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Say no to stimulants

Do you experience any of the following often? Brain fog? Tired after meals? Sleeplessness? Headaches? All of these are symptoms of stress says Patrick. Stress starts in the mind but every time you react to a stressful situation, adrenal hormones are released, which ready your body for “fight or flight” mode.

People choose to deal with stress in many different ways, but the most damaging is choosing to “remedy” stress with stimulants. Coffee, energy drinks, cigarettes, chocolate and even tea – as it contains caffeine – are the legal stimulants that people turn to when dealing with stress.

The first step to beating stress is to cut out stimulants from your daily life. Simply cutting out all stimulants may be stressful in itself, so it is best to look at which stimulants are most important for you – this can be done by looking at your habits. For more tips like the ones below, read Patrick Holford’s book How to Quit Without Feeling S**T.

Below are some tips on how to beat the most common stimulants:

Sugar is a preference that we acquire after time – we are born with a taste for relatively sweet things but if we are fed foods with a high sugar content often, we start to choose sweetened foods over others. Gradually cutting down the amount of sugar you eat will allow you to get used to less sugar in your diet. If you’re craving something sweet, have a piece of fresh fruit or sugar-free nut butter on an oat or rice cake.

The Low-GL diet is ideal for lowering your sugar intake, as it allows you to still eat low-Gl carbohydrates. For example oat cakes are a better choice than bread, as they contain beta-glucans which slow down the release of glucose into the blood and lessen the insulin response. For low-GL recipes click here.

Coffee is well- known for its addictive qualities, but did you know it only takes four days to break the habit? You may experience headaches and fatigue during this time, but let this be a reminder of how bad coffee is for you. If, after a month of not drinking coffee you would like a cup, try to keep it as a treat rather than a pick me up.

Tea also contains caffeine but less so than coffee. Start by having a weaker cup of tea, and try alternatives to tea, such as Patrick Holford’s Awake Tea, which contains caffeine-free Moringa and gives you a natural energy boost. Rooibos tea is another caffeine-free tea alternative.

Chocolate, while delicious, contains both sugar and the stimulants caffeine and theobromine. To rid yourself of this addiction, start by trying chocolate-free treats such as coconut pieces or carob bars – carob’s natural sweetness means there is no added sugar.

Alcohol is a very easy bad habit to acquire. To start beating the need for alcohol as a way of beating stress, limit how often you have alcohol and what you drink. Try to remove alcohol from your diet completely for at least two weeks (if you find you are unable to do so, you may need to seek professional help) and then reintroduce it only as a social enjoyment.

Smoking can be one of the hardest habits to break. Smokers are not only addicted to nicotine, but also to smoking as a habit ie when tired, upset, hungry and so on. Improving your overall nutrition can help with decreasing your craving for cigarettes. For the first week of quitting, take 10g of Vitamin C, 8g of magnesium, 200 mg of chromium and 50mg of niacin a day. Try to eat an alkaline forming diet, rich in fruit, vegetables and seeds. For further advice read Patrick Holford’s book How to Quit Without Feeling S**T.