which in turn leads to leftovers and voila instant healthy lunches.  As with the moderation point above, sometimes just cooking one meal with enough for leftovers the next day is enough to jolt me out of an unhealthy rut.  Go slowly and don’t put pressure on yourself to cook a week’s worth of meals, just do one.  In the same vein, pack one snack in your bag or pack one tea or coffee to go rather than buy one on the go.  These small actions (if taken one by one) won’t feel overwhelming but will gradually get you back in to healthy habits.


By incorporating a few of the above tweaks after about a week or so I start to notice that my unhealthy habits start to tip back into healthy ones.  It takes time, so don’t pressure yourself to change your diet overnight, but with small consistent efforts you’ll start to see these small changes add up to big ones.

Before I sign off completely remember that drinking lots helps too.  I reach for peppermint tea (or the Pukka detox herbal teas) when I’m about to make a bad food choice.  Having a drink makes me stop and think about whether I genuinely want to eat that burger/ cake/ cookie and also helps to fill me up – plus, I think peppermint tea is the best.  The act of taking 20 minutes for a cup of tea might make the difference between a healthy choice or an unhealthy one.

Remember to be consistent, be kind on yourself and be patient. You’ll get there.  And even if you fall off the wagon again, it’s ok; it’s all part of the journey.  Get back up and try again, your body won’t judge you – and neither will I.

Food hacks, Uncategorized

Quick and easy make ahead breakfasts

When I wake up in the morning one of the first things I think about is what to eat.  Which is great if it’s a weekend because I have the time to make something delicious like breakfast burritos, pancakes or French toast and omelettes.  I’ve even been known to have multiple courses (croissants then toast followed by a fry up since you ask) but during the week I simply don’t have time for all that.

Most weekdays I roughly leave myself 30 minutes between my alarm going off and getting out the door to drive to the train station.  This is easily done as my clothes are sorted the night before, my work bag is packed and my food is in the fridge ready to go.

But being quick doesn’t mean I want to compromise on taste or flavour. I want the best of both worlds – and don’t even think about suggesting those instant oat sachets that are stuffed with sugar and other nasties.  They give the illusion of being quick and easy but in reality, they’re junky and you could cook regular oats in the same time (eye roll).

The good news is that there lots of different breakfast options you can make in advance which will take you minimal preparation time, taste amazing and you can simply grab and go during the week.

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Career journey

Study update – two months in

Hi everyone,

Can you believe I’m already writing a two month study update? No, neither can I.  The time has really flown, although strangely at the same time I also don’t feel like I have done anything. Although my exam results tell a different story…

Since my last post here I’ve finished the Chemistry section of my course and have moved on to the Biology part, which I must admit is much more in my comfort zone.  I’ve always told myself ‘I’m not a ‘science’ person’ (whatever that means) and that I wasn’t good at Chemistry so imagine my surprise when the results came back in and low and behold, I scored an A*.  I know.

Continue reading “Study update – two months in”

Food hacks

Quick, easy and cheap low sugar snacks

Hi guys, how is your week going?  I’ve been in the healthy eating flow recently and following off the back of my post here on easy ways to reduce your sugar intake I thought I’d share some examples of smart swaps you can make when you’re stuck for a snack and don’t know what to eat.

There are loads of quick and easy options (whether you DIY it or buy them from a shop) to avoid eating on junky sugary foods that will make you feel crappy in the short term.

I’m going to do a post shortly on where sugar hides in food, to help you avoid falling in to the sugar traps because it’s so easy.  I consider myself quite clued up on the subject but the other day I was in a rush and picked up a ‘protein’ yoghurt without reading the label properly and low and behold it had over four teaspoons of sugar in it.  Total fail on my part. 

So if you’re interested in some quick, easy and cheap snack options which will fill you up and stop your sugar cravings read on…

Continue reading “Quick, easy and cheap low sugar snacks”