Maybe your problem is not sugar after all.

It might be cortisol. It’s a useful hormone that helps you kick into “fight or flight” mode.

Your adrenal glands dump into your blood system during stress. Its purpose was to — occasionally — heighten blood pressure and heartbeat when in danger of a predator or war in ancient times.

Nowadays, sabre tooth tigers, Black Plague or invading mongols are not a threat. No, your problems are worse- bills, deadlines, domestic friction, rejection, loneliness, competition, low self esteem, weight gain, sickness. Plus, the world is coming to an end (again)

We have more stress points than any civilization ever, and as a result our cortisol levels are puncturing the stratosphere. Excess cortisol cues hypertension, high blood sugar, inflammation, depression, insomnia, atherosclerosis and a bunch of other cools ways to die or live in misery before dying. This is serious! There’s even a full-blown academic journal dedicated to its study: The International Journal on the Biology of Stress.

We’re stressed about stress.

Of course, people develop coping mechanisms to lighten the overload. There are some that are escapist and some are counteractions: alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, binge-watching, oversleeping, social isolation, scape-goating, gaming.

One more: dunking donuts.

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Or candy, or soda.

Sugar gives an instant pleasure from a dopamine release in your bloodstream. Dopamine is the happy hormone. It counteracts the cortisol and offsets it, if temporarily. It’s an tangible relief.

Behold then!

Excessive obesity then is not just a product of the prevalence of added sugar in grocery store items. It’s not just a product an overly sedentary lifestyle. Lack of information about nutrition alone cannot be blamed — nor can the marketing fusillade of the food industry.

Our weight problem can be traced to unhealthy stress levels.

You don’t need to strengthen your willpower to resist that chocolate bar. You need to lower your stress levels.

You need to get cortisol on your radar. Here’s a list of legit ways of lowering your stress (and don’t be surprised if your sugar consumption lowers correspondingly):

  • Take a walk on the beach (or barefoot outside) to “ground yourself.” Or walk with your shoes on.
  • Listen to classical music — or a track of soothing rain or railroad softly chugging along.
  • Meditate with calming breathing and serene visualization. Practice relaxation techniques.
  • Don’t be blindsided by stress. Recognize the triggers and onset of stress. Force your mind to take control, don’t give place to anxiety.
  • Avoid stressful people. Adapt to unavoidable stresses. Accept limitations and frustrations.
  • Take up art, a musical instrument or a new hobby.
  • Get a massage.
  • Get 8 hours of quality sleep.
  • Exercise.
  • Watch comedy.
  • Get a pet.
  • Have fun.
  • Don’t “graze” with snacks all day, as this inhibits the production of Insulin-like Growth Factor, a suppressor of cortisol.
  • Get sun.
  • Go fishing. Take a vacation.
  • Increase your potassium to 4700 mg/ day, about 8 cups of salad.
  • Take Vitamin B1 through nutritional yeast. Mix a tablespoon in yogurt.
  • Swallow calcium citrate or calcium lactate.
  • Eat quinoa, brown rice, squash, or sweet potato for dinner instead of white rice or white bread and desserts.
  • Ingest the food supplement ashwagandha.
  • Switch to protein from a carbohydrate breakfast.

Read more from the author:

Why sugar is more addictive than heroin.

How the dopamine approach to kicking the sugar habit.

How the food industry is making a killing killing clients.

Michael Ashcraft is the CEO of Cuisine Natural which sells bamboo steamers.

Written by

Organic/health food enthusiast/ bamboo kitchenware fanatic.

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