We always think of ditching sugar to improve our physical health but I’ve worried more about the effect that sugar has on my mental health, in the last ten years of my life.
Did you know that sugar affects your mood? We have all believed for years that sugar gives us a quick ‘pick me up’ after consumption, which is true. But todays research suggests that sugary treats have no positive effect on our mood at all. Studies have found that the regular intake of saturated fats and sugar have given higher feelings of ‘anxiety’ in adults aged 60 and over. Now, there are not many studies on the relationship between mood and sugar consumption and I feel more are needed. However, studies or not, I feel it is important to consider, “Does what you eat affect your psychological well-being?”
Did you know that lots of people turn to sugary foods when they are feeling anxious? Sugar makes you feel less tired and ‘frazzled’ by actually suppressing the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis in your brain that is responsible for controlling your response to stress. This in turn means that sugary foods could be weakening your body’s ability to respond to stress. Sugar and sweet foods give you temporary relief from the feelings of stress but it may make you more reliant on a sugar ‘high’ to get you through the day! This may increase your risk of obesity and other related diseases.
Did you know that high levels of sugar consumption may increase your risk of developing depression? Think back to a day when you felt emotionally drained from issues with a relationship, or having had a difficult day at the office. What do you do? You reach for the comfort foods and use sugar subconsciously to manage your emotions. However, not long after an intake of sugar to ease and comfort oneself, you tend to feel even more fatigued, sad or hopeless than before you ‘comfort ate’. I find it difficult to avoid reaching for comfort foods when I have had a tough day, but if you adopt such a cycle you will be increasing your likelihood of depression developing. Studies have proven a link between diets high in sugar and depression, so be aware that what you put into your body will affect your mood. The constant overconsumption of sugar can trigger imbalances in certain brain chemicals, which can lead to depression and increase the risk of developing a mental health disorder. Anxiety loves sugar, so being aware of such is good to help you to keep your mental wellbeing intact, especially in the winter months.
Did you know that you are zapping brain power by eating a lot of sugar? Studies have shown that eating high levels of sugar can actually impair your cognitive functioning, namely decision making and memory. So your choice of diet can affect your brain health. This can be seen when a person who consumes high amounts of sugar experiences the physiological sensation of withdrawal when they suddenly stop consuming sugar.
If I suffer anxiety should I give up sugar? If you are someone who suffers from anxiety I would not advise going cold turkey from sugar. That would adversely affect your mood and may even bring on what would feel like a ‘panic attack’ from sudden sugar withdrawal. In this situation it would be best to choose to eat better foods. You would be wise to choose not to deny yourself sweet-tasting food, and at the same time decide to limit your intake of processed sugar. I know from experience that quitting processed sugar may not be as simple as you think. You may experience anxiety, irritability, confusion and fatigue but it will be worth it in the long run.
If you want to change the way you eat and live day to day to become the best version of yourself, I can help! Just drop me a line and we can arrange a zoom call to discuss your individual goal setting and needs.