Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Sugar Fog

Have you ever felt like you were living in some kind of dream (not a good one) or a fog? Like you are walking around covered by a haze and unable to be the vibrant, energetic person you know you are on the inside? I call it the Sugar Fog, and I lived in it for many years. You wake up and ache. Your head hurts. You think, "this sucks" but don't have the motivation or energy to do anything about it. So you grab some cookies and a Coke, because, after all, they give you "energy."

I think some people are more sensitive to the effects of sugar than others. But refined sugar is really terrible for your health. You eat it, your blood sugar spikes and then falls and you feel worse than before. It messes with your insulin levels, raising them suddenly, which weakens your immune system. High insulin levels contribute to weight gain and fat storage. You can read many studies online that show a link between refined sugar consumption and all sorts of maladies, including asthma in children. And there is absolutely no benefit to eating refined sugar... not nutritionally, and not emotionally.

Of course, most of us like the sweetness sugar provides, and I am not quite radical enough to cut it completely out of my diet. I do try and use local honey instead (as my allergist tells me that using a small amount of local honey daily will help alleviate my seasonal allergies). Some people use agave nectar. But I think the idea is to eat more natural foods and fewer refined or chemically created foods.

When I eat a bunch of sugar, it really affects me. And it makes me want MORE sugar. The cravings can be unbearable! I feel unsteady and out of sorts, and I feel like I am walking around in a fog. But after a couple of days "eating clean" (i.e. not eating much sugar or white flour products) I feel brighter, happier, and more energized. It's like a veil is lifted and I can "see" more clearly. My emotions are more stable and I just feel more alive. If you have never tried going off sugar/refined flour for a week, try it. At first it is VERY hard if you are used to eating a lot of those things. But then you start to feel so much better. That's one of the draws of the Atkins and South Beach diets. You go off sugar and white flour and after a few days of hellish withdrawals, you feel remarkably better. Those diets didn't work for me long term, but when I simply cut out 90% of my sugar intake I do see a marked improvement. I do NOT cut out fruits or whole grains. I just cut "sweets" and stuff like white rice, white bread, pizza, and crackers that are not whole grain.

All week I ate healthy. I based my meals and snacks around fresh vegetables, lean meats, fruits, and whole grains. I still had a little sugar here and there... a teaspoon in my tea (which I am replacing with honey), some Jif peanut butter on my waffle, some aerosol whipped cream on my berries. But nothing like a brownie or a piece of cake. I was feeling fantastic. It's like waking up from a bad dream when you finally get the sugar out of your system. I was feeling vibrant and optimistic. Well, last night I got a little silly and ate a little bit of my son's trail mix. "Ah, it is healthy," I reasoned, "it has a lot of nuts and dried fruits." In reality, it did have those things but it also had a ton of chocolate chips and 170 calories per 3 TABLESPOONS.(Trail mix is REALLY calorie dense!!! Bad idea!!) When I tasted that chocolate, I wanted more. I kept going back for "just a little bit more" until eventually I bet I had eaten 3/4 cup of the stuff. I did NOT need those calories, but the sugar rush was dramatic. Even though it was tempered by the fat and protein in the nuts, there was enough chocolate to kick me back into that sugar fog. I woke up this morning with a sugar hangover. You might know what I mean. Everything ached. My joints hurt as I stumbled out of bed, moaning and holding my head. I had a headache similar to a migraine and felt just yucky. It took me 2 hours of being up, drinking tea and water to feel remotely better. That sugar fog is a really bad thing. And to think I lived like that for years. Sad.

Don't live in that sugar fog anymore. Life is brilliant. Live it. Try cutting back gradually if you are immersed in a sugary life right now. Eat clean for a week and just see how you feel after that. I bet you will love your new clarity and energy!

Now I am off to take my own advice and banish that awful trail mix to the rear cabinet for the teenagers to take on road trips!

10 comments:

Ames said...

I found your blog through 3 Fat Chicks. I cannot remember if I commented before. If not. . .

Congratulations on how far you have come. I'm cheering you on.

This sugar fog post really resonated with me; I completely understand. I first noticed I had sugar issues when I was going to university. Since then, it has been a love/hate relationship. I KNOW how bad it is, but I am a total addict. Right now I am off desserts, pop, and other forms of obvious sugar. (This is not the first time.) I do not know why I just do not swear off the stuff for good. Because, you are right, life is so much better without it.

I have enjoyed your blog. And, I keep checking back to see if you have posted 60 pound pics.

Honi said...

if you like trail mix .. make your own .. or better yet like you always say eat a peace of fruit.. you can even have a handful of almonds.. with it too.. that way get that fruit and nut vibe going on lol.. great post as usual

Shanna said...

Yeah...I think I reside in the "Sugar Fog". I have a sweet tooth like you wouldn't believe. I will swear it off, but then break down one day and have a little bit, which ulitmately leads to allot bit and the cycle begins again! I feel your pain, girly & I am right there with you. Time to start taking health and wellness into consideration. =)

Lyn said...

Hi there Anonymous :)

I have not posted 60 pounds gone pictures because I have not yet lost 60 pounds! Yes, I know 59 is very close but I am a stickler for honesty and being precise. SO however long it takes me to lose that one more dratted pound, that is how long I will wait to take -60 pics and take measurements again! Soon... very soon I am sure! Keep on checkin!

Heather said...

SO true! I know for me, when I cut out sugar (and other processed foods), the cravings were gone. sometimes when I do eat something sugary they come back full force which just goes to show that people really can have a true addiction to sugar and its HARD to beat, but its great to be out of that fog.

Ceres said...

You're so right about the sugar highs (and the lows that follow...)! I used to binge on Ben and Jerry's ice cream, and then my pulse would go nuts, it was so scary! I'm so glad these days are over!

Dinah Soar said...

If I eat much high sugar food I feel miserable...it feels like having a hang over...not good. I posted some reminders on my fridge to the effect of : Remember how you felt when you (fill in the blank)...Just seeing that and recalling the yukky feeling is enough for now to stop me from foundering on rich food again.

Anonymous said...

Trail Mix - intended to be something backpackers can carry that's small and carries a lot of energy in a concentrated form to be lightweight for the calories it carries. It is always a surprise how many calories a small quantity of it has. For those who are hiking/backpacking and burning calories faster than they can replenish them and having to carry everything they eat, it's a great thing. For the rest of us, not.

I'm also rooting for you to lose that next pound and post those pictures. You are doing great. Thanks for sharing with us.

WebRover from 3FC

spunkysuzi said...

Sugar for me is like alcohol to alcoholics and i don't say that lightly. If i come near sugar just as you describe all i want is sugar and simple carbs i don't care what they are or if they're out of a jar i want them. So i'm trying to stay away from sugar and simple carbs and when i do the cravings subside and for awhile i feel normal again.

Tanizaki said...
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