Amanda Chocko, NTP
How to jump off the "blood sugar roller coaster" so you can improve your mood, energy, and waistline
Updated: May 9, 2018
ARE YOU HANGRY?
Do you crash in between meals? Suffer from brain fog? Make a beeline for the coffee pot for that 3:00 pick me up? Can’t seem to drop that extra weight? Then you, my friend, are a sugar burner.
Our bodies are designed to burn both fat and glucose for energy. But this cannot happen when we are consuming a steady stream of carbs and sugar throughout the day.
I HAVE BEEN THERE
I have always considered myself to be a health conscience person. Beginning in the 80’s and spanning 3 decades I road the low fat train ordering egg white omelettes, non-fat lattes, eating lot’s of “healthy” whole grains, and avoiding fat at all costs.
From the outside I appeared to be a very healthy person. In reality, I spent my days riding the blood sugar roller coaster (aka Hypoglycemia).
The timing of my meals and snacks ruled my life. If I didn’t eat every 2 hours I would begin to crash. I would get brain fog and lose the ability to concentrate. I was irritable and not fun to be around.
I just chalked all of this up to genetics.
After all, everyone in my family had “low blood sugar”. I remember dinner time at my house was more like feeding time at the zoo. We were all pacing around like caged animals waiting for my mother to put dinner on the table.
But it wasn't genetics that was the common denominator. It was the way we ate.
The 80’s were the beginning of the low fat movement. We were told that fat and cholesterol are going to kill us. We stopped eating bacon, butter and eggs and began replacing them with highly processed (read fake) foods. Toast with margarine, fat-free cheese, sugary cereal, non-fat yogurt or muffins became the breakfasts of choice. 100 calorie snack packs and fat free chocolate pudding were considered health foods.
Thirty years later we continue to get fatter, sicker, and Hangrier.
WELCOME TO THE BLOOD SUGAR ROLLER COASTER
Every function in your body is designed to keep you alive. In order to do this it must constantly work to keep your body in balance (homeostasis). This includes blood sugar balance which is not only crucial to looking and feeling great, it is critical to your very survival.
All carbohydrates are metabolized as sugar in your body. This includes bread, pasta, rice, cookies, candy, oatmeal and even fruits. It all turns into glucose the moment it hits your bloodstream.
Let’s say you begin your day with a muffin, or perhaps a bowl of cereal. The carbs are quickly converted into glucose and hit your bloodstream. There is too much , so your pancreas quickly pumps out insulin-your fat storage hormone. Insulin’s job is to get the excess glucose out of your blood and store it into your liver and tissues for later use.
What ever is not used for energy is stored as fat.
Within the next hour or so your blood sugar plummets and you begin to crash. You are feeling like crap, so you decide to grab a snack, say a granola bar or banana. And the cycle continues. Sandwich and chips for lunch-spike-crash. 3:00 pick me up-spike, crash. Pasta for dinner, spike-crash.
Because you are riding this blood sugar roller coaster throughout the day, you never tap into your fat stores for energy. You will continue to gain weight and have all of the other symptoms of blood sugar dis-regulation.
If this pattern continues year after year, decade after decade, your cells can become insulin resistant which can lead to Type 2 Diabetes. They say by the year 2020 1 in 3 people will be Type 2 Diabetic. Type 2 Diabetes used to be known as “adult onset diabetes”, but now kids are becoming diabetic as well. So they don’t call it that anymore. So, what can you do about it?
EAT WHOLE, BALANCED, NUTRIENT DENSE MEALS
Your body needs nutrients to signal to the brain that it is nourished and satiated. Here are some guidelines.
Quality is important- Opt for organic, free range and grass fed when possible. If this is not in your budget, do your best.
Load up on veggies -vegetables provide you with the fiber and nutrients your body needs to function properly. Saving starchy veggies for later in the day will keep your blood sugar stable.
Eat protein at every meal- Proteins break down into amino acids that help to build and repair muscle (among a host of other things). It is also satiating. Shoot for 2 to 4 oz for each meal and you should be good to go.
Drink more water-water is considered a nutrient. Sometimes you may think you are hungry and tired, but you are actually just dehydrated. Before dashing for the coffee pot or vending machine, drink a big glass of water. You should be drinking half of your body weight in ounces per day for your body to function properly.
DON’T FEAR FAT
Fats have been given a bad rap. Healthy fats are crucial to proper body and brain function among a host of other things. They:
Prove a source of energy in the form of ketones
Increases satiety so you don’t feel driven to snack all day long
Allow for the production of sex hormones- this is a whole other subject
Aid in nutrient absorption-you cannot absorb vitamins A,D,E and K without fat
Slows glucose absorption to help you avoid spikes and crashes throughout the day
Make food taste good- need I say more
AVOID TOXIC FATS
Canola oil, soybean oil, vegetable oil. Contrary to what we have been told, these fats are toxic to your body. They are highly processed, become rancid when exposed to light and high heat, and cause systemic inflammation (which contributes to all chronic disease).
AVOID SUGAR AND PROCESSED FOOD (like the plague)
Processed foods are void of nutrients, are made with cheap, genetically modified ingredients, and are purposefully addictive. You will never reach optimal health if you make them a regular part of your diet. A few other reasons:
Besides causing fat storage, they cause systemic inflammation, digestive issues, and a host of other problems.
Sugar is also more addictive then cocaine, feeds cancer cells and contributes to dementia and Alzheimers (which is now being called Type 3 Diabetes). It also breaks down collagen and contributes to wrinkles. Nuff said.
Read labels! Sugar is hiding in most processed foods, sauces and condiments. Sneaky food companies try to trick us by using other names.
If you are hankering for something sweet, opt for fruit (1 to 2 per day). Berries are best because they contain the least amount of sugar (thus less of a blood sugar spike).
Following these guidelines will help you to jump off the blood sugar roller coaster, crush cravings, lose weight, and give you the energy to conquer your day.
Here’s to feeling groovy!