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Sugar for Stress?

When we are stressed, we are more likely to engage in unhealthy eating choices. We feel under pressure, we do not have enough time so we either grab something on the go or skip a meal entirely. We want to comfort ourselves so we reach out for sweet and fatty snacks. We want to calm ourselves down so we may not stop at one glass of wine in the evening. The list may go on and the results are not pleasant at all.

Let us start with what we should avoid. Eliminate sugar from your diet immediately. I rarely make extreme statements but the chances are that your body is already experiencing the effects of excess consumption of sugar. Once you have rebalanced your body, you can come back to occasional sugary treats but at this point it is important to give your body a chance to recover.

Cakes, sweets, milk or white chocolate, sugary snacks and, let's not forget, sugary drinks may seem to give you a boost of energy when you require it but they also put your body on a hormonal roller-coaster. When you pump refined sugar into your blood, your body secretes insulin. It does a great job removing the sugar from the blood and passing it into the cells for energy. The excess sugar is stored as fat in cells. However, when you are stressed your cells get the signal from the stress hormones not to store fat. This means sugar is not being removed from the blood. You are now on your way to become insulin resistant. You get your sugar but your body cannot deal with it any more. If you are not worried yet, I need to tell you that the consequences of insulin resistance are heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer's disease and cancer.

I know, I have scared you a bit now. What should you do then? Get your energy from starch (bread, potatoes, pasta). They release the energy more slowly but your energy remains at a steady level for longer.

But I need my snacks! This is the topic of the next episode.

Disclaimer: consult a doctor or nutritionist when changing your diet drastically or when you have a medical condition.