These two often go hand in hand because imbalanced blood sugar is one of the most common causes of stress within the body and most people are overly stressed with external issues such as jobs, relationships, finances etc and under fuelled internally leading to a host of symptoms within the body. Lets explore some of those and why!
- You have low energy, especially if it dips in the afternoon- So many of us drastically underestimate the number of calories needed for optimal body function. Energy dips late morning or afternoon (or both) are a sure sign of blood sugar dis-regulation which places great stress on the body! When the body isn’t provided with the fuel it needs, especially carbohydrate, it will break down its own tissues like muscle to convert in to glucose for you- a process known as Gluconeogenesis. Use a macro calculator online to get a rough idea of how much you should be eating and then track your calories for a short period of time to see if you’re actually hitting targets! Eating small, frequent meals is the best way to maintain blood sugar levels.
- Your sleep is poor- When we don’t provide enough fuel to our body during the day, it can prevent us from getting a good amount and quality of sleep at night. If you find yourself waking during the night, this is again usually a sign of dis-regulated blood sugar. As your blood sugar dips while you are sleeping, this causes the release of cortisol, our main stress hormone which will wake you! Try incorporating a bedtime snack before sleep to keep your blood sugar balanced throughout the night. Something simple like an oatcake with some cheese and grapes provides steady release carbohydrates, protein and fats to keep you level and balanced. Oats also contain magnesium which helps the body relax and dairy contains tryptophan, which encourages sleep!
3. You have frequent sugar cravings- Carbohydrates are the primary fuel source of the body, and we need a frequent supply of them throughout the day to keep our glycogen stores topped up! As I described earlier, when the body is not provided enough glucose, it will manufacture it’s own at the expense of your own body tissues, so one way or another, you are running off of sugar! Theres no avoiding that. This is why low carb and sugar free diets are ineffective in the long run and can inhibit your body’s ability to use carbohydrates properly permanently, yikes! Try including more simply digested carbohydrates such as fruits, root vegetables, potatoes and raw honey.
4. Your appetite is low, especially on waking- This is one of the most common complaints people bring me when I tell them the importance of breakfast for blood sugar balance: ‘I’m just not HUNGRY in the morning’ or ‘Food makes me feel nauseous at breakfast time’ Well this is a sign that you’ve been running on stress hormones too long! A healthy metabolism is ready and willing to ask for food after its been fasting for 8-12 hours overnight, if it isn’t then this could be a sign of imbalanced blood sugar or poor gut and liver health. (nausea is usually a liver related issue). Start small if you have to but always have a balanced breakfast within 1 hour of waking, and you should soon see your appetite increase.
5. Poor caffeine tolerance- Do you love coffee but find it gives you the jitters, makes you anxious or upsets your digestion? This is often simply a sign that you are consuming caffeine while under fuelled! Coffee increases the metabolism, so when there is not enough fuel in the tank so to speak, the body releases stress hormones to break down and make its own fuel and see the body through the surge in activity. Most people will see their caffeine related symptoms disappear when they make sure to never consume it on an empty stomach and preferably with protein, carbohydrate and fats. For example, adding collagen powder, coconut sugar and milk to a coffee helps to lower the stress response.
In summary, balancing your blood sugar is your best ally to dealing with stress and reducing it within the body. Eat balanced meals of protein, carbohydrate and fats and eat frequently, A well functioning, energetic body requires plenty of fuel!