Published on 17th December 2015


Nicola Moore helps a client reduce their sugary snacking

Nutritional Therapist: Nicola Moore

“Sally, a 42-year-old self-employed mother of two, came with sugar-related diet concerns. She was having extreme sugar cravings and eating a large amount of sugar and chocolate every day. She felt bloated and had low energy and wanted to be healthy for her children. She was motivated — she just needed help.

“To try to cut down on cereal, which she loves and could eat all day, Sally started each day with a sweet meal-replacement drink. The drinks were simply convenient — Sally wasn’t thinking much about food or eating. She likes eating, but it’s not a priority.

“Lunch was foods like cheese and ham paninis, chips, crisps, lots of couscous salads. If she was snacking, she’d try to have a lemon and ginger tea, but she’d be more likely to have a hot chocolate. If she was out, she’d have something like a pain au chocolat or a biscuit. During the day she’s in that zone of going to children’s groups or going to a friend’s house where there are always biscuits and cake!

“She was cooking good, hot lunches for her son, so we discussed why she can’t just have what he has — I think she was just focusing on him and not on herself.

“Because her husband works away from home twice a week, she would eat with her children on those days, which would be good food. Her breakfasts and lunches were a bit of a non-event and dinner was a bit sporadic. The main problem was eating between meals and the quantity and the speed at which she was eating. My understanding was that if there was chocolate in the house she would literally eat all of it really quickly. It was so entrenched in her make-up that she was known as the chocoholic in the family. And because she’d never had any problems with her weight it was something she’d been able to get away with. She was also having lots of tea with sugar.

“I felt that, for Sally, it was the snack foods that mattered to her.

It was round the wrong way, so the meals were secondary and functional, they weren’t being celebrated, and the pleasure in chocolate was doing what the meals should be doing. 

“Sally wanted to know the hard facts about sugar, so I talked about its impact on fat storage, the risk of diabetes, and associated risk factors. But I couldn’t just look at cutting out sugar; I had to look at the other meals and her long-term health.

“We needed to look at getting nutritious foods in throughout the day, timing when she ate, and organising how she ate, with a view to helping manage cravings. We discussed how her breakfast choices would influence her food choices and energy throughout the day. I said that if she could stick to our plan then by day three she should be feeling the benefit.

“Recommendations were to design an improved breakfast drink (she wanted a drink) that included protein, good fat and fibre to prevent cravings. Her previous drink was very sweet so I wanted to work on her taste buds to reduce that desire for sweetness. The recipe consisted of a milk base, an optional banana, dessertspoon of almond nut butter, dessertspoon of hemp oil, some frozen fruit, and an optional handful of spinach. I encourage clients to dabble and feel that the recommendations aren’t rigid. I gave some ideas on quick breakfasts, but she hasn’t taken those up. I also asked her to chew her food well, and engage with hunger and fullness mechanisms.

“We talked about monitoring the speed at which she ate. And I asked her to consider whether she was mouth hungry (just fancying something) or stomach hungry (tummy rumbling) — not necessarily to do anything about it, but to start to identify the links with her body and food.

“I gave Sally my recipe for lifesaver biscuits*, and recommended she make a batch every week. They’re full of nuts and dates, and although they’re not sugar free — they have a bit of maple syrup — they have fibre and protein. 

There was no way she was just going to be able to just stop eating sweet snacks. I didn’t initially set any limits because people have to feel safe around food and I didn’t want her to feel that there was any restriction. I said to make sure she had lunch every day, even if it was something small. Some days she wasn’t having lunch so she’d be starving and then eat a load of crisps and chocolate. I suggested that on the evenings when she ate late with her husband, she have a healthy snack when her children had their meal — rye toast and nut butter, pitta with pesto — starter-type meals. We set the goal of aiming to reduce sugar by March.

“Six weeks later, Sally was doing phenomenally well! She’d had no chocolate. Her energy levels were better and her skin was good. She was working at the Rugby World Cup games, so was working 12-14 hour days on weekends, not getting back until one or two in the morning, yet she was managing to eat well.

“Sally wanted more tools in her toolkit so that she didn’t have to rely on the lifesaver biscuits. When we probed deeper, although she was eating a better lunch she was eating a lot of lifesaver biscuits. During our first consultation I had said for her to make them once a week but that hadn’t been enough for her. So now I suggested she limit them to three biscuits a day, to put them in separate tubs and to put notes on the tubs to tell herself that she didn’t need them. Also, I asked she take a moment to think about whether she was mouth hungry or stomach hungry — on the rugby match days she had free rein on the lifesaver biscuits.

“She’s still managing really well. She’s given up sugar in tea ahead of our goal date and has said she’s managed to have chocolate on a couple of occasions and stuck to a couple of bits. She really enjoyed it — but also noticed how sweet it was!”

Client: Sally

I have never been able to resist chocolate and would always buy a bar or two if passing a shop

“For a while, probably two years, I had been becoming more aware of my health and lifestyle, with two children under the age of six and a general feeling of tiredness on a daily basis. I was becoming aware that, at 42, I wasn’t getting any younger, and I needed my health and wellbeing to continue to be a good mum to my children. To be honest, the real drive was a fear that I may become ill, in particular diabetic, and that my quality of life with my family would be reduced or I’d even die — sorry it sounds dramatic — leaving my children without a mum. 

“I was very aware of the amount of chocolate I was consuming on a daily basis, but was generally happy with a varied diet around that — my size and weight did not change much whether I did some exercise or ate more or less. 

“[My daily food habits] would depend on the day and what we had on. I’d eat well with my husband and at lunches with friends — not always healthy, but a good range of food. However, other days I wouldn’t eat much and just have several chocolate bars throughout the day — up to four some days. I have never been able to resist chocolate and would always buy a bar or two if passing a shop. 

At Easter, I’d eat my children’s eggs and have to buy more — and then end up eating them again and so on! I would have a cup of tea regularly so I could have sugar in it, and would often skip tea with the kids and just eat a dessert. A real sugar monster! On and off, I’d tried to cut down chocolate but never [managed] for more than a day or two.

“I was very excited when I met Nicola as I was ready to change and just needed a push. Nicola is fantastic. As a parent of young children herself she totally understood my lifestyle and need for quick energy fixes as well as my laziness in doing anything for myself — in this case, thinking about my food intake. She quickly realised I needed quick and easy solutions so her recommendations were spot on.

“I have [been able to put Nicola’s recommendations into practice] and continue to put them in place in a realistic and manageable way, and it’s now part of my lifestyle nearly four months on. 

“[Reducing sweet foods] I did feel a little strange the first week, but after that I was fine. From what I understand, the supplements combined with eating the right foods have meant my cravings are under control.

“I have reduced [the lifesaver biscuits] and have some days where I am better than others. I do try to snack on rye bread and almond butter more now, but they really helped in the first month.

“I think my success is because I was ready and just needed someone — in this case Nicola — to make me realise the damage I was doing to my body and the consequences of my actions.

I needed the hard medical/nutritional facts so I could really understand what I was eating and what it was doing to my body. I also thought that cutting out sugar was going to be a massive life change and although my shopping is definitely more full of colour and much healthier, Nicola’s support, suggestions and plans — for me — made the transition so easy.

“I haven’t felt it was difficult as I can have chocolate or sugar if I want it — I think with this in mind, I don’t feel the need for it and I keep thinking of the damage [sugar could cause] and how much better I now feel without it. 

“I feel great and it’s great fun too. Nicola identified me as not a food lover, [and that] preparing food/meals and eating was just a function to me. I would happily skip the process or eat something out of a packet that was quick and easy. I’m beginning to become a food lover and enjoy preparing my lunches and meals, and enjoy eating them too. 

“My understanding of how different foods play an important part in my body is increasing and I hope to learn more. My goal is to continue to try to embed some of the basic principles I learnt from Nicola into my whole family’s lifestyle too. I really can’t thank her enough — she really has changed my life!”

The Optimum Nutrition clinic can be contacted on T: 020 8614 7822 and E: [email protected]

Nicola can be contacted at



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