Has Covid Got You Back On Sweets? [REPLAY]

December 25, 2021

The past 20 months have been packed with stress and for many people turning to food, especially sugar and processed carbs, has been one way to cope. We all know that the pandemic has increased stress, but did you know that the sales of pre-packaged ultra-processed foods have also increased? The average diet in the U.S. has shifted from eating real food toward a processed food diet. If the COVID-19 pandemic has got you back on eating sweets, tune in to hear how sugar and processed carbs are also stress-producing and pick up some tips on how to reach for real food to help reduce stress.

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KARA: Good morning and welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition. Today's show is brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. My name is Kara Carper. I'm a Certified Nutrition Specialist. I have a master's degree in holistic health and I'm a Licensed Nutritionist, and I'm very pleased to be in studio today with Teresa Wagner. Teresa is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. And Teresa is actually the perfect person to be co-hosting today. She's very passionate about behavior and habit change, which aligns very well with our topic today. And our topic is “Has COVID got you back on the sweets?” That's a question that we want to ask everyone listening.

TERESA: Right. And I think that most people would say yes. And based on the statistics that we're seeing and some of the research we've been seeing, I think overwhelmingly the answer is yes.

KARA: And I think Teresa, I can even relate to that.


KARA: I'm not a big sweet person, but I probably have had more carbohydrates and sweets in the last 18 months than I've had in my previous years on this earth.

TERESA: Right. Well, and I think sometimes we confuse sweets with, yes, it might be something sweet tasting, but sometimes we like our sweets deep fried and covered in salt. And those still can be, you know, something that's high in carbohydrates.

KARA: Comfort foods, essentially.

TERESA: Yes. So, right. So the topic today “Has COVID got you back on this on the sweets?” And like we're saying yes, probably. If you have gone back to some unhealthy habits like eating your favorite sugary treats or other processed hyper-palatable foods during this seemingly endless pandemic, you are not alone. A global study confirms that during the pandemic, many people ate more junk food, they exercised less, were more anxious and got less sleep.

KARA: And it's kind of tricky too, when we say during the pandemic. We know that the pandemic is not technically over.


KARA: And so I think a lot of people are, they're still struggling. I mean, that study was from past months, but I, from my understanding, the people that I talk to, clients, family members and friends, neighbors, people are struggling with sugar.

TERESA: Yes, absolutely.

KARA: And you had mentioned there, people are getting less sleep is one thing that the study showed. And I know if I personally get well less than eight hours, but especially if I get less than seven hours, my sugar cravings increase a lot. And so it makes sense that with the stress of the pandemic, that many people they're not sleeping as well, and they are eating more sugary treats more often.

TERESA: Right. And I can actually relate very well with a very recent story. Even two nights ago, I had the hardest time sleeping. I don't know what was up. There's just something in the air I think, and I just could not sleep well. And the next day at work, you know, we celebrate birthdays out at our work too. You know, at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, we celebrated with some dark chocolate, you know, it was fair trade dark chocolate, some olives and some prosciutto. You know, we're a crazy bunch.

KARA: But overall a generally healthy dessert.

TERESA: Overall, yeah; nothing wrong with having a little chocolate here and there. But because I hadn't slept well the night before and because there was some leftover chocolate that was left in the kitchen area, all day, I was kind of like, well, should I go get a piece? Should I not go get a piece? Is it too much? You know what I mean? You have that, that, that sugar craving. And so when we don't renew our energy through getting good sleep, we seek out that energy from food and usually higher sugar foods. Because it wasn't like the olives and the prosciutto were calling to me. It was the chocolate.

KARA: I think a lot of people can relate to that story. Especially if they are back in an office environment, there's typically some kind of treats or snacks in the break room that call out your name a lot of times.

Effects of the pandemic and health habits


TERESA: Yes. And that is going to be so true coming up with Halloween, right? Cause people like to take their Halloween candy and dump them off at the office. So that can be a landmine for some people for sure. So a study on the effects of the pandemic and health habits looked at 7,750 people and found that these people became more sedentary and many of them gave into their food cravings. They drank more soda and ate more high sugar snack food. About 33% of the people who struggled with their weight before the pandemic gained even more weight during this last year and a half.

KARA: And that's just got to be frustrating to already be struggling with weight and then to have it kind of even snowball during the pandemic. In this study, the social isolation also increased people's anxiety. And about 44% struggled with their sleep. And many clients today at Nutritional Weight and Wellness are making appointments specifically to work on sleep. They want to get more than the four or five hours that they're currently getting. Now I'm sure you've heard us say this in prior radio shows/podcasts, but there is so much research showing that lack of sleep leads to weight gain. And an interesting outcome from the study found that greater spikes in anxiety occurred among people who were obese. This, the researchers thought perhaps overweight people were more anxious because they were at a higher risk of being hospitalized with COVID-19; which of course, who's not going to be more anxious if they know that they are in the more at-risk population?

How do we make a positive habit or behavior change?


So it really makes sense that a heightened fear of this virus would increase anxiety. Or Teresa, here's another kind of spin. Could it have been that obese people already had the habit of dealing with their stress? Maybe, maybe there were some habits in place that involved more candy or, you know, just kind of treats, ice cream. The fact of the matter is eating more sugar during the COVID-19 pandemic; it's a habit or behavior that really needs to be changed. This is where you come in. Right? I know that that's something that you really work with your clients on is how do we get out of these patterns and habits that kind of get wired in us?

TERESA: Right, and it, it is a lot of, and we're going to talk about this more later in the show in planning and strategy, but it is really a strategy that we need to take on with, how do we make these changes? It's not so much having a goal of change, but the system around that goal, you know, it's, the goal can be worthy, but if we don't know how we're going to get there, that's really difficult.

KARA: How do we take action?

TERESA: Right.

KARA: Yeah. Where do we start? I think people want to know that. Where can they start?

TERESA: Well, if you struggle with sugar cravings, and if you just cannot stop with one piece, one bite or one sip, I like to call these my all or nothing people. I am in that category of all or nothing. If one's good, a lot is better. Kara and I are going to have some new thoughts maybe and some information to share about stress and sugar cravings and how we manage those things and, and how we work on that.

KARA: And a lot of clients tell us that they eat the special treat; they go to that comfort food much more frequently when they're under stress. And is it a comfort food or is it a stressor? I mean, that's another thing to think of.

TERESA: Interesting question.

KARA: The foods that we eat and the beverages that we drink, of course that can be a factor in increasing or decreasing our stress. So we want to tell you about some research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. One tool the National Institute on Drug Abuse uses; it's called a functional MRI. And that just allows researchers to observe what's going on in the brain after someone eats sugar, drinks alcohol, or even does drugs.

TERESA: In past Dishing Up Nutrition shows and podcasts, we have explained how we make our brain chemicals, especially our neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine. So we've gone over how that works. And, and, and basically, you know, we, we, we take the food that we eat and we digest it down and it turns into our brain chemicals. With the help of a functional MRI, researchers have been able to see how the reward chemical, dopamine, increases after eating sugar, drinking alcohol, or doing drugs like maybe cocaine. When this happens over and over again, the brain becomes dependent on these outside sources of drugs, alcohol, or sugar to produce dopamine. Researchers have a term for this phenomenon called dopamine downregulation.

KARA: That is a mouthful. And it's very interesting as well.

TERESA: Yes, yes.

KARA: We, we do need to take a quick break. How about we talk more about the downregulation when we come back?

TERESA: Sounds good.

KARA: You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. If the COVID-19 pandemic has got you back on eating sweets, it might interest you to know that sugar and processed carbohydrates; I had just said this a minute ago, but those sugar and processed carbs are actually stress producing. They don't relieve stress. They actually produce more so it could be adding to the stress you're already experiencing during the pandemic. Stay tuned. And when we come back, we're going to talk about more of the neurotransmitters and also food choices that will help you to reduce your stress.


Sugar and processed food consumption has increased during the pandemic


TERESA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. The past 20 months have been packed with stress. And for many people turning to food, especially sugar and processed foods has been one way to cope. We all know that the pandemic has increased stress, but did you know that the sales of pre-packaged ultra processed foods have also increased? The average diet in the U.S has shifted from eating real food toward a more processed diet. And this is even more so than it was even 20 months ago.

A study just published on October 14th of this year, 2021, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that ultra processed foods like boxed macaroni and cheese or canned soup is associated with a poor diet and people eating this type of diet are at a higher risk of chronic disease. This study reported that an ultra processed diet may be the key driver behind the obesity epidemic. Yes, fast food pre-packaged and processed foods are convenient and inexpensive, but it is clear how they are affecting the health of people who eat these convenient foods. The answer is to eat the Weight and Wellness way with real food.

KARA: And maybe I'd like to circle back to what you were talking about before break and the neurotransmitters. But after that, maybe we could even get some examples of what do we mean by eating real food, the Weight and Wellness way?

TERESA: That’s a good idea.

Neurotransmitter connection to sugar, drugs and alcohol


KARA: In case we have some new listeners out there. But Teresa was sharing some really interesting information. And I think it's interesting that you had mentioned sugar, alcohol and drugs all kind of work on the same pathways. And so when somebody, essentially what Teresa was saying is that when someone is overdoing substances like alcohol or cocaine or even sugar, the brain becomes dependent on those outside sources for us to even kind of have adequate neurotransmitters like dopamine or serotonin, which make us feel good and calm and happy. And you know, of course we want enough neurotransmitters. But when there is that dopamine downregulation that happens when someone is having excess sugar, excess alcohol, excess drugs, over time, our brain needs more and more and more of those substances just to even feel, I would say normal.

TERESA: Right. Yes. So an example could be, you know, maybe you had a stressful day at work and you decided to go to your favorite bakery, like maybe, or maybe you were even just grocery shopping and you passed through the bakery section and you said, “Man, I had a rough day, so I'll grab this, this sweet or whatever you have.” Maybe it's a, maybe it's a cupcake or, or just something small. And after you had it, you felt pretty good. Like that was a really nice way to cope with that stressful situation.

KARA: Because there is kind of a, a temporary, maybe like a rush of neurotransmitters.

TERESA: Right.

KARA: Kind of short-lived.

TERESA: Yep. So then you have this situation and your reaction to that situation and how you coped with it worked in essence. Right? You felt better.

KARA: It did its job.

TERESA: Yep. So then the next time a similar situation happens, you have a stressful day at work. You have a, maybe you have a stressed relationship with someone and you're, and maybe you don't logically think through it like, “Oh, I'm going to go back to Kowalski’s or to the store and I'm going to grab that, that doughnut.” But you, your brain knows, “Oh, I felt better when I had that sugar.” And so then you're drawn to the sugar and you have it. But maybe this time you don't feel quite as good or it didn't work quite as well.

KARA: You remembered feeling better the last time you had it. Maybe you, your mood was a little better. Your energy was better the last time you had that sugar or treat.

TERESA: Yeah. And so then you're like, “Well, maybe I need a little more.” And maybe that did the trick, having that little bit more. So when we were talking about dopamine downregulation, that's really kind of what we're talking about as far as you need more of that, that substance, whatever it is, if it's alcohol or drugs or, or sugar or whatever it was in order to produce the same effects.

KARA: Yes. It takes more and more. And so if you feel, if you're listening and you feel like you're kind of addicted to sugar or treats, that might be what's happening to you. We want you to know that typically these cravings and this sugar addiction feeling, it's not about lack of willpower, it's about brain chemistry. And so, but we do, we're going to give some tips on how to get out of that cycle and that pattern.

TERESA: Right. So just to kind of review, we take in something that triggers dopamine in the brain. That dopamine makes us want more of that item, which then we may do, which then creates a habit that gets fueled by that dopamine. And it's a vicious cycle because then we need more of that thing in order to get that same response.

Sugar is a stressor on the brain


Okay. So let's go back to talking about stress. Sugar itself actually becomes a stressor for your brain and it is not comfort food. People often think of work stress, home stress, life stress, but not many people realize that sugar is a dietary stressor because it changes our brain’s reward center. It is inflammatory and it causes blood sugar dysregulation or, you know, blood sugar problems.

KARA: And as nutritionists and dietitians, we know that when a client's blood sugar drops below, below normal or drops below what their normal is, they will crave processed carbohydrates. They will crave some sort of sugar. And again, that's just the body's natural way of, “Oh, I want to get out of this feeling of low blood sugar state.” And so realistically the sugar is what's going to do that the most quickly, even though that's not the answer that we want.

TERESA: Right; because we're drawn to the thing that, we're naturally drawn to that thing that's going to pull the blood sugar up the fastest.

KARA: Exactly. But it is important, you know, to avoid those situations by eating the Weight and Wellness way, which is a combination of a good protein source, a carbohydrate that’s preferably a vegetable carbohydrate and beneficial, healthy fats at least four times a day. That is really the key to reducing those cravings. And we can talk more about that, but we need to go to a quick break here.

You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. If the COVID-19 pandemic has got you back on sugar and processed carbohydrates, we have a supplement called Crave Control Plus. It's helped, it's helped so many people just reduce their cravings. And we have found that by taking two to three of those per day before each meal, cravings for sugar and processed carbs are greatly reduced. And we will be back in just a minute.


TERESA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. I want to share an encouraging client story with you. One of our clients and her husband recently went on a European cruise, which some of you cruise vacation lovers know includes all of your meals, desserts and drinks throughout the entire cruise. I think that that's one of the selling points. Well, this client of ours has a rare autoimmune condition that she is controlling with her diet. She decided that she was not going to eat gluten or sugar on the trip because being sugar and gluten-free is one reason her autoimmune condition is in check. So of course she feels great right now and has no symptoms. Before they left on their trip, she made a request to the cruise ship chef to just prepare simple meat and fish and lots of vegetables with butter for her. And, and she would be good to go.

She was thrilled to report to us that the chef was much more creative than she could have ever imagined. All of the food she requested were not only sugar and gluten-free, but they tasted wonderful so she can continue to feel great. And she even lost a few pounds on a cruise. One thing I want to point out is that she made the decision that she was going to be gluten-free and sugar-free before she left on her trip, because it was so important for her and her health and her wellbeing. That foresight led her to have no autoimmune flare ups. And what's even more is that on this cruise, she was treated like a queen.

And even though she was very successful on her trip and she's been successful at home, she continues to make appointments with her nutritionist and she has done so for the past 10 years, she says that meeting with her dietitian once a year keeps her accountable and reminds her that eating real food helps keep her autoimmune condition in check. Give us a call at (651) 699-3438 to ask your questions. So you can have help to kick your sugar habits and processed, or yeah; your sugar habits and those process carbs to the curb.

Nutrition Counseling

KARA: That is a really great story. Essentially what that client is doing is she's being proactive and she has a plan.

TERESA: Right.

KARA: And she had a plan before she went on that trip. She didn't wait to go on the trip and then just say, “I'll see how it goes. I'll see if I can make it work.”

TERESA: Right. Right.

KARA: Yeah. So having a very specific plan and having that support from her dietitian, that's really just, you know, priceless.

TERESA: Right. Yes. I agree.

KARA: So kind of on the subject of cravings before we went to break, I, I had briefly mentioned that we have a supplement at Nutritional Weight and Wellness. It's called Crave Control Plus. Now this is just, you know, we always like to start with eating the Weight and Wellness way, which we'll talk more about, again, the protein, vegetable carbohydrate, and a fat, at least four times per day.

But sometimes people need that added support. If they have really strong cravings, they're trying to get out of the sugar habit. So two to three Crave Control capsules before each meal really can reduce cravings for sugar and processed carbohydrates. So if, you know, if that sounds like something that you're interested in, you can certainly call our office at (651) 699-3438. You can order, I mean, just talk to the front desk staff and you can order Crave Control Plus. We also have six locations if you happen to be local and you could pop into the office and they can help you out with that as well. But Teresa, we were also talking about low blood sugar leading to cravings.


Low blood sugar leads to sugar/carb cravings


And so to tackle those cravings and avoid the, having the low blood sugar, we need to be eating in balance every few hours. Typically when a person's blood sugar is low, they also have other symptoms: low energy, the cravings. They're wanting the sugar or carbs to give them that temporary rush so that they have a better mood or more energy.

But unfortunately, you know, grabbing something with sugar; what that does is it certainly does the job temporarily, but it spikes our blood sugar too high. We don't want it that high. And then it's going to come crashing down and then we feel tired. We have more cravings. We feel more stressed out. So again, like you said before, break sugar is actually, it may seem like a comfort food, but it's not. It's a stressor. And the more sugar you eat or the more alcohol you drink, the more stress you feel, the more you want sugar and alcohol to feel better again. So again, it's that vicious cycle.

TERESA: Yes. The more stress we feel, the harder it is to get a good night's sleep. The less we sleep, the higher the anxiety, the more we reach for comfort foods. So that cycle we were talking about. And it's understandable that people have gained weight during the pandemic because all of these things are happening. The question some of you may have is “How do I get the sugar and alcohol out of my life?” Maybe you are living in that dopamine downregulation right now.

Well Kara and I, we're going to have some suggestions for you, but because each individual needs vary, and of course each person's biochemistry is a little bit different, most people do best when they work one-on-one with a dietitian and nutrition or nutritionist so that we can tailor-make that food plan for you and strategize. You know, it's not, sometimes it's not just the food. That's a huge chunk of it, but there are, there's the “How are we going to make this happen” plans that we need to make in order to make this work for you as an individual. So, so some things that work for some people don't work for other people just based on your life.

KARA: Your lifestyle, your family, your job. Exactly. We can give it a first step though. We can give a tip is just stop buying junk food. Okay. Now that might sound simple, but keeping sugary treats, chips, bread, cereal, crackers, pastries; I know this is a hard one because Halloween is tomorrow, but candy. So let's fast forward to after Halloween; cookies, ice cream. If you don't buy that stuff and don't have it in your house, there's no option for bingeing on it, right?

TERESA: Right.

KARA: It's not in your freezer or your fridge or your cupboard. And so then if you don't have to think about it because the control has been set for you.

Control your environment and plan your meals


TERESA: Yes. I agree with that. Step one: control your environment, especially your home and maybe other places. If there are other places that trip you up and cause trouble. Perhaps it's your work environment or, you know, other, other environments that you spend your time in, we need to control that environment as much as we can. And we know with our house, at least we have the most control over our home. And then I would also say, you know, just speaking of the Halloween candy and step two, step two is to plan regular meals, but it also is other sorts of planning. So I would just to digress just a little bit back to the Halloween candy. What is your plan for November 1st and November 2nd? How is that going to go in your life? And for a lot of people, it is get rid of the candy. Get it out of your home.

Okay. So step one: control your environment. Step two: plan, regular meals. I would like to say it again. Plan regular meals. To maintain normal blood sugar, most people need to eat at least four times a day, and sometimes people need to eat more, maybe six times a day. To build up your brain chemicals naturally, it's ideal if each meal includes three to four ounces of animal protein, one, two or more cups of vegetables and at least one tablespoon of natural added fats to those meals. And when I say plan your meals, I mean, I want you to sit down and write or type out exactly what you are going to eat the next day. I mean, you can start with today right now if you want to get started. But what I'm talking about is that future planning, because we always make better decisions for our future selves, as opposed to making decisions in the moment based on what we feel like eating.

KARA: That is, that is so wise. And, and we want to be able to have all of the tools in place, right? Like we need the groceries if we're going to make a certain recipe, and that all requires thinking ahead and having a plan. So let's talk for just a minute about the, I want to kind of take a little twist here and because Teresa and I, and I'm sure all of you as well are concerned with the high level of anxiety that so many teens and young adults are experiencing in general, but especially during the COVID pandemic. So taking that into consideration, I think it's important for all of you to understand basic brain chemistry, if you don't already.

How do we make sufficient brain chemicals?


But if, if you want to make sufficient brain chemicals; now this applies to teens. This applies to kids, teens, adults. If you want to make sufficient brain chemicals, the neurotransmitters we were talking about like serotonin and dopamine, that requires eating sufficient amounts of animal protein. That's where we get those building blocks to make enough serotonin and dopamine.

We need all of the key nutrients coming from vegetables and we need healthy fats: butter, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, avocados. So to make neurotransmitters, this is the recipe you need: animal protein, vegetables, and good fats. And because of the stress of the pandemic, people, you know, a lot of kids have missed a lot of school or have been learning, distance learning, not seeing friends, miss being in sports and other extracurricular activities. Really the lives have been turned upside down for these kids, teens and young adults.

So all of us, including teens and young adults, have been using up neurotransmitters much faster than normal. So that is just one reason that we need to get back to a real food plan: meat, vegetables, and good fats. We need to rebuild those neurotransmitters.

TERESA: Yes, yes. I see where you're going with this, Kara. If teens and young adults have been eating sugar and cereal and processed carbohydrates, chips and other foods, they have down-regulated; it’s a mouthful. They've down-regulated their neurotransmitters. So perhaps they're feeling more anxious and they're craving more sugar and more processed carbohydrates like we were talking about earlier. It really is for not everybody because there are some people that this does not pertain to, but for the vast majority of people, the more sugar you eat, the more sugar you want. You know, it's just, like some people say, “Ah, that hit the spot.” Well, for me as an all or nothing person that doesn't really happen. It doesn't hit the spot. It just makes the spot bigger.

KARA: There's no like off button.

TERESA: Yes. Yes. I mean, eventually you get there. Most people get there, but it's usually not like, “Oh, it hit the spot and I'm comfortable and feeling satisfied.” It's almost like you're too full or you're, you've had too much and you're almost sick, you know, to that point. So for so many people, that's the case.

KARA: Well, I can't believe it's already time for our last break here. You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you want to get back to eating real food so you can start feeling better and avoid potential future chronic illness, I suggest getting some help. We're offering our Nutrition for Weight Loss series. It's starting up November 2nd. It's going to be 6:30 to 7:30. And it's a virtual class via Zoom. You will get the support you need to eat better throughout the upcoming holidays. And you can sign up by calling our office at 651-699-3438. Or you can sign up online at weightandwellness.com. We'll be right back.

Nutrition 4 Weight Loss program


TERESA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Some people like taking classes and some prefer to meet one-on-one with a dietitian or nutritionist. For that reason, we are offering both options. Many of our clients make weekly appointments during the holidays because they have made a commitment to themselves to stay out of the cookie platter, that they're going to stay away from that popcorn tin with the three different flavors, you know, the caramel, the cheddar and the plain or butter, they're going to stay away from the eggnog and away from the other holiday cocktails.

We have times available to work with you individually. So let's get started on a happy and healthy holiday season, so you can feel great and you can keep those healthy habits and your commitment to a healthier new you going into the new year. Call our office at (651) 699-3438 to set up an appointment so you can get the support you need.

Nutrition Counseling

Strategizing behaviors for our personality trait


And you know, Kara, I was telling you, I was, or I was telling all of you actually, I'm kind of an all or nothing person. I own that. It actually, it can, it can be a positive in ways too, because it's not just with food. I mean, you can, it can filter into other areas of your life that you do things well in other areas of your life. So it's not all negative. But in talking with my clients over the last week or so, you know, really we've talked about Halloween strategies and how are we going to deal with Halloween? And every year I make a personal goal of I'm not going to have any Halloween candy because for me, what ends up happening is that I have the one and there's one particular type that I just love.

KARA: What is it?

TERESA: It's the, it's the Pumpkin Reese's Peanut Butter cup, because it's like the perfect amount of…

KARA: Combination; the chocolate, the peanut butter, the pumpkin flavor.

TERESA: Yes. And while I love it and I’m in a place where I can control it, what happens is that it messes with my brain. And what I keep thinking is “When can I have another? How much can I have?” You know, it gets in, it gets in my psyche. And I don't like the way that feels. Whereas, if I have none, I don't have that issue because the answer is just no. And it makes that easier for me and my personality type.

Now that doesn't work for everyone, but that's a part of this planning that we're talking about and strategizing is what truly works best for you? You might not like the answer of none being the best. That might sound overly restrictive, and you don't have to do that if that's the case for you. But what it does is that it gives you some information about yourself and what works best for you. Do you want to live in that battle of how much can I have? When can I have it? If I have it, do I have to run extra? Or, or work out more or whatever. If it does that thing to your brain, then maybe we need to think about other, other ideas, you know? So…

KARA: Yeah. Well, thank you for sharing that. I think people appreciate that you're willing to share a personal story like that. I tend to be similar to you, Teresa, where I'm more of an all or nothing. Just an example, I was at dinner with a friend recently and, it was a birthday so a birthday celebration. So there was dessert involved. And I don't, I didn't even realize that I don't think I've ever really not finished a dessert. That's just kind of my personality.

TERESA: Who is that person that leaves stuff behind?

KARA: Well, was with a friend who had a few bites left of the cake.


KARA: Granted it was gluten-free. It was a healthy recipe, but I kind of looked and I, it just made me think, oh my goodness. Isn't she going to finish that? And so, I mean, if you can relate to that, you might also have the tendency to be more of an all or nothing. And it's just important to kind of know that about yourself too.

TERESA: Yes. And what that is too, is that also does not mean that you have nothing for the rest of your life. I don't want anybody to think that.

KARA: Right. That’s not what all or nothing means. It's just a tendency.

TERESA: Right. And we need to know how to strategize for that personality trait.

Eating in balance stabilizes everything


KARA: So, let's get back to, we've been talking a lot about dopamine, serotonin, which are those brain chemicals that really, really impact our cravings, our moods, our energy. So if you're wondering, “What is the answer? I want more, I want more of those good brain chemicals so I can reduce my sugar cravings.” Well, it does get back to the simple equation of eating protein every three to four hours. And pairing that with a healthy carbohydrate and a healthy fat is really going to keep the blood sugar level stable. That will stabilize everything. It’ll help stabilize moods, energy. It provides the building blocks that you need to make more of your own brain chemicals. And people naturally say, you know, “I have less anxiety. My moods are just more stable, more even, I have better moods. I'm focusing better.” So it really affects everything.

Healthy snack and meal ideas


TERESA: Yes, it does. And you know, okay, so we say, get protein in your diet, eat more protein. Well, one way that you can do this, and sometimes this works really well for teenagers because it's very portable or young adults or adults actually. Because sometimes we just don't want to have animal protein as far as eating a piece of meat all the time. So we do talk about protein shakes a lot. And it is a great way to get more protein into our diet. And a great thing that you can do is to teach your teens how to make a variety of great tasting protein shakes, or smoothies.

And one of my new favorite protein smoothies, it's very chocolatey it's using the Nutrikey Paleo Chocolate Protein Powder with the Nutrikey Chocolate Fruits and Greens. Like I said, it's pretty chocolatey. And then using full fat, whole milk. And then I blend it with ice. And how it turns out is almost like a chocolate ice cream shake. And sometimes I'll even add some dry roasted salted peanuts. So it's kind of like a healthy version of a Peanut Buster Parfait.

KARA: Wow. That sounds fantastic. So I'll share something that I've been making for my daughter that's, it's a healthy, it could be a meal or snack depending on the serving. But I take about a half cup of full fat, so the whole milk plain yogurt. And then I put in a flavored protein powder. The one I really like is from our office. It’s the Nutrikey, it's the vanilla bean.

TERESA: Yes, it's so good.

KARA: It's a whey powder. And I put a half a scoop of that. And then I put some of our Dynamic Key Greens and I put the chocolate flavor just a little sprinkle; mix it together. So it's kind of like a, kind of like a vanilla chocolate pudding.


KARA: And then a half cup of berries. And that's kind of like an afterschool snack.

TERESA: Oh, that's a great idea.

KARA: And so it's simple, but it's also just balanced with the protein and the carb and the fat.

TERESA: Yeah. Another easy protein idea for teens is to have deviled eggs ready to go in the refrigerator for a grab and go snack. And if we're on the move, I'll just throw some nitrate-free turkey sticks, some cheese sticks, some nuts, or some sunflower seeds in a cooler bag, along with a variety of different fruit and vegetable options, you know, with I have three kids. So it has to be three of each otherwise there's fighting involved.

KARA: Yeah, more great ideas. And I'll give one more. And then I think we're coming up at the end of the hour. But, we, I believe this is on our website, the wild rice meatball recipe. So you can go to our website, weightandwellness.com and just look under recipes. My daughter loves the Wild Rice Meatballs and it could be a dinner. It could be a lunch that I send with her to school and you can eat those cold. It could also be a portable snack.


KARA: So that's a really handy one. Well, we've covered a lot of information about getting off sugar during COVID. And you can certainly listen to this podcast or share it with friends. Our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. And it's a simple, but a powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thanks for joining us and enjoy this fabulous fall day.

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