On television there’s a commercial encouraging people to eat a candy bar because they are not behaving like themselves. In fact, you may have heard the term “hangry” to describe the crankiness that results when blood sugar gets too low. Should you really reach for a sugary candy bar to improve your blood sugar?
Dr. Kathleen DesMaisons, who wrote “Potatoes Not Prozac” and “The Sugar Addict’s Guide to Total Recovery,” has studied brain chemistry and feels that some people’s brains are more sensitive to sugar and simple carbohydrates intake than others. According to Dr. DesMaisons, "sugar-sensitive" people have low levels of the brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine. Low serotonin levels are tied to depression, aggression, poor attention, and impulse control. Low levels of dopamine are linked to drug and alcohol addiction, low self-esteem, violence, and anger.
DesMaisons thinks these lows and highs are more extreme in sugar-sensitive people and manifest as diabetes, fatigue, moodiness, feeble concentration, and emotional outbursts.
It’s a fact that many of us reach for something sweet because we instinctually know that it will increase our energy, but the sugar in candy and other sweet treats is probably not the best antidote for low blood sugar.
Foods like that increase blood sugar too quickly and allow it to drop too quickly, which only adds to the cycle of euphoria and depression. This effect is magnified if sugar is consumed on an empty stomach.
Your brain uses glucose for energy and the easiest source of glucose is carbohydrates, but slowly digesting carbs make better choices.Slow-digesting carbs are found in whole grains, beans, whole vegetables and fruits.
With Halloween on the way and more holidays to follow, many of us may find ourselves consuming a bit more sugar than usual. It’s a slippery slope but here are a few ideas for limiting the amount of sugar you consume:
• If you drink soda or other sugary drinks, try to replace some of your beverages with plain water.
• Allow yourself one small treat per day and consume it as part of a meal; not on an empty stomach.
• Eat more fruit to satisfy your brain’s sweet tooth.
A couple of years ago I read about a woman who drop kicked her son’s birthday cake in the grocery store because she was unhappy with the way it had been decorated.She was already in trouble for a separate incident in which she slapped the clerk at an ice cream establishment because they had run out of her favorite flavor.I don’t think it was a coincidence that both occasions revolved around sugary desserts.