My home-grown tomatoes, courgettes and cucumber.
It might be surprising for some of you to hear that your food can have an impact on your anxiety and feelings of stress.
However if you've been getting my newsletters for a while, you won't be surprised to hear me say that everything is connected. ;)
The trouble is we're not taught this stuff at school so most of us just don't realise this.
In previous blogs I've focused on reducing cortisol - the stress hormone - by managing stress levels and taking time out.
Today I want to remind you about the impact our diet can have on our mood and levels of anxiety. I hope it might be useful for some of you.
Introducing the blood sugar rollercoaster!
When you eat sugar and refined carbohydrates your body will break it down into glucose and you get a blood sugar spike.
The pancreas releases insulin in response to the sugar spike and a few hours later you get a blood sugar crash.
You might feel shaky and weak and so you eat a sandwich/ pasta salad/ crisps/ chocolate bar and it all happens again. It can be very difficult to break the cycle.
If this is at all familiar to you it probably means that you have an over-reliance on sugar.
And this doesn't just mean obvious sugar in cakes, biscuits and fizzy drinks. Any form of refined carbohydrates - even wholemeal bread or pasta - can contribute.
Other symptoms of an over-reliance on sugar (or being on the blood sugar rollercoaster) include:
But how do blood sugar levels link to anxiety?
Your body sees all these blood sugar highs and lows as stressors.
The way your body deals with a stress response is to activate the fight or flight response. As you probably know, that means that cortisol is released into the blood stream.
You see the fight or flight response can be in reaction to anything that the body interprets as a stress factor. It isn't just about what we might consider a stressful situation.
If you want to remind yourself a bit more about the fight or flight response and cortisol then you can read a related blog post here.
If you want to get off the rollercoaster and end your reliance on sugar in all its forms, it all comes down to managing your blood sugar levels.
The biggest tips here are to have protein at every meal and move away from regularly eating refined carbohydrates. Instead of refined carbs think wholegrain and wild rice, quinoa and carbohydrate rich vegetables such as sweet potatoes, squash and peas and, less frequently, white potatoes.
A few tips to help you manage your blood sugar levels
These ideas will help you remain more balanced as well as helping you to avoid the other common symptoms of an over-reliance on sugar.
You don't have to be perfect all the time
It's so important to remember that we don't have to be perfect all the time.
As I've mentioned in other blog posts I try and stick to an 80/20 rule. So 20% of the time I'll really enjoy some of the things that I know aren't so good for me knowing that the majority of the time I've been nourishing myself with really good food.
If you observe how you feel after you eat different things - the same day and the next day - you'll soon get to know how your body copes with different types of food and you can find the best balance for you.
If you try any of these things I'd love to know how you get on!
By the way, I mentioned the book 'The 4 Pillar Plan' by Dr Rangan Chatterjee a few months ago. One of these pillars is 'Eat' and there is a whole chapter about this topic. He breaks it down in to a lot more details and offers helpful tips. It's well worth a read if you're interested in making some changes.
I hope you've found this helpful.
If you're keen to make some positive changes in your life and you know you need some support then I'd love to hear from you. :)
You can book a free 30-minute Discovery Call with me to find out more - just click this link and find the 'book now' button or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.