Battling The Snack Attack!

Battling The Snack Attack!

It’s mid morning and you can hear the biscuit jar gently calling your name. You try to ignore it but its calls get louder and louder until you just can’t resist the urge to delve in and shut it up! It happens again at about 4pm but this time its the sugary snack you’ve got waiting in the fridge.

If you find your brain crying out for a treat but you’ve only just eaten breakfast or lunch there’s a strong possibility that your not controlling your blood sugar levels in the right way and controlling your appetite. Its a craving you have and not true hunger!

Below I’ve listed 6 ways that you can BATTLE THAT SNACK ATTACK! All are natural ways you can reduce those cravings and feel fuller for longer.

1. Eat More Fibre

High fibre foods will help keep you feeling fuller for longer. Wholefoods such brown rice and oats contain soluble fibre which acts like a sponge and soaks up moisture in your stomach. This will leave you feeling full. It also helps slow down the release of sugar from other foods preventing those energy dips and therefore food cravings, helping to regulate your appetite.

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High fibre foods to try including in your meals are avocados, beans, broccoli, apples, nuts and seeds.

2. Get Enough Protein

If you suffer energy dips mid morning and mid afternoon try eating more protein at breakfast and then at lunch. A high carbohydrate breakfast or lunch will make your energy and blood levels peak but then crash again. By increasing the amount of protein on your plate you not only help your body convert any carbohydrates to sugar more slowly but you are also helping to repair tissues that are broken down during exercise.


Make sure that 30% of your plate is made up of healthy sources of protein such as chicken, fish (particularly oily fishes that contain omega 3), chickpeas and quinoa. For a healthy snack try nuts, boiled eggs and cheese. A great breakfast idea is scrambled eggs, with smoked salmon and avocado.

3. Drink Water

Feeling hungry? When was the last time you drank some water? Research has shown that your brain recognises thirst and hunger as similar sensations and so it’s easy to think you need food when its actually water that you need. The next time you feel a hunger pang drink a glass of water and then wait 20 minutes to see if you still feel hungry.


Ensure you sip 8-10 glasses of water a day (250ml glass) and drink one of those glasses before a meal to help prevent you from overeating. Always forgetting to drink water? There are some great apps out there that will send you reminders throughout the day to drink.

4. Break Habits

Normally one of the reasons we snack is because we’re bored, tired, stressed or sad. On this occasion it’s a psychological rather than physical craving. Another thing I see as a trainer is people skipping meals which then results in them craving less healthy options such as biscuits or chocolate in order to satisfy the body quickly.


When hunger strikes try eating an apple and some nuts. It will help try and fill that void and keep you feeling fuller for longer.  With emotional eating we need to break that cycle and find an activity that distracts you from eating unhealthy snacks. It could be to play your favourite song, or go have a bath if you’re feeling tired and stressed or maybe have a stretch to relieve tension.

5. Skip Refined Carbs

Had a biscuit but feeling hungry again? Refined carbohydrates such as sweets, biscuits, snack bars and even dried fruit such as raisins and mango are all high on the glycemic index (GI) and release their sugar quickly into your system giving you a short term fix only.


Opt for fibre-rich, wholegrain snacks such as oat cakes or rice cakes where you can spread some nut butter on. Or try lower GI fruits such as apples, pears or cherries with some nuts.

6. Move More

It’s a myth to think that exercising more will make you feel hungrier. Exercise actually prevents cravings and curbs your appetite. Aerobic activity is proven to trigger the release of an appetite-suppressing hormone. Exercise also helps control blood sugar levels and your body’s insulin response.


To help your body recover post exercise, eat something nutritious such as a boiled egg or oat cake within 30 mins of completing exercise.



Sugar – Is it now considered the new cocaine?

Sugar – Addictive as Cocaine?

This sounds like a pretty strong statement, don’t you think? However, this was what was suggested a couple of years ago after a review article was posted in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. It claimed that refined sugar was an addictive substance that had similar effects on the brain as illegal drugs such as cocaine. It sparked a furious backlash, with experts describing the claims as ‘absurd’.

The authors of the review article, cardiovascular research scientist James DiNicolantonio and cardiologist James H O’Keefe stated ‘consuming sugar, produces effects similar to that of cocaine, altering mood, possibly through its ability to induce reward and pleasure, leading to the seeking out of sugar’ – an addictive nature. (Let me highlight that the research review was based on studies on rodents rather than humans).

Those who disagreed with them said that the rodent studies had been misunderstood by the authors. Tom Sanders, a professor of nutrition and dietetics at Kings College in London, said that it was ‘absurd to suggest that sugar is addictive like hard drugs’. ‘While it is true that a liking for sweet things can be habit-forming, it is not addictive like opiates or cocaine. Individuals do not get withdrawal symptoms when they cut out sugar’.

Hisham Ziauddeen, a psychiatrist at the University of Cambridge, was also critical of the review and did not support the idea that sugar was addictive to humans. He did though believe there was a problem, and that the problem was more with the ‘huge amounts of sugar that are put into various foods substantially boosting the calorie content of those foods’.

Sugar tax

The increasing consumption of sugar is starting to send alarm bells ringing, with sugar consumption in the UK being almost 3 times the recommended daily sugar intake. The official recommendation from the government is to limit sugar to no more than 5% (or around 30g or 7 cubes of sugar per day). A diet too high in sugar can lead to obesity and its associated health complications such as Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately there has also been links found between high blood glucose and insulin levels increasing the risk of developing Alzheimers disease. Its no surprise then, that this has prompted the introduction of a sugar tax. But what is it and will it work?

The UK sugar tax, which is officially called the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) was introduced in April last year. The tax puts a charge of 24p on drinks containing more than 8g of sugar per 100ml and 18p a litre on those with 5-8g of sugar per 100ml, directly payable by the manufacturers to HM Revenue and Customs. (Fruit juice with high levels of natural sugar and drinks with 75% milk, and therefore high calcium content, are exempt).

The tax was introduced as part of the government’s childhood obesity strategy and its aim is to decrease sugar consumption be persuading the manufacturers of soft drinks to reformulate their high sugar brands and avoid paying the levy. If they don’t reformulate, its up to the companies to decide whether to swallow the fee or pass it on to consumers.

The news so far is that more than 50% of manufacturers have changed their formula to cut sugar. These companies include supermarket chains Tesco and Asda. Drinks that have seen the reduction include Fanta, Ribena, Irn-Bru and Lucozade. Coca Cola and Pepsi have not done so yet.

On the surface the sugar tax appears to be a good idea however will it ultimately lead to a decrease in sugar consumption?

If we look at the tax on cigarettes in the UK, it does seem to appear that the proportion of adults who smoke has fallen from one in four, to fewer than one in six (Action on Smoking and Health; Smoking Statistics; Nov 2018) since heavier increases in tax were introduced. So does higher taxes = a decrease in consumption? We’ll have to wait and see.

Efforts to reduce sugar consumption

This is not the first effort to reduce sugar in the UK though. Back in 2017, Public Health England (PHE) asked for a 20% cut in sugar content within food produce by 2020. Unfortunately, food manufacturers and supermarkets have only managed to cut 2% of sugar content so far (figures correct as of May 2018) with further figures due out in the next few weeks.

All in all though, we should monitor our sugar consumption. Where possible we should be avoiding processed sugars and those products with added sugars and focusing more on foods containing natural sugars. ‘Foods with natural sugars tend to be low in calories and sodium, and high in water content and many important vitamins and minerals’ explains New York based clinical dietitian Vanessa Voltolina.

If you need help cutting down on sugar consumption head to the NHS website. Your body will thank you for it.

Beef Broth Recipe

Beef Broth Recipe

Here is the recipe for bone broth (as mentioned on my Facebook post) taken from the beautiful book ‘The First Forty Days’ by Heng Ou.

This recipe makes 2 litres worth of broth or 6-8 servings. The best bit is once prepped and going, it can jet be left meaning minimal effort. It can be batch cooked and either placed in the fridge or freezer ready for when you want it.


– 4 pounds (1.8kg) beef bones (short ribs, marrow, neck, joints, whatever you can get
– 1 brown onion
– 2 inch (5cm) of fresh ginger, unpeeled and halved
– 2 leeks, white parts only (roughly chopped)
– 3 large carrots, unpeeled, sliced into thick rounds
– 1 tablespoon of good quality apple cider vinegar
– 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves (optional)
– 1/2 teaspoon of star anise (optional)
– sea salt and freshly ground pepper

How to:

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC)
2. Place the bones in a large roasting pan (or, if it’s ovenproof, in the stockpot that you’ll use to cook them on the stove). To save time, add the onions and ginger with the bones so they begin caramelising as well. (This will give the broth a rich flavour) Roast for about 30 mins, or until the bones are brown and crackly and juice has started to collect on the bottom of the pan.
3. If you used a roasting pan, let the bones cool slightly, then transfer them to a stockpot. Or if you’re using the same pot, add 3 quarts (2.8L) water, or enough to cover the bones with the roasted onion and ginger by about 1 inch (2.5cm). Add the leeks, carrots, vinegar, and if using, the cloves and star anise.
4. Bring to a boil over high heat, skim off any foam that rises to the top, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2-4 hours, covered, checking every so often to skim off any additional foam. The broth is done when it delivers an appealing earthy flavour.
5. Remove from the heat, strain, and season with salt and pepper to taste (easy on the salt), reserving the bones to make more broth later or immediately add more water and boil the bones again. Drink warm or pour into glass mason jars and keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. (Remember this homemade broth can be used as a component in other recipes – soups, stews, congees – over the nest several days.) Or, fill glass mason jars and freeze up to 3 months.
TIP: to make this broth in a slow cooker, set on medium or low heat and cook for approximately 8 hours. Remove any fat that forms on top.


Caffeine – Friend or Foe?

Is your morning tipple doing you any good or the opposite?

Let’s face it, some of us just can’t seem to function without a cup of coffee in the morning. So it’s of no surprise then that its the most popular drink worldwide with around 2 billion cups consumed every day.

Here are some stats from the British Coffee Association.

  • In the UK, we now drink approx. 95 million cups of coffee per day
  • 80% of UK households buy instant coffee for in-home consumption, particularly those aged 65 and older.
  • Ground coffee and single use coffee pods are becoming increasingly popular, particularly amongst millennials (ages 16-34). They account for 16% of all buyers.
  • Cafe culture is also booming with 80% of people visiting coffee shops once a week and 16% of us visiting on a daily basis.

With so many ways in which we can take our coffee, it’s no wonder the industry is booming. But whether you like your coffee black or need yours dairy free, how good is coffee for our health?

Bone Health

Bone health can be affected by a number of factors including diet, amount of exercise, gender and the level of exposure to the sun. One study (Hallstom et al, 2013) has suggested that caffeine might hinder the absorption of calcium and Vitamin D which are essential for bone health. They did conclude though, that it was only a small reduction and would not result in an increased risk of fractures.


In 2016, the International Agency for Research on Cancer reviewed all available research on coffee and cancer and found no clear association between coffee intake and cancer. In some cases, evidence has shown that coffee drinking could decrease the occurrence of certain cancers. This may be due to the fact that caffeine is high in antioxidants.

Cardiovascular health

Research by Mostofsky (2012), Liu (2013), Ding (2014) and many others have found that drinking around 3-5 cups of coffee a day may decrease cardiovascular disease mortality risk and that it may actually have a protective effect.

Mental performance

There is a link between caffeine consumption and an increase in alertness. The European Food Safety Authority states that there is a  cause and effect relationship, with a 75mg serving of caffeine (the amount found in approx. 1 mug of coffee) providing an increase in both concentration and alertness.

A connection has also been found between mood and reaction time. Smith (2009) found that by regularly consuming 75mg of caffeine every 4 hours, provided a sustained improvement of mood over the day, particularly in fatigued individuals.


However, Smith, mentioned above, also found that high consumption of caffeine can lead to an increase in anxiety, nervousness, heart palpitations and exacerbate panic attacks. If you find you are sensitive to coffee, you should avoid it altogether.


For some, an increase in alertness can be seen as a good thing, but being too alert will create issues with our sleep. Our bodies naturally repair and recover when we sleep, so any interruption to it will have an impact on how refreshed we feel when we wake in the morning. If we are not feeling refreshed it leads to us reaching for the coffee once more.

We must consider this when it comes to the time of day we are consuming coffee. Caffeine has been found to remain in our blood stream for between 6-8 hours. Therefore it is recommended that we stop drinking caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea or cola post 2pm to prevent it having an affect on our sleep.

Sports performance

The European Food Safety Authority has concluded that there is an association between caffeine consumption and an increase in endurance performance, endurance capacity and a reduction in rate of perceived exertion during exercise. This has been seen in both athletes and those who are not trained athletes.

Alzheimers and Parkinsons

Studies have shown that coffee drinkers have up to a 65% lower risk of developing Alzheimers and a 32-60% lower risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Type 2 diabetes

Numerous studies have shown that coffee drinkers have a significant lower risk of type 2 diabetes. HOWEVER, it’s the associated cakes and biscuits that we consume with our hot drinks that we need to consider and is normally the factor that increases the risk of diabetes .

Blood pressure

Caffeine has blood pressure raising effects although this usually dissipates with regular use. However, a slight increase in blood pressure of 1-2mmHg may persist.

Addiction and withdrawal of caffeine

Caffeine can be addictive. If consumed regularly enough the individual becomes tolerant to its effects. Because of this, people end up consuming more to produce the same effect it did before. When an individual then abstains from coffee or they can’t get hold of it, they suffer from withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, brain fog and irritability.

Caffeine and fat loss

Studies in humans have shown that when we drink coffee, it increases levels of the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine whilst we are at rest. These are the same hormones we produce when we are scared or stressed. Permanently elevated levels of cortisol leads to increased blood sugar levels which in turn can lead to a natural tendency to store fat, especially around the belly. As mentioned before, as some of us load our drinks with sugar and milk or add a little treat with our coffee, like cakes and biscuits or a sugary breakfast, you can begin to see that caffeine has both a direct and indirect effect on fat loss or lack of it.


As you can see caffeine can be both friend and foe depending on how you consume it. If you drink it in moderation and at the right times of day and watch what you add to it or consume with it, then it will very much work in your favour. HOWEVER – drink too much of it, or add the treats to it and you could end up spiralling into an addicted, over weight, stressed out mess.

As with all things – CONSUME IN MODERATION.