So we all have experienced it before. We find ourselves hungry without food in sight. Not sure when we will get to devour our next bite and satisfy that “stomach gnawing on your spinal cord” feeling. You don’t understand. You had your typically coffee and bagel or bowl of cereal for breakfast, yet you still feel famished before lunch rolls around. You get cranky. You get groggy. You get mind fog and spacey. Your patience level is nil and if one more person accidentally bumps into you or sends another deadline memo, you will literally flip your lid. These symptoms, my lovelies are conditions of blood sugar imbalances.
This “oh so pleasant to be around” state happens all too frequently throughout our day. Unfortunately, this temporary state has the potential to turn ugly if it isn’t handled with some conscious eating and lifestyle choices. Hypo and Hyperglycemia are not just states that we can experience after eating meals too high in refined foods but they can actually become chronic conditions that greatly affect a person’s health.
When we experience hunger, our body sends a message to the brain that it is time to refuel. Typically, people don’t like to wait to eat and find themselves satisfying that hunger with foods that are easily accesible (i.e. the closest fast food joint, the vending machine, the candy dish filled with Hersey’s Kisses, food that is so fast, you’ll freak, you get the picture.) Most, if not all of these choices, are made up of highly refined foods or foods that are high on the Glycemic Index.
The Glycemic Index is the measure of the effect of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. A food that is high on the list breaks down quicker during digestion, rapidly releasing glucose into the blood , which spikes blood sugar levels. Think Mike Meyers as the “Hyper-Hypo” tied up to the playground geeking out from a piece of “devil” chocolate. Ok, maybe you don’t flail your arms quite as much nor does your mother keep you tied up to a pole but you get my point.
Your body, being the amazingly intelligent machine that it is, responds very quickly to that rapid spike and releases massive amounts of insulin in attempt to remove the excess glucose from your blood. Although this does do the job by lowering your blood sugar, it causes it to dip down below average levels at a fairly quick rate. A couple of hours in that low blood sugar state, and you are back to ripping your coworkers head off for asking wear you get your haircut.
So, although your body will continue to pick up the sloppy mess you create after a meal packed with sugar and void of substance, it too gets tired. Repeating this cycle of quick blood sugar spikes followed by rapid pitfalls gets old. Your body can only handle it for so long before, much like dealing with a nagging partner, it doesn’t respond as effectively if at all. Not to mention the extreme stress put on your adrenal glands which ahem, manages your ability to deal with stress. To get more info on the effects of stress on your body, including weight gain, click here.
When your body stops responding effectively, it can get stuck in these stages of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), developing into chronic conditions and have been linked as a precursor to diabetes. What’s a person to do?
The best way to maintain a state of fairly balanced blood sugar is to1. Avoid foods that are refined and limiting our consumption of high glycemic foods such as:
- white pasta
- white flour
- baked goods
- white potatoes
- fast food
- most breads
- high fructose corn syrup
- boxed cereals
- most sports drinks
- beer (Sorry folks, this is actually one of the highest foods on the glycemic index)
2. Eat whole foods as often as possible sticking with low glycemic foods such as:
- sprouted whole wheat breads
- winter squashes
- sweet potatoes
- hemp seeds
- nut butters
- coconut oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil
3. Try to eat a source of protein and a healthy fat with every meal
4. Eat foods high in fiber (many of the foods listed in the low glycemic section are game)
Other things that will help with balancing your blood sugar is limiting your caffeine and nicotine intake, as these both trigger the release of hormones and stomach acids used in digestion which can further exhaust and compromise your digestive tract. Just another reason to kick the habit, right?
So I beg you, be mindful of when you eat, how you eat, what you eat and where it comes from. Oh, and also be flattered that someone like your haircut.