Surviving the Holidays

Surviving the Holidays

Dare to break old holiday traditions. Start a new tradition for you and your family; a tradition of health. Health is the greatest gift we can give ourselves and our family. Let your children grow up with healthy holiday traditions and they will pass those traditions on to their children; a gift that literally keeps on giving for generations.

Since I decided to become healthy, family and friends who come to my house for the holidays eat only healthy food and never go away hungry or unsatisfied. My meals consist of beautiful meats, salads, vegetables, and believe it or not delicious desserts sweetened with healthy sweeteners such as unrefined coconut sugar, honey, 100% pure maple syrup, or sucanat. My meals are free of processed foods, nothing with processed or enriched flours, processed sugars or high fructose corn syrup. This isn’t a fad diet or an unmaintainable diet. This is just plain healthy eating. It’s just you, instilling good habits and making new traditions for your children.

I’m going to include some ideas and recipes to help empower you. To help you make your holiday a healthy success!

GOING SOMEWHERE BESIDES HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS?
If you are going to family or friends for the holidays, it’s going to take some prior prep and planning on your part to keep you on track. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask what the main course will be. Simply tell them you want to make something to compliment the main course as your contribution to the meal. Don’t tell them it’s because you don’t want to sabotage your healthy eating, or they may try to sabotage you as well. Success will require you to take a legal appetizer such as veggies and dip, or guacamole and corn chips. Next take your wine (not a sweet wine) or beer if you will be drinking alcohol. Now consider a side dish or vegetable such as sweet potatoes cut into chunks and baked with 100% pure maple syrup and cinnamon, instead of the ones laden with sugar and topped with marshmallows. Or, green beans fried with bacon is always a big hit, and it’s legal as well. Then dessert. I will send my favorite brownie recipe. I then make my own whipped cream and flavor with vanilla and sweeten with 100% pure maple syrup. Oh my, you have never tasted anything quite that good. But you can always google Paleo or Keto desserts, however Keto likes to use some artificial sweeteners that I’m not fond of like Xylitol or Erythritol, so make sure you find recipes that don’t contain either of those.

Staying Home for the Holidays?

I don’t even make anything that isn’t legal. We usually have a turkey or prime rib, mashed potatoes with gravy thickened with corn starch, veggies, a shrimp salad which just consists of romaine lettuce, a can of shrimp drained, green onion diced, a lemon squeezed over it, toss with mayo and salt and pepper,
I’m also going to make my dressing and used sweet potatoes instead of bread cubes, and then I make French Silk Brownies with home-made whipped cream sweetened with 100% pure maple syrup. The macadamia nut bread is delicious as well. I added a couple recipes to try out to see if you like them.

Decorate your table, decorate your house, enjoying all those beautiful decorations can take some of the focus off of food.

Healthy Egg Nog (reduced sugar, loaded in healthy fats and nutrients)
Ingredients (makes approx 4 servings)
1 cup heavy cream (pasture-raised preferable, or organic at least; Organic Valley and Kalona are great grass-fed brands we’ve found)
1 cup of any milk (either organic non-homogenized milk, or almond or coconut milk if you prefer. If you’re lactose or casein intolerant, you might try the mix of heavy cream and almond or coconut milk as the best option, and avoid using cows milk. I personally used a raw pasture-raised goat milk here that I got from a local farmer)
3-4 egg yolks
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp REAL maple syrup (organic and grade B preferred due to higher nutrients than grade A; Can also use 2 tbsp coconut sugar if you prefer instead of maple syrup)
2-3 packets of stevia or monk fruit to desired sweetness (If you want this recipe to be Keto, omit the maple syrup and use any stevia blend or monk fruit sweetener blend to taste)
1 scoop of your favorite naturally-sweetened vanilla protein powder (not sweetened with artificial sweeteners)
Instructions:
Some recipes call for you to cook the egg nog, and other recipes just do a raw egg nog. I chose to make this one raw, because I’m personally not afraid of raw egg yolks, and have never once gotten sick in my entire life from raw egg yolks, as the risk of pasture raised egg yolks containing salmonella is very slim compared to factory farmed egg yolks, which has a higher risk, although still low.
Plus, when you cook egg yolks, you oxidize some of the cholesterol, making it a little bit less healthy, so that’s another reason we chose to make this egg nog raw instead of cooked. Honestly, the taste is better raw in my opinion too.
However, if you’re at all concerned about eating uncooked egg yolks, you can always follow any recipe for egg nog that cooks the egg nog, but just use these ingredients I show in this one.
To make this raw egg nog is very simple…
Place all of the ingredients above in a blender and blend for about 30-60 seconds. You’re done! It’s incredibly delicious and as you saw in my description in the intro of this blog, it’s actually loaded with beneficial nutrients, lower in sugar than most egg nog, and higher in protein!
Here’s a couple more great recipes from the Paleohacks blog if you’re looking for more awesome ideas for healthy treats:
> Paleo egg nog cupcakes recipe (whoa this is good!)
Paleo Coconut flour shortbread cookies (wow, soooo tasty!
Sweet Potato Pancakes

Fluffy and spiced, these sweet potato pancakes are just waiting to be smothered in grass-fed butter and maple syrup!
Tools
Boiling pot
Large mixing bowl Whisk
Large skillet
Ingredients
1 small sweet potato (about 1/2 cup mashed)

3/7
3 T almond flour
2 eggs
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t cinnamon
Grass-fed butter (or ghee), for cooking and serving Pure maple syrup, for serving
Instructions
Begin by boiling 1 small sweet potato in water until soft. Remove skin. Mash smooth with a fork.
Beat eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add sweet potato, almond flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Whisk with a fork until smooth.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Melt 1 teaspoon of butter. Scoop 1/3 cup of pancake batter and pour into skillet. Cook 2-3 minutes. Use a spatula to flip and cook an additional 3 minutes. Serve hot with extra butter and maple syrup.

Bacon-Wrapped Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients
• 8 large brussel sprouts
• 4 slices of nitrate-free bacon
• salt & pepper taste

How To Make It
1. Preheat oven to 375 °F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean up.
2. Roll each Brussels sprout in half a slice of bacon. Secure the bacon with a toothpick and place on the baking sheet.
3. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the bacon reaches the desired crispiness.

FRENCH SILK BROWNIES
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Gluten-Free Brownies:
3 ounces unsweetened Chocolate, melted
1 cup Neutral Oil (we use grape seed oil)
2 1/2 cups Coconut Sugar
4 Large Eggs
1/2 teaspoon Natural Butter Extract (optional)
2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
3/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 teaspoon Cornstarch
1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon Cocoa
2 Tablespoons Almond Flour
Chocolate Mousse:
3/4 cup Soy-Free Earth Balance Butter, softened or Organic Butter
1 1/4 cup Coconut Sugar (please do NOT substitute this for any other sweetener!)
5 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
3 Large Organic Fresh Eggs (if the eggs used are small or medium, increase to 4 or 5 eggs)
3 drops Fresh Lemon Juice
Vegan Whipped Cream or regular Whipped Cream (optional, but recommended!)
2 Tablespoons Chocolate Curls or Shavings (Optional)
Instructions
Grease a 9 x 9 baking dish and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, combine the melted chocolate, oil, and coconut sugar. Slowly add eggs and mix. Whisk in the extracts, salt, cornstarch, cocoa and flour together. Pour mixture in the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool completely before adding the chocolate mousse.
In an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter and coconut sugar on high speed until completely smooth and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. If the mixture is not fluffy, the butter was too soft. Be sure to beat until the coconut sugar is completely dissolved. Add the cocoa, vanilla and salt and mix until combined. Add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating 4-5 minutes with each egg. Add lemon juice with the last egg and beat until totally smooth and fluffy.
Spread mousse on cooled brownies and freeze for 1 hour. Remove from freezer, cut into squares and garnish with cream and chocolate shavings. Store covered in the fridge.
NOTES
The lemon juice is added to the chocolate mousse due to the raw eggs. You can’t taste the lemon juice, but the lemon juices acidity neutralizes the eggs making it safer to consume. Please use caution for the pregnant, ill or elderly.
Tuscan Avocado Salad with White Beans

Ingredients:
1 can (15 oz.) white cannelli beans drained and rinsed
1 small red onion sliced thinly
2 stalks of celery washed and sliced
½ cup of crumbled feta cheese
¾ cup slightly firm avocado diced into ½ inch pieces
3 TBS. or more red wine and olive oil vinaigrette dressing,
Salt and pepper to taste.

Instructions:
Add all ingredients in a medium bowl and toss until everything is coated with dressing and salt and pepper. Refrigerate.
Keto Macadamia Bread
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Category: bread
Yield: 8
Calories per serving: 262
Fat per serving: 23g
Carbs per serving: 4g
Protein per serving: 12g
Fiber per serving: 2g
Sugar per serving: 1g (added sugar: 0g)
Sodium per serving: 417mg
Ingredients
• 1 cup macadamia nuts
• 1/4 cup almond flour
• 2 scoops grass-fed whey protein powder
• 2 tbsp ground flax seeds
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 3/4 tsp himalayan salt
• 4 eggs
• 2 egg whites
• 1/4 cup grass-fed ghee, melted
• 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Rub the bottom of your loaf pan with ghee or extra virgin olive oil to prevent sticking.
2. In a food processor, pulse the macadamia nuts for about 30-45 seconds or until it creates a flour consistency.
3. Add the almond flour, whey protein, flax seeds, baking soda, and himalayan salt to the food processor. Continue to pulse until ingredients are mixed well.
4. In a medium size bowl beat eggs, egg whites, melted ghee and apple cider vinegar with a whisk.
5. Fold in dry ingredients.
6. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for approximately 45 minutes.
SPICY LOBSTER SALAD
SERVES 4 / PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES
1. In a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise, lemon juice, sriracha, tarragon, and salt.
2. Stir in the lobster and celery until well mixed. Serve.
PER SERVING: CALORIES: 91; TOTAL FAT: 9G; SATURATED FAT: 1G; PROTEIN: 2G; CHOLESTEROL: 6MG; CARBOHYDRATES: 2G; FIBER: 0G; NET CARBS: 2G
FAT: 85% / CARBS: 7% / PROTEIN: 8%
1⁄3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon sriracha
11⁄2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon
Pinch sea salt
1 cup frozen precooked Maine lobster meat, defrosted overnight
in the refrigerator
1⁄4 cup chopped celery

CHORIZO-STUFFED RED PEPPERS
SERVES 4 / PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES / COOK TIME: 40 MINUTES
4 red bell peppers, tops cut off, seeds and membranes removed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄4 cup chopped onion
1 pound bulk Mexican chorizo
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄4 teaspoon ground paprika
1⁄4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup shredded organic Cheddar cheese, divided
INGREDIENT TIP There are two types of chorizo. The Mexican version is uncured, spiced ground meat, whereas the Spanish chorizo is dried, cured, and usually sold in
a casing.
Spicy chorizo infused with onion, cumin, and paprika is tossed in a parade of cilantro leaves and baked in a red bell pepper. Comfort food at its best.
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Sit the red bell peppers, cut-side up, on the baking sheet.
4. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. When it is hot, add the onion and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.
5. Add the chorizo, black pepper, cumin, and paprika and cook until the meat is browned and cooked all the way through, stirring to break up any clumps, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro.
6. Spoon the chorizo mixture into the red bell peppers and top each with 1⁄4 cup of Cheddar cheese.
7. Bake until the peppers are soft, about 30 minutes. Serve hot.
PER SERVING: CALORIES: 702; TOTAL FAT: 57G;
SATURATED FAT: 23G; PROTEIN: 36G; CHOLESTEROL: 129MG; CARBOHYDRATES: 11G; FIBER: 3G; NET CARBS: 8G
FAT: 73% / CARBS: 6% / PROTEIN: 21%

PORK AND GREEN BEAN ALFREDO CASSEROLE
SERVES 4 / PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES / COOK TIME: 40 MINUTES

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄2 white onion, chopped
1 pound free-range ground pork
Pinch sea salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 (8-ounce) package organic cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup organic heavy (whipping) cream
1⁄4 cup Golden Ghee (page 224), melted
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1⁄2 teaspoon garlic salt
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1⁄4 cup grated organic Parmesan cheese
4 cups trimmed green beans
2 cups shredded organic Cheddar cheese
This casserole is easy to toss together, but it feels like a special occasion. Sweet green beans are high in fiber; here they are tossed in a rich cream cheese Alfredo sauce on top of a savory pork base.
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When it is hot, add the onion and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the pork, salt, and black pepper to the pan. Brown the sausage until cooked through, stirring to break up any clumps, about
5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the cream cheese, heavy cream, and ghee into a light cream sauce. If necessary, microwave the sauce in 15-second intervals to achieve a smooth consis- tency. Stir in the garlic, garlic salt, and white pepper. Then stir in the Parmesan cheese. Add the green beans to the bowl and toss to coat them with the sauce.
4. Transfer the cooked pork to a baking dish and top it with the green beans and sauce. Sprinkle the Cheddar cheese over the top.
5. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve hot.
PER SERVING: CALORIES: 904; TOTAL FAT: 73G;
SATURATED FAT: 42G; PROTEIN: 54G; CHOLESTEROL: 283MG; CARBOHYDRATES: 12G; FIBER: 4G; NET CARBS: 8G
FAT: 73% / CARBS: 3% / PROTEIN: 24%
NO-BAKE PUMPKIN PIE MUG CHEESECAKE
SERVES 1 / PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES, PLUS 3 HOURS TO CHILL

2 tablespoons almond meal
41⁄2 teaspoons unsalted grass-fed butter, divided
1⁄4 cup organic cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons organic heavy (whipping) cream
2 tablespoons pure pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 Tbs. 100% pure maple syrup
1⁄8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Pinch nutmeg
Though this recipe serves one, you can make multi- ples for dinner parties where you need a keto-rific dessert idea. This creamy pumpkin cheesecake tastes like what would happen if spicy pumpkin pie and sweet cheesecake had a love affair.
1. In a microwave-safe mug, combine the almond meal and 11⁄2 teaspoons of butter and micro- wave on high for 30 seconds. Stir the butter and almond meal together and use a spoon to flatten the mixture into the bottom of the mug to form a crust.
2. In a small bowl or single-serving blender, cream together the cream cheese, heavy cream, pumpkin, sweetener, pumpkin pie spice, and the remaining
3 teaspoons of butter.
3. Pour the mixture into the mug, sprinkle it with a little nutmeg, and refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.
PER SERVING: CALORIES: 475; TOTAL FAT: 49G; SATURATED FAT: 27G; PROTEIN: 7G; CHOLESTEROL: 131MG; CARBOHYDRATES: 5G; FIBER: 2G; NET CARBS: 3G
FAT: 92% / CARBS: 2% / PROTEIN: 6%

Online Classes

We now have an online program! In case you don’t live in our area, or don’t want to go out in the evening to attend a meeting, we are now doing classes online. We just finished our test/pilot group. Out of 8 people who participated in the 8 week program, they lost a total of 91.5 pounds, only 6 kept track of the inches they lost, but those 6 lost a total of 44.5 inches. They all reported feeling much better mentally, physically, and spiritually. Testimonials are on the way. Our next online class starts September 27. We meet once a week via a ZOOM meeting for about an hour, and the participants in the program have access to our DIGICATION site with all our lessons and research papers and can communicate with me, and each other, through the DIGICATION platform. The cost of the 8 week program is $200. I’ll be available the entire 8 weeks to answer any of your questions, cheer you on and support you as you proceed on your path to optimum health.

Online Classes

We now have an online program! In case you don’t live in our area, or don’t want to go out in the evening to attend a meeting, we are now doing classes online. We just finished our test/pilot group. Out of 8 people who participated in the 8 week program, they lost a total of 91.5 pounds, only 6 kept track of the inches they lost, but those 6 lost a total of 44.5 inches. They all reported feeling much better mentally, physically, and spiritually. Testimonials are on the way. Our next online class starts September 27. We meet once a week via a ZOOM meeting for about an hour, and the participants in the program have access to our DIGICATION site with all our lessons and research papers and can communicate with me, and each other, through the DIGICATION platform. The cost of the 8 week program is $200. I’ll be available the entire 8 weeks to answer any of your questions, cheer you on and support you as you proceed on your path to optimum health.

Are you ready to lose some weight and look great for the holidays?

We now have an online program! In case you don’t live in our area, or don’t want to go out in the evening to attend a meeting, we are now doing classes online. We just finished our test/pilot group. Out of 8 people who participated in the 8-week program, they lost a total of 91.5 pounds, only 6 kept track of the inches they lost, but those 6 lost a total of 44.5 inches. The pictures and below were after only 8 weeks.
https://elkolifecoach.com/2018/07/10/online-classes/

Online Classes

We now have an online program! In case you don’t live in our area, or don’t want to go out in the evening to attend a meeting, we are now doing classes online. We just finished our test group.

Here is what Jenny P. had to say about our online class:

I have struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. I’ve tried every supplement, weight loss pill, drink and shake on the market. I have had zero success and on top of it, lost a ton of money. I was always slightly interested in Sharon’s health and wellness classes, but certainly not ready to make the “sacrifice”. To me, it seemed like something totally unattainable for me to commit to no sugar or flour.
Well, Sharon asked me to take part in her online pilot class and I was reluctant. My ego was pushing me so far towards Dairy Queen and away from attaining a healthier, happier me. But I accepted under the strict rule that I must participate. I was ready, but it wasn’t easy. It was emotional, and I was less than pleasant in the beginning. But, it only took a few weeks to get comfortable in my new lifestyle and I started to see changes. My knees and hips were no longer aching, my bad cravings had subsided. I actually wanted to order broccoli with my steak. Here I am, at about the 4-month mark and I’m down 25 lbs and slowly losing more every week. Sharon taught us many ways to not only feed our bodies in a healthy way, but many skills on living a balanced lifestyle. Her classes are truly the best decision I ever made.
❤️Jenny P

Here is what Marie had to say about the online class:

In July I completed my level one class with Sharon Bachman. During the 8-week course we learned how to find healthy foods, balance our mental and emotional selves and how to be healthy over all aspects of our life’s. I will say I was a stick in the mud prior to the class about not having sugar and flour. But over the entire program I lost 12-14 lbs. and have kept it off in the following weeks. I have more energy and a lot less stiffness when I get up. I am so excited that this has helped me in so many areas. I hope to complete the level 2 class with just as much success.

marie before and aftersBlack is week before starting. Pink it today.

 

See what Kim and Beau have to say about our online class:

 

Beau and I just completed the level-1 online Body, Mind, and Soul program that Sharon Bachman puts on!

  • I lost 8 lbs. and I feel healthy! I’m fitting into my clothes better and I’m learning healthier ways to deal with my stress (that don’t involve binge eating)
    Beaulost over 20 lbs. and was such a skeptic about the benefits of the diet plan. He says that he wakes up in a lot less pain nowadays!

Over the course we learned all about nutrition and how to deal with stress and cravings. I can honestly say that this is the first program I’ve been able to thrive in. The diet plan is simple and easy to follow. I loved my group too! They made it so fun and it helped knowing I wasn’t in it alone! I can’t wait to start the Level 2 class!

 

 

Sleep

Sleep is crucial to our survival and optimum health, but humans aren’t the only creatures requiring sleep. I found the video How the Animal Kingdom Sleeps, very interesting.

Mindfulness

How many can sit quietly and focus on flowers swaying gently in the breeze and watch bees swarm them looking for honey? I mean FOCUS, really FOCUS? No cell phone. Mind totally empty except for the image of the flowers swaying and the bees swarming the flowers. No thought of the kids’ ball game, or what to cook for dinner tonight. Probably not many.

Being mindful in today’s crazy world isn’t easy. Our minds are pulled in many directions all at the same time. We rarely give our whole-hearted attention to anything anymore. We stumble through our work day thinking of our family. We stumble through family time thinking about work. Both are compounded by digital distractions, Facebook, Instagram, selfies, Twitter, and the list goes on and on. Electronics invade our space and follow us home at night. A study by the University of Southern California estimate the average American consumes an astonishing 13-plus hours of media a day (Williamson, 2017).

Our minds are exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed, and are never allowed to rest. Our lack of mindfulness costs everyone. We cheat our employers and our families out of our undivided attention. We make more mistakes and our minds tend to ricochet, causing us to change tasks on an average of every three minutes (Williams, 2017).

Many of us can’t sit still for presentations, trainings, or even intimate moments with our family and friends. More and more we are looking for peace in our crazy-busy schedules. Put down the juggling balls of multi-tasking, enjoy being present, and reap the rewards of being present and mono-tasking.

Mindfulness is a state of consciousness characterized by attentive focus on the present experience in a non-judging and non-reactive manner (Harrington, Loffredo, & Perez, 2016). Mindfulness is a multifaceted concept. Specific facets of mindfulness include attending, observing, describing and uncritically accepting the experiences (Baer, Smith, & Allen 2004). Mindfulness interventions evolved from mindfulness practices that date back thousands of years in Eastern spiritual traditions, most notably Buddhism (Bruce, Manber, Shapiro & Constantino, 2010; Carmody, 2009), but also Hinduism, Judaism and even some Christian religions (Williams, 2017). However, we don’t have to subscribe to any particular religion or philosophy to become mindful and reap the benefits.

Psychic decluttering just might be what we all need. Even though mindfulness techniques evolved from a mostly religious context, these techniques can be taught in a completely non-religious manner. Even though they can be used as a spiritual practice, anyone can benefit from learning to be present.

Doing mind clearing meditations can help clear out all the clutter. Another method is the body scan method. In doing the body scan, relax as if doing a normal meditation. Pay attention to different parts of your body while you are still. You will begin to notice the different feelings or sensations your body has and the signals it sends you. Doing a body scan can make you feel better; you can even turn it into a self-healing meditation if you feel any discomfort in any area of your body. Prepare yourself as you do for a regular meditation. Notice your feet. How do they feel? Are they cold, hot, tingly, tight or normal feeling? You might not feel anything and that’s ok. Now move your awareness to your knees. Scan them the same as you did your feet. Keep breathing and exhaling as you do your scan. Keep moving up to your legs, your stomach, your heart. Scan all parts of your body, healing them as you go. Once you are done with the entire body scan, make another quick scan starting at your feet once again and see if they feel any different. Move on up and feel how you have helped your body.

Researchers have found being mindful impacts the brain, influences the experience of emotions, and can even alter behavior (Davidson, 2010). Mindfulness practices calm the amygdala’s fight or flight tendency, which helps lower stress levels (Williams, 2017). Many large corporate giants such as American Express and Nike are taking mindfulness practices to their employees. They have found their employees have increased their performance, decreased accidents, decreased stress, and slept better. The American Psychological Association cites mindfulness as a hopeful strategy for alleviating depression, anxiety, and pain.

The University of Wisconsin found people who meditate regularly have different patterns of brain electricity, potentially leading to more efficient attention-paying and learning. They believe, change your thoughts, and maybe you can change your brain (Williams, 2017). Mindfulness has been a powerful tool for Mary Elizabeth Williams (2017), author of the article, Every Mind Needs Mindfulness, in helping with her migraines and panic attacks. She is amazed at how using her own thoughts to control her stormy brain has reduced her migraine medication consumption and visits to her therapist. In today’s busy world, most people feel they need to be constantly anxious and on the go to be successful.  If you feel you are too busy and your brain runs too fast to meditate, you are the person who needs it the most. Mindfulness takes practice. Every time you do a rep with a free weight, you strengthen a muscle. Same goes for your mind. Every time you pull your mind back to the present it becomes easier and your mind becomes stronger, in return you become more focused.

Good sleep, good food, good exercise, good PRACTICE all helps us become mindful.  We need to take a break from our digital devices, never sleep with the television on, and make sure to nourish your body and soul with healthy thoughts and food. We also need to COMMIT to being mindful and participate in mindfulness exercises such as yoga and meditation. Meditation is not equivalent to or synonymous with mindfulness, although mindfulness is promoted by practices such as meditation (Davis & Hayes, 2011).

Many practices can help with mindfulness. Consider mindfulness practices a gym membership for your mind. Meditation can help teach mind clearing and self-insight and healing. Yoga is also a great practice to help clear our mind as we concentrate on our poses. Take a short walk and concentrate on every detail of your walk; no thinking about work, kids, or negative people. Chat with a friend and make yourself pay strict attention to everything they say. Do not be thinking of what you will tell them next. Let them finish before you respond. Be an active listener. Do a random act of kindness for someone and focus on how it makes you feel. Play with your dog or cat.

Being Mindful When You Eat?

How many times have you sat down to watch TV with the intention of eating a few chips, and the more exciting the movie got, the more chips you stuffed in your face until the entire bag was gone?  And, how many calories do you suppose you just consumed? We do the exact same thing when we are bored, sad, stressed, or even happy!

We need to practice mindfulness when we eat. Mindful eating requires a change in the way we think about food. Instead of inhaling everything on your plate, you learn what your body needs, how it feels, and when you are full (Mulpeter, 2017). Once again we need to strengthen our “mindful” muscles. Bring your mind back to your food. Are you able to attend, observe, describe and uncritically accept what you are about to eat? Did you notice the color, smell the aroma, and pay attention to the taste of each bite? Did you chew each bite long enough? Do you feel nourished, or do you feel bloated and over-full? Are you happy with yourself for eating this meal, or are you disgusted with yourself?

If you become a mindful eater, your relationship with food will relax. It will slow down. You will have time to receive the “full” signals, and you will enjoy the eating experience much more. Most health conscious eaters, such as ourselves, know exactly what we should and should not eat, but actually doing it often requires a skill set we haven’t mastered yet—mindful eating practices.

Being mindful while eating is more than just paying attention to the food; it is paying attention to every signal our body sends us—every detail of how it makes us feel. In becoming better attuned to our body’s signals can weaken the eating-for-fun instinct; research has linked mindfulness eating to reduced binge eating, less emotional eating and decreased body weight (Mulpeter, 2017).

If you keep practicing mindful eating, you will get to the point where it becomes a habit to eat mindful, to be present while you eat. In other words, you will become mindlessly very mindful.

Ellen Seidman, wrote the article Fourteen Ways to Eat in the Moment (and Love it), knows the torture and the benefits of mindful eating.  She writes, with food always on our mind, the last thing we want to do is obsess over food even more, which is exactly why mindful eating may seem unappetizing. Who has the time for that? Of course the ego steps in and tries to sabotage our efforts for mindful eating anyway. The ego tells us mindful eating requires too much busywork; constantly putting down our fork between bites, sniffing every morsel, chewing, attending, observing, describing and uncritically accepting the experience of eating mindfully. It requires eating with intention and attention. We should only eat when we get a hungry signal and stop the instant we get the full signal.

The 14 ways she believes we can eat mindful are:

  1. Start by asking yourself, do I really want this, am I really hungry? Sometimes the brief pause caused by asking the question, before we have the first bite, gives us time to assess our body’s signals, and why we are eating.
  2. Actually sit down to eat. Don’t sit in front of the TV, phone, or computer. Sit your butt in a chair at the table or counter.
  3. Act like a baby. Tots find food wondrous: they mush it, pummel it, taste it, and smell it, where we tend to inhale it.
  4. Have lunch anywhere but at your desk. The break room is great, or even better, outdoors in the park or courtyard.
  5. Create a food speed bump. Do a mid-meal assessment of whether we are full or not.
  6. Go wild with Thai takeout, or any other ethnic cuisine. Try different foods, savor the flavor and colors.
  7. Don’t swear off comfort food. Occasionally eat those mashed potatoes, the more you forbid yourself delicious treats the more likely you are to devour them when your defenses are down.
  8. I disagree with this one because we should have given up sugar, but she says to have candy, just don’t keep it handy. Being a sugar addict myself, one piece of candy will pretty much make me fall off the wagon and devour the entire bag. Don’t let your ego tell you any different either.
  9. Chew like a cow. Need I say more.
  10. Beat buffet syndrome. New research is finding that we can position our bodies to shape the ways we think, act, and eat. This is called “embodied cognition”. The process involves literally firming our muscles to firm our willpower in order to consume unpleasant medication or resist food temptation. By making a fist or crossing our arms can signal our brains to stop the craving. And, this also prevents us from using our hands to serve ourselves more baked ziti.
  11. Play with texture. Altering food textures wakes up your taste buds and your sense of food adventure. Try freezing grapes, placing a slice of avocado between layers of a turkey rollup.
  12. Follow the rule of two. This one’s all about planning your pleasure. Order your meal and two other things you really want, such as a glass of wine, or beer, and an appetizer.
  13. Clean that cluttered kitchen. This involves some effort but totally worth it. We are likely to overeat by as much as 34% when our kitchens are a mess of newspapers, unopened mail and chairs in disarray finds a recent Wansink study published in Environment and Behavior. Having a neat eating environment helps us feel like the world is less out of control and reduces the chances of eating from anxiety.
  14. End the meal on a favorite. Save the best for last. We tend to have a poor memory of what we eat and finishing a meal on a positive note makes us more likely to encode it in our brains. The more satisfied you are after a meal, the less likely you are to eat a lot later.

Digital Apps that Actually Help us

There are even apps for our mobile devices which can act as a mindfulness coach. Buddhify (4.99 on iTunes and Google Play) gives mindfulness a modern fun edge with bright graphics and solo or guided meditations you can do during the most chaotic junctures in life.

Then there is Headspace. Headspace is great for beginners. It was created by a Tibetan Buddhist monk. It has a website and app for your phone. The 10-day introductory meditation program is free and must be completed before you can access additional content packs. The total membership is $12.95 per month.

Another subscription based app is Calm. The app is free, but subscriptions start at 12.99 per month. Calm helps you take a break from the confines of day-to-day craziness. It helps guides you through some breathing exercises and traditional meditation practices; some free and some for a fee.

Whil was created by the founders of the yoga line Lulu-lemon. It helps you power down your mind and leads you through traditional guided meditations as well as video yoga sessions. Input your mood, your intention and the amount of time you can spare, and the app combs through its database and IDs the most fitting option. It is a free app.

Living with Intention

Another practice to help us become mindful, is living with intention. What I mean by living with intention, is each day when we get up, we set an intention. It may be, “today I want love in my life”, or, “today I am going to help someone”, “I’m going to be mindful today”. Living with intention is merely setting small goals for the day. These goals are not your common goals such as, “today I am going to drink my water,” these goals come from the heart and soul, from deep within, a place where we get clarity and manifest our desires for happiness, acceptance, love and health. In thinking about our intents each morning, we cultivate and create a climate in which they are more likely to happen (Chopra, 2017).

The notion of living with intent has been around for more than a millennium. Many Wisdom traditions from around the world talk about intent is the driving force of creation. They explain how these thoughts or intentions that come from our soul can actually manifest what happens in our life.

Intention is also about living every moment of your life with integrity and keeping with what matters most to you. Living your beliefs and deepest values. Being true to you. Living with intent, just like being mindful, takes practice and commitment, but reaps huge benefits to our bodies, minds, and our souls. Deep meditation and prayer has been proven to improve and heal people’s lives. Deepak Chopra believes that our consciousness is a fundamental force, as basic as gravity, but we don’t have the scientific tools to understand it yet. He feels it could be that conscious intention generates electrostatic or magnetic energy and the invisible flow has a small but measurable effect on behavior; our own as well as others’.

The six strategies of intent are much like the strategies of being mindful. To help us live a life full of intent, we need to Incubate, Notice, trust, express, nurture and
take action.

Incubate:  Quiet your mind to tap into your deepest intentions; see where this leads.

Notice:  Become mindful of your thoughts and actions, and pay attention to what they tell you about what gives you meaning and a sense of purpose—and look for signs that can point you toward your true path.

Trust:  Have confidence in your inner knowing—and in the messages the Universe sends you—and allow that knowledge to guide you forward.

Express:  Write down your intentions, say them out loud or share them with others to fully embrace them and help you move ahead in your journey.

Nurture:  Be gentle with yourself as you try to find your way.  Intention isn’t always a straightforward path and can be confusing, just as life. Giving yourself opportunities to try—and fail—is often part of, and even crucial to, the process.

Take Action:  Once you’ve identified an intent, or even multiple ones, don’t sit and wait for it to magically manifest; instead take the practical steps that can make each become a reality. It may be easiest to choose one intent first and set short-term goals to help you get started.  Why not just drift along without making the effort to clarify what you want? Because God helps those who help themselves. Live your life to its fullest potential! Embrace your purpose, however large or small it may be! Where would you like to go? What do you want in your life? What’s calling your name?  Don’t wait for it to come to you, make it happen

 

References

Baer, R.A., Smith, G.T., & Allen, K.B. (2004). Assessment of mindfulness by self report: The   Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills. Assessment, 11, 191-206.

Bruce, N. G., Manber, R., Shapiro, S. L., & Constantino, M. J. (2010). Psychotherapist mindfulness and the psychotherapy process. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 47, 83-97. doi:10.1037/a0018842

Chopra, M. (2017, April). Yes, you can live with intent. Time Special AdditionSpecial Edition, All.

Davidson, R. J. (2010). Empirical explorations of mindfulness: Conceptual and methodological conundrums. Emotion, 10, 8-11. doi:10.1037/a0018480

Davis, D. M., & Hayes, J. A. (2011). What are the benefits of mindfulness? A practice review of psychotherapy-related research. Psychotherapy, 48, 198-208. doi:10.1037/a0022062

Harrington, R., Loffredo, D., & Perez, C. (November, 2016). Dispositional Mindfulness Facets and Self-Insight as Predictors of Subjective Well-Being: An Exploratory Analysis. North American Journal of Psychology,18(3). Retrieved May 18, 2017, from Questia.

Lahikainen, K., & Soysa, C. K. (fall, 2014). Teaching undergraduates about mindfulness. Journal of Human Services,Vol. 34, No. 1(No. 1). Retrieved May 18, 2017, from Questia.

Mulpeter, K. (2017, April). Can you shed pounds on a mindfulness diet? Time Special AdditionSpecial edition.

Seidman, E. (2017, April). Fourteen Ways to Eat in The Moment (And Love it). Time Special AdditionSpecial Edition, All.

Williams, M. E. (2017, April). Why Every Mind Needs Mindfulness. Time Special AdditionSpecial Addition, All.

 

 

The Addicted Brain

This is an interesting video. Sugar and flour are 8 times as addicting as cocaine and heroin. They are legal and in virtually all processed food. This video explains how our brains become addicted and why. Sugar and Flour are drugs in my books. Yummy, delectable, and irresistible. They are the root cause of many of our health problems today. We go to the Doctor, who gives us a pill to fix something we could repair on our own by eating right and drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water a day.

Chew on This: Benefits of Chewing on Long-term Depression, Anxiety Disorder, Cognition, Attention, and Digestion

By Sharon Bachman

Smoothies are great, but consider this before drinking your calories:

Chewing, or mastication, is more important to our well-being than just crushing food to aid in swallowing and digestion. I’m not in any way trying to down play the importance of chewing on our digestion process, but what I am trying to do is prove the link between chewing and our brain chemistry, and the importance of balanced and proper chewing on neurons in the brain.

In the research article Chewing Prevents Stress-induced Hippocampal LTD Formation and Anxiety-related Behaviors:  A Possible Role of the Dopaminergic System, Ono, Koizumi and Onozuka (2015), examined the effects of chewing on stress-induced long-term depression (LTD), concentration, and anxiety behaviors. The study used electrophysiological and micro-dialysis methods of testing rats and found rats that chewed on a wooden stick during restraint induced stress, had elevated levels of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine (all feel good hormones) in the hippocampus region of the brain via it’s reciprocal connection with the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex plays an important role in regulating anxiety-related behaviors, LTD, and memory. Another study conducted by the University of Cardiff found that people who tend to chew more often report lower levels of anxiety, stress and depression. These researchers believe that chewing activates a pattern of serotonin (a feel good hormone) in the brain.

In another article entitled, Chewing and Attention:  A Positive Effect on Sustained Attention, Hirano & Onozuka, (2015), have discovered a relationship between chewing and cognition, especially attention. Chewing gum aids in sleepiness prevention during learning, work, and driving. The findings of this study found a unique function that affects brain function. These functions were investigated by means of electroencephalography (EEG). Obviously, there’s an explanation involving the neurophysiological aspect: researchers found that when chewing, not only the attention increases, but also the cognitive processing speeds up. In reality, when chewing, we concentrate better and are more careful, so that we respond more quickly to stimuli.

Scientists believe this is a primal heritage. Generally, when animals eat they are more helpless. It is logical that in this moment they need to have increased senses to detect and react to possible dangers.

Eat lots fresh, raw, and crunchy fruit and vegetable snacks which require a great deal of chewing. Recite the alphabet while you chew each mouthful. This will ensure time for our brain to send “full” signals, help release all those feel-good brain hormones, which combat long-term depression (known to cause us to over eat), help with anxiety behaviors (also known to cause mindless eating), increase memory, attention, and relaxation. It takes 20 minutes for our brain to tell us we are full. Chew slow, enjoy the taste, and texture of each morsel to give your brain time to feel full. Chew zero calorie gum during stressful times.

In a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found that chewing activates the production of a brain-produced neurotrophic factor, which acts as a nerve growth factor, as well as the neurotrophin-3, a protein growth factor that helps existing neurons to survive and differentiate, as well as enhances the growth and differentiation of new neurons and synapses. However, this occurs only when the trigeminal nerve is activated in a symmetrical manner. In other words, proper bite and symmetrical chewing is also very important.

Researchers believe that the mandibular asymmetry or uneven chewing, causes problems at cognitive level because it alters the functioning of facial muscles and nerves. These, in turn, are connected to the brain, so the chewing process is encoded in a different way and the brain assumes that it is not necessary to activate many neurons since muscles do not work as before. This causes cognitive impairment.

People with dental problems and uneven bites, can cause less nerve/brain interaction which causes a decreased activity in certain brain areas. In fact, studies revealed that a severe tooth loss before age 35 is an important risk factor in the development of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and neurodegeneration which also affects the formation of new memories.

A relatively newly studied area of the brain is the dentate gyrus which can generate and regenerate neurons. This area of the brain is in charge of storing and retrieving memories, which is why there may be a link between chewing and some forms of dementia.

The longer and more proper we chew our food, the more we make it our own. In saying this I mean, the longer we chew, the more our food is mixed with our own saliva, which makes it easier for us to digest. In mixing with our own saliva we have customized the food to fit our system.

References

De Cicco, V. et. Al. (2016) Oral Implant-Prostheses: New Teeth for a Brighter Brain. PLoS ONE; 11(2).

Fan, G. et. Al. (2000) Formation of a full complement of cranial proprioceptors requires multiple neurotrophins. Dev Dyn; 218(2): 359-370.

Hirano, Y., Onozuka, M. (2015), Chewing and Attention:  A Positive Effect on Sustained Attention. Biomed Research International. Volume 2015, Article ID 367026. doi.org/10.1155/2015/367026

Okamoto, O. et. Al. (2010) Relationship of tooth loss to mild memory impairment and cognitive impairment: findings from the fujiwara-kyo study. Behavioral and Brain Functions; 6:77.

Ono, Y., Koizumi, S., & Onozuka, M., (2015). Chewing Prevents Stress-Induced Hippocampal LTD Formation and Anxiety-Related Behaviors:  A Possible Role of the Dopaminergic System. BioMed Research International. Volume 2015, Article ID 294068. doi.org/10.1155/2015/29408

Onozuka, M. et. Al. (2000) Impairment of spatial memory and changes in astroglial responsiveness following loss of molar teeth in aged SAMP8 mice. Behav Brain Res; 108(2): 145-155.

Smith, A. (2009). Chewing gum, stress and health. Stress and Health; 25 (5): 445-451.

Weijenberg, R. A. et. Al. (2011) Mastication for the mind–the relationship between mastication and cognition in ageing and dementia. Neurosci Biobehav Rev; 35(3): 483-497.

Hooked on Sugar

Hooked on Sugar

By Sharon Bachman

One cannot simply assume that everyone has an infinite desire for sweetness, any more than one can assume the same about a desire for comfort or wealth or power.

—Sidney Mintz,

Processed sugar, the deliciously sweet substance we all love and crave, comes in many forms and has many names. However, the sad truth about sugar is, it tricks our minds and deceives our bodies. Sounds almost like anti-drug propaganda doesn’t it? Who hasn’t heard of drug addiction, sex and gambling addiction? Many of us have never heard of sugar addiction. Sugar is just as addictive as cocaine and heroin, but it is legal, socially acceptable, and is found in almost every pre-made food on the market today (Defigio, 2013). Sugar triggers the same pleasure centers in the brain as illegal drugs do. Sugar triggers the production of serotonin and dopamine which are hormones that make you feel happy and satisfied. So in reality, the more you have, the more you want and need.

Sugar goes by a lot of different names, and is trickily tucked away in almost all processed foods, at least 80% of them, and makes avoiding it particularly tricky. Not everything that contains sugar uses that specific word in the list of ingredients, so here’s a reference list of some alternative names for sugar that you may not recognize. However, all sugars are not created equal, they are still essentially sugar.

 

Agave nectar Fruit juice
Agave syrup Fruit juice concentrate
Barley malt Glucose
Beet sugar Glucose solids
Brown rice solids Golden sugar
Brown sugar Golden syrup
Buttered syrup Grape juice concentrate
Cane juice Grape sugar
Cane juice crystals High-fructose corn syrup
Cane sugar Honey
Carob syrup Invert sugar
Confectioner’s sugar Lactose
Corn sugar Malt
Corn sweetener Maltodextrin
Corn syrup Maltose
Corn syrup solids Maple syrup
Crystalized fructose Molasses
Date sugar Raw sugar
Dextran Refiner’s syrup
Dextrose Sorghum syrup
Diastatic malt Sucanat
Evaporated cane juice Sucrose
Fructose Turbinado sugar

The majority of the population in the USA suffers from one type of sugar problem or another. High blood sugar or low blood sugar, present symptoms many in medical field are confused about. Low blood sugar is inadvertently caused by High blood sugar which spikes and then rapidly drops. Very few physicians today are able to diagnose and treat the enormous decline in health due to too much sugar, artificial flavors and sweeteners, and other dangerous chemicals lurking in our food (Ellison, 2017)

Processed sugar is one of the major causes of depression, ADHD, migraines, epilepsy, concentration problems, stress, anxiety disorder, brain disorders, insomnia, inflammation of all types in our bodies, not to mention obesity and diabetes and the problems associated with them. All types of sugars are inherently inflammatory, and cause our blood sugar level to rise rapidly which in turn causes our insulin levels to spike causing our bodies problems (Abascal, 2011).

Processed sugar depletes magnesium from our liver. We need more, not less magnesium in our body to help combat the inflammation caused by a diet high in sugar (Abascal, 2011).

What Happens in Our Brain When We Eat Sugar and Flour

Flour and sugar have broken our brains. Yikes! That is exactly what has happened. It has created insatiable hunger! Insatiable hunger is considered a new kind of hunger. It isn’t the kind that says, “I need good healthy food to power me through the day”; It says, “My stomach is full, now I want a pint of ice cream and a bag of chips, Oh, and that last piece of chocolate cake”. Insatiable says it all (Thompson, 2017).

we can eat a donut and a latte and have enough fuel for the entire day, and our stomachs are only half full.  Nothing tells our brain we have consumed enough calories so we crave more. Volume of food and calorie consumption are no longer correlated the way they once were.

The tiny little hypothalamus, an almond size command center in our brain, is our internal regulator. It secretes hormones and stimulates the pituitary gland, controls hunger and body temperature, parenting attachment, sex drive thirst, fatigue, sleep and circadian rhythms. It is located just above it’s helper, the brain stem. One very important hormone which affects the hypothalamus is called leptin. Leptin signals the brain to stop eating and get moving. Leptin is produced in the fat cells and swims in our blood stream to our brain and tells our hypothalamus we are full and to get moving. Scientists are finding we are becoming leptin resistant as a society (Greer, Goldstein, & Walker, 2013). Why? Do you ask, are we becoming leptin resistant? This is the holy grail of obesity research (Thompson, 2017). Insulin is the culprit. Insulin is blocking leptin in the brain (DeSteno, et. al. 2014).

Insulin. We all know something about it, or at least we have heard of it. Doesn’t it only have to do with diabetics and sugar? Here’s how the story goes. Our bodies rely on blood sugar for energy on a cellular level. Not the white processed sugar we all know and crave today, but the glucose our bodies produce from healthy food. However, blood sugar can’t go directly into most cells. After a meal or snack, your blood-sugar level rises, the hypothalamus signals the pancreas to release insulin into the bloodstream. Got that? Insulin attaches to cells and tells them to open up wide and absorb the blood sugar, which is why it is often called the “key” hormone. It is responsible for opening the doors of the cells to let the blood sugar in. Insulin can also tell your body to use the blood sugar now, or store it for use in the future. Insulin keeps the blood sugar levels from getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia). Modern diets have caused insulin levels to elevate far beyond where they are supposed to be. Obesity is tied to excess insulin levels, but until the team at UCSF discovered the link between insulin and leptin, it wasn’t understood how too much insulin is harming our bodies and our brains.  But, now we know! Insulin is blocking Leptin. Insulin is using the brain stem to block leptin so it never reaches the hypothalamus (Grill, et.al. 2002). Our brain never gets the leptin cue telling it that it is full and to stop eating. So there we sit in our easy chain starving, feeling sluggish, and to eat, eat, eat. What are we starving for? The exact foods that elevated our insulin levels to begin with. And, because we have forgotten what it feels like to be truly hungry, we graze all day, keeping insulin levels high, which in turn blocks leptin at the brain stem. A vicious cycle, we keep going and going and going. This is the beginning of addiction.

This vicious cycle also causes overpowering cravings. Overpowering cravings may seem the same as insatiable hunger, but they are not the same thing. They arise from different brain mechanisms. Insatiable hunger, comes from blocked leptin. Overpowering cravings come from a bingeing mechanism in the brain. These cravings are what makes people get up in the middle of the night and drive miles to find that one food to satisfy their urge. It is like trying to scratch an itch you can’t reach. You never really find what satisfies you. You may eat a mountain of food trying to find that one food to scratch that itch. That unbearable itch starts in the nucleus accumbens in the brain which is the seat of pleasure, reward, and motivation. Inside its outer shell is a cluster of nerons that are activated by dopamine (a feel good hormone) and designed to motivate our behavior which is why many activities stimulate the brain to release dopamine. Some of the triggers are sex, exercise, and you guessed it EATING! Two life sustaining activities, eating and sex, can cause our brain to say “I’m going to get me some of that”.  Historically, we didn’t have the available stimuli for either to become a problem. Maybe we got a glimpse of a native bathing in the river, now sexually explicit stimulus is everywhere. And, food commercials are available 24/7. Our brains are constantly stimulated and release huge amounts of dopamine. Our bodies recognize this is a massive overload and begins the process of “pruning” or “downregulation” in which the brain thins out dopamine receptors to adapt to the huge overload. Ok, we have really done it now. We have changed the psychology or workings of the brain. We broke it! When we don’t get enough stimulus (in our case high calorie and sugary food) we aren’t getting the dopamine we need to feel up. We don’t feel good and we crave MORE! We just can’t get enough now that downregulation has happened. This is the cycle of addiction. The good news is, over time and healthy food and lots of water, our brains CAN and DO regenerate and repair. Withdrawals are horrible, but very much worth it.

The following photo taken from Bright Line Eating, by Dr. Susan Thompson shows the similarities of the processes forms of sugar, flour, heroin, and cocaine. None of these substances in their raw and unprocessed forms are addictive. Cocoa leaves, poppies, sugar cane, and whole grain doesn’t raise havoc with our brains, but once processes they are all highly addictive, and I said ALL:

I realize this part was rather long, but necessary in understanding how food addiction affects us and our brains.

Scientists have noticed this urge is different from hunger in two ways. The first strange thing is that it’s accompanied by the urge to be sedentary. What is so odd is that from an evolutionary stand point, eating food was a trigger for us to get moving. What happened? The second thing is that actual eating doesn’t satisfy us. We get hungrier the more we eat. This is the result of a broken feedback mechanism. We have a mechanism in our brain called compensation and it is supposed to govern how we regulate our calorie intake. Historically we ate low calorie, high nutrient based food. Our stomach lining had a sensor telling our brain how full we are by how stretched our stomach was so our brain knew at any given moment how much fuel we had on board. But now

Dr. Perlmutter gives many lectures to the medical community and uses the example of how different foods cause insulin spikes. His examples include, a piece of whole-wheat toast, a snickers bar, a tablespoon of table sugar, and a banana, and then asks which food causes the fastest and highest insulin spike. Most get it wrong. It is the whole wheat toast! It raises the glycemic index (GI) to a whopping 71 out of 100. Sugar raises the GI to 68, the Snickers bar raised the GI to 55 and the banana raised it to 54.

Sugar Addiction

Many sugar addicts, yes, I said addicts, have a weakened immune system. By consuming sugary soda and energy drinks, our bodies vital nutrients are depleted by means of dehydration. Without the proper nutrients, our body’s defense systems become compromised. The sugar from one can of soda or energy drink can immediately decrease the immune functions by one-third for three to four hours following consumption (Teitelbaum, 2010).

Addiction is defined as a habit one must have to avoid a negative feeling, symptom, or compulsion to artificially produce a pleasurable sensation. Just like with drugs or other addictive substances, the over use of sugar causes a tolerance to its effects and we need more and more to get the same rewards (DeFigio, 2013).

Yeast infections are another of the hazards of a high sugar diet. Yeast feeds on sugar and flourishes in an acidic environment. High sugar intake offers both these things for rapidly growing yeast. Because yeast needs sugar to grow, it triggers sugar cravings. Over infestation of yeast can occur after a round of antibiotics has killed off naturally occurring bacteria in our intestines. After a round of antibiotics, follow up with probiotics or lactobacillus to help combat both yeast and sugar cravings (Defigio, 2013).

According to Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, in his book, Beat Sugar Addiction Now! (2010), there are generally four types of sugar addicts:

  • Type 1 (The energy seeker)
  • Type 2 (The feed me now or I’ll kill you addict)
  • Type 3 (The sugar craver, usually caused by yeast/candida overgrowth)
  • Type 4 (Depressed, PMS, menopause, or andropause)

 

Type 1 Sugar Addict

 The type 1 sugar addict usually uses sugar as a pick-me-up because they are exhausted. They usually work hard and are under a lot of stress. Generally, the Type 1 sugar addict has a weakened immune system. They get everything going around. Usually they eat on the run and their meals consist of a lot of sugary snacks, white flour and white rice which is stripped of the nutrients needed for energy. They lack the vitamins they need to naturally boost energy. Insomnia is a common problem along with constipation.

 

Type 2 Sugar Addict

The type 2 sugar addict has exhausted his adrenal glands. Type 2 sugar addict constantly reacts to stress which activates the adrenal glands to produce the stress handling hormones cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline). Sugar pumps them up until the blood sugar drops, which is known as hypoglycemia. The brain is starved for glucose (it’s food) and it feels like it is suffocating. Nervousness, anxiety, jitters, and light headedness often accompany the symptoms faced by a type 2 addict. If untreated, long term adrenal fatigue can cause fatigue, fibromyalgia, immune dysfunction, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and obesity. Many type 2 addicts have hypo-thyroidism. Dr. Teitlebaum suggests in order to break a type 2 sugar addiction and treat adrenal fatigue, changing your diet is key. Also, taking small doses of bio-identical cortisol, vitamin C, high doses of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), licorice, and chromium. Also, learning to deal with stress better helps survive type 2 sugar addiction.

Type 3 Sugar Addict

 The Type 3 sugar addict needs sugar fixes regularly. All day long the type 3 addict snacks on cookies, donuts, pastries, and starchy carbs to feed the yeast growing in his digestive system. We aren’t talking the kind of yeast used in making bread, we are talking Candida albicans. Yeast causes severe sugar cravings because it requires sugar to survive. The type 3 addict is usually tired, often complains of sinus trouble, postnasal drip, digestive problems, gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation and has very poor eating habits. Yeast releases a certain chemical, causing us to crave sugar, thus getting what it wants, more sugar. Yeast overgrowth causes food allergies. Many of the allergies are wheat, milk, chocolate, citrus and eggs. Excessive use of antibiotics and steroids exacerbate yeast overgrowth.

Type 4 Sugar Addict

  The type 4 sugar addict’s sugar cravings are usually brought on by depression, or hormonal imbalances. Hormones play a huge part of emotional and physical well-being. Hormones a crucial to our body’s communication and control system. When hormone levels are low or out of balance, we can become sad and depressed. We crave sugar to try and boost our serotonin levels to make us feel happy. Also, the cravings may be due to insulin resistance. Using bio-identical hormones or natural remedies such as herbs can help you break type 4 sugar addiction. A trip to a naturopathic or homeopathic Physician can prove to be very helpful to type 4 sugar addicts.

Sugar and Brain Disease

 Maintaining order rather than correcting disorder is the ultimate principle of wisdom. To cure disease after it has appeared is like digging a well when one feels thirsty, or forging weapons after the war has already begun.

Huangdi Neijing, 2nd Century BC

 

The inflammation cause by sugar, over time, can wreak havoc with our minds. Alzheimer’s disease and dementia has skyrocketed over the last decade. Dr. David Perlmutter, in his book, Grain Brain (2013), describes Alzheimer’s disease as type 3 diabetes. In normal bodies, cells are sensitive to insulin, the hormone which helps us utilize sugar and starch from our bloodstream, but when our cells are constantly exposed to high levels of insulin, from consuming loads of sugar and starch, they become resistant and our bodies pump more and more insulin into our system trying to utilize the sugar we have been eating. Throughout this chain of events inflammation runs rampant in our bodies and our minds, causing diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Cold Turkey or Gradual Reduction

 There are two ways to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet. Gradually reduce the amount of sugar you consume each day, or quit cold turkey. I am better off to quit cold turkey because any amount of sugar causes me to want more. However, if you don’t have problems with addiction, reducing the amount of sugar and processed grains in your diet gradually can be easier. Sugar Withdrawals can be brutal, and the withdrawal symptoms can take as long two to six weeks to subside.

During the Detox phase, our bodies often have a difficult time getting used to normal, stable, blood sugar levels.  During this period, we go through a sense of fatigue, headaches, and a general sense of malaise (Abascal, 2011).

A few things which help get us through detox and withdrawals are eating more green vegetables and healthy fats. Keep junk food out of the house. Most of the time the cravings will subside if you wait at least 10 minutes. Get plenty of sleep to help your body heal and reduce cravings for sugar. Deep sleep regulates growth hormones leptin and ghrelin (the fountain of youth hormones) (Teitlebaum, 2010). Eat plenty of good food during the day. Stop eating fat-free, that is so 1990’s. Get plenty of Exercise. Exercise helps improve insulin sensitivity and has more health benefits than anything else we do. Learn why you have cravings and what your triggers are. Knowledge is power. Knowing your body is essential. And, most important of all is don’t give up when you relapse!  Begin again!

Regardless of how clean your diet is (free of bad fats, sugar and grains), almost everyone gets cravings for sweets or junk food now and then. As you practice better eating habits and wean yourself off sugar, here are some suggestions to fight back when a sugar craving strikes:

  • Drink a cold glass of water or citrus-flavored mineral water.
  • Identify what triggered the craving, and don’t allow yourself to have the treat until you come up with the answer.
Is it hunger? A stressful event? An inconsiderate spouse? Thirst? Loneliness? Remember, knowledge is power.
  • Make a conscious decision to eat or not eat the sweet.
Remember, you’re the boss of your behavior. No one makes you do anything. If you decide to eat some sugar, you must own it and do it on purpose. Don’t make any excuses or point any fingers!

 

If you decide not to eat something sweet:

  • Give yourself a (healthy) personal reward!
Draw a smiley face on the calendar, put a dollar in the cookie jar, or take yourself to the movies.
  • Tell someone!
Call or e-mail a friend, or write a blog post or a Facebook update.
  • Choose a positive substitute activity if you want.

 

If you decide to eat something sweet:

  • You must abide by the ten-minute rule — you have to wait ten minutes before you eat a sugary treat.
If you still want it after ten minutes, go ahead.
  • Put the amount you’ll eat on a plate first — no eating from packages or serving dishes.
  • Try a substitute sweet fix instead:

A square of 85% or more, dark chocolate

A small portion of a low-glycemic fruit like cherries, apples, or plums

A Tic Tac, Altoid mint, or sugarless gum

Green tea or licorice tea to help restore adrenal function

Changing your behavior is a good way to beat sweet cravings. Engaging in an enjoyable substitute activity whenever you have a sugar craving helps curb the craving and develop new habits. Try to find activities that you enjoy and that you find meaningful. Doing something good for someone else is a great way to get your mind off sugar. Here are some suggestions:

  • Do a Sudoku puzzle or play chess or Scrabble on the computer — keep your brain occupied!
  • Do some crunches or jumping jacks.
  • Find a new charity you like and send a donation, or make the call to volunteer.
  • If you have a partner, write a love note, this helps more than just your sugar craving!
  • Look up a long-lost friend on Facebook and say hi.
  • Look up a subject that interests you and learn something new about it.
  • Make a list of movies you want to see or books you want to read.
  • Make a list of things to talk about with your partner, therapist, or best friend.
  • Phone a friend or family member to catch up.
  • Pick something in the house that needs fixed or cleaned and attend to it.
  • Play with your pet. If you don’t have a pet, go to a shelter and give some love to one of the animals there. Or, take your dog or a shelter dog for a walk, once again you will be helping more than your sugar craving.
  • Ride your bike.
  • Take a digital camera or your cellphone and go look for interesting or artistic pictures to take.
  • Take a walk.
  • Write an apology letter to someone you’ve wronged.
  • Write a story, a blog, a journal, or start on that book you have always wanted to write!
  • Update your bucket list or make one if you don’t have one.
  • Visit someone in the hospital or in the nursing home, whether you know them or not. Many people in nursing homes are very lonely!

 

Our bodies regulate their own sugar requirements by converting fats, protein and amino acids into usable glucose as needed. Any disruption in this precarious ecosystem is going to shunt this innate hormonal protection. Therefore, nobody requires processed sugar, whatsoever (Ellison, 2017).  I can guarantee, after you kick the sugar habit, you will feel better than you have felt in years.

 

References

Abascal, K. (2011). The Abascal Way to Quiet Inflammation. Vashon, WA: Tigana Press.

DeFigio, D. (2013). Beating Sugar Addiction for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ:  Wiley & Sons.

DeSteno, D., Li, Y., Dickens, L., & Lerner, J. (2014). Gratitude: A tool for reducing economic      impatience. Pyschological science, 25(6), 1262-1267. Doi:  10.1177/0956797614529979.

Ellison, S. (2017). The People’s Chemist, LLC. www.thepeopleschemist.

Greer, S., Goldstein, A., & Walker, M. (2013). The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain. Nature Communications, 4, 2259. Doi: 10.1038/ncomms3259.

Grill, H., Schwartz, M., Kaplan, J., Foxhall, J., Beriniinger, J., & Baskin, D. (2002). Evidence that the caudal brainstem is a target for the inhibitory effect of leptin on food intake. Endocrinology, 143 (1), 239-246. Doi: 10.1210/en.143.1.239.

Hyman, M., Dr. (2016, November 13). Diabetes, Fat, and Sugar: Busting All The Myths with Dr. Carrie Diulus. Retrieved March 09, 2017, from http://drhyman.com/

Kinsbury, K. (1999). The Prism Weight Loss Program. Sisters, OR:  Multnomah.

Lally, P., Van Jaarsveld, C., Potts, H., & Wardle, J. (2010). How are habits formed:  Modelling habit formation in the real world. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40(6), 998-1009. Doi:  10.1002/ejsp.674.

Perlmutter, D., & Loberg, K. (2013). Grain brain: the surprising truth about wheat, carbs, and sugar–your brain’s silent killers. New York, NY: Little, Brown, and Co.

Teitelbaum, J. (2010). Beat Sugar Addiction NOW. Beverly, MA: Fair Winds Press.

Thompson, S. P. (2017). Bright line eating: the science of living happy, thin, and free. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc.