(and other stimulants to be aware of!)
That morning coffee on route to work, that cafe latte savoured with a friend on a weekend, that fresh pot of coffee enjoyed with the Sunday papers…..coffee has become a social phenomena. Whilst we are not suggesting you become a nation of green tea drinkers, if you are struggling to sleep well, feeling anxious, having trouble switching off that monkey chatter it’s time to start getting wise about the effects of caffeine and other stimulants on your body.
The side effects of caffeine
Caffeine stimulates the production of adrenaline and can be as highly addictive as smoking. Once the ‘hit’ of caffeine has worn off, you can experience that slump which leaves you in need of an energy boost. This is where many people will fall foul to either topping themselves up with another coffee or reaching for something sugar based to give them an energy boost.
In doing this, you set your blood sugar levels off on a roller coaster for the rest of the day. Anything that we eat and drink is turned by the body into glucose, which is the source of fuel needed for energy. Yet too much glucose in our system can lead to the opposite of sustained energy. No one with stress or anxiety will sit in front of me as a client and have stable blood sugars. The fastest way to emotional ill health, mood swings and lack of energy is high blood sugar levels.
When excess sugar is in your system, the body releases insulin to ‘scoop it up’. This is when you experience a slump!
Even carbohydrates contain sugar, particularly white carbs such as rice, pasta, noodles and white bread. They convert quickly to glucose (sugar), again causing that roller coaster of energy highs and lows.
Stress isn’t the only thing that compromises your ability to get a good nights sleep. High blood sugar levels means that the liver will be trying to process the excess sugar in your system when you sleep at night, which can cause broken sleep. Many people think a few glasses of wine will help them sleep at night and while it can aid as a relaxant, when done frequently, it will effect your blood sugar levels because alcohol contains so much sugar.
By keeping your glucose (sugar) levels in check and adding more protein into your diet each day you will reduce any cravings for sweet things and curb any desire for stimulants, including caffeine.
The benefits of stabalising your blood sugar levels?
- Sustained energy through out the day
- Better control of your emotions
- Lower stress levels
- Weight loss (insulin prevents the breakdown of fat cells in the body!)
- Better quality sleep
- Better gut function
- Increased libido
- More energy to do afterwork activities and sport
- Improved concentration and focus
Start your day with a breakfast of granola or muesli, nuts and low fat yoghurt. The granola (not the sugary type!) is a complex carbohydrate and takes longer to convert to glucose in the body. The nuts are a great source of protein, helping to slow down the production of insulin.
Eating mid morning and afternoon helps to sustain your energy levels. Try topping up with a handful of nuts or some low fat cottage cheese or houmous on a wholemeal cracker or oat cake.
Try an avocado, quinoa and egg salad for lunch, or a Mediterranean frittata (which can be eaten cold with a salad). If you want to eat bread or pasta for lunch, go for wholewheat, buckwheat or corn pasta and wholemeal, granary or rye breads.
For dinner go with meat, fish, tofu, beans, puy lentils, couscous, stirfry and vegetables, soups or salads.
Eating well doesn’t have to be boring! It just requires a little thought. The Food Doctor Every Day diet by Ian Marber is packed full of great ideas and recipes to have you bouncing through your day the right way!