- stimulation or inhibition of growth
- mood swings
- induction or suppression of apoptosis (programmed cell death)
- activation or inhibition of the immune system
- regulation of metabolism
- preparation of the body for mating, fighting, fleeing, and other activity
- preparation of the body for a new phase of life, such as puberty, parenting, and menopause
- control of the reproductive cycle
- hunger cravings
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Happy thanksgiving to you all. Today I felt like I should do a message on gratitude which is a powerful aspect of positive thinking. This might be more for me than anyone else. Sometimes I need to remind myself of the goodness of God. Maybe you are wondering what this has to do with sugar :) Well, depression can be a trigger for me to give in and have something sweet to “release” me from the pain.
Holidays can be a trigger for me to, not because there are allot of sweets, but because I miss my parents so much. This will be their 5th Thanksgiving they have been away from home. They have been in Africa serving the Lord. And they won’t be back until after they have missed their 6ths consecutive Thanksgiving (not to mention Christmas) home.
I was reminded the other night of the impact our negative thoughts can have on our brain. I may not agree 100 percent with what Dr. Amen has to say, but I feel like he can be a great resource. Follow this link for more info. This first quote is from that link.
“The thoughts that go through your mind, moment by moment, have a significant impact on how your brain works. Research by Mark George, MD and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health demonstrated that happy, hopeful thoughts had an overall calming effect on the brain, while negative thoughts inflamed brain areas often involved with depression and anxiety. Your thoughts matter.”
Dr. Amen has a clever acronym for negative thoughts, “ANTs” (or Automatic Negative Thoughts)
Quoting a paragraph from his book, “Change your brain change your life.”
Our overall mind state has a certain tone or flavor based largely on the types of thoughts we think. When the deep limbic system is overactive, it sets the mind's filter on "negative." If you could look into the thoughts of people who are depressed, you would find one dispiriting thought following another. When they look at the past, there is regret. When they look at the future there is anxiety and pessimism. In the present moment, something is most often unsatisfactory. The lens through which they see themselves, others, and the world has a dim grayness to it. They are suffering from Automatic Negative Thoughts, or ANTs. ANTs are cynical, gloomy, and complaining thoughts that just seem to keep coming all by themselves.
(to read a section from his book click this link)
Here is a summary of the “ANTs”
1. "Always" thinking: thinking in words like always, never, no one, every one, every time, everything.
2. Focusing on the negative: only seeing the bad in a situation.
3. Fortune telling: predicting the worst possible outcome to a situation.
4. Mind reading: believing that you know what another person is thinking, even though they haven't told you.
5. Thinking with your feelings: believing negative feelings without ever questioning them.
6. Guilt beatings: thinking in words like "should, must, ought or have to."
7. Labeling: attaching a negative label to yourself or to someone else.
8. Personalization: innocuous events are taken to have personal meaning.
9. Blame: blaming someone else for your own problems.
That was me, and in moments of relapse it is me again, if I am not careful or use my “ANT eaters”
Feed Your Anteater and Feel Better
Whenever you notice an ANT entering your mind, train yourself to recognize it and write it down. When you write down automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) and talk back to them, you begin to take away their power and gain control over your moods. Kill the ANTs by feeding your emotional anteater.
FEED YOUR ANTEATER AND FEEL BETTER EXERCISE is for whenever you need to be in control of your mind. It is for times when you feel anxious, nervous, depressed or frazzled. It is for times when you need to be your best.
Here are some examples of ways to kill these ANTs:
ANT / Species of ANT / Kill the ANT
You never listen to me. / 'Always Thinking' / I get frustrated when you don't listen to me, but I know you have listened to me and will again.
The boss doesn't like me. / 'Mind Reading' / I don't know that. Maybe she's just having a bad day.
Bosses are people, too.
The whole class will laugh at me. / 'Fortune Telling' / I don't know that. Maybe they'll really like my speech.
I'm stupid. / 'Labeling' / Sometimes I do things that aren't too smart, but I'm not stupid.
It's your fault we have these marital problems. / 'Blame' / I need to look at my part of the problems and look for ways I can make the situation better.
Getting back to gratitude, this talk was given at our most recent General Conference from our wonderful Prophet:
“We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues. Someone has said that ‘gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.’ Cicero, in A New Dictionary of Quotations on Historical Principles, sel. H. L. Mencken (1942), 491.
“When we encounter challenges and problems in our lives, it is often difficult for us to focus on our blessings. However, if we reach deep enough and look hard enough, we will be able to feel and recognize just how much we have been given.”
Lets help each other this holiday season to see how richly blessed we really are. Approaching life with an attitude of gratitude will not only bless our lives, but lift those around us.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
The hour long ride up to the lake was very distressing to me in many ways. I was most distressed because of my reaction. Couldn't I have fun without candy anymore? I was distressed because I didn't have my sweets to provide an extension of fun. I was distressed because I felt panicked without something sweet - I could no longer function without a fix. It became seriously apparent at that moment that I had a problem. An addiction.
More phenomenal was the experience that came after arriving at the lake. I had fun. I actually had a lot of fun. Because I didn't have sugar to pull at my mind constantly I was able to freely use all my senses to enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
Corey and I discussed the experience and confirmed what we already suspected, that each of us has a problem. We decided to make changes and began the planning process (which will be discussed in another post) and started our new lifestyle on the following Monday.
Monday came. All fine and only mild cravings after dinner.
Tuesday. Headache. Mild anxiety. No energy.
Wednesday. Headache still there. Anxiety tightening my throat. Heavy irritability. Low energy.
Thursday. Mild irritability. Low energy. Whiny and intense cravings. (Should I mentions a change in bowel habits for the worse?)
Friday. Subdued but hopeful cravings.
The Weekend. Not pleasant.
Monday. Not so bad....
Tuesday. A sense of accomplishment and pride for making it 1 week. Feeling a lot better physically.
Weekends are still hard. My brain is so used to weekend fun eating that just the word 'Friday' starts a dessert quest in my mind. And then I remember that I don't do that anymore. I don't need to.
Many years ago my dad suffered from alcoholism. I sought his advice when planning my recovery from sugar. I asked him if the cravings ever just go away. His reply is the very core of why I'm a recovering sugar addict. He said "No. My body still wants alchohol." This is coming from a good man who attends the temple and strives to live a Christlike life. At that moment I realized that I could no longer keep one foot in Babylon. I had to make a choice: to be ruled by sugar or to be my own master. Accepting that sugar will always have a siren's call to me was a hard bit to swallow and initially seemed bitter and unfair. But like my experience at the lake I have found that life is much more sweet without it anyway.
"In order to experience the symptoms of withdrawal, one must have first developed a physical dependence (often referred to as chemical dependency). This happens after consuming one or more of these substances for a certain period of time, which is both dose dependent and varies based upon the drug consumed." Wikipedia
- Poor concentration
- Social isolation
Physical Withdrawal Symptoms
- Racing heart
- Muscle tension
- Tightness in the chest
- Difficulty breathing
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
Monday, November 8, 2010
It's important to remember that the more a substance is refined the less nutrition it has and it takes on a basic chemical form. Why is this of interest? Sugar in it's bleached and refined state leeches a multitude of vitamins and minerals from the body in order for the body to process it. [Dr. David Reuben, author of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Nutrition says,] “…white refined sugar-is not a food. It is a pure chemical extracted from plant sources, purer in fact than cocaine, which it resembles in many ways."
There are many scientists and doctors that scoff at people who claim to have sugar addiction. In fact there are not a lot of studies to back it up or disprove it. I don't think it takes a scientist to tell any of us that sugar is addictive. This article pulls form several websites and studies about the effects of sugar on the brain and mental capacity.
As a disclaimer, I DO NOT advocate extreme dieting or diets that aren't based on moderation. I don't agree with every thing on these sites but there is some good information to filter through.
What Sugar Does To Your Brain
By Dr. Scott Olson
brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
Research has shown that high sugar diets (along with high fat diets and lack of essential fatty acids) decrease a BDNF.2 In fact, the relationship between BDNF and sugar gets even more interesting: low amounts of BDNF actually leads to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and even diabetes.3 This means that high sugar in the blood leads to low BDNF, and then low BDNF leads to a worsening of blood sugar control, which leads to high blood sugar, which leads to worse blood sugar control… and the cycle continues. You want as much BDNF around as possible if you want to learn, grow, and have normal brain functioning.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
From my previous post I spoke about my struggle with depression and anxiety. During the time I was serving an LDS mission was when I began to reap new habits and it all began with positive thinking.
In the second letter from my bishop he wrote: “As a ‘confession,’ I used to really dislike being told to have a ‘PMA’ (positive mental attitude) and similar things, probably because it seemed trite and somewhat ‘cheer-leaderish.’ However, now I realize it isn’t so trite at all. Indeed, it is a precursor to exercising true faith.”
I had felt the same way. All throughout Jr. High School and High School I looked down on positive people. I felt they were ignorant to the real suffering and pain in the world. Looking back, I was the ignorant one.
I began collecting positive quotes like an entomologist collects butterflies during this time of transition. I feel like I should share two of my favorites. The first is called “If”
If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don't.
If you'd like to win, but think you can't,
It's almost a cinch you won't.
If you think you'll lose, you've lost.
For out of the world we find
Success begins with a fellows’ will.
It's all in the state of mind.
If you think you're outclassed, you are.
You've got to think high to rise.
You've got to be sure of yourself
Before you can win the prize.
Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But soon or late the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.
“The Eternal Everyday” by Edmund Vance Cooke (fragment)
“…O, one might reach heroic heights
By one strong burst of power.
He might endure the whitest lights
Of Heaven for an hour;–
But harder is the daily drag,
To smile at trials which fret and fag,
And not to murmur – nor to lag.
The test of greatness is the way
One meets the eternal Everyday.”
I put that last poem to memory and I would recite it in my mind or with those I visited. It was a source of great comfort to me. (I found it while reading the Ensign: Quentin L. Cook, “Looking beyond the Mark,” Ensign, Mar 2003, 40–44)
Our thoughts have power for good or ill. I have felt this very literally in my life. For an example of the literal power of pray/positive thinking can be found in an account by Dr. W. Jerome Stowell I read after I came home from mission. It is a bit lengthy so I won’t post it here, but you can read the account at this link.
A small summary of the story is about a group of scientists looking for a way to measure the electrical charges in the brain during the transition of dying to death. On this measuring device they had measured the power used by a 50,000 watt broadcasting station sending a message around the world at nine points on the positive scale. They then measured a dying woman (they could hear what she was saying during her last hours) as she prayed. They didn’t have an instrument strong enough to register the positive number, it was higher than the 500 positive points on their scale. This had a similar but opposite effect as they measured a man who was more bitter and angry.
Our very thoughts have the power to propel us to our dreams or our nightmares. They have a real affect on our attitudes and our health. If we want positive changes in our lives we need to feed our minds with pure, uplifting, edifying activities. Through our own actions and the aid from our Father above we can achieve anything we set our mind to. “Sow a thought, and you reap an act; Sow an act, and you reap a habit; Sow a habit, and you reap a character; Sow a character, and you reap a destiny”
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
1. Sugar suppresses the immune system.
2. Sugar promotes inflammation.
3. Sugar suppresses the release of human growth hormone.
4. Sugar promotes glycation.
5. Sugar raises insulin levels.
So basically the top 5 mean that sickness happens more and easier, "excessive inflammation promotes aging and disease", aging is sped up, the body is filled with toxic chemicals and stripped of nutrients, the pancreas gets so confused and overworked that insulin dependence results. (The author is of course speaking of chronic excessive intake of refined sugars.)
Let's not forget to mention that candida (yeast infection) thrives on refined sugar and acidity. Sugar causes more acidity in the body, the joints are more prone to arthritis, more reproductive disruptions, vision problems and SO MUCH MORE.
Did you know that the average American eats over 140 Lb. of sugar per year. If you have an addiction to sugar I'm sure that it's more.
For more that 5 reasons why refined sugar is harmful click here.
Expand the image below to see the breakdown of what typically happens in 1 year of eating.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
The following is an excerpt from a study done in 2005 at MIT. The full article is here.
Brain researchers explain why old habits die hardCathryn M. Delude, News Office Correspondent
Habits help us through the day, eliminating the need to strategize about each tiny step involved in making a frothy latte, driving to work and other complex routines. Bad habits, though, can have a vise grip on both mind and behavior. Notoriously hard to break, they are devilishly easy to resume, as many reformed smokers discover.
"We knew that neurons can change their firing patterns when habits are learned, but it is startling to find that these patterns reverse when the habit is lost, only to recur again as soon as something kicks off the habit again," said Graybiel, who is also the Walter A. Rosenblith Professor of Neuroscience in MIT's Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences (BCS).
"It is as though somehow, the brain retains a memory of the habit context, and this pattern can be triggered if the right habit cues come back," Graybiel said. "This situation is familiar to anyone who is trying to lose weight or to control a well-engrained habit. Just the sight of a piece of chocolate cake can reset all those good intentions." --------
Monday, November 1, 2010
regularly repeated behavior pattern: an action or pattern of behavior that is repeated so often that it becomes typical of somebody, although he or she may be unaware of it
Oh, habits. How many we each have, good and bad. But there is hope! Habits can be changed. It just takes consistency. My bad habits with sugar addiction were eating for fun, eating for comfort and eating to cope. I began to mentally catalog how often I thought of making desserts or eating something sweet and how often I went to the cupboard or fridge and I was absolutely shocked. All day. Every day. Worse on the weekend. What an awful way to live - where every moment is spent on the same thing. I didn't want to leave the house without grabbing a handful of Skittles or go on a drive unless it meant we could go for ice cream or go fishing unless we could take candy. That's a really expensive way to live.
This site has some helpful habit changing information. Once again, I don't agree with all of it but some of the ideas are great and simple and not too wordy. How to Break a Habit
For me, recognizing the moments I was being habitual was key. Next came a detailed plan of how and why to change. Getting out of the house or doing something positive, uplifting and creative has helped the tender process of denying and replacing the bad habit with something better. Getting my mind off sugar has been SO important. For example, I am an artist and I like to draw with pen and ink. So I draw when I have time. Corey and I like to play Halo together. Do something truly rewarding and the need for the sugar reward is no longer as appealing. It's really that simple.
Give yourself time and living well will get easier. 3 weeks to break a habit and 3 weeks before a new habit sets in. It's all about consistency and recognition.
What do you do break or make a habit?