Do You Have Sugar Aches?

September 23, 2023

Today our dietitians will discuss the connection sugar has to many health problems, especially how sugar actually creates more inflammation in the body. At Nutritional Weight & Wellness, we call these ‘sugar aches.’ Do you have stiff joints, achy muscles, migraines, tender tissues, or even PMS cramps? If you feel achy all the time or have pain you’d like to get rid of, listen in! We will make the connection between sugar and inflammation plus offer up ways to reduce or eliminate sugar cravings (and in turn reduce aches!).

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BRITNI: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. I am Britni Vincent, a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, and I have been working individually with clients for the past 11 years. When I chose my major in the field of dietetics, many of my family members thought that as a dietitian I would only be teaching clients how to lose weight. And yes, I mean, a lot of people do make the appointment for that very reason to lose weight.

But an interesting thing happens when these clients change their diet choices to lose weight. They often find that their aches and pains go away too, amongst many other health benefits that that happen just with eating real food. And there is most definitely a sugar connection to aches and pains. There's also a sugar connection to hormonal problems and many other health conditions that if you're a regular, regular Dishing Up Nutrition listener, you hear us talking about. But today, Teresa and I will discuss the connection sugar has to many health problems, especially how sugar creates more inflammation in the body and causes aches and pains. At Nutritional Weight and Wellness, we call these sugar aches.

TERESA: Those sugar aches are so common, aren't they?

BRITNI: Yes, they are.

TERESA: They're, they're so common that many times I think people don't know that they're aches and pains aren't just because they're getting older or because of an old injury or surgery, but are more because of the food that they're eating. You know, 'cause we eat the same things; very often I think they say that most people eat the same 20 foods pretty regularly. And so if we're eating the same thing over and over again, it's really hard to make that connection because things aren't changing that dramatically. So eating sugar can create a cascade of events that trigger the pain in the joints or in those old injuries.

But when sugar is removed from the diet, then the pain goes away. And we start to notice with foods are causing that and we make that connection. Like Britni said, my name is Teresa. I'm Teresa Wagner. I am a Registered and Licensed Dietitian as well. And I've been working individually with clients at Nutritional Weight and Wellness for the last eight years.

The sugar connection to anxiety

Today we are going to talk more about the sugar connection to a variety of health problems, one of those health problems being that there is a sugar connection to anxiety. Every media outlet regularly reports on the increased rate of anxiety, especially in teens. And it's one of the most common medications that you probably see this too, that I see in young women and women in midlife, is those anti-anxiety meds.

BRITNI: For sure.

TERESA: As a nutritionist, as a nutritionist and also a person that's just really interested in human behavior and the results that we get because of those behaviors, I can't help but notice the long lines of teenagers who drink fancy coffees. I, when I'm out at the grocery store shopping, 'cause every grocery store has a coffee shop, right?


TERESA: I'm just, I watch who's getting those coffees. You know, the other night, it was a Monday night, I just happened to stop in after work, which is late for me on Mondays, it was about nine o'clock and people were in line at Starbucks and I couldn't believe it. I was like, aren't you going to go to bed soon? Granted, I don't know what they were ordering in that case. But, but every grocery store has a coffee shop.


TERESA: And when I'm out grocery shopping, I do, I notice that there are lots of young, young girls particularly. I don't see as many boys in the lines. But some of those coffee drinks, they contain triple the amount of recommended sugar for an entire day.


TERESA: So in just that one drink.

BRITNI: Wow. That is a lot.

TERESA: And it's, I always, or I liken it to it's dessert in a cup, right?

BRITNI: It really is. Yeah.

TERESA: If there is 68 grams of sugar in your coffee, that is dessert.

BRITNI: Without a doubt.

TERESA: Equivalent of dessert. And it's the worst kind of sugar too. It's that high fructose corn syrup, which is, you know, it's just, it's just…

BRITNI: Way more processed.

TERESA: Thank you. Yes. Way more processed, our, our body processes in in our liver. Which we know that our liver is the detoxification organ. So it's just, yes, it's, it's the worst kind of sugar. Of course, we all know that coffee contains caffeine. So the excess sugar and the excess caffeine, well it feels good at first, of course. But then later anxiety can set in, blood sugar rises, then drops, low blood sugar, plus the caffeine that hasn't metabolized out of the system yet creates that fertile ground for anxiety to grow.

So I suggest to my clients who struggle with anxiety to stop drinking those coffee drinks and switch to something that's non-caffeinated. And that can be just a decaf coffee. You know, caffeine doesn't really have flavor and so a decaffeinated coffee can work. Or even herbal teas are a wonderful warm drink in the morning.

Inflammatory ways sugar can affect the body, including memory problems

BRITNI: Yeah. I think decaf coffee with some heavy cream, if you need a little sweetness, some stevia drops; that, that helps people to make that switch pretty efficiently. And you know, so sugar causes aches and pains and discomfort all throughout the body, including, you know, some might notice it in their knees, some might notice digestive discomfort. And there is even a direct connection to sugar and memory problems. In fact, it is called type three diabetes. High blood sugar in the brain has a way of affecting your memory.

So here's a question for our listeners. Have you noticed your word recall or your functional memory is worse after a weekend of eating sugar? Or have you noticed that you have more aches and pains after a weekend of eating sugar? I think many of our clients, they've made that connection between sugar and digestive problems. I hear, “My acid reflux comes back when I eat sugar or my diarrhea is back from eating sugar.” But as you said earlier, Teresa, sometimes it is hard to make all the connections of how sugar impacts our body.

TERESA: Especially if you Google heartburn and what causes it, sugar is not going to come up.

BRITNI: Yes. That is so true. Yeah. And you know, our clients, once they make those connections, it's way easier to then work hard at getting rid of sugar. But it's not easy. I mean, I admit it's not always easy for me to eliminate sugar from or avoid it from my diet. Because let's face it, most of us really like the taste of sugar and it's everywhere. Everywhere.

Excess sugar consumption promotes chronic inflammation

TERESA: It is. And it tastes good. But we know that excess sugar consumption promotes chronic inflammation. Research has shown this and we see it clinically. The parts of our body where we have the least amount of blood circulation are at the greatest risk of inflammation. That's why so many individuals have chronic joint and back pain and can be most impacted by sugar consumption.

BRITNI: Yeah. I think those are some of the common areas that we hear that people experience pain. And we know that eating a lot of sugar causes the body to produce more cytokines, which are inflammatory proteins. And arthritis, again, one of the more common conditions that create a lot of pain in our clients, people with arthritis already have high levels of those cytokines. So inflammatory foods like sugar are really only going to exacerbate their aches and pains and they can significantly increase pain.

And you know, usually if I have a client come in, they say that there's some days they have more pain and some days they have less pain. Or maybe some days they don't even have any pain at all. But they usually don't know what's causing the pain or making it better on some days. And once again, we talk through it at that first appointment. At the next follow-up appointment, often clients tell us, my is so much better and I know that when I eat sugar it gets worse.

And clinically, I think we hear this weekly, maybe even on a daily basis from, from our clients. But again, once people connect sugar to aches and pains, that is a huge motivator to reduce or just completely eliminate sugar. In a 2017 survey of 217 people living with rheumatoid arthritis, they asked participants which foods triggered their symptoms. And no surprise to us sweets were the primary culprit. 12.7% said sugar was a trigger. 12.4% blamed desserts.

TERESA: You know, I think that that's interesting. And when we're talking about sugar, I think a lot of times they'll, what people's minds go towards is table sugar.


TERESA: So the type of sugar that maybe we have in our pantry or in the cupboards. But that's not the only sugar. However, that's probably, you know, along with high fructose corn syrup and all the syrups and things like that, the primary or the, maybe the worst, more triggering. But sugar comes in lots of different forms. I mean, it can be even in foods that maybe aren't even considered unhealthy or eating high amounts of refined grains.


TERESA: Like pasta and bread and cereal and crackers and those types of foods that aren't necessarily unhealthy, but they're really high in carbohydrates. That's also a form of sugar that really can trigger those aches and pains.

BRITNI: You know, it is already time for our first break. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight Wellness. In today's show and podcast called “Do You Have Sugar Aches”, we will make the connection between sugar and inflammation and offer up ways to reduce or eliminate sugar cravings. We'll be right back.


What is the sugar/inflammation connection?

TERESA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. I think most listeners realize that sugar plays a role in inflammatory diseases. The inflammation connection is when eating excess sugar and processed carbs results in higher blood sugar levels, which then results in excess insulin, creating a perfect storm of inflammation. Higher than normal blood sugar equals higher than normal insulin equals inflammation. We teach this in our Nutrition for Weight Loss classes. We use graphics to illustrate that sugar/inflammation connection. So it helps to make it clear for people because visuals are good. It helps us see things.


TERESA: Versus just hear them. And then we make the connection to what we eat and how we feel. And speaking of that, I have two clients that really made the connection between what they were eating and how they were feeling. One of my clients had so much pain in her hands that she was finding it difficult to write letters to her elderly mother.


TERESA: Which is so fun to think of somebody sitting and writing a letter; right; actually handwriting a letter. But it was becoming difficult for her because of the pain in her hands. Twisting off caps on bottles was difficult. I mean, even activities of daily, I mean, you know, just think of vacuuming or anything that's really using your hands is really hard. Forget trying to open a jar of pickles or olives. Like it was just really off the table for her.

After a few weeks and this wasn't an overnight thing for her. It took a little while, but after a few weeks of eating real food and eliminating sugar from her diet, she was pain free. Which was like, for her, felt like a miracle. Right? How could you go from so much pain to none? It was pretty incredible. So that's really fun. I had another client years ago, so I've known this woman for a while. She was a younger lady. She was in her thirties and she had plantar fasciitis, but she's in her thirties and so she had a pretty active social life. And she also had a professional job. And so the type of shoe she preferred to wear was heels. And she was not willing to sacrifice. So by the end of the day or the night, depending on what she was doing, her feet would just ache.

BRITNI: Oh, that sounds awful.

TERESA: She didn't go to, you know, a foot doctor and she had custom orthotics made, but because of the type of shoe those go in, she would rarely wear them. So what she would do is she would ice her feet or she would put heat on them. She would ask her husband to massage her feet. Or she even bought like this contraption, this like sort of machine that she could put her feet on and it would like rub her feet.

BRITNI: Oh wow.

TERESA: For her, 'cause It was so painful. This client wasn't overweight and in fact she had many healthy lifestyle habits. And sugar actually, like the sugar we were talking about before, like candy and table sugar, that wasn't really a huge part of her diet, although it did make appearances in her diet. But she just ate a lot of really high carbohydrate foods. She ate very high carbohydrate foods. So when she modified her diet to a moderate level of carbohydrates or even low, but I would say low compared to standard American diet. Not low being elimination.


TERESA: She increased the protein in her diet, she increased the healthy fats in her diet and the inflammation in her feet went away. And years later, still pain-free.


TERESA: No issues with plantar fasciitis. So yeah.

BRITNI: Thank you for sharing. Those are great stories and I you make two good points with those. Well, more than two, but I think that for some people it is a, a very quick improvement.

TERESA: Mm-Hmm. Yeah.

BRITNI: But for some people it takes time. Right? And then also those individuals that takes a little bit more time, sometimes the pain improves gradually and some people don't always realize that it is improving. So I have to often encourage my clients to rate it on some sort of scale, whatever resonates with you, could just be zero to 10. So then you can say, okay, a month ago my pain was averaging a seven, but now I'm down to a four. You know?

And often when you do that, people realize how much it's improving. And I think within looking at your diet, it is important to look at just the carbohydrates because ultimately those turn to sugar. We don't think of pasta as a sugary food or bagels, but ultimately turns to a lot of sugar in our body. And speaking of sugar, we are starting a sugar challenge. And this is new. It's a 28-day sugar challenge. And Teresa, you created the content for this, right? And then you are the one in the videos, which is super cool. So tell us more about that.

TERESA: Yes, I'm so excited. We have been planning this challenge all summer, so it's been it's, it's been on my mind for a while. And I'm really excited that it's launching this coming week. As you said, it's a 28-day challenge and its purpose is to help people to break the addictive bonds of sugar. It can also be a fun and interactive way to get eating habits back on track, especially after the summer. I feel like we think that summer's going to be an easy time to eat well because salads taste good, the fruit's good, all this stuff is good, but there's so much in the summer. It's so busy and there's lots of, lots of fun food involved in the summer as well.

So this can also be just a really great way to get back on track. And for people who, if they don't feel like they have the time commitment to give to a class, this is less of that sort of time commitment I would say. So in the challenge, it is 28 days or four weeks long and each week builds on the next. So the challenge keeps evolving as we're going. So it's not, we don't just start it and then do the same thing the whole time. It builds on itself and it evolves.

Each week, there is an education component via three to four video modules, and those modules are about 10 minutes long. So we broke it up like this. So this way you can fit it in, in your life a little bit easier. You're not committed to sitting down for a half hour or longer to watch something that you can watch them in smaller increments when it fits in your life. During the challenge, what we're doing is we're setting up goals and putting systems into place to achieve those goals. We have designed simple and fun ways to track progress to keep you on track and motivated because what gets measured gets managed and I feel like tracking is just so good for for that. You can watch your progress as you're going.

The challenge is completely online, so anyone anywhere can participate. Even though it's online, participants have the ability to create a community with fellow challenge participants through the use of a private group chat function and live Q and A’s on Thursdays. Those lives will be recorded though, so if you can't attend at that time, you can still be involved that way if you wish. We have done five-day challenges in the past, but we'll talk about that when we come back.

BRITNI: You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. We are going to be talking more about how to get your sugar cravings under control. We'll be right back.


The gut health connection to sugar cravings

TERESA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. When I am working with clients, I often suggest certain supplements to reduce the sugar cravings. The first one on my list is Bifido Balance, which contains the probiotic, bifido, the probiotic bifido bacteria. Lots of b’s there.


TERESA: I often suggest taking two to three Bifido Balance capsules before each meal. Bifidobacteria reduces sugar cravings by crowding out the bad bacteria in the small intestine. And what's interesting is that bad bacteria loves sugar and creates cravings. And we do discuss this connection in the Breaking up with Sugar challenge or the 28 day challenge in week three. And there's this fascinating connection on how our microbiome plays a role in sugar cravings. The bacteria themselves crave sugar, so they make you crave sugar.

BRITNI: That's wild to think about.

TERESA: And if you don't feed them, they work to make you feel miserable. And you don't feel better until you eat sugar. It's just crazy. So those bacteria have a mind of their own. Before break I was saying how we had done five day challenges. We did two five day challenges in the past and it was really just kind of incredible how people had such amazing changes in such a short amount of time. So I'm just really looking forward to seeing what 28 days can do.

Steer clear of refined oils but DO incorporate healthy, natural fats and why

BRITNI: Yeah. That'll be really, really exciting to, to hear all the success stories at the end of it. And I think that a lot of clients today, they're concerned about brain fog, word recall and just losing basic functional memory. And we do know that foods that weaken your memory and create sugar aches are also foods that contain bad refined oils such as vegetable oil, soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil. Those are very processed oils, really don't have any nutrients to offer us and create a lot of inflammation.

Whereas foods that support good memory are natural fat such as butter, olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, regular avocado, nuts, olives. And we also need these healthy fats to lubricate our joints too and just for our cells to work efficiently.

TERESA: Yeah. Somebody had in the past it'd say you have to give yourself an oil change.

BRITNI: Mm, yes.

TERESA: Change from those refined processed oils to the natural healthy fats.

BRITNI: I like that.

How processed foods affect different parts of the brain

TERESA: Yeah. As we know, the typical western diet is full of processed foods. I mean it's everywhere. It's the whole grocery store basically, except for the perimeter. These foods have excess sugar and flour and can alter the brain pathways we need for learning and memory. Those fast food meals, the Friday night or any night of the week pizza can actually affect the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that's responsible for decision-making and for social behavior.

So this is really important when we think well for anything, but also when we just think about food because how much of food is related to decision making and social behavior. It can also affect the learning and memory part of the brain. When we eat a diet that's high in refined and unhealthy fats and in, you know, those high sugar processed foods, it can affect your brain's critical growth factors. So we can see why there has been an increase in dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

When you're thinking about food, do you ever consider how to eat to have less brain inflammation or to have a better memory? Or do you notice that after a bowl of ice cream or popcorn before bed that you wake up the next day feeling like the tin man from the Wizard of Oz; all stiff and achy, like you need an oil change.

BRITNI: That is one thing I hear a lot from clients is just waking up feeling really stiff. It's kind of difficult to get out of bed.

TERESA: Once their feet hit the floor, it hurts.

BRITNI: Yeah. Yeah.


BRITNI: But we also hear that it goes away too with…

TERESA: Fantastic.

Overview of an anti-inflammatory diet for a healthy body and brain

BRITNI: …this diet change and you know, I want to give you a quick overview of a whole food diet that reduces aches and pains as well as supports a healthy brain too. So I suggest to my clients to always start your meal with about four ounces. And that can vary from person to person, of protein, which would be meat, eggs, fish or dairy if tolerated. Add two cups of vegetables, either a serving a fruit or maybe a starchy vegetable like sweet potato. And then don't forget that healthy fat. So add a tablespoon of, of natural fat with all of that. And this real food menu will help to reduce inflammation throughout your body and brain.

TERESA: Well, before we move on to discuss more about the inflammation in the body, just a little bit more about brain inflammation. So the type of foods that cause several types of dementia, like we were talking about before: those processed and refined carbohydrates and oils. Research in the World Journal of Gastroenterology in 2018 reported that there are several types of dementia associated with celiac disease and non celiac gluten sensitivity.

The researcher found that patients who have celiac disease often report sudden memory problems, including word recall difficulties. And I have a friend actually who has celiac and when she went to college her freshman year, her grades actually really suffered because gluten was unintentionally sneaking into her diet as she was adjusting to living outside of her parents' house and into the, a dorm situation.


TERESA: The brain fog made studying and test taking really difficult for her. So I explain to my clients who are gluten sensitive that it's risky behavior to, to not follow their gluten-free diet. They may not have intestinal problems, but down the line they may have serious memory problems. For many, that sandwich at lunch or the pizza crust may be the cause of the inflammation in their joints and in their brain. I find that people who are gluten sensitive really thrive with going to support with counseling to get that direction to remain on a strict gluten-free plan meal after meal day after day, month after month. So having that ongoing support is really helpful for them.

BRITNI: Yeah, I absolutely agree, and I'm glad you brought up the fact that individuals that have gluten sensitivity or even celiac may not necessarily have digestive symptoms. Because sometimes when I suggest that a client try to go gluten-free to reduce inflammation, I hear, well, I know I don't react to it digestively, but for some people it affects, like you said, more your brain or creating aches and pains. There's a huge connection with gluten and arthritis. I see that a lot with clients, and you know, I have found that it is important if to remain gluten-free to just have kind of a stockpile of go-to recipes that you enjoy.

And I just talked to a client about this the other day. I think a good starting point is what are some foods or meals that you love that are naturally gluten-free? So it's it's taking more of a positive spin on it and you are not necessarily feeling like you're missing out on things.

TERESA: Focusing on what you can have versus what you can't.

BRITNI: Yeah. Yeah. So important. We don't like the idea of restriction any more than anybody else does.

TERESA: No, absolutely not. So here, here's one recipe that's really easy, very satisfying. You can cut delicata squash into rings, lay it in a glass casserole dish, sprinkle with avocado oil over the squash, then add some sliced apples, sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. So this is a super easy gluten-free dessert type food that also has some vegetables. You could turn this into a complete balanced meal by just adding some chicken, maybe some cauliflower, and then it's a one pot dish for dinner.

TERESA: Yeah. 

BRITNI: It's so easy.

TERESA: Yeah, and it's so good. I love this one and it's very timely because squash is coming into season so that delicata squash, it's harder to find. Now you can find it. And apples are in season. So this is a great way to use those apples in a sweet way, but not maybe actual dessert.

BRITNI: Yep, yep. And we have a lot of these simple recipes on our Weight and
Wellness website, so I would encourage you to check them out.

Check Out Some of Our Recipes

And I think that all of our recipes are naturally gluten-free.

TERESA: Yeah, I think so. Yeah, I think so. I think we used to have a couple that weren't gluten-free, but I think, I don't think they're there anymore. So I think it's, yeah, I think they're all gluten-free.

BRITNI: Which is helpful.

TERESA: Mm-Hmm. Now thinking about food choices and yourself, do you have sugar aches? Maybe you have stiff joints, achy muscles, maybe it's more like migraines or asthma or even cramps associated with your menstrual cycle. If you feel achy all the time, you start to turn down golf games or working in your garden or playing with the grandchildren or anything that really requires physical, a physical activity. And that's not good because we know that in order to maintain a healthy body, we need to maintain our ability to do physical things, maintain our muscles, maintain our cardiovascular health so that we can exert ourselves.

BRITNI: And then people mentally also just feel like they're really missing out on things.

TERESA: Yeah. Nobody wants to feel old. And nobody wants to miss out on anything.

Lack of sleep increases inflammation in the body and brain

BRITNI: Yeah. So there's that aspect of it too. And you know, of course we know sugar flour, those refined factory fats and alcohol can all increase inflammation in your body and your brain. But lack of sleep also increases inflammation. Dr. Matthew Walker, author of Why We Sleep, wrote that “Sleep is the foundation of our health.” He went on to say, “The impact of the loss of sleep affects every major system, tissue and organ of your body.” He said, “Lack of sleep affects every nook and cranny of your biology down to your cells, even your DNA.”

He quoted 20 large scale studies that tracked millions of people and found that the shorter your sleep, the shorter your life. And you know, not only is lack of sleep just detrimental for your health, but you are way more likely to crave carbohydrates and sugar after even just one poor night's sleep.

TERESA: Yeah. Because food is energy. Sleep is energy. Right? We restore energy when we're sleeping. So we don't get that sleep, we look to food for energy and there's nothing better than sugar to pop you up when you're feeling sleepy. And also with sleep too, when we're low on sleep, and I believe this is in his book too, is that when we're low in sleep, our perception of pain increases. So your pain level might be the same, but how you feel it is different. And so it feels more painful when you are sleep deprived basically. And sleep deprived is actually, what is it, like five hours, six hours of sleep?


TERESA: So it's…

BRITNI: It's a lot of Americans.

TERESA: That's a lot of people that get five to six hours of sleep a night, but we should really be aiming more for seven and a half to nine hours a night.

BRITNI: You know, it is already time for our last break. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. Another supplement we often recommend to help calm sugar cravings is L-Glutamine. The supplement L-Glutamine helps to reduce cravings by healing the intestinal lining. I usually suggest two to three capsules before a meal. And when we come back from break, Teresa will share more information about how to sign up for our 28 day sugar challenge. We'll be right back.


TERESA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. The 28 Day Sugar Challenge, which I keep talking about 'cause I'm so excited about, it starts on Monday, September 25th. So that's in two days. If you are listening live, you have today and tomorrow to sign up. Registration closes at 9:00 PM on Sunday. So in this challenge, I'll take you through those 28 days to give you the knowledge, support and accountability to break up with sugar.

And just think how great you're going to feel after 28 days of avoiding sugar. So being sugar free, that might be your answer to breaking the inflammation cycle and these aches and pains that we've been talking about. So join me as we take this journey together. If you want to sign up, head over to our website, The link to the signup is on that main page. It's this girl. It looks like she is kicking a donut.

BRITNI: I love that graphic.

TERESA: So it’s pretty easy to find. It's right on that main page, or you can call the office to sign up as well. That number is 651-699-3438.

How can you reduce sugar in your life?

BRITNI: So I, you know, throughout the show we've really established that sugar creates inflammation. It increases aches and pains throughout the entire body. But let's talk about how you can start to reduce sugar from your life. And I think the first part is really awareness.

TERESA: Yeah. I think awareness is key, right? We have to know what we're eating and what's in the food that we're eating. And so that takes some investigation. We need to really dive a little deeper instead of just, you know, 'cause so much of what we eat is habitual and what we have always been eating. And so we've probably stopped reading the labels. We just, as we're shopping, we just grab things because that's what we buy. And so it's time to start looking at the labels, seeing what is this food made of? Is there sugar in it? How much of it is carbohydrate?


TERESA: And really what we tell people if we're looking for numbers is that at meals we want to stay at right around 30 grams of carbohydrate total for that entire meal. Within that total though is we're assuming that you're having two to three cups of vegetables. So then it really just leaves about 15 grams of carbohydrate for those more concentrated carb or higher carb foods like fruits and the starchy vegetables and things like that. So really becoming aware of what we're eating and drinking as well. How much sugar is in this food?

BRITNI: Yeah. And I'm glad you gave specifics to the 30 grams because 30 grams of carbohydrates from pasta or bread versus 30 grams of carbohydrates from those fruit or starchy vegetables plus the two to three cups of vegetables, that impacts our body very, very differently. And I think that also just being, you know, maybe you jot down what you're eating for a few days because it's the, the awareness of what do you mindlessly grabbing. I think that we've all been guilty of that. Right? You don't really think about it. You're eating out of boredom. Like you said, so much of what we eat is habitual.

Healthy food swaps examples

So first just getting that awareness of how much sugar, how many carbs are you really eating, and then from there then you can start to look at how to reduce it. And I think some, doing some food swaps can be a really great place to start. Do you have any good examples of that?

TERESA: Well, yeah, I mean, and, and thinking of food swaps when we're doing this, of course there's experimentation that's going to happen here.


TERESA: We have to, we might not hit a home run the first time every time. But we can think about coffee. You had given an example. If you really love those creamy, sugary coffee drinks from coffee shops, having drip coffee with heavy whipping cream, using a flavored stevia drop. Like there's English toffee flavored, there's hazelnut, there's vanilla or French vanilla. So seeing if that would work.

If you're a person who is a salty snacker, if they, you like your carbs covered in salt, like potato chips and French fries, perhaps you could switch over to something that is still salty. Like you know, like maybe it's dry roasted salted almonds, pistachios, you know, just anything like that that's kind of got that crunch. Like you have, it's got the salt like, like the, like the potato or the fried potato has.

BRITNI: Those are some great ideas. Or even as simple as like a small apple with no sugar added peanut butter, almond butter. People really love that.

TERESA: I love that.

BRITNI: Yeah. It's delicious. It's very satisfying. And having, having these food swaps kind of planned out, if you know that you have a craving every afternoon or after dinner or maybe it's not necessarily a craving and it, it is just purely habitual. Which I hear that from a lot of clients.


BRITNI: You're not hungry, it's just what you've been doing. You eat.

TERESA: I do this, then I do this.

BRITNI: Yeah, exactly.

TERESA: I watch TV and then I walk to the pantry and grab something to eat.

BRITNI: So having a plan of what foods could you have instead. It helps a ton. And that is definitely a way that I've gotten a lot of clients to, to reduce sugar. And then so the craving part, right? In order to reduce or eliminate the sugar, you have to get rid of those cravings.

TERESA: Yes. And people don't know that this is something that you can do. It's not a part of your DNA to have cravings. We can switch that and yes, it can be you because so many people are like, oh that'll work for somebody else but not me. No, it can work for anybody, anybody. And I always hear that from people too. They're like, well if I can do it, if it can happen for me, it can happen for anybody, because they think they're the worst. Right?


TERESA: Because they're, it's so intense, those sugar cravings.

BRITNI: It really can be.

Recapping considerations when it comes to sugar cravings

TERESA: So yeah, we do have to really work on sugar cravings and there's lots of ways that we can do that. I mean we always talk about eating in balance. Balancing your blood sugar is very important for that. We talked about taking certain supplements and feeding the gut bugs, you know, taking care of the lining of the intestinal tract. Oh, what else do we do?

BRITNI: And I think that first meal of the day is really important because it sets the tone for the day. If you start the day with carbohydrates or sugar, you are going to be craving more throughout the day. There's no if and or buts about it. But if you start your day with a larger balanced meal, that really helps to eliminate those cravings and just kind of curb your appetite throughout the day. And you know, I think maybe we should talk about some parting thoughts about the sugar connection to inflammation.

Parting thoughts on the sugar connection to inflammation

TERESA: Sure. So one of the first things I think about is when you have poor control of your blood sugar, you will have inflammation in your body. So instead of having peaks and valleys of blood sugar, we want to have nice rolling hills.

BRITNI: Number two, chronic inflammation from excess sugar raises your triglycerides, cholesterol, blood pressure. As a dietitian, when I see these high numbers, reducing or eliminating sugar really helps to balance them out.

TERESA: The third thing, chronic inflammation, it can be implicated in allergies and asthma, IBS, depression, even having more wrinkles. So we really got to get that inflammation under control.

BRITNI: That's motivating. Number four, what about migraines? I see a lot of clients that have migraines and often people will get a migraine when their blood sugar goes up from eating too much sugar or processed carbohydrates and then takes a sudden drop and the body compensates for the low blood sugar by constricting the arteries, which can result in a migraine. So reducing sugar can really help to reduce overall inflammation.

TERESA: As I spoke about earlier, there is inflammation connection to plantar fasciitis. Perhaps you are struggling with painful feet. Cut your sugar consumption to control the inflammation to reduce the pain. There are so many inflammation conditions connected to sugar and processed carbohydrates.

BRITNI: Yeah, we really just scratched the surface today I think. You know, at our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you for joining us today.

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