Today we are going to talk about dealing with stress without sugar. This sugar detoxing withdrawal phase is not fun. Not only do I have to deal with the withdrawal symptoms, but I also have to handle the additional STRESS without my normal sugar fix!. Stress is one of my key triggers for sugar. And on top of that, stress can make you FAT!
Is Stress Making You FAT?
Meet The Stress Hormone- Cortisol
When your body goes into stress mode it produces cortisol. Cortisol is the main stress hormone made in your adrenal glands and it’s designed to get you out of danger. It’s three jobs are to raise blood pressure, raise blood sugar (to feed muscles so you can run or fight), and modulate immune function.
Cortisol encourages your body to store fat! Over time, high cortisol, when sustained, is linked to diabetes, increased belly fat, high blood pressure, depression, poor wound healing, and insomnia. On top of that, it decreases your metabolism.
In fact, fat cells in the body have FOUR TIMES more cortisol receptors compared to other fat cells, so as your cortisol climbs and stays high, you keep reinforcing your body to store fat!
So easy to reach for a candy bar, ice cream or even wine as a way to reduce the stress. It is a terrible habit I have perfected over the years. It does absolutely nothing to reduce the levels of cortisol.
Cortisol Raises Your Blood Sugar Levels
So our stress hormone has kicked in, our blood sugar levels have risen and we added a candy bar on top of that for a quick fix. How does our body reach? It produces insulin to drop sugar levels quickly. That is why after a fix you have a HIGH and then a sharp LOW and need ANOTHER SUGAR FIX. Your body reacts again, thinking you are in stress and adds more cortisol to your bloodstream and the cycle just repeats itself. This leads to constant high levels of cortisol.
High levels of cortisol are related to insulin resistance and diabetes, chronic inflammation, autoimmunity issues, and issues related to obesity and weight gain.
Stress Hormone And Thyroid Issues
Do you have thyroid issues? I do, and after doing some research, I am learning that my stress levels may be the root of my thyroid issues. It seems that the stress hormone cortisol and thyroid function are directly related.
Constant stress and sugar fixing will lead to stress hormone burnout which is also known as adrenal fatigue. This means no more cortisol to come to the rescue because you called on cortisol too much and fatigued your body’s ability to secrete this hormone. What does this look like?
- Not sleeping well – waking up more in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep
- Stubborn belly fat
- Energy dips through the day
- Less desire for exercise
- Lowered libido
- Impaired thinking
- Inability to cope with stress like you used to
Ways To Deal With Stress Without Sugar
Okay, I need to learn to deal with stress not only for my sugar intake but to reduce my high-stress hormone levels.
- Eat nutrient-rich meals/ snacks without the sugar and high carbohydrates. This is especially important at breakfast when it sets the cycle for the day.
- Avoiding too much caffeine. Caffeine stimulates stress hormones. Too much caffeine, especially at night, can interfere with sleep
- Get a good night’s sleep. Good quality sleep decreases cortisol levels.
- Exercise.. but the right way. Running raises cortisol levels. Look to low impact exercise, walking, pilates, weight training, and yoga.
- Take fish oil. Fish oil with omega-3 fatty acids can reduce cortisol levels. 2000 mg daily
- Take Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps to reduce stress because it allows the body to quickly clear out cortisol. It also helps to regulate cortisol and prevent blood pressure from spiking in response to stressful situations.
- Explore mindfulness programs and techniques. Meditation, deep breaking exercise, yoga, are all very effective in teaching you how to reduce stress.
My doctor has been harping on me for years to reduce the stress in my life. Maybe I need to take a closer look at why I am stressed out. So much of the stress in my life is of my OWN making. Setting unrealistic expectation, trying to accomplish unrealistic goals, putting myself in a stressful situation, taking on more than I can handle, not asking for help, and not taking time for self-care. I need to learn how to handle or remove stress from my life before it deteriorates my health permanently.