Most people love something sweet. Just the thought of a bar of chocolate or a slice of cake can send the happy hormones rushing through you that generate a craving. This creates a sugar high and once you come down from this high then you crave some more making it an addictive drug.
Eating sweet things may be commonplace today but for our ancestors it was an expensive luxury. Fruit was only in season for a short period of time and honey was protected by the bees. This all changed once we started exploring the world. Christopher Columbus bought sugar cane back to the New World in 1493 and by the 17th century sugarcane plantations were well developed in the West Indies and South America. Add to this the development in manufacturing which led to the development of high fructose corn oil in the US in the 60’s and sugar became a cheap and commonplace ingredient which manufacturers soon realised made food more appealing, even our savoury foods. Smoked salmon, sausages, crisps, steak pie, bread, yoghurt, baked beans and off course those 7 teaspoons in a can of fizzy drink.
As consumers things got worse for us as the 70s when the rise in coronary heart disease was blamed on the high level of fats in people’s diets. The food industry jumped on the band-wagon encouraging the public to buy ‘low fat’ healthy products and save time by heating up processed ‘TV dinners’. Unfortunately, stripping the fat out of food made it very bland so manufacturers added sugar to give it taste so consumers had no choice and no knowledge that they were eating so much sugar. To confuse matters sugar came in all sorts of guises: fructose, glucose, maple syrup, treacle, molasses, corn syrup and honey to name a few. At its height it was estimated that we unknowingly were eating 22 teaspoons of sugar a day.
In 1972, John Yudkin, a British Professor of nutrition published a book ‘Pure, white and deadly’ citing that it was sugar that was causing the increase in heart disease and warned that the long term result of eating so much sugar would have a detrimental effect on our health and would lead in an increase in coronary thrombosis, obesity, diabetes and liver disease.
The Food and Sugar industry reacted in horror and did everything they could to discredit him and protect their profits. The British Sugar Bureau cited his work as ‘Science Fiction’ and scientists claimed that describing his evidence as theoretical and flimsy.
Sadly, this was the beginning of the end of his career and he was ‘uninvited’ to international conferences and any papers he wrote on the use of sugar were never published.
He said of his experience:
“Can you wonder that one sometimes becomes quite despondent about whether it is worthwhile trying to do scientific research in matters of health? The results may be of great importance in helping people avoid disease, but then you find that they are being misled by propaganda designed to support commercial interests in a way you though only existed in bad B films”
Other scientists who agreed with his findings were too intimidated to publish any negative conclusions about sugar and cases of diabetes, obesity and heart disease continued to rise. There are now 4.7 million people in the UK with diabetes and someone is diagnosed with the disease every 2 minutes.
In 2009 Robert Lustig gave a lecture called “Sugar: the bitter truth” https://youtu.be/dBnniua6-oM and slowly people listened to the message and since then there has been changes made in the food industry, some of it because of the introduction of sugar tax. Experts have calculated that in sugar is reduced in process foods by20-30% over the next three years to five years it would be enough to halt the obesity diet. Surprisingly the amount of sugar we buy has reduced but the amount that we actually eat has risen because of the hidden sugars in food.
It is now becoming clearer that sugar does nothing for our health and well-being. From a young age I was told that sugar is ‘empty calories’ that gives no nutritional value so how has this increasing intake of sugar affected our health?
In simple terms, it is believed by some scientists that fructose tricks our brain into thinking we are not full, so we overeat, and excess fructose cannot be converted to energy so it is stored by the liver as fat. That encourages insulin resistance, where the effect of insulin is reduced and the blood carries excessive amounts of sugar as it is no longer being taken by the cells to convert into energy which leads to diabetes and heart disease.
What can we do to eat less sugar ?
Being addicted to sugar is like being addicted to any other drug. If you have a high intake of sugar you may get withdrawal symptoms like bad mood swings, headaches, lack of sleep but in the long term you will be healthier for it and it will help to avoid the hard hitting diseases caused by too much sugar in your blood.
Wow, would you believe it. Tomorrow there is just 90 days left of this year. Where has 2019 gone?
Reflect back to the beginning of 2019. After getting over your New Year’s Eve celebrations did you consider what you wanted to achieve this year? Are you the type of person who make New Year’s resolutions, if so, how did you make an achieve any?
What has changed since the beginning of the year?
What has remained the same?
What have you learnt?
Who have you met?
What is your biggest regret?
If your life is not where you want it now then you have 90 days left this year to make an impact and change its direction and give 2020 a kickstart.
Imagine the effect of doing, or not doing, one thing for the next 90 days. You could lose weight, learn a new skill, improve your cooking, read a few books, de-clutter or become a vegetarian.
· Choose not to eat meat
· Choose not to eat chocolate
· Walk for 20 minutes a day
· Choose not to smoke
· Save £1 a day
· Choose not to drink
· Contact someone on-line
· Apply for a job
· Read 5 pages of a book a day
· Get rid of 10 unwanted items a day
· Spend an hour a day learning something new, musical instrument, language,
· Sleep 8 hours a day
· Write a page of your book each day
· Cook something different everyday
Taking small steps over the next 90 days is long enough to start a new good habit and create real change in your life by the end of 2019.
Everyday over the next 90 days I am going to post a Facebook live with a daily idea to improve your health and well-being. Follow me to make one change a day or commit to make a change in the next 90 days by posting in the comment below.
Your energy introduces you
before you say a word
We have all experienced bad energy days when you are tired and don’t feel like doing anything. This could be self inflicted from lack of sleep or a hangover but sometimes we feel low for no reason and just don’t feel positive and confident.
Having a good energy level helps us to concentrate and cope with stress. High energy boosts our immune system and makes us feel more confident.
Get your 8 hours of sleep a night, regularly exercise and eat a balanced diet are regularly touted as good habits to ensure that we have the energy to lead a productive and happy life. There is no denying that they are a great foundation to good energy levels but there are other things that we can be doing to increase our energy levels and keep them high.
The best way to start is to understand yourself and reflect on what gives or takes away your energy. These can be people or things; ever notice when you talk to a certain someone you walk away feeling negative tired ?
Surround yourself with people and things that boost your energy. Sometimes that is easier said than done, especially when one of the energy grabbing people is your boss but being aware of the fact means that you can consciously try and change how you react to them.
1. Allow yourself more time to do things. I’ve got to admit this is something I need to work on. If you are constantly late or trying to cram too many things into a day how does it make you feel? Worried that you will be late, tired and stressed? Allowing yourself an extra 15 minutes for a journey takes the stress out of the situation and you arrive calm and composed.
Be realistic about deadlines. Don’t think if I work late and/or weekends I can get it done by such and such a date. You are compromising yourself before you start. It is better to have a discussion at the start of the task so that you get the right time to deliver on time than a discussion because you are going to deliver late.
2. No multi tasking. How often have you finished the day with a load of half completed tasks? Are you a multi tasker? Then STOP. A study by the University of London has found that multi-tasking increases cortisol, the stress hormone and it makes it more difficult to organise our thoughts. Flipping between tasks bombards our brains which leave us feeling mentally exhausted and also causes memory impairment.
When we complete a task we are hit with a dollop of the happy hormone dopamine and it gives us a sense of achievement. We feel more in control and it allows our brain to rest between tasks.
3. Limit Interruptions. If you have a big task at hand, at work or at home then switch off your phone until it is complete. Answering emails or checking Facebook is the same as multi tasking and you are moving between two tasks and your brain needs to re-focus between each task and it slows you down.
4. Say No. Asked to do something and know you don’t really have the time: than say no, negotiate another time you can do it or ask for longer to think about it. We say ‘Yes’ because we want to help, or we are afraid: upsetting someone, losing an opportunity, being rejected but your time, priorities and interests are important too. A simple ‘Sorry, I have plans this weekend but I can help you next weekend’ takes a lot of stress off you.
5. Stop being negative. Always focusing on the negative is tiring and draining. Negativity can be second nature and often we don’t realise we are being negative. Complaining about someone’s driving, gossiping about a friend, not accepting a compliment are all negative behaviours . The ‘Grumpy’ man or woman seems comical but accepted in our society as normal. Studies show that if you are too negative people may start to avoid you.
One way to stop being negative is to notice the positives, however little. Spend a little time each night writing down all the positive things that happened to you that day. It could be as simple as it didn’t rain and that is always something to be thankful for.
6. Make your living spaces a place that you enjoy. It is well known that clutter is an energy drainer, so are things that need fixing. Give yourself a small but achievable daily goal. De-clutter for 10 minutes a day, throw or give away 10 things a day to charity or fix one item. I recently did this and once I started I found I carried on and just wanted to get everything tidy and sorted. Surrounding yourself with things that you love is also a great energy boost. Photographs of your family, a bunch of flowers or nice furniture. Your home should be a place you look forward to coming home to.
7. Treat yourself. Remember you are important and looking after your well-being means you have more to give to others. Make time for that long luxurious bath, play a round of golf, eat that chocolate and don’t feel guilty. You deserve it.
8. Do something that makes you excited and makes your heart sing. I love salsa dancing and I leave a class or salsa party exhilarated with a big smile on my face. Yours could be watching the sea, walking in the countryside, meeting friends or even an exercise class. Make sure you do it regularly to keep your happy hormones pumping and to keep you energetic.
9. Practice Mindfulness. When your mind is racing it is usually thinking about things that you have to do in the future, or things that you should have done in the past. How often in the present moment are we on automatic pilot. It could be making a cup of tea or driving to work and not knowing how we got there. If you’ve ever been on a speed awareness course you may have been taught a technique where you need to talk about what is coming up in the road and what you are going to do. This is a mindfulness technique and keeps you in the present and aware of your actions. Another mindfulness technique is breathing meditation where you close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing.
Studies have shown regularly practising mindfulness for just 10 minutes a day decreases anxiety, helps you focus and helps you sleep.
Pick one idea and do it this week and let me know how you feel in the comments.
Please check my website www.stopresetgrow.co.uk for workshops and coaching.
The oil light on my daughter's car keeps coming on telling her to check the oil level. It is faulty and coming on even though there is enough oil in the engine but it got me thinking. These days with all the automation around we are use to getting reminders to do things; Get the car serviced, get your MOT, check your oil. etc etc
It doesn't stop at the car, we have reminders to renew our car, house and travel insurances and if we are money savvy we will go on-line and check that the ones we have are still suitable for us and value for money. There are even apps that will check the best service provider for our usage of gas and electricity and then move us automatically.
But, how often do we get a reminder to stop and check how we are doing in our lives instead of just dealing with what is thrown at us ? Life is so fast paced these days it is easy to let our lives become a series of things we have to do or happen to us. Unfortunately, the reminder we usually get is a build up of discontentment that can permeate into all areas of our life and make us stressed and unhappy.
The 'Wheel of Life' is like a thermometer to review where we are at this moment in our life. Each segment of the wheel reflects an area of your life. On each segment you mark 1 - 10 to indicate where you feel you are in that area. 1 being unsatisfied and 10 being completely satisfied. Not all areas may apply to you and if you want to change or add an area feel free to do so.
Once you have marked up your scores you can then join up the dots to see how smoothly your 'wheel' would travel. That is how you are travelling through life and the more balanced the wheel the easier the ride. For example someone might score highly on the work/career section but family/friends, romance and fun/recreation may be low because they are always at work, which will eventually lead to burnout and even depression or ill-health.
Once you've completed your wheel of life you can reflect on why you scored yourself the way you did and make a plan to move in the areas you scored as unsatisfied to satisfied. You can then make conscious choices of what you want or don't want to do to and take control of your life back. The great part about taking back control is that it makes you feel better about yourself, motivates and energises you. It puts a zing back into your swing.
I feel I am a very satisfied with my life as a whole, but when I completed it I could clearly see where I wanted to improve it; health (lose weight, control my medication), contribution to society (I'd like to have the time to volunteer more), romance (tell me about it !) and finances (when and how can I retire). I found it an eye-opener and it has helped me focus on where I want to be in these areas and start taking action. Try it for yourself and let me know what you think in the comments.