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Many of you have joined me on this journey and have found the hardest hurdle to surpass are the withdrawal symptoms and cravings you are having for certain foods. Today we will look at withdrawals and tomorrow we will tackle cravings.
When you reduce or eliminate added sugar and processed foods (which usually translates to sugar in the body) from your diet you can expect to feel very different. In a week you will be feeling great but in the meantime, most people will experience some form of withdrawal. These symptoms can range from a mild anxiety to full-blown withdrawal symptoms.
Some common withdrawal symptoms are:
- Feeling Shaky
- Wanting to binge
Why do you have withdrawal symptoms?
Sugar acts like a drug in your brain. Similar to morphine and heroin, sugar triggers the release of natural opiates within the brain and this opiate effect stimulates the release of chemicals within your brain’s pleasure center that keeps you hooked.
Your brain cells have tiny molecular structures on their surface called opiate receptors. Sugar and carbohydrate cause the release of endorphins that trigger a pleasure response by activating dopamine receptors. The result is a pleasant “feel-good” effect and whatever physical or psychological troubles might have been bothering you are toned down a bit.
Researchers at John Hopkins University tested sugar’s effects in an unusual way. Their test subjects were babies who were just one to three days old. The researchers placed the infants in their bassinets for five minutes, and naturally, some began to whimper a bit during this time. Then they gave each baby either a tiny amount of sugar or plain water. The effect was almost immediate. Sugar-water stopped them from crying, water alone had no effect. A pacifier can do that, too, but there is a critical difference: If the pacifier is removed, crying can ensue immediately; but sugar’s effect lingers for several minutes, even after the taste is gone. The reason is that sugar causes opiates to be released in the infant’s brain, and these naturally calming compounds stay on after the sugar is gone.
Sugar causes the release of opiates within the brain. But the opiate response does more than make you feel good. It also has a marked appetite-driving effect. Inside your brain, the opiates triggered by the sweet taste are busily resetting all your internal priorities to make you care about one thing and one thing only: eating more of what has just passed your lips.
There is a chemical reaction that takes place when you eat sugar which leaves your body wanting more. That is why you feel withdrawal symptoms.
3 Ways to Help Your Withdrawals!
Please know, your withdrawal symptoms will soon pass and you will be feeling great. In the meantime, one of the best ways to deal with sugar withdrawals is to treat it like a hangover.
Supplements: The best supplements for a hangover are a good B-vitamin, Vitamin C, and Magnesium. Most stores have some sort of hangover remedy; I like the fizzy packets from a company called Emergen-C (look for the sugar-free variety, but don’t worry if you can’t find it the regular Emergen-C has 5g of sugar those 5g could be really helpful in getting you through the first few days).
Nux Vomica: a homeopathic remedy that is often used for excess (as well as a few other things like allergies, digestive problems, and more)
Water: drink lots and lots of water!
Be gentle with yourself
These first days are the hardest so please go easy on yourself. Your withdrawals and cravings will be their strongest now — but you can get through them! I believe in you. Treat yourself to something special today – a massage, a leisurely walk or just take some time to read a book. Take some time to reflect and remember sugar and processed foods are not a treat, it’s a trap (a client of mine coined that term and I love it!)
Tagged with: I'm a Nutritionist and I want to lose 20 lbs
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In January 2013 I realized I needed to do something to improve my health. I spent 2012 on maternity leave and often neglected taking care of my own health (sleepless nights and caring for a tiny human will do that!). Not to mention the many years before that where health was at the bottom of my list of priorities. Luckily, I discovered Lisa's 30 day green smoothie challenge. The recipes were incredible and a green smoothie drinker was born! But I didn't stop there. Starting each day in such a healthy way led me to consult with a naturopath (it would have been Lisa if we were in the same city), do an elimination diet, and discover that I have sensitivities to wheat and milk. I changed to a whole foods-based diet (most of the time) and took up running. In the span of 8.5 months I went from being tired and sluggish on the couch (literally - I could run for one minute at a time before having to walk) to having enough energy to run the Detroit International Half Marathon. I actually RAN the whole thing! And I lost almost 60lbs along the way! Thank you, Lisa, for being my catalyst. Your challenge kept me interested in a new way of living and saved me! I continue to drink a green smoothie every day for breakfast. What a wonderful way to start each day!
Thank you thank you thank you!!!
Imogen Meloche Windsor, Ontario