How about crabby AND tired?
Or are you gaining weight even though you don’t eat much.
Have you ever considered that maybe you’re eating the wrong foods?
Believe you me, we all have those days where we’re reaching for an afternoon Cup o’ Joe, but unsurprisingly, there are food related mechanisms completely within your control to minimize, if not eliminate, the guesswork around energy and mood. Blood sugar. Yes, blood sugar is the key to unlocking steady energy and even-keel moods. It is not rocket science and learning the basics to regulating it are critical to good sustainable health, emotionally and physically.
But in order to understand blood sugars at play in your body, there are three vocabulary words to familiarize yourself with: glucose, insulin, and cortisol.
Glucose – blood sugar that circulates through the body providing fuel and energy to the brain and cells to that they can properly function. The majority of excess glucose is stored as fat for long-term energy use (the kind of fat we don’t want too much of!)
Insulin – insulin is the hormone made by the pancreas that escorts glucose into cells for energy use. It is the key to metabolizing carbohydrates.
Cortisol – cortisol is an adrenal gland hormone that, among other things, regulates blood glucose levels. It is responsible for bringing our energy up (through blood sugar) when the body is under stress.
Now stick with me here … don’t glaze over.
Here is is how it plays out in the body, yours included. After you eat, blood sugar rises and insulin is released to accompany the glucose into the cells to be used as energy. As the glucose is used by the cells, naturally, the level of blood glucose falls back into the range of normal. In a perfect world, this is how it would work; steady blood sugar = energy and mood stability. No crazy spikes and deep valleys.
The problem is two-fold:
1) As a culture, we consume too many low quality carbohydrates
2) We folks are tragically stressed out and our cortisol levels are WHACK.
Combined, these two circumstances creates a crazy and unhealthy roller-coaster of energy highs and lows. When our blood sugar is high, our insulin level elevates, we store fat like nobody’s business, suffer unpleasant and unpredictable mood swings, and often experience brain fog. Then, to add insult to injury, our blood sugar plunges and our body senses stress, calling desperately for the release of more cortisol (Warning! Not enough fuel, we’re dying here!!). You can probably imagine what happens next – we find ourselves craving quick sugar and crabby carbohydrates (like they were crack) for quick, cheap energy. Unsurprisingly… we feel like crap and the whole vicious cycle starts once again. Long term effects of wacky blood sugar levels can be life threatening as they manifest obesity, constant inflammation and/or diabetes.
What should I do, you may ask?
I’m happy to report that the answer is not terribly complicated, but actually pretty darn simple. Use this simple formula:
THREE MEALS A DAY
PROTEIN (palm size) + GOOD FAT (thumb size) + FRUITS/VEGETABLES (eat-up!) = STEADY BLOOD SUGAR
As I always say, don’t take my word for it, try it on YOUR body and see if you don’t notice a difference.