About ½ way through her work morning, Jennifer starts to feel down, depressed, and just plain yucky. She knows it’s time for her morning coffee break! Although this feels normal to her, let’s do a rewind of her morning and discover why it’s NOT really normal.
Her alarm went off 45 minutes before she needed to get to work, but she was so tired she hit “snooze” about 3 times before getting out of bed. With only 30 minutes to get out the door, she jumped in the shower, did her hair and grabbed a Keurig-ready cup of coffee and a toster pastry. Staff meeting ran a little long and so Jennier was late for coffee break. She started feeling irritable, a little shaky, hungry and sweaty. Her brain felt foggy and she had a bit of a headache. But she knw just what to do – She had a candy bar stashed in that bottom desk drawer and that would fix things till at least lunchtime!
Did you know that that feeling that made Jenny snack and grab a candy bar was really a case of the Sugar Blues? Maybe you have felt this before as well. Let’s take a look behind the scenes of your body’s inner workings and play detective for a minute. When you get a significant dose of simple sugars, like a doughnut or breakfast toaster pastry with a glass of juice, your blood sugar rises fairly quickly. That’s because simple sugars are absorbed directly from your stomach into your blood stream. That rise in blood sugar sends signals to your pancreas to get some insulin dispensed, Pronto! That enables sugar to leave the blood and get into your cells where it can be burned for energy. But when there aren’t enough slower-absorbing foods with decent levels of protein or complex carbohydrates in the meal, the pancreas can easily overshoot the amount of insulin needed, pushing the blood sugar levels below normal.
Low blood sugar (anything below about 80 for most people) will give you the symptoms we saw Jennifer experiencing. It’s also called hypoglycemia. Most people eat another snack to get the blood sugar up again. This vicious cycle might continue all day long! This results in never really feeling good.
There was a famous song sung by Ella Fitzgerald that put it this way –
- I’m so unhappy, I feel so unhappy
- I could lay me down and die.
- You can say what you choose, but I’m all confused
- I’ve got the sweet Sugar Blues, MORE SUGAR!
Now, she might, or might not be, referring to the white stuff you dump in your coffee. But it’s still true, simple sugary snacks can easily give you the blues.
The good new is that the blues are super simple to prevent! Start by making sure you get a hearty, nutritious, balanced breakfast. That means including some protein (beans or bean products like tofu), some complex carbohydrates (like whole grain cereal, toast, pancakes, or waffles) and some healthy fats (nuts and seeds are terrific!) in your meal.
Try my whole grain, whole food Belgian waffles with fresh fruit or fruit sauce to get a nice dose of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, as well as some healthy sweetness. I love Belgian waffles with the deep wells that hold my fruit sauce topping. The protein can come from spreading the waffles with some natural peanut butter under the fruit, or sprinkling chopped nuts or seeds of any kind on top of everything. Check out the recipe right here. You can also top it with non-dairy whipped topping or Lucia’s Cinnamon Toast Sprinkle.
With this kind of well-rounded breakfast you are not nearly as likely to be hungry before it’s time for the next meal. Try it, and see how well YOU can beat the Sugar Blues!