Can you really be addicted to sugar?

sugary food

I was called a sugar addict when I was a kid. I used all my weekly allowance to buy candy, added sugar to my sugary breakfast cereal, and even snacked on sugar cubes when nobody was watching. As a teenager, breakfast away from home was an extra-large soda and donuts. It makes me shiver just thinking about it now.

But can you really be addicted to sugar?
In a way……when the body is exposed to sugar it affects certain hormones that may cause you to crave more.

Breaking this cycle is so important. Sugar negatively impacts the body in so many ways. When you blood sugar levels go up and down it will affect the way you feel. You can get headaches, fatigue and shakiness when your blood sugar drops. Although sugar contains no fat it can make you gain weight which can also increase your chances of diabetes, digestive and immune system issues. Sugar even affects the brain. In fact, high blood sugar levels increases chances of dementia by 20%.

But how do you break this addiction? It won’t happen overnight. Look at all your sources of sugar and slowly reduce them. You don’t have to remove sugar all together, but you can reduce it enough to enjoy it without negative impact. At the height of my sugar addiction, I couldn’t taste sugar in my frosted flakes so added my own sugar. After breaking the cycle I found the frosted flakes were sugary. In fact, when I decided to further reduce my sugar intake as an adult, I found unfrosted flakes were sweet enough!

Step one is to reduce or stop eating candy. If you need a sweet fix replace with sugarless gum. If you need something with substance, eat sweet fruits or vegetables like dates, bananas or carrots. Then, stop or reduce the sugar you add to things like beverages such as tea and coffee. No…. natural/raw sugars and artificial sweeteners cannot be substituted. They do not fix your situation. Even your honey or agave syrup should be reduced.

On top of watching the sugar, you will want to increase your activity level to burn calories, using the sugar that’s in the body. Drink more water, eat more fiber and when you do eat something with sugar, eat some protein with it. Protein will slow down the blood sugar spike of eating sugar by itself. Good protein options include meat, milk, cheese, yogurt and nuts.

Eventually, over about a 3 week period, you will find yourself feeling better and shocked at how sweet sugar actually tastes!

Good Luck!

 

 

Falling off the bandwagon doesn’t mean you can’t get back on

candy

I’ve been a bad blogger. I let the busy holidays get the better of me! Between work, charity drives, company parties, traveling, and of course the family holiday get togethers, I failed to follow through on my commitment to help you through the toughest part of the year.

I hope you were able to come up with good choices to stay healthy and happy while I was falling off the bandwagon. If not, don’t feel bad. Everyone makes mistakes, just like I did this season. Don’t beat yourself up. Your ability to recover is the true show of strength!

I stopped doing my yoga for over a week, hadn’t done any cardiovascular exercise for over a month, and had more sugar and alcohol than I limited myself to. My only saving grace was a bathroom scale that I periodically stepped on to be sure I wasn’t gaining too much weight.

The important thing now is to pick yourself back up, dust yourself off and get back to your normal routine. I’ve started back up on yoga and received a dance game I’m hoping will boost my cardio activity. As for sugar, I’m stashing all my candy gifts in a hard to reach cabinet in my kitchen, and rationing out 2 pieces a day. This will extend the holiday goodness for a LONG time! Now that parties are over, alcohol should be easier to manage.

What will you do to get back on the bandwagon? Take each of your concerns and create an action plan. You don’t have to do all of them at once. Make sure the first one sticks before you start the next.  Any step in the right direction is progress. If you are one of those people who has a hard time following through, pull out a paper calendar and write in what and when you are going to do your actions. Put reminders on your cell phone. It will be a constant reminder if you are falling behind. Pretty soon you will not only be back to your normal routine, you may even create new goals!

You know New Year’s is right around the corner!

Enjoy the rest of your holiday!

 

Are you really eating real food?

Food Label

I know a lot of us read food labels to look at calories, fats and sometimes sodium, but are you REALLY reading your food labels?

The ingredient list on your label may be more important than you think. With any processed food you want to be sure you are getting what you are buying. What does that mean?!!!

This really hit home for me a few years back. A petition was circulating requesting the FDA make it mandatory for chocolate candy companies to label their chocolate candy that really wasn’t chocolate…….WHAT?!!!!! As a certified chocoholic I was shocked. You mean there is chocolate candy out there that isn’t really chocolate?! Apparently there was a lot of candy that was actually fats and milk products with just a dash of cocoa powder. A lot of those cheap chocolate bunnies you get at Easter were just that. The law was passed and now these items must be labeled as “Chocolate Flavored”. Any time you see the words “flavor, flavored or flavoring” on your food label you have no idea what is being used to give it that taste. It may not have a spec of the food you were expecting.

Take a look at the label on your bacon bits that you add to your salad. Do you see bacon on the ingredient list? What about that blueberry cereal. Does it say blueberries, or does it say blueberry flavor. I can’t tell you how many items I’ve found that just say artificial flavorings on them with not a spec of real food.

Juice is another one to read close. Laws require companies to label a percent % of real juice that bottles actually contain. I’ve seen them as low as 5%! What do you think the remaining ingredients are? Usually sugar or high fructose corn syrup is at the top of the list followed by artificial color and flavor. Yuck!

You even need to take a closer look at your 100% juices now because of a newer label requirement. If the juice is called, for example, “cranberry juice”, you would expect it to be 100% cranberry juice, right? Not so. There could be 100% juice in the bottle, but there could be many other juices mixed in with your cranberry. In this case, the label must reveal that it is a “Blend”.  So if you see a bottle that says “100% Juice” and says “Cranberry Juice”, look for the word “Blend”. It may not be obvious. Read your ingredient list to determine how much cranberry you are really getting. Many have grape  and/or apple juice as the first two ingredients.

So are you seeing a pattern here? I hope this opens your eyes enough to start reading more of your food labels. If not for your health, at least to be sure you are getting what you pay for!

 

Fighting off Frostbite

House in Snow

I had an outdoor charity event last night, one of the coldest nights on record here. I can honestly say the cold took its toll on me and made it hard to work. I couldn’t feel my toes or fingers at one point, my legs became stiff and even my heels became painful to put pressure on. I stuck it through knowing that the charity comes first and that it only required a couple hours.

But how do I know at what point I’ve caught frostbite? When should I be worried?

It starts when you not only feel cold, you also feel numb. It usually effects fingers, toes, ears and nose first and then travel to other body parts. Start worrying when your skin turns an odd shade of grey and becomes tight and rigid. That’s called superficial frostbite. Most mild forms of frostbite will not damage the body unless the freezing reaches deeper tissues. Your bigger concern is when your body temperature goes below 95 degrees. You may be on your way to hypothermia which can result in a heart attack!

Once you know you have frostbite, get inside right away and loosen clothes so the warm air can quickly get to the skin. You can put your hands in your armpits, your groin area and other areas that naturally stay warm. Make sure your body is completely dry because moisture causes the skin to lose heat. First aid instructions say to put gauze between fingers and toes to wick away any moisture. However, if you can’t get inside right away, get your hands and feet into warm water, about 100 degrees. You do not want to use hot water or anything with direct heat like a fire or heating pad because the temperature difference will damage the tissues. The body needs to warm up slowly and it could take 20 to 45 minutes.

After getting inside, lie down and elevate the body parts that are experiencing pain. In extreme cases, moving should be done carefully. Sudden movements in people with hypothermia can result in a heart attack. If your skin is starting to change color and you think you have actual frostbite, get medical attention. They can decide the severity and treat it correctly.

Now….as with all medical conditions, there are ways to PREVENT frostbite before it happens. Luckily I took precautions last night and fared better than others.

WEAR LAYERS and protection for the most susceptible body parts including gloves, wool or double socks, scarf and a hat that covers your ears.

DO NOT GET WET. Nothing causes your body to lose heat faster than being wet. If you are using warm water to fix frostbite, don’t stop until you get inside. Refreezing body parts causes more damage.

STAY HYDRATED and eat well both before and during. A well running body resists the cold. Warm food and fluids are recommended. Stay away from caffeine, alcohol a smoking all of which can make you susceptible.

Have blankets and hand warmers available just in case. Hand warmers are this nifty pad you can stick in your gloves and shoes to keep your hands and toes warm. You can buy them at any outdoor supply store and they work well! I used them last night and they are still a little warm this morning!

Well, the charity event went well and I survived the cold. I learned a few tricks on how to be better prepared for next time. I hope you picked up a few tips from my experience.