For years, we’ve been hearing about the detriments of saturated fat and/or cholesterol on our health.
But now, over the past few years, sugar has begun taking some blame for the cascade of health issues it has on the body. Today, hopefully you’re learning that it’s actually the sugar we consume (in a variety of forms) that most greatly impacts not only heart health, but so many other areas of your health, fitness, and overall lifestyle.
There’s no doubt that sugar may impact your waistline, but maybe your waistline is just as you like it. Do you still need to consider your sugar intake? Check out the seven symptoms below to see if your body is trying to tell you, “Help! I’ve had enough!” Then, decide for yourself.
I love my morning cup of Joe just as much as the next person. BUT I’m not reliant on it to function — and more than 8-to 10-ounces for me is plenty. On the other hand, I’ve worked with countless people who are dependent on a minimum of 2-to 3 cups of coffee (really, more like 40+ ounces) before they can even tackle their email inbox, and are repeat offenders throughout the day with soda (diet or regular), coffee shop cocktails and energy drinks. Your body fighting the daily 3 pm nap session is not just a sign that you’re tired. It may be that your diet needs a break from sweets (especially hidden ones). When you consume sugar, it is quickly digested and raises blood sugars rapidly. But it’s also a great example of, “what goes up must come down,” as your blood sugars will do just that — plummet. This energy crash leaves your body in distress and in need of insta-energy. Enter: caffeine (or craving for more sugar). First off, down a glass or two of water first, as this will be your biggest energy boost. If you still need a pick-me-up, tea could be a great option without the repercussions later.
Did you know your bedtime snack and/or ‘nightcap’ may be to blame for your midnight trip to the bathroom? As previously mentioned, when we consume sugar, it causes our blood sugars to quickly increase, and then drop. When we eat snacks before bed (especially ones not balanced out with protein and/or healthy fats), our low blood sugars are felt during the night and our body’s response is to correct it. So while you may be thinking it is your bladder waking you, it’s actually that blood sugar rollercoaster ride you’re on. Better nighttime snacks to help curb the wake-up calls could be berries and heavy cream, cheese and olives, or veggies with hummus or guacamole.
How many of you have tried every cream, face wash, body lotion, and maybe even every prescription under the sun, and still those pesky skin issues are the thorn in your side? What if I were to tell you that how you look on the outside is largely dependent on what is going on inside your body—and that depends on what food or “food” you put in your mouth. How your skin displays your internal health could be in a variety of ways: rashes, itchy skin, eczema, psoriasis, hives, acne, etc. Rather than stopping by the beauty counter or healthcare aisle for your next remedy, visit your grocery store instead. Opting for omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, antioxidants, and ample water intake in addition to nixing your sugar intake, may be just your ticket to relieved complexion.
Gas, Bloat, & Tummy Issues
Now, this symptom is one that resonates with me the most. As a dietitian, I do aim to stick to the 80/20 rule and am mindful (at least 80%) of my food choices each day. However, I’m also human and holidays, parties, etc., can at times lead my week a little astray. Last summer, for example, I just felt “off.” For the most part, I was following my usual schedule, but after summertime vacations and my favorite holiday of the year, I began to realize any time I had a bit more sugar than usual, my stomach would bloat and I could feel my body instantly tell me, “That was not the best food choice for you.” In the past I may have never noticed this feeling, or if I did, may have attributed it to overeating. Being more mindful of my eating though, has significantly helped show me what foods I tolerate best and remind me that while my eyes tell me dessert is necessary, my gut now leads my decisions. You may even notice a difference in consuming sugar vs. artificial sweeteners—it’s quite common in fact. Paul provides great insight on each specifically in this article.
Never-ending Sweet Tooth
This may be the typical, “I crave sweets ALL day!” Or maybe you’ve noticed lately that your taste-buds don’t seem to be working on all cylinders, and foods that once were loaded with flavor just taste so-so now. The more pre-made and pre-packaged foods you consume, (i.e. boxed dinners, cereals, pastas, condiments, pasta sauce, etc.) the greater your intake of sugar. Take a peek at your ketchup, peanut butter, salad dressing and fruit juice. It doesn’t take long for these added foods in your daily intake to add up to the equivalent of a few sodas! This overexposure leads to increased cravings and needing more sugar to taste ‘sweet.’ Test out if your taste-buds are diluted with the self-experiment found here!
Sick, and then Sick Again
Are you one that always feels sick and run down? Always have the sniffles, cough, and/or congestion? This could be due to many factors. But one you may not have thought of is the crud you’re dealing with may be from the crud you’re eating (a.k.a. sugar). Excess sugar intake may actually depress your immune system, and therefore make you more susceptible to colds, bacteria and viruses. As we know, excess sugar increases inflammation in our body. Our immune system’s first response is to “put out the fire” and handle the inflammation, rather than fight off the cold. Simply put, when you overconsume sugar, (whether it be from soda, candy, cake or other processed carbs) your immune system may feel the consequences.
Aches and Pains
Want some great news? It may require a little bit of dedication, but that joint pain you may have been dealing with (some of you for years) may be mitigated. However, it won’t be from that over-the-counter medication you’ve been popping. Aches and pains in our joints are most often a result of inflammation. What is often a primary cause of inflammation? Sugar! I’ve had countless clients come to me in despair and feeling defeated by their aches and pains that they have just had to “deal with.” By making minor tweaks to their nutrition, and being diligent in sticking with their plan, they were able to significantly decrease, if not eliminate, their joint pain. Try swapping processed carbohydrates for veggies and fruits as much as possible. Replace soda with sparkling water and turn to healthy fats such as omega-3 to further decrease inflammation. This is where a daily dose of a quality fish oil supplementcan really help!
You may at this point be feeling like “Yes! Those symptoms are all totally me! Now what?” For starters, be mindful of what you consume. Keep it easy and don’t over complicate this activity. Put pen to paper and record what you eat for the next 2-to 3 days. Assess how much of each meal is carbohydrate, protein and healthy fat. Next, assess what you add or eat that is really needed? Aim for your meals to look like this. When you ensure you’re having ample healthy foods, you’ll start to crowd out the sugar. I do my best when I make the decision to do a jump-start and restart my metabolism with a 14-or 30-day clean-sweep a few times throughout the year. The nutrition protocol for the Life Time D.TOX program is a great guide for this and the results you feel in that short time will be the proof you need. Simply follow the approved-foods guide, OR follow the complete program and purchase the D.TOX kit that compliments the program. Kick the sugar and free yourself of these nasty symptoms that could be avoided. Thanks for reading!