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Su B Sugar

Yes, I may have mentioned sugar once or twice before. No apologies for that; it’s taken centre stage in the last few years as the pantomime villain in the greathealth drama. Like the witch in Hansel and Gretel, it seduces you with sweetness, fattens you up and then, suddenly, you’re the one being devoured.

It’s easy to see yourself as the helpless victim of your genes, or your culture, or your addictions, but the cost to all of us is much too high. So how can we avoid the lure of the gingerbread cottage?

Instead of beating ourselves – or others – up, let’s talk about solutions.

The first one is breakfast. A good substantial breakfast with protein included. Meat, fish, eggs, cheese, pulses, nuts…whatever suits you. That will sustain you through until lunchtime, and you won’t need elevenses or sugar in your mid-morning coffee – though, of course, you can still choose to have them. That’s up to you.

Lunch, too, should be more than just a sandwich at your desk. Protein, vegetables or fruit and not too much carbohydrate is a good balance, and that will see you through the afternoon without needing to snack or fall asleep. And an evening meal, not too late, not too big, based on vegetables with some protein. A moderate amount of alcohol, not every day.

And that’s it

Sounds simple, but we also use sugar to sedate ourselves when we’re anxious, reward ourselves after effort, prop ourselves up when we’re tired…It’s a very complicated relationship, and it can’t be straightened out overnight. Here’s where the herbs come in, to address those needs in a different and much more useful way: remedies like lemon balm and limeflowers for anxiety, rosemary and borage to combat fatigue, and so on.

And they go much further than that. Bitter herbs like dandelion root and chicory, aromatics like cinnamon and garlic, will help to even out your blood sugar levels so that you don’t get those cravings for cake or chocolate. They help you stay clear-headed, so that you make more sensible choices. And over time, they re-educate your palate, so that too much sweetness is no longer attractive.

The gingerbread cottage may be pretty, but it’s not really food at all. And at that point, sugar assumes its proper role in the health drama: just one of many actors, all of whom have their parts to play.

EDITOR: Sue has a very good Herb Handbook that can be ordered from Amazon or directly from her website.

Meet The Author...
Su Bristow
Who Am I?
I studied at the School of Herbal Medicine for four years, and qualified in 1989, becoming a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists ( The road to herbal medicine led from my early interest in organic gardening and healthy eating, through the study of social and physical anthropology at Cambridge, where I specialised in medical anthropology. What fascinated me was how people deal with their health problems when they have only the natural resources around them, and their own ingenuity. I went on to learn massage and reflexology, and worked at a residential naturopathic clinic, where I learned about the use of diet and other natural ways of healing. After qualifying as a herbalist, I set up practice in mid-Devon. Since then I have continued to expand my expertise, with counselling skills, first aid, and knowledge of the Chinese and Ayurvedic systems of herbal medicine. Besides one-to-one consultation, I have also taught evening classes, students of the Westcountry Massage Association, and various private courses.
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