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Stress, Sugar and Sweats

on May 2, 2017

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!


6 responses to “Stress, Sugar and Sweats

  1. I have just started the 8-week blood sugar diet today. I am already feeling better for it, albeit with a slight headache. It’s ideal for diabetics like me, but it might also help you, too.

    • mhairi1308 says:

      As an ex shift-worker, I know the difficulty with Type 2 diabetes, as a high percentage of shift workers end up with it at some point. I do however, have a blood sugar problem which has become worse since the menopause kicked in. I’m interested to see how you get on with this and what changes you notice and when.

  2. Curly Wurly? Not had one of those since they cost 10p. Sadly off the menu for the next weeks…

  3. I hear you. I can so relate to what you experience. Sweets were one of the last things I discovered my hot flashes. Hard to resist chocolate and everything you mentioned.

    • mhairi1308 says:

      I get so angry with myself when I end up back on the sugar cycle. I’ve cut down again since Sunday and already feel better and the hot flushes are back under control. I’ve not had a major Night Sweat since. Sugar is nice, chocolate is heaven. I may have a teenage strop “It’s just SOOOOOO unfair!!”

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