Sugar in blood

There’s an absolute ton of money in sugar. It’s a big business with a murky history emerging from what we’d call human trafficking today. It enabled some of its founders to become ‘philanthropists’ based on the vast sums that they created from this highly addictive substance. It’s almost as if they don’t want you to know about the importance of balancing blood sugar. 

Today in the UK we consume on average 700g/week which is about 140 teaspoons. The NHS suggests <210g/week*.

Insulin Resistance

I see the direct impact of this normalisation of excess sugar consumption every day when I’m talking with midlife women. It creates insulin resistance and is a primary product for increasing inflammation within the body. The knock-on effects of this gruesome combo is linked to heart disease, impairment of brain function (Alzheimer’s aka Type 3 diabetes) and cancer.

Sugar increases inflammation

After age 40 most women tend to be in the perimenopause zone. The hormone oestrogen is protective for women against inflammation and as oestrogen declines so does our level of protection. At the same time both excess and low levels of oestrogen have been linked to higher rates of insulin resistance.

Similarly for hair loss clients these studies showed that individuals with both androgenetic alopecia and alopecia areata are at a higher risk of both developing and increasing insulin resistance. 

Perimenopausal and resistant to insulin

For the demographic which crosses both of these groups we can see the potential of a double-whammy which means that balancing your blood sugar is critically important.

My clients are beating themselves up because they’re struggling to manage their relationship with this product which is laced throughout both ultra processed and processed food. It turns up where you’d least expect it, for example in supposedly savoury foods like refined carbohydrates. My favourite example of this is in Ireland where local labelling laws don’t allow Subway to describe the stuff that its sandwich fillings sit on as bread. Why? Sugar. It’s to do with sugar content and VAT read about it here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-54370056

Sugar Addiction

So why is it so hard to stop eating sugar? For starters it activates the brain’s reward circuits creating dopamine and stimulates the body’s innate pain relieving opioids. This natural ‘reward’ from eating sugar was designed as an adaptation for high calorie food. We only had seasonal access in the Autumn and it was helpful to lay down that layer of fat to make it through the cold Winter. Today we’re able to lay down that adipose tissue year round!

Sugar hides under different names

Sugar shows up as sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, fruit juice, molasses, hydrolysed starch, invert syrup, corn syrup and honey. One way to start avoiding it is avoiding packaged processed foods.

Two weeks

The good news is that it can be surprisingly quick to start altering your taste buds. Literally in as little as two weeks you can create those changes. It can take longer to change the habits that we have around sugar and refined carbs, together we create new habits that are unique to you. We can prepare for those times when you’re more likely to be sabotaged.  Perhaps most importantly we can change your relationship with what a ‘treat’ looks, feels and tastes like.

If you’re looking to improve your health, ditching sugar and refined carbs returns a lot on your investment in yourself. If you’d like to discuss further let’s have a chat: https://calendly.com/practicalhealthcoach/managingmidlfe





Sugar Addiction: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29266583/


Opioid Production: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29052153/ and https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28747384/

Sugar and immunity:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3448089/

Sugar and cancer: https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.2003460

Insulin Resistance and Alopecia



Gluten free sourdough bread in dutch oven

I used to run an award winning gluten free bakery. Back in 2015 this was the basic recipe which did quite well at the World Bread Awards, if memory serves it received a silver or bronze. I used to make ‘normal’ sourdough before removing gluten from my diet. Finding a decent loaf became something of a holy grail. It’s impossible to buy a gluten free sourdough with a crust so if you’re craving that toothy chew in your bread, the only way is to make it yourself. An added advantage is that it doesn’t contain any dodgy ingredients.

This recipe has been slightly updated from my book: https://practicalhealthcoach.uk/gf%20sourdough

Maybe I’ll revise the book at some point as there are definitely a few things to update to make some of the recipes healthier. Unfortunately that’s not on my to-do list at the moment. Here’s a link to create the sourdough starter https://practicalhealthcoach.uk/how-to-make-gluten-free-sourdough-starter/

Gluten Free Sourdough:

20g psyllium husk

430g tepid water

100g sourdough starter (room temp)

200g buckwheat flour

100g millet/brown rice/gf oat flour

100g tapioca starch

10g sea salt

0.5T olive oil

  1. Mix the psyllium husk, water and starter in a bowl for a couple of minutes. Make sure that the psyllium is evenly distributed with no lumps. (This is easiest using a dough hook in a freestanding mixer).
  2. Add flours and salt to the starter mix and stir until the flour is mixed in.
  3. Cover and leave for a couple of hours at room temperature.
  4. Gently turn out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a rough rectangle with wet hands.
  5. Fold the top third onto the middle third. Fold the bottom third upwards until it resembles a loaf shape.
  6. Place into an oiled tin, seam side down. Cover and leave on the counter for a few hours. Depending on the heat of your kitchen it will take 2-4 hours.
  7. Place in the fridge for an overnight rise (minimum 8 hours).
  8. The next day turn up your oven as high as it will go. Put a 3cm deep roasting tray on the oven floor. Take the loaf out of the fridge.
  9. Pre-heat for 30 minutes.
  10. Slash a line into your loaf with a sharp knife. Add a cup of boiling water into the roasting dish. Place your loaf in the top half of your oven.
  11. Bake for 25 minutes. Turn down the heat to 200C/400F and continue to bake for another 20 mins. Don’t open the door.
  12. After a total of 45 minutes take a look and if you’d like the top a little browner give it another 5.
  13. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Turn it out and resist slicing until it’s cool.

*The round loaf is baked in a Dutch Oven which increases the temperature. I’m still experimenting with baking in an Aga…

Any questions let me know!

post covid hair loss

Let’s talk about post Covid hair loss. It’s one of the many side effects which can show up after the Covid-19 infection has long gone. I had a mild case of Covid over Christmas literally testing positive on Christmas Eve… and I’ve had a couple of lingering side effects: loss of smell and hair loss (I do see the irony of this).

My sense of smell is sort of there, but not 100%. The best way that I can describe it is by comparing it to sight when you can’t fully see something. You can just make out a vague outline, but none of the details. That’s what my sense of smell is like five months after the infection. I will say that it does have its advantages as anyone who has dogs and sporty teenage sons can attest.

And, hair loss, well if you’re on this website you’re probably here because you have concerns about your hair. So I probably don’t need to tell you about the stomach dropping feeling of washing your hair and seeing what looks like much too much hair in your hands. Or constantly removing excess hair from your brush, and using Mr Muscle unclogger in the shower drain each week. Or inspecting your scalp in minute detail from different angles to see if it looks worse today. You already know all about this.

I’ll just add as well that even though my case of Covid was mild I still haven’t returned to the gym to do the sprint cardio that I used to do a couple of times a week without thinking twice about it. I know that I’m just not up to it. I did try a couple of months ago, it’s not worth it.

To make things worse I also have a few clients who are bedridden with long COVID which makes me feel a bit pathetic even bringing up my symptoms. However I’ve always maintained hair loss is not just about hair. It has an impact on your self-confidence which impacts how you are in every single part of your life.

What’s the good news?

Unlike the majority of my hair loss clients we actually know what’s caused the loss which makes it much easier to address. In fact viral infections are actually a fairly common cause of hair loss it’s just that a lot of us have recently had the same virus and we tested at the time so we know with 99.9% certainty that we have our root cause. There’s a lot that you can do to ‘encourage’ your hair to regrow. Post Covid hair loss ultimately can become post Covid regrowth.

We’re dealing with telogen effluvium which by its nature is temporary. Typically it’s your body’s response to a stressful event (like a viral infection).  It appears between two to three months after the event itself. It’s not a permanent condition, however if your environment continues to create stress for your body the hair loss will also continue. This is where it can get tricky as losing your hair can be a huge cause of stress.

How can I help you to manage post Covid hair loss?

I’m in the process of creating a short course which will give you all of the info that you need to stop the cycle of shedding and create the optimal environment for regrowth. I’ll keep it as simple as possible as I know that you just need the info to get started. If you’d like to find out more please sign up to my mailing list to be notified of when it’s ready.

white flag

Let me preface this by saying that hindsight can be a wonderful thing. Five years after first being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease I can recognise how this outwardly negative experience has actually changed me for the better. When things come along in your life that at first glance appear to be wholly negative it’s possible that a perspective shift and a little time can change that initial impression. The question is how can we create that shift? Then how can we create that reframe without the added benefit of time?

Toxic Positivity?

How about we consider that the unplanned event that looks, feels and tastes awful could actually be the making of you. It feels strange to embrace it. People might think that you’re a bit odd. They might be muttering about ‘toxic positivity’… Let them. If they consider that making the most of what life hands you is somehow poisonous, that’s up to them. You aren’t going to change their world view… only they have the power to do that.

Here’s an example:

In 2017 I closed my gluten free bakery business. I felt like a failure. I felt terrible for letting down both my customers and employees. Working 60+ hours each week triggered an autoimmune disease for me (cue Functional Medicine mantra: Genes load the gun, environment pulls the trigger). It wasn’t just the long hours it was also managing a house and family with a husband who worked away every week. My children weren’t the kind that just come home after school and do their own thing, I’d be on the road every night getting to them cubs, scouts, rugby, hockey, athletics, singing… I’d regularly wake up at 3 am pondering how to create the perfect vegan salted caramel, or dairy free ganache. When your sleep starts being disrupted regularly then your health is going to be on a downward spiral.

White flag

While my body had started to gently wave a white flag to get my attention, I did what any working mother would do and ignored it. I was really enjoying the creativity of my work. I loved supplying fancy hotels with gluten free and vegan bakes, it was amazing to bake for weddings. I liked the kudos of winning national awards. The all-female team from grannys to work-experience girls was brilliant to be part of. It was only when I took my foot off the gas during a five day family vacation that I realised that it was unsustainable.

At that moment when I recognized the need for an exit strategy I was also agreeing to give a baking demo on stage in front of hundreds of people at a food festival! Talk about being in denial…

However as a pragmatist I did start to create my exit plan which enabled me to close the doors six months later. I acknowledge that I was on the path to burnout, and perhaps worse given the autoimmune disease that decided to make its presence known.

Okay, I understand what you’re thinking, none of this sounds good… how can any of this be good?

Best Shape

If we fast forward to today I’m in really good shape both physically and mentally. I’m heading into peri-menopause with a spring in my step. I work out regularly, I walk with friends and/or my dogs. Through being unwell with autoimmune flares I’ve figured out what my limits are. I know how important improving your gut health is and what stress management techniques work for me. I use nutrition and other lifestyle habits to keep Hashimoto’s in remission.

While this is great for me it’s also good for you. Because I’ve been in that position where it felt like my life was spiraling out of my control. I’ve been teetering on the edge of burnout. I’ve had to learn the hard way that I can’t do everything, well not all at once at least. I didn’t realise how unwell I was until I started to become healthy again. Right now I’m in the best shape of my adult life and (weirdly) I have an autoimmune disease to thank for that.

Thanks to an autoimmune disease

It’s a bit like losing weight. Now I consider myself to be in ‘maintenance’ mode which is a lot more straightforward than creating all of those habit changes in the first place. If you need support in finding the gift or opportunity within your personal situation please get in touch. https://practicalhealthcoach.uk/how-to-get-in-touch/

Warning. Coaching can change your life

Okay, I admit that I live in a bit of a coaching bubble. A lot of my friends are coaches and most of them specialize in a narrow niche. I know lots of Functional Health Coaches, Life Coaches, Grief Coaches, Confidence Coaches, Career Coaches, Mental Fitness Coaches, Executive Coaches, even coaches who just work on your ‘vision’… the list goes on.

But if you’ve never worked with a coach before and aren’t sure what it entails let me try to explain what you’re letting yourself in for.

First Experience

My first experience of working with a coach was in a group program for alopecia. However that program was pure information and not coaching at all. While information is part of the story it doesn’t facilitate the transformation that coaching can provide. This is why I draw a clear line between my online courses which are pure information and the option of group coaching which gives the opportunity for you to experience an ‘Aha!’ moment unique to you.

While I originally retrained as a Functional Health coach to help others with hair loss, I quickly realised the immense power that coaching has the power to deliver when I was coaching women from all over the world in order to become certified through the Kresser Institute. It’s literally life-changing. For example, my mental fitness coaching enabled me to give up alcohol. I’m seven months sober and have just had my first booze free birthday and Christmas. The Positive Intelligence mental fitness program was a game changer for me. After completing the seven week training I stopped drinking and haven’t looked back. The great thing about this program is that you can apply it to any area of your life that you’re struggling with. Click here if you’d like to know more: https://practicalhealthcoach.uk/mental-fitness/

My background isn’t a ‘normal’ one. I’ve lived and worked all over the world and have made major life changes with ease. Before retraining as a coach I’d moved between different industries and sectors without any major difficulties. I was already something of an expert at creating positive change. My approach to my own life is that there’s no problem or issue that can’t be either fixed or improved. I bring this attitude to my clients.

Everyone can benefit from coaching

When you look at my website you might assume that I only work with people with hair loss, or women managing perimenopause or with mental fitness… However, I also coach a couple of days a week for a local non-profit. This keeps my feet firmly on the ground and gives me the opportunity to work with an incredibly diverse group of people. To date I’ve coached men, women and those who are gender fluid on weight loss, chronic disease management, alcohol and drug misuse, long Covid, anxiety and homelessness.

From homeless to an apartment in a couple of months

If coaching can support a homeless young man who’s sleeping in his car while continuing to hold down a full-time job, what could it do for you? He moves into his own apartment in January, he’s secured a promotion at work and he’s started a business on the side! Our coaching gave him a non-judgmental space to talk about what he wanted in his life. Together we came up with simple, practical goals for him to work on each week. His confidence in himself grew as he experienced success, and then he became braver and took bigger and bolder actions. Obviously as his coach I want him to succeed, but I can’t take those steps for him. It sounds cheesy but when he lacked confidence or focus the space created in our coaching calls gave him that confidence and direction which was lying underneath all along.

Definition of coaching

This is a comprehensive definition from Wellcoaches: The relationship between a coach and client offers a profound level of support, guidance, and encouragement to making changes, without being judgmental. A coach enables change by focusing on a client’s stated agenda including needs, values, vision, and goals and helping to bring out his/her personal best.

Coaching enables you to take that next step to prioritise yourself. It can be scary because you’re owning up to that responsibility. If your goal is to lose weight all of those excuses that you’ve been telling yourself start to disappear until we unearth the actual reason behind it. Once that’s uncovered we can deal with it together in the non-judgmental coaching space. It may take a few months or just a couple of sessions. That said when you start to make a commitment to yourself it becomes its own reward.


If you’re ready to discover your own future personal agenda let’s have a no obligation chat. https://calendly.com/practicalhealthcoach/coachingmagic I might not be the right coach for you which is fine, the chances are that I’ll be able to recommend somebody else from my network who might be a better fit. What do you have to lose?