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This Happens When You Break Your Sugar Habit

This Happens When You Break Your Sugar Habit

You may have quit a handful of bad habits over the years—smoking, unhealthy relationships, or over-spending on clothes or coffee. However, quitting sugar might be the most challenging habit to break.

What research says

We know that sugar is “bad for you,” but did you know that it can affect you physically and even mentally way beyond just getting a little chubby? Your intestinal balance can be thrown completely out of whack from eating too much sugar, leaving you susceptible to autoimmune problems and chronic intestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease, IBS, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease and, of course, diabetes. 

Breaking your sugar habit is hard to imagine because we’re biologically hooked on the stuff. It’s essentially a drug, according to this article and studies like this.

Socially alienating

Sugar is also standard in our culture. There is sugar in almost every packaged food, and turning down a co-worker’s offer for a doughnut is practically a slap in the face. If you really want to lay off the sugar, you have to be resilient through relentless temptation.

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The good news is that once you’re past the withdrawal, over the social awkwardness, and label reading becomes second nature, you find that life opens up in some unexpected and delightful ways.

Here are 5 ways quitting (or at least cutting back on) sugar can make life more enjoyable.

1.You won’t always be itching for your next hit.

Like any addict, you’ve probably found yourself in a state of urgency when you “need” a piece of cake to give you that happy feeling and ease a building irritation.

It’s subtle sometimes, and easily disguised as a normal desire all wrapped up in our own urges and a longstanding relationship with really good marketing.

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Being free of this desire puts you on an even keel. Essentially, you’ll be a more stable and balanced person who can focus more and delve into tasks without turning to a substance to take the edge off.

2. Your sense of taste will be heightened.

Sugar and cigarettes are powerful and they both numb our tastebuds over time. Smokers cannot taste food as well as non-smokers. The same is true for sugar addicts.

People who are addicted to sugar often say that they don’t like foods like vegetables and whole grains because “they’re bland.” The fact is actually that they can’t taste them! If you give up the hard stuff, like cigarettes or sugar, and then try them again, you’ll find that they’re too rough. It takes a while to build up a taste for cigarettes, whisky, and even sugar. It also takes some time to normalize your tastebuds again.

But, when you do quit, you’ll notice nuances of flavor in natural food that you really enjoy. You’ll actually crave things that are beneficial to your body and you will have a healthier, more in-depth relationship with both food and your own body.

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3. Your daily life experience will be enhanced.

Sugar can affect your mental clarity, making you feel “foggy” or chronically tired because your body is constantly working overtime to balance itself out.

When you remove the fructose-driven veil, your sense of the now and your ability to absorb it will be more thorough and enjoyable. You’ll actually breath easier and see clearer than you have in years.

4. Your memory will improve.

There’s mounting evidence, as outlined in this UCLA Newsroom piece, stating that high sugar, low fat diets are linked to memory problems, even Alzheimers.

By eating sugar, you’re actually slowing yourself down mentally and maybe even doing long-term damage to your memory centers.

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The good news is that by eliminating or decreasing the amount of sugar you consume and increasing the intake of DHA (healthy fats that protect the synaptic nerves), you can heal and maintain a healthy memory. You’ll be sharper, quicker, and mentally stronger, even as you age.

5. You’ll feel top-notch most of the time.

Nothing feels as good as not just being up to task but raring to face the day. Sugar is an inflammatory food which can be taxing on your entire system. Intense spikes of insulin to address sugar intake and flux of your internal systems can wear you out over time.

When you cut out or cut back that extra pressure you’re putting on your body, you’ll find that you’re a much healthier person than you thought you were. Not to say that you’ll never have a lazy day again, but it’ll be a more pleasant and purposeful one. Rather than thinking “I feel like crap. I don’t want to get up.” It’ll be more like, “I’ll just give myself a few extra minutes here.”

To sum up

Quitting sugar is not easy. It doesn’t happen overnight and it sucks at first, but it’s absolutely worth it when you get to a point of independence from the most common and troublesome drug.

You’ll really appreciate the natural sweetness of berries, apples, and other fruits, which also give you tons of health benefits. They’re packed with vitamins and boost the immune system when you enjoy them in small amounts. They also meet your body’s natural desire for a little something sweet now and again. Because, let’s be honest, what’s life without the sensation of sweet?

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Hannah Glenn

Copywriter and Editor

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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