diaryofthemenopause

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Low Sugar/Carb Update

My last post was about an article I found regarding the connection in the body to stress, cortisol levels and blood sugar levels and the affect these have on you, particularly with the menopause and anxiety/depression.

Since writing it, I’ve seen a number of other articles or documentaries talking about the same reactions within the body.  These weren’t specifically about menopause, but they did connect anxiety/depression to food and sugar levels too.

I figured I’d do a quick update.  Since the article was written I’ve gone back on the Slimming World diet plan.  I do avoid “white carbs”, so pasta, bread, potato and rice.  I am not carb-free, I do eat lentils, bulgur wheat, wholemeal couscous, but I do moderate them.  I actually prefer these so for me it’s quite easy.  Since doing this, I’ve found it easier to avoid the sugar-cravings I was getting, which usually ended up with a very large “sharing” bag of chocolate for one (who shares chocolate?).  I have more energy and I’m sleeping better again.  This has not only led to me not being put back on anti-depressants again (yet), but has stabilised my mood swings and helped me lose weight too.  I am 37lb lighter than I was 18 months ago, the majority of that was lost last year not this year, but I am now only 10lb off my first goal.

I haven’t done this alone.  Support for me came from a friend with diabetes and a desire to control it with diet.  Using the 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet book, he is tackling his diabetes and getting on top of things.  A lot of the principles of this book are the same I’ve read or seen in recent documentaries and can also help people with menopause symptoms of anxiety/depression, and other conditions not helped by spikes in blood sugar levels.

I feel better and I’m determined to stay off the anti-depressants as long as I possibly can, but not wanting to kill everyone around me is quite a nice way to feel too, so I am still monitoring this closely.  For now though, I can honestly say I feel great.  Not falling asleep on the sofa every time I sit down and having the energy to get through the day is certainly helping and helping me stay away from the sharing bag of chocolates (OK, I used to eat 2 of them by myself).

choc

Big Share Bag.  I just see them as a challenge rather than to be taken literally.

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Stress, Sugar and Sweats

What is clear from my blogs is I suffer from anxiety and depression on a regular basis.  I’m in a stress cycle I can’t get out of.  My stress levels start to rise, so does the anxiety and depression, which makes my stress levels worse, which makes my anxiety and depression worse, and so the cycle goes on.

As I’m nearing the “I Need Help Now!” phase, a friend and I spent Saturday at the Spa just chilling and doing nothing but reading, swimming and generally being left alone.  My friend picked up a magazine to read and found an article on why stress leads to you craving sugar and also makes hot flushes worse.  It’s all to do with primary and secondary hormones.

I’m HRT free, so no artificial oestrogen or progesterone for me.  My body is coping with this and it copes very well as long as I stick to my Slimming World Plan.  I feel great when I stick to plan. I’m not tired, I’ve got energy, I just feel wonderful.  Every so often I come off the plan.  I have noticed this is linked to my stress levels.  I work full-time in a relatively stressful job (I do On-Call work) and also have a house with 7 people in it (3 young teens, one older teen and one grown child), so I have to deal with sorting out food for everyone, including a Vegetarian option, house-work and washing.   The same things everyone has to deal with.  When my stress levels rise I get a form of OCD where I can’t control what is going on in my head, but I can control the house.  Heaven help anyone who leaves a fingerprint when I’m in this stage of depression.  The mess of 3 school age children adds to my stress, so the cycle begins.  At this point I start craving sugar, and I keep on eating sugar.  The next day I’ll have the inevitable crash and get over this by having sugar. It takes my body around 2 days of being back on my Slimming World diet to get over this.

The article my friend found was about the stress hormone Cortisol.  Although I’m oestrogen free, my body is getting by when everything is aligned.  As soon as Cortisol starts being produced, it becomes the primary hormone.  When this happens, our body then struggles to maintain the optimal levels for the other hormones we need.  The article went on to say how an increase in Cortisol and Adrenalin then cause a craving in sugar, which can then cause an increase in hot flushes as other hormones become a lower priority for your body, including Insulin.

On Saturday at the Spa, I was approaching the peak of my stress, and am holding off getting put on more anti-depressants to help control my anxiety, depression and OCD (the reason I resist, is I don’t like being medicated).  This means my day was full of chocolate cake, cream teas and chocolate bars.  My body seems to like proving a point, so Saturday night was my worst one ever for the Night Sweats.  I ended up in a cycle of insomnia and the dreaded Night Sweats.  Once they started and I couldn’t cool down, I got more anxious, so more awake, the more I realised sleep wasn’t going to get me out of this, the more anxious I got and the worse the Night Sweats became.  I could have quite happily run out into the road just screaming at the world in general by 2am.  The advantage of insomnia is extra time to think through things.  So Sunday morning finally came and I’m back on Slimming World.  My sugar levels have stabilised, I’m not craving sugar and I don’t have that drained and exhausted feeling I get when my body has the sugar crashes.

I am still stressed and trying to work out how to deal with that, but if I can control what I eat again, then maybe I’ll get more sleep and fewer hot flushes.  I still need to lose around 30lb so it can’t do any harm either.  I just need to get my brain to accept the cycle mentioned in this article definitely applies to me and there is a link, for me, between stress, sugar cravings and my general well-being.  I hate when I binge on chocolate again and feel terrible as I know how great I feel if I minimise it all. On Slimming World I don’t exclude anything.  It just forces me to eat it in moderation, the way you should.  Funny how this seems to hard for me to maintain when you read it back, as it sounds very simple.

So Stress = Sugar Cravings = Sweaty horrible days and night = Insomnia = Stress = Depression/Anxiety/OCD = Stress

For anyone reading this, Curly Wurly and Maltesers are my best chocolate friends.  One per day as my treat at the end of the day and so I don’t exclude sugar completely from my diet – it’s not good to just cut out everything you like after all!

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