Ten tips for cutting out sugar

category_iconsTEN TIPS FOR CUTTING OUT SUGARYou know how when you really want some chocolate, or a stack of biscuits, the lifestyle columnists’ advice is to, ‘go for a walk,’ ‘drink a glass of water’ or ‘distract yourself’? Frankly, if you want a piece of chocolate, or maybe the whole bar, that kind of notion just isn’t going to cut it. So I thought I’d share with you my top ten tips for cutting down on eating sugar.


It’s more than a decade since I first started researching sugar for my book, ‘Sugar: The Grass that Changed the World’. I realised back then that I needed to eat less sugar – but it’s an uphill task (‘give it 20 min, then see if you still want that chocolate.’ Er, yes.). What’s going to work longterm is retraining your tastebuds so I’m going to share with you some of the things that worked for me.

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Does the Tracy Anderson Method work?

category_dress80DOES THE TRACY ANDERSON METHOD WORK? – It was 10 am in Brazil and a sweet voice thick with sleep answered. It sounded as if I had woken her up after a hard night and, of course, I had. As Madonna’s  personal trainer on the star’s Hard Candy tour, Tracy Anderson had probably had a late one. This was 2008.

Now the trainer is a star in her own right. I was supposed to be interviewing her image-4-for-cos-tracy-anderson-gallery-882137510for The Independent newspaper, but even back then my editor declined because she was too much of a celeb. Shooting to fame after she sculpted Gwyneth Paltrow’s body, she now owns a chain of gyms, has designed a line of workout gear, masterminded a food programme and produced a fitness programme (The Tracy Anderson Method) followed by millions. She’s developed a workout machine, a workout for men, teenagers and pregnant women; there’s a juice line in the pipes, detox weeks, hair salons, wellness shakes; she’s far too busy to actually train celebrities herself. Continue reading

GO Bristol!

category_dress80GO BRISTOL! – We’re on holiday this week. In Bristol. Where, er, we actually live. I’ve been planning on writing about what a great place Bristol is and how everyone should come and hang out here for a bit – so at least I’m following my own advice. For once.

TerraceBristol is a beautiful city,  tall, honied stone Georgian houses and candy-coloured terraces, bisected by two rivers with nature-rich pockets, such as The Downs, home to the Bristol whitebeam and the Bristol onion, which are found nowhere else. It’s a city founded on the wealth of the slave trade (part of the inspiration for my non-fiction book, Sugar: The Grass that Changed the World, and my latest novel, Sugar Island) and is today a contemporary home for world-class grafitti and culture: The Bristol Festival of Ideas runs all year round, my other favourite festivals are The Bristol Festival of Literature, The Affordable Art Fair and Bristol VegFest.

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BE – Well Dressed Outdoors

category_dress80BE – WELL DRESSED OUTDOORS – It is tricky to find outdoor clothes that do what you want – keep you warm/dry/cool – and are ethical and stylish (I kept a blog for the Independent newspaper on the challenge of dressing ethically for a year). If you’re watching or filming wildlife, you’ll also need apparel and equipment that blends in with countryside colours – no fuschia-pinks or

With owl

scarlet-reds, I’m afraid.

As I’ve recently been working as a presenter on a BBC series called The Urban Jungle (due out in August), what to wear outdoors/on camera has been on my mind. Over the years – I filmed several series for the BBC on British Wildlife with Chris Packham – I’ve narrowed this down to:

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GO – Trebah Garden

category_dress80GO – TREBAH GARDEN – Good God.When I consider the melancholy fate of so many of botany’s votaries, I am tempted to ask whether men are in their right mind who so desperately risk life and everything else through the love of collecting plants.

                             Carl Linnaeus

Trebah flowersWhenever we go to Trelowarren, we always try and fit in a visit to Trebah Garden, one of the oldest and best in Cornwall. It dates back to at least 1086 when it was mentioned in the Doomsday Book.

It was Charles Fox, a Quaker, who acquired it in 1838 and turned the estate into the gem it is today. The Foxes, who part owned tin mines and pilchard fisheries, were shipping agents and were able to import exotic plants, many of which had never been grown in Britain before.

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GO – Trelowarren

category_dress80GO – TRELOWARREN – It is so nice when one’s natural inclinations coincide with one’s principles.

Every year we stay at Trelowarren, a Cornish estate run on environmentally-friendly principles, which happens to be also beautiful, luxurious, wild and tranquil.

The Vyvyan family have lived at Trelowarren, on the Lizard peninsula for 600 years and although the estate once covered half of Cornwall (a slight exaggeration), it’s now 1,000 acres of woodland and agricultural land with self-catering and time share cottages (short breaks also available). It is my absolute favourite place to go in the whole world as it has everything I like: comfy eco houses, a bio-gas heated swimming pool,

a gym, a spa stocked with organic Speiza products, a wood-roasted pizza bar, a restaurant selling organic, local food, an art gallery, wild paths from the doorstep through bluebell and wild garlic-filled woods, wildlife, rivers, beaches (this is Kynance Cove, owned by the National Trust) and a literary heritage – Daphne  du Maurier’s eponymous Frenchman’s Creek is a stone’s throw away.

Trelowarren estate   Swimming pool   New Yard restaurant   wild garlic   Kynance cove   Kestle Barton

This is a stunning walk – through the estate to Kestle Barton art gallery, a truly serene space with a help-yourself cafe – continuing along the shores of Frenchman’s Creek and on to Helford Passage, where there’s a cafe in a former church.

We also try and fit in a trip to the Lemon Street Art Gallery and the farmer’s market in Truro, a pub lunch or picnic by Helford river – a wildlife haven with hidden coves – a stroll through Trebah gardens and a visit to Roskilly’s for their famous organic ice cream.

More pictures on Pinterest!