Is What I'm Eating Contributing to My Anxiety?
Do you struggle with getting up in the morning? Are you not hungry right after you wake up?Do you rely on coffee multiple times a day to pick you up? Do you wish the whole world would go on pause and let you take a nap after lunch?
These are signs that you might be riding the blood sugar roller coaster. This undoubtedly contributes to your anxiety along with probably some other conditions you may have.
Now first, a short neurological pit stop to make you sound really smart with your friends:
What the heck is anxiety?
Think of a car trip with your fam... In the front of the car, the parents have to hold it together. There are all these impulses, questions, and nags coming from the back of the car.
"Are we there yet?" "I have to go pee!" "Charlie isn't sharing the tablet with me!"
Been there, done that... yeesh. The parents are able to decrease the stress and meltdowns that happen in the back... well, at least some of the time. So, it's the same for your brain. The front of your brain, the Frontal Cortex, gets the final word with most of the decisions made in your body, like mom and pops for their fam. Your Frontal Cortex needs to be in tip top shape to regulate all the impulses coming to it from all other places in your brain- the emotions, compulsive thoughts, etc.
The four things the Frontal Cortex needs to be healthy are good sleep, good oxygen, good activation (which is what we do here at Inside Out Health), and good nutrition. All these topics we will get into at different points. Today, we're talking about nutrition...
Back to the roller coaster...
The highs of the blood sugar ride...
come from having too much sugar like starting off the day with pastries, oatmeal or a banana. What this does to the body is a huge rush of sugar enters into the blood which can be dangerous for you because your brain cells can't control it. They get flooded with sugar.
Imagine dousing your brain with melted caramel.
Now take away the analogy... because that's literally what's happening!
This is why Alzheimer's is sometimes referred to as Diabetes type 3. The carmelization blows up the brain cells and they die. Chronic high blood sugar is a fast track to brain degeneration. Insulin is the defense mechanism...
Now, the lows of the ride...
After sugar overload, insulin's job is to get sugar out of the blood stream and into the cells. Now, after the huge rush of sugar into the blood, the HIGH of the coaster, insulin goes into HYPERDRIVE.
The surplus sugar gets turned into fat.
If insulin does a good job, then your blood sugar crashes. If it doesn't, that's called insulin resistance (topic for another time). When it crashes, your brain cells don't have enough energy to function. Now, the parents in the front of the car, going back to our analogy, can't regulate anymore...
All those obsessive thoughts and compulsive emotions have the green light.
The kids just took over the car.... scary thought.
This is the basic idea of what happens in certain forms of anxiety.
So, thoughts like, "Why isn't he calling me?" "Am I going to be able to make my mortgage payments?" "Why aren't I more like that?" "I'm not good enough." have the green light. We've all been there.. Not a pretty sight.
How to avoid the roller coaster:
A good way to avoid the roller coaster is to pair carbs or sugar with fat or protein. For example, having peanut butter with an apple instead of just an apple. Putting almond butter or coconut oil in your oatmeal. Don't be scared of good fats! We'll talk about how fat can make you thin later!
One of the worst things you can do for blood sugar is to have a sugary drink, like soda, gatorade, iced tea, with no food. For example, a Starbucks frappuccino has about 100 grams of sugar! That’s straight up half a cup of sugar right there. Sugary drinks are so dangerous because they go straight to your blood stream. You don't really need to digest it. This is good if you've just ran a marathon, but chances are.... that's not the reason most of us enjoy a grande java chip frappuccino.
A good ball park estimate of how much sugar should be your max is 30-40 grams of natural sugar (coming from fruits, dark chocolate, etc). Of course, moderation is everything and we shouldn't deprive ourselves of guilty pleasures ;) I treat myself to a Melinda's donut or New Leaf's chocolate coconut macaroons every now and then.. Ain't no shame!
Now you have the knowledge and you can use that to empower your day. I find it refreshing that I can actually do something to help release me from being held captive by my crazy thoughts!
At Inside Out Health, we check for all forms of anxiety and determine an action plan for your specific needs to allow for your success story!