Nutritionist spills on sugar cravings, hormones and weight!

This interview with our fav nutritionist Pip Reed (who we seriously want to look like!) was FASCINATING for us.... She walks her talk and is incredibly informative on everything women's health and wellness. Pip's philosophy is "I want all my clients to enjoy life and not feel deprived" which sounds like our kind of philosophy!

What are the biggest health issues you see with women in your clinic? And why are these so prominent right now?

Hormone imbalances and their associated signs and symptoms (weight gain, skin issues - rosacea, acne, premature aging etc, mood disorders and gut issues and thyroid disorders) are at the forefront of what I see. The sad thing is these symptoms are becoming more common but on the flip side, we are also  recognising them as not being ‘normal’ and therefore want to help you reverse it.

More than ever, we are surrounded and impacted by Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDC’s) which act as hormone mimickers, disrupting the delicate microflora in the gut and hormone balance including reproductive, thyroid and insulin receptors. These EDCs are found in foods, fragrances, alcohol, fire retardant (therefore new furniture and mattresses), sprayed on clothes, non-organic sanitary items - the list is endless. These chemicals are then affecting our metabolism and our bodies ability to detoxify, resulting in an accumulation in hormones, throwing out the balance and resulting in issues ranging from endometriosis, PCOS, perimenopause and menopausal symptoms, skin issues, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, autoimmune disorders, hypo and hyperthyroidism… to name a few!

Why do women crave sugar and carbs so much?

There are loads of reasons we might crave sugar and carbs. Often it’s to increase our energy levels as our blood sugars may have dipped and sugar/carbs are high glycemic, meaning they provide a quick, available energy source. Lower GI foods such as vegetables, wholegrains, proteins and healthy fats take longer to digest and therefore satiate us for longer which lessens cravings.

Another reason is our menstrual cycles and hormone changes throughout the month. For example, as we head towards our period, our oestrogen and progesterone both increase and with these hormone changes comes an increase of 2-3% in your metabolism, making you hungrier. Sugar and carbs are quick-fix foods and may immediately satisfy the craving but also leave you wanting more shortly after.

Let’s not forget the brilliant food scientists out there who have created foods that have the perfect ratio of sugars/carbs:fats that make you crave more and more. Think Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate, potato chips etc. Once you pop you can’t stop - for a reason!

Obvious reasons like fatigue, poor sleep and energy (often seen around menstruation) and emotional eating.

Finally, and this is not gender specific, but if you are suffering insulin resistance it may increase your carb and sugar cravings. Often an excess in testosterone for women, as seen in conditions like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) will increase these cravings, as can cortisol (stress) excess. Unfortunately, with both of these hormone excesses, the body often struggles to break down the sugar and carbs it’s craving and stores it as excess fat, causing weight gain or stagnant weight loss, especially around the belly.

What are the top tips to someone who is trying to lose weight/be healthier/reduce inflammation?

I always encourage clients to record a food diary and see where improvements can be made. Once I have an example day of how someone eats, I encourage them to make healthy swaps eg if you’re having cereal and milk for breakfast, swap this to a seeded granola, LSA and Greek yoghurt; if you’re eating a chocolate bar for an energy boost in the afternoons, swap this for a Luka Wellness Drinking Chocolate and protein ball. Fiber is key to weight loss and to reduce cravings!

To reduce inflammation it is so important to eat a low-processed diet - that means, eliminating or reducing any food you can’t reproduce in your kitchen. Also eating a rainbow diet with loads of fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, lean protein and healthy fats from olive oil and grass-fed butter. A low-inflammatory diet is naturally going to assist with weight loss, especially for anyone suffering food sensitivities or intolerances. And try going gluten and sugar free for 10 days! The results I see when cutting these out is very impressive with up to 5kgs weight loss! For more info go see my Stripped Bare 10-Day Cleanse -

What do you recommend for women to reduce sugar cravings?

I want women to make healthy swaps to foods they love e.g. if you’re a milk chocolate addict, swap to 85% dark chocolate. I also encourage a sugar-free period, meaning no refined sugars. Instead use honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, or monk fruit sweetener like that found in Luka Wellness, which also helps to stabilise blood sugars.

I want all my clients to enjoy life and not feel deprived, which is why I always recommend Luka Wellness - it’s like having your cake and eating it too!  

Of course, it’s important to nourish your adrenals and stress response, as well as support your energy levels which might require you to have an honest assessment of your caffeine intake, sleep patterns, overall stress and anxiety levels. If these aren’t in order, kicking the cravings will be 10x harder! 

What do you recommend to women to improve energy levels?

Always have your fasting iron studies checked, especially if you are a menstruating female. Active B12 is also an important one, as is your thyroid.

Check your sleep hygiene - are you waking through the night? Do you struggle to fall asleep or switch off? Having a healthy sleep routine is so important, and I love and recommend Luka Wellness Night to anyone who wants to improve their sleep with its valerian and calming passionflower.

And finally, cut back on the caffeine! When you are relying on caffeine to assist your energy, you create the habit of feeling flat when the caffeine wears off (at 6 hours) and needing more. Wean yourself off coffee by swapping to a Luka Wellness and after a few days I can almost guarantee (pending no underlying nutrient deficiencies) your sleep will improve and your energy will increase!

What are the top ways women can start to feel better today!!

A little self-care goes a long way: Add in a 20 minute outside walk to your morning routine; swap your morning coffee for a warm lemon water with celtic sea salt; choose fresh, brightly coloured foods and add protein to every meal. Add Pilates into your day to tone and elongate your muscles; swap your afternoon snack or coffee to a Luka Wellness Chocolate Drink, increase your fatty fish intake, stretch, journal and finish your day with a Luka Wellness Night Drink. Oh and see me for a Nutrition Assessment and Pilates class!

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Join Pip's cleanse here:


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