The Sweetener!

In the seventh blog of our series with Alex Hurt, she explores the topic of diet, diabetes awareness and embracing a healthier lifestyle, plus being honest with yourself about your daily habits.

So.. curl up with your favourite wellness tea, light a candle and read Alex’s musings to put a smile on your face and some goodness into your day. 

Oh how the summer has arrived, and today with strong gusts and sunny skies with my washing on the line, it’s blowing away all the metaphorical cobwebs. Windy weather always makes me think the world’s gone topsy turvy for a while; and I rather like it. This week we’re diving straight into diabetes and the ironic sweetener here is if it’s type 2, you can do something about it. It’s simply about making better choices. 

Our friends over at diabetes.org.uk tell the story in facts and figures, so, by educating yourself you can completely prevent type 2 diabetes, lessen the stress and strain on both your body and that NHS you were clapping so hard for every Thursday.

Facts and Figures

  • 4.7 Million people in the UK have diabetes in the UK, that’s roughly 1 in 15 people.  
  • 90% of people have type 2 diabetes, 8% have type 1 diabetes and 2% have a rare kind of diabetes. 
  • It can take 5-6 years before a type 2 diagnoses and 6 in 10 of those diagnoses have zero symptoms. 
  • Obesity is responsible for 80-85% of type 2 diabetes, but the good news is more than half the people diagnosed with type 2 could have either been prevented or delayed.

Type 1 diabetes is more commonly diagnosed in childhood or your more formative years. Your body’s immune system fights off viruses and bacteria, however in people with type 1 the body attacks its own healthy cells, along with the insulin producing cells in the pancreas and the body is unable to produce insulin.  Insulin levels then need to be monitored and insulin injected.

Type 2 diabetes means that the body has an insulin resistance. The body produces the insulin but can’t use it effectively. This means your pancreas will try to compensate by producing more insulin and the glucose then accumulates in your bloodstream. Type 2 can be treated by diet and exercise only, and medication. Type 2 is lifestyle dependent and therefore it can be delayed or entirely prevented in many people.

‘Wellness’ is the word that people are spouting off as often as you hear ‘down facing dog’ these days. Wellness and not illness, is the POINT! Your mental and physical health come hand in hand, and to be well will put less strain on your life, finances and our beloved health system. It’s not rocket science that if you eat more than you burn off, you’ll pile on the pounds.  Eating less and moving more is the general rule of thumb. That said, for those of us with varying conditions, illnesses or lifestyles unsympathetic to this… then Houston, we have a problem! Wellness is about everyday wellbeing. It’s about making the right choices and being kind to yourself.  Finding hobbies that you enjoy that get you active, educating yourself on different foods that are more nutrient rich, but taste good.

About 8 years ago I was diagnosed with pre diabetes. I was living a fast-paced life in Dubai. Eating out, drinking more than I should, working long hours. I was stressed out, bloated and had high blood pressure because of the strain I put my body under. My food choices were not healthy, they were quick. Whilst I enjoyed food, I never took my time, rather wolfed lunches down in front of a laptop, ate dinner in front of the tv and this was often a takeaway. I did very little exercise because it was so damned hot and I worked most of the time. I’ve always been cushioned! This time of my life I resembled more of a pillow! The shock I had, being in my early thirties and discovering that if I didn’t make changes pretty fast, I’m going to have a chronic illness for the rest of my life made me schedule an appointment with a nutritionist STAT!

The painful process of being poked, prodded, weighed, measured and the shame of listing what you ate – and actually telling the truth! Well, it’s all worth it now because I’m absolutely A-OK. But then? I felt terrible, like I had betrayed my own body. I enrolled in a scheme where I had all my meals prepared for me, and this taught me all about making the right choices and portion control. I believe within about 4 months I had reversed the pre diabetes and reduced my weight significantly. What an achievement. It was at that time I realised I wasn’t invincible. Although my choices in food dramatically improved, I was still stressed, still smoking and still liked my martinis! My doctor scared me to death and recommended I go on medication to reduce my blood pressure. Looking back, I wish he had more of a holistic approach with me. My BP was high because I was stressed. It only peaked when my anxiety was heightened, but my anxiety disorder didn’t get diagnosed until last year! Alas my doctor put me on meds and sent me on my merry way.

The proof that a healthier mindset creates a healthier body is writing this blog for you to read. I am still indeed cushioned, I would love to be svelte but I am going to work with what I have. I’m a walker; I did try running, and whilst I hated actually running (more of a light jog tbh) the feeling of achievement was off the charts. However, my knees didn’t agree with it. I eat fish, chicken and ALOT of veg, I don’t drink very often (perhaps once a month if that), and my biggest achievement is that I no longer smoke. I was hypnotised and haven’t touched one since I quit, and I’m no quitter! I no longer have high blood pressure, or pre diabetes and I am a healthier version of me because I made better choices. In fact, I honestly believe that all along, if someone had sat me down and explained to me how I could change my life to reduce my anxiety a long time ago, I could have avoided this chapter of my life entirely.

Here’s a checklist for you.

  • Do you have enough time to make the right choices? If not, how can you find a way to give yourself more time now, to add time onto your quality of life later?
  • Do you enjoy your food, or do you simply wolf it down?
  • Does stress affect your eating? Either over or under eating?
  • Are you overweight and is it preventing you from doing the things in life you would like to?
  • Are you stressed out all the time?
  • Do you know how to make better food and lifestyle choices?

Whether lockdown has been the ideal time to get to grips with your healthy eating, or you’ve piled on the pounds through boredom or indeed stress – it’s ok. Firstly, let’s not punish ourselves. Being kind however does not begin with a jam donut, I wish it did, but it doesn’t. Wellness is simply living life in a ‘well way’. Being aware of what makes you overeat; this could be stress, lack of sleep or a bottle too many of wine. Think about what you have at home in the cupboards and in the fridge. You don’t have to visit a nutritionist or have your meals delivered, although if that’s a financial option then I can tell you it’s a convenient one!

Shopping list

  • More fruit – yes it has sugar, but a different kind.
  • More veg – not just potatoes.
  • More wholemeal – less white starch.
  • More lean meat, fish rich in the good kind of fatty acids but easy on the shellfish (cholesterol).
  • Less dairy…. try switching to a milk alternative, I drink oat milk and love it.
  • Less sauces/condiments or make your own – and check out how much oil is in mayonnaise, that will put you off!
  • Camellia’s tea – drink more good quality tea, try cleansing teas such as Green Mint Tea is full of anti-oxidants and helps reduce the bad type of cholesterol, plus mint is a great palate cleanser and great for digestion. Drinking any type of tea, but especially green tea and wellness teas, are a great way to increase hydration and support the reversal of diabetes. 
diabetes awareness
Green Mint Tea


  • Take a packed lunch and snacks to work.
  • Eat less sugar in general, but don’t fall down the saccharine tunnel.  Your body can’t process it, and it’s not good for you. 
  • Reduce your caffeine intake for a better sleep and therefore a better choice of food so you aren’t always tired. Try Sleep Well Tea at bedtime for the perfect slumber cup and low natural fruit-based sugar teas such as Very Berry Fruit Tea if you need natural sweetness. 
  • Consume slow burning carbs. 
  • Exercise – walk, run, work in the garden and try listening to a podcast.
  • Meditate and if you’re feeling stressed or sad then speak to someone you are comfortable with.
diabetes awareness
Very Berry Fruit Tea

In Corona times we have all learned how precious life is. Let’s learn the lesson. Let’s recognise some common symptoms that come with diabetes and if you think you may have it, then visit your GP. If you have type 2, chances are you can reverse or delay it and that’s the sweetener. 

  1. An unquenchable thirst
  2. A tingling in your hands or feet
  3. Frequent urination
  4. Feeling very hungry
  5. Fatigue
  6. Blurry vision
  7. Cuts or sores that don’t heal properly

People with diabetes are twice as likely to have a stroke, 2.5 times more likely of cardiovascular disease and heart failure! On average 1 in 6 people in hospital are in there with a diabetes complication. 

Like mental health, diabetes awareness is key here. Diabetes is so much more than overeating and belly fat! If you take your own holistic approach to your own wellness, you are taking charge of the rest of your life. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for the people that love you. If you know someone that needs to read this, then simply forward it on with love, it could save someone’s life. 

A spritzer when the pubs open perhaps? Until next time… make better choices. 

Continue your Wellness journey with Alex’s eight blog Meditation and Mindfulness – Essential Tools & Simple Tips To Keep The Calm In Your Daily Lifestyle.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

In the second blog of our series with Alex Hurt, she explores mental health issues in conjunction with lockdown life and Mental Health Awareness Week 2020. So.. curl up with your favourite wellness tea, light a candle and read Alex’s musings to put a smile on your face and some goodness into your day.

Well hello there from sunny Suffolk.  The sun is streaming through the house whilst I play plinkety plonk meditation tunes in the background.  The cats are sleeping next to the warm range as I have a loaf in the oven, and I’m drinking the delicious ‘Healthy Immunity’ – Wellness Tea. (Fear not… I had a piece of Lemon Drizzle cake earlier accompanied by an Earl Grey, so am certainly far from my body being a temple, but I do like to be kind to myself).

Healthy Immunity Herbal Infusion

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week and I’d like to unveil with you all, not only what our mental health should look like, but also how we can put a mantra or a little ritual (we know I love these) into your day to make you feel like you again. This time at home, if indeed you aren’t a key worker; has been reflective.  Some people have risen like a Phoenix, swooped into a life they’ve lusted after, whereas others are lost, imbalanced and confused.  Trying to find your ‘routine’ in the beginning was hard, and for some it’s a struggle. Interestingly how many of us used work as a distraction from our real life?  Or perhaps filled our lives with work or appointments to mask dealing with our own feelings? For those who have met yourselves for the first time in a long time, how does that feel?

Whilst that marinades with you, let’s take a look at how we could feel if we have a balanced mental health.  We can experience happiness, joy, gratitude without false smiles or a rushed mind.  We can cope with stress without internally combusting or hibernating.  We can increase productivity with the more we can do, the more we want to do. We experience elation, we can plan without worse case scenarios and feel at ease.  Generally, we have the ability to deal with what life hands out. Really?  Yes, really.  Are you considering that at times you aren’t so balanced after all?  Perhaps everyone at some time or other dips in and out of mental health issues.  Our friends at mind.org.uk confirms that 1 in 4 of people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year and 1 in 6 people in England are experiencing mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. It is no longer taboo, it’s something that we are all coming to terms with, and far more comfortable talking about.

Mental health, much like physical health can affect us daily or in waves.  Sometimes it can be brought on by a stressful or emotional time in your life, other times it can spring up without warning and throw you off kilter.  What we all need to understand is ‘it’s absolutely normal’.  However, imagine that you got repeated colds, or a sore throat.  You would perhaps turn to vitamins to boost your immunity and if they didn’t work, you may seek advice from a medical professional.  It’s exactly the same with your mental health. However, some of us have irrational fears that cripple us.  Our overthinking brains can’t even pick up the phone to make an appointment, let alone physically get to a doctor. Other’s may shrug off the symptoms, supress their feelings and perhaps only detract from them by keeping occupied.

Returning to my earlier question – How does it feel to meet yourself?  Stripped from your title, your uniform and your armour.  Who are you without your job?  Who have you been whilst the world has stopped? Has this made you anxious?  Do you seek validation?  Interaction and a busy schedule?  Or are you amazed at who you are and what you can achieve?  We are all different, however we may not all be in the same boat, but we are all most definitely in the same storm. In these changeable times it’s important to take stock, evaluate and reconsider where you are at in life and what you put into it.

For some, mental health issues look like an intermittent sleep, an overactive mind in the morning, shortness of breath and feelings of panic.  It can also feel like sweaty palms, a racing heart, pains from nowhere, tummy ache and an on-edge feeling… all of the time.  Or, it could simply be that your love for life has got up and gone, there’s nothing to look forward to and life has lost its lustre.  You are simply uninterested, you’ve checked out, and the words ‘chill out or snap out of it’ enrage you.  If only it were that easy.

My point being, that we all experience mental health problems at some point, and if we can recognise them, acknowledge them and shake their hand, things will get a lot easier.  Working within wellness has allowed me to connect with many people, understand how they are feeling and suggest ways I can assist, or in fact how they can help themselves at home. So, I would like you to pour your favourite tea, snuggle up and read on, as I share some simple ways to calm your mind.

  • Say hello to your problem, acknowledge that it’s there but doesn’t define you.  Don’t push it away, it’s there and you can absolutely do this.
  • Make your attitude, gratitude.  What have you learned over the past few months that you really appreciate?  Focus on that, and say either out loud or in your mind, what you are thankful for?
  • Do a body scan, no, you aren’t looking for problems, you’re just feeling where is tense.  Remove your tongue from the roof of your mouth, drop your shoulders, unclench your jaw and relax your feet… that’s better.
  • If you haven’t already, take a big breath in through your nose, and release it out slowly through your mouth and repeat this 3 times or more.
  • Now, what’s your mantra?  What is a mantra? Simple, it’s a sound or a word repeated to aid concentration. It can also deflect your thoughts from the negative.  Your mantra could simply be a hum, or a sentence.  An example is ‘ sunshine thoughts’ or ‘I am loved’.  This is extremely personal, so take some time to think about what mantra maybe right for you. Then, find a quiet spot, free from distractions and using your deep breathing, repeat your mantra.  Allow yourself at least 10 minutes of time to do this, and simply breathe and repeat.
  •  Go natural, go holistic and build up your immunity in uncertain times.   Wellness teas are most certainly a way of calming our minds, and with Healthy Immunity this tea is warm, sweet and woody which calms you from the get go. Packed with vitamin C, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties this deliciously tangy hibiscus and spicy ginger remedy of tea, provides you with the comfort you need and the fight to ward off both unwelcome feelings and viruses. It’s a no brainer and it tastes great.

Whatever ‘pinch point’ you are experiencing, it doesn’t need to be here to stay, it can simply be a punctuation in your long life. For many talking about mental illness or indeed mental wellness… to put a positive spin on this, actually brings people together. There’s no divide, people find comfort in sharing and knowing that they aren’t alone.

Alas you aren’t alone, unless you want to be. You aren’t the first and you won’t be the last. Your anxiety lies to you continually. However, bring in your mantra, some breathing and a cup of wellness tea, and with baby steps you can shake the hand of your own mental health, and begin to ease your mind.

Remember… what we put into our minds, as well as our body makes a huge difference to how we feel. My tonic today was Healthy Immunity Tea, because prevention in these times are key, and a strong immune system maintains a better frame of mind.

healthy immunity tea

If you have read this and recognise you need to talk to someone, then I would advise you where possible to speak to a friend or family member. If you’d rather not below is a link to organisations that will support you and signpost you in the right direction.

Mental Health Help and Support

Supporting your mental wellness begins with awareness. Until next week’s Tea Time… take care.

Mental Health Awareness Week

Continue your Wellness Journey with Alex’s third blog How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep.

Weekly Wellness Tips and Inspiration

Guest blog by Alex Hurt – a friend of Camellia’s Tea House and wellness feature blogger

Our friend and Feature blogger Alex Hurt brings us her wellness know-how to your home over the coming month. With 20 years within the spa industry, Alex drills down to the simplicities of well- being that makes a difference to your everyday lockdown life and beyond.

So.. curl up with your favourite wellness tea, light a candle and read Alex’s musings to put a smile on your face and some goodness into your day.

A cup of love

There’s just something about a cup of tea that brings us love and comfort.  Nursing a warm cuppa brings upon the ‘aaahhh time’ to relax and take a moment for us all. This is the first of many blogs, something for you to browse whilst cradling your wellness tea. I write to you from a sleepy village in Suffolk at my kitchen table, a pot of Bobby Marley Blend to my right is the ‘chill pill’ we all need to calm and soothe a racing mind.

Weekly Wellness Tips and Inspiration

Let’s face it, the world is on pause and with all of the uncertainty we all need some stress relief to keep us on track. Not only do we have to line up to go shopping, we are restricted to what we can buy… but there’s the cue for creativity. Alternatives, a different way of thinking, living and being (as well as eating). A few months ago, I am sure you didn’t expect to be home schooling, or using old socks as a mask for that matter, ordering hand sanitizer in bulk or dressing up for a visit to your local supermarket.  Almost overnight the world is adjusting to a new ‘norm’ and it’s time for some ‘alternative thinking’.

Whilst some of us bound head first under the duvet, others donned on some marigolds and found therapy in the art of cleaning everything in sight! Once you have deep cleaned every crevice possible, you may have started on the garden, or alphabetised your spices or indeed thrown them out (they probably expired years ago). Alas, once the initial settling in process is done, what are you left with?


Time for over thinking and time for worrying. Right here, right now you are allowed to just be. We don’t know the answers, we can’t predict the future of something that has never happened before so allow yourself the time and space to connect with you once again.  I want to share with you a few little rituals that may seem incredibly obvious, yet you haven’t quite got around to them… this may just be the gentle nudge in the right direction to get your relaxation on.

In your stress management tool kit should be a little structure to your day. That could be showering in your favourite foamy bubbles, giving your skin a scrub-a-dub-dub and applying lashings of your favourite moisturiser. Turn on some tunes, create your space.

Find a quiet spot and surf the podcast selections at your fingertips. This is my new love, and I like nothing more than plugging in to a feel good or hilarious podcast on my daily yomp over the fields. I tend to get a few looks as I howl with laughter at some of them – this really is the best medicine whilst drinking in nature. You can easily download a podcast app on both iPhone and android devices.

Sprinkle your week with calls to friends. Set aside time, some wellness tea and a comfy chair, for an hour or so of unrushed self indulgent talk time with a friend. There is nothing like it to make you feel like you again. I make these calls ‘main events’ to my days and something to look forward to.

Finally just breathe, breathe when you walk, breathe when you listen, breathe when you read and breathe before bed. Breathe in through the nose hold for 5 seconds and breathe out of the mouth for 3 seconds. Try to practice this at least 3 times, this will balance and restore calm.

There really is nothing better than curling up with your favourite, loose leaf tea. My cup of love today was a herbaceous blend, with some chilled out chamomile and subtle minty vibes. It was a cup of chilled out golden goodness that tasted great.

Bobby Marley Blend Tea

Until next time stay safe, stay well and be kind to yourselves. Take the time out to spend on you… I promise you’ll feel better.

Continue your Wellness Journey with Alex’s second blog “Mental Health Awareness 2020”.