I am super pumped for this weekend because I am finally starting to feel more like myself and ready to enjoy the weekend (for realz!). I am not sure if you saw on Instagram, but I’m officially expecting a little babe this October! We are super pumped and cannot wait to meet the newest member of our family. But let me just say… my first trimester was not the most fun. I was knee-deep in morning (aka all day!!) sickness and wrapping up graduate school. But here I am officially with my Masters in Integrative Clinical Nutrition (Graduation this June!!!) and done with my first trimester and although I’m not 100%, I’m feeling more and more like myself. PHEW. I am MORE than ready. I know I’ve been pretty quiet around here, but there have been a lot of fun things brewing in the background that I’m super excited to share with you all!
(stick around to the end of this post for some deets!!).
There’s been something I’ve been thinking about all week that I wanted to share with you. I had a great conversation with a client of mine earlier this week about sugar addiction. She said the word addiction really bothered her when it came to sugar because it implies abstinence. That in order to get over your sugar addiction you have to give it up for life, similar to other addictions like alcoholism. And for many (MYSELF INCLUDED!) that’s not entirely realistic… nor exactly what you need to do.
So, this prompted me to think about sugar addiction more and wondering…
Can you curb your sugar cravings and still enjoy indulgent sugary treats?
The answer… I believe so.
So, let’s break this down a little bit. Sugar has addictive qualities – it triggers dopamine release in our nucleus accumbens (the center associated with motivation and reward). This just happens to be the same place that is triggered when we do cocaine or heroin. Yeah… it’s neuroscience and has been proven in MRI images of the brain of rats. We are obviously not rats. But there is an association that this could be happening in human brains too. Not cool. This is the basis of the argument that sugar is addictive. There is also evidence that sugar alters our dopamine receptors… leading to tolerance. So eventually you need MORE in order to get the satisfying fix of sugar intake.
Sugar is also one of the most inflammatory foods out there.
It provides zero nutritional value and is often the source for a lot of health concerns such as chronic pain, migraines, and chronic inflammation.
I think of the way I eat in terms of inflammatory responses. I work really hard to promote as many anti-inflammatory foods as possible in order to reduce the growth of inflammation in my system.
But here’s how I break it down so I can have the balance that we’re all seeking. We don’t want to get too caught up in having the perfect diet where we’re obsessing over the source and quality of Every. Single. Thing. We. Eat.
For me, this can be just as dangerous as other eating disorders.
I think of sugar intake and inflammation in a similar way to the way I approach wanting to reduce my carbon footprint. Yes, I want to lead a life that is as environmentally friendly as possible – in ways that are in line with my values and that feels part of my daily life. But it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to go completely off the grid, live off the land, and have completely zero waste.
Some people choose to do this. They are so strong in their beliefs about reducing their carbon footprint that they have completely changed every aspect of their lives in order to live in this value.
I commend these people – they’re pretty incredible. That level of commitment is pretty amazing.
But I also know that it’s not for me.
And I’m ok with that. I like my life with a little grain of salt (oh and tacos. I always want tacos. Oh and guacamole. And cherry vanilla ice cream – Are my cravings starting to come out?!)
There are people out there that take their sugar intake and anti-inflammatory diets to this level as well. Some people it’s imperative on a clinical level for their health. I’m thinking specifically for those with severe chronic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s, M.S., celiac disease (gluten free) and many others. People with severe chronic inflammatory diseases benefit with living on an anti-inflammatory lifestyle that drastically decreases their symptoms and in some cases, reverses disease. Powerful stuff. This is what I love so much about nutrition, food, and the bodies complete resilience. Given the chance, it can heal itself. It’s constantly working overtime to do just that.
But we all don’t have severe chronic inflammatory diseases.
Some of us are looking to just decrease our inflammatory (and sugar) footprint. We’re the ones looking to reduce some of the symptoms we’re experiencing from an inflammatory diet (i.e. headaches, some joint pain, digestive distress, low energy etc.). We’re not suffering to the level of some, but it’s enough where we know we want to feel better. And we know that if we changed some things about our nutrition we could have some incredible shifts. But we don’t necessarily need to be declaring that we’re never going to eat bread again or enjoy cherry flavored ice cream.
We can create practices in our lives that fit into our lifestyle that help up reduce our inflammatory footprint the same we started recycling, taking public transit, or choosing to clean our homes with more environmentally friendly cleaners.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing and still do your part to reduce your inflammation (sugar included!). You can in some ways, have your cake… and eat it too.
How I practice this is by reducing my overall inflammatory and sugar intake in my daily life. Instead of having these types of foods all the time as a staple – I’ve made my staple anti-inflammatory and lower in sugar, by eating more whole, real, unprocessed meals, and foods. This alone makes the shift.
This reduces the overall intake and I’m living my best life choosing foods that really do make me feel my best all the while leaving space for the cherry vanilla ice cream. In fact… we have some in our freezer right now. I might just go grab a scoop. I think me and the baby would benefit with a little cherry vanilla in our lives <3
Does this make sense? Do you see how reducing your inflammatory footprint can be embedded into your daily life more?
Sometimes we do need a little kick to get things started because if we’re used to eating this way creating a new habit is like building any other muscle, it takes time, it takes commitment, and often it takes a friend to help you along the way. I’m really excited to be teaming up with Three Queens Yoga again on May 15th for our own anti-inflammatory kickstart lifestyle cleanse. If you’re interested in making this shift and don’t want to do it alone, please join us. Check out the deets over at Three Queens. Space is limited to 14 people.