Avoiding Sugar Helps
By: Nikola Weisman
When you are living with fibromyalgia, you may often find yourself giving into sugar cravings, especially when your energy fuel tank is low. When living with pain, it’s easy to become inactive, gain weight, become even more lethargic over time, leading to cravings for sugar that act as a “pick me up”. The problem is however, coming down from the sugar high, you’ll more likely begin to feel even worse.
Sugar can aggravate low blood sugar, cause adrenal problems, as well as yeast overgrowth, all of which ultimately worsening FM symptoms. The way sugar interacts with your bloodstream is what causes a change in your symptoms. When you eat sugar the rise and subsequent fall of blood sugar exacerbates the fatigue element of fibromyalgia.
Sugar increases inflammation, which can impact joint health and for individuals with FM, more inflammation translates into increased pain. Limiting your sugar intake will also help control weight. Being overweight puts extra stress on the body, thus contributing to fatigue and potential stored fat, again increasing inflammation.
When looking at nutrition labels, pay close attention to glucose, fructose, and sucrose, which are all other names for sugar. It is possible to be “addicted” to sugar and not even realize it. Many people with FM and it’s overlapping conditions fall into one or more category of sugar “addiction”.
- Chronic exhaustion leading to cravings for caffeine and sugar, resulting in irritability and fatigue due to spikes and drops in blood sugar.
- High levels of stress, causing sugar cravings that may lead to yeast overgrowth.
- Feelings of depression, which in turn causes cravings for sugar and carbohydrates, with the expectation of mood elevation.
By slowly eliminating or reducing the amount of your sugar intake, you will see improvement between 6-12 weeks, but you will feel changes in energy and mental sharpness just 10 days after “coming off” sugar. The first step to avoiding sugar is to pay close attention to what you are eating and the amount of sugar you are consuming. By cutting out or reducing sugar, it will help you improve and reduce your fatigue symptoms and mediate some of the related pain issues as well.
Don’t forget that rather than completely cutting out sugar initially, gradually reduce your sugar intake by cutting out one or two things you regularly eat that are high in sugar each week. Eventually your body will no longer crave sugar and start producing dopamine, a “happiness” hormone, that the body naturally creates, without producing the negative effects caused by sugar.