The Holistic Pharmacist Blog

  • 5 ways to stop the sugar cravings!

    5 ways to stop the sugar cravings!

    What's the deal with sugar?

    When we talk about sugar let's clear up which sugars we’re talking about, because not all sugar is equal. 

    Firstly, naturally occurring sugars in foods are those found in fruits, vegetables and raw sugars (such as maple syrup, agave etc).  These sugars are essentially unprocessed, which means they’ve not been meddled with.  They're fine for us to consume, but not in large quantities.  Like all the six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent and pungent) we should have sweet in low to moderate amounts. 

    Processed sugars are usually the ones we find in packaged goods, these are highly processed and are often included to make foods more palatable and to encourage us to eat more of them.  There are hundreds of different names for these from the obvious ones like fructose, glucose to the not so obvious ones like rice syrup, sorghum, evaporate cane juice!

    That said, we shouldn’t be avoiding sweet altogether, but simply bringing awareness to where you are finding sugar in your foods and considering whether it is too much and how it’s affecting your health.

    Sugar and body types

    Some of us can take more sugar than others, yes, it's true some of us can take more sugar than others. For example according to Ayurvedic principles those with a Kapha (earth & water) based constitution should be more mindful of their sugar intake compared to the other constitutions as they are most prone to weight gain.  Someone who is Vata (air and space/ether) can take the most amount of sugar but having said that, none of us should be relying on our body type to dictate how much sugar to consume.  And, more importantly the majority of modern convenience foods contain way too much sugar so basically we're all starting from sugar overload meaning we could all do with reducing it.

    Why is sugar bad for our health?

    Well, sugar as well as frequent eating, affects insulin a key hormone realised whenever we eat.  Insulin helps our cells take up energy in the form of sugar from our blood stream into our cells.  However, sustained exposure to sugar results in too much insulin being released which over time causes insulin resistance.  If unresolved, it’s insulin resistance that results in weight gain and in the long-term can result in diabetes.   

    How much is too much?

    According to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey published by Public Health England, using figures collated between 2014-2016 most of us consume 3 times more than the national recommended daily amount of approximately 25g or 7 sugar cubes.  But, whilst nutrition guidelines can be helpful in understanding whats happening at a national level, as individuals the best thing we can do it to really get to grips with what sugar does to you and how you respond to it. 

    So, how can we reduce the amount of sugar we consume?  Here are my top 5 tips.

    1. Home cooking – now, I’m not talking about using a jar of sauce and chucking it in to a pan with some veggies. There are hidden sugars even in many pre-made sauces.  I mean cook simply, with as few fresh ingredients so you know exactly what you’re cooking with.  Home cooking, doesn’t need to be extravagant nor complicated.  My favourite picks are Jaime Oliver’s 5 Ingredient Cookbook.  Simple, basic ingredients with a few to no processed foods included.  I don’t consider myself to be a particularly great cook, but I’ve learnt to enjoy cooking and find great pleasure in making something from scratch with is both wholesome and tasty.

    2. Include plant-based or (if you prefer, meat-based protein) with your meals – I love grains and lentils and let me tell you, I didn’t always like them. But, understanding that grains can provide you with lots of the vitamins and minerals that meat often can’t, was a game changer for me.  Always keep some good quality tinned or dried grains in the store cupboard. 

    *TIP: keep an eye out for the offers on tinned goods when browsing the supermarket*

    Grains or lentils can be chucked into soups, stews and even traybakes helping make them easy to cook with and making for a more varied meal!


    3. Think of veggies first! – Sounds obvious, but when thinking about what to cook or even purchase, think of veggies first. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a veggie lover, start with a colour!  Yes, I said colour, perhaps it’s orange think sweet potatoes, swede, orange peppers.  If you look for the colour first then plan your meal around that, then the protein whether plantbased or meat is the last thing you’ll include in your meal.  It’s a great way of helping to increase your vegetable intake and all those other flavours (sour, bitter, astringent & pungent) which are crucial to feeling satiated when eating.


    4. Keep a check on your fluid intake – Water, is super important when it comes to renewing our cells and removing toxins from our bodies. So, ensuring that you’re including enough fluid intake in your day is crucial.  Aim to drink warm water throughout your day, and if you really can’t stand warm water aim to drink it at room temperature.  You could try adding some lemon and cucumber or even a mild herbal tea to your water to mix it up. 

    5. Observe your sugar cravings – this is critical, so many of us never look at why we crave certain foods. We never analyse what our emotional state is when we crave them nor do we want to understand them.  If you’re to change your relationship to sugar this is a step you cannot ignore.  Ask yourself, what time of day do you crave sugar the most, what is your emotional state at that time, what other foods did you eat that day which may be contributing to your craving?  Just taking 2-3 days to observe this will give you huge insight into your own behaviours around sugar consumption.  Armed with this knowledge you can begin to change the routine and begin experimenting with other foods and lifestyle choices which will help relieve the underlying cause.


      If you liked these tips then share them with your friends and family.  Let’s get everybody thinking about how much sugar is featuring in the foods they consume!



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    1. Leek & Potato Soup - Autumnal Warmers

      Leek & Potato Soup - Autumnal Warmers

      As the weather starts to take a turn, I began looking for warm comforting recipes to go to for the family this week. Here is the leek and potato soup I made using a great BBC Good Food recipe slightly adapted but which uses lots of seasonal vegetables.



      - 450g of potatoes peeled and chopped into small dice

      - half a red onion chopped to the same size as the potatoes

      - one large leek, thinly sliced

      - 50g of butter or coconut oil if you prefer

      - 850ml of low salt organic vegetable stock

      - 200ml of full fat milk or alternative milk of your choice 

      - ready made ham hock (optional)



      1. Melt the butter/coconut oil at a medium to low heat in a heavy bottom pan with a lid, until it begins to froth

      2. Add the onions, potatoes and 2/3rds of leeks, season with salt and pepper give it stir so that all the veggies are well coated in the butter/oil, cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper and pop the lid on.  Turn down to a low heat and steam for around 5 minutes or so.

      3. Add in the veggie stock and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are just cooked.

      4. Blitz the mixture using a hand whisk until it's lovely an smooth and then add your milk/mylk.

      5. Season again and give it a good mix, if the soup seems a little too thin then just boil it off so that it thickens up.

      6. With the remaining leeks cook them off in a small frying pan at a low heat, and a little butter or oil until they soften up.

      7. Serve your soup into bowls and top with a little of the softened leeks and handful of ham hock.

      3. Add the vegetable s

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