“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”
So, maybe you’re taking a break from drinking or decided to give it up for good – whatever the duration or reason there are some lifestyle adjustments that can be made to maximise the break to your mind, body and soul.
Steps for Repairing Health After Eliminating Alcohol
DRINK MORE WATER. Even if you are a religious drinker of water throughout the day, after kicking the sauce, you are going to want to switch to water and make sure that you stay hydrated and flush the body out by consuming a litre or more (6-8 glasses) of H2O each day.
INCORPORATE VITAMINS AND MINERALS DAILY. Alcohol consumption inhibits the body’s ability to fully absorb all of the nutrients it needs, so a great habit would be to incorporate a multivitamin and B Vitamin regimen daily. Many vitamin supplements these days include all the essentials (including B complex), antioxidants and probiotics. An excellent all-in-one to check out is the Complete Multivitamin Complex by Bulk Powders.
EAT A BALANCED DIET. I don’t know about you, but even though I tried my best to eat a healthy diet when I was a drinker, I cannot deny that after a few glasses of wine I would automatically want crisps, pizza or chocolate. Drinking screws with our insulin and hunger regulation and therefore we can feel like we have no control over the food choices we make while on a night out — or through a hangover. Incorporating a diet full of balanced whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean meats, whole grains and beans will help to regulate blood sugar, meet nutrient requirements and help to create usable energy the body can access throughout the day.
LIMIT REFINED SUGAR. Many people increase the amount of sugar and sweets they eat after they quit alcohol (as well as after quitting smoking). Sugar can have the same effect on our brains as drinking can as the same response of dopamine release occurs when we consume sugar just as when we drink alcohol – especially when paired with a conditional habitual response pattern. Even if sweets are convenient and help to keep you from ordering a glass of chardonnay, the better choice would be a piece of fruit or a handful of almonds (which are fabulous for liver health, btw).
GET A DEFICIENCY SCREENING. If you’ve been a regular drinker – or what would classify as a heavy drinker, you may have been missing out on the absorption of vital nutrients. A nutritional professional can help screen for any deficiencies that you may have to determine the best course of action for your dietary needs going forward.
REJUVENATE YOUR LIVER. The liver takes a beating throughout our lives as it serves as a filtration system of toxins, metabolises drugs, and makes essential proteins required for many vital bodily functions. After making a lifestyle change, such as eliminating alcohol, it is a good idea to focus on rejuvenating your liver by choosing a balanced, whole foods diet that includes fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals. So, to get started, here are some foods you can include in your diet today are carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, almonds, and oats.
GET EXERCISE. Regular exercise helps the body by promoting lung, kidney, intestinal, and overall immune system health which all support the body’s efficient natural detoxification processes. Aside from the physical health benefits of a fitness routine, exercise helps to produce endorphins which can help reduce anxiety and depression. If the root cause of your alcohol habit was stress or response to stressful events, finding healthier strategies to cope with these feelings will encourage positive behaviours and better health choices overall. Check out my free eBook for jump-starting fitness as well as my workouts for free guidance on how to get (and stay) fit!
And in case you need a reminder of how you can work on repairing health after alcohol, I have created this handy-dandy infographic. Be sure to pin this graphic and share with friends and family or anybody who may be looking for ways to start repairing their health after eliminating alcohol from their lifestyle.
So, there’s a lot of buzz, hype, and confusion about eating sugar. Is it good? Bad? Am I overeating it? Well, this post comes after much thought and years of research, reading, and also working with people who are looking to change their eating habits. It’s easy to get confused about sugar, and truthfully, trying to get to the bottom of the truth about sugar, is enough to make you stress eat Skittles, am I right? If you want to navigate your way through the (not so sweet) confusion when it comes to sugar and your diet, you need only to read on as a nutritional therapist explains sugar.
By now, it’s almost a broken record to hear about how sugar is the enemy, and it no doubt is public enemy number one in obesity (childhood and adult), heart disease, and diabetes. The truth is, most people don’t know the difference between the various types of sugars in the foods they eat.
A sugar calorie, unrefined
Simple sugars are called monosaccharides and include glucose (also known as dextrose), fructose and galactose.
Monosaccharides are the simplest units of carbohydrates and the simplest form of sugar. They are the building blocks of more complex carbohydrates such as disaccharides and polysaccharides. Some examples of monosaccharides are cane sugar, honey, agave, and molasses.
A disaccharide is a sugar composed of two monosaccharides and is formed when two sugars are joined, and a molecule of water is removed. For example, milk sugar (lactose) is made from glucose and galactose whereas cane sugar is made from glucose and fructose.
Polysaccharides are formed by three or more monosaccharides. An example of a polysaccharide is starch found in corn and potatoes.
To break sugar down even further we can talk about sugar called by many other names (and, yes, some taste just as sweet — some MUCH sweeter).
Glucose is a simple sugar or a monosaccharide because it is one of the smallest units which has the characteristics of this class of carbohydrates. When oxidized in the body, (metabolism), glucose produces carbon dioxide, water, and some nitrogen compounds, and in the process provides energy which can be used by the cells. In the human bloodstream glucose is referred to as “blood sugar.”
Fructose is sugar found in fruit and honey. Used as a sweetener for soft drinks and processed food and is processed solely by the liver. Fructose, particularly in liquid form (outside of whole fruits and vegetable liquid form) is not to be confused with HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup).
Sucrose is a basic table sugar, also found in fresh fruit. When sucrose is consumed, the enzyme beta-fructosidase separates sucrose into its individual sugar units of glucose and fructose. Both sugars are then taken up by their specific transport mechanisms. The body will use glucose as its primary energy source and the excess energy from fructose, if not needed, will be poured into fat synthesis, which is stimulated by the insulin released in response to glucose.
Galactose is a monosaccharide commonly occurring in lactose. Also called brain sugar.
High Fructose Corn Syrup, also known as glucose-fructose syrup, is a combination of fructose and glucose made by processing corn syrup. Processing converts a portion of the corn syrup’s glucose into fructose to produce a desired sweetness. The resulting syrup is sweeter and more soluble. HFCS 55 (mostly used in processed foods) is approximately 55% fructose and 42% glucose.
Dextrose is another name for glucose and is often listed on processed foods (such as french fries and processed bread) as “natural sweeteners” and can be found in High Fructose Corn Syrup formulas.
Maltodextrin is a highly processed powdered sweetener derived from starch, resulting in a mixture of Glucose, Maltose, Oligosaccharides, and Polysaccharides. Maltodextrin can be found in many processed foods such as salad dressings and frozen foods.
Maltose is (aka Malt Sugar) starch and malt broke down (mashed) into simple sugars and regularly used in beer, cereals, bread, and baby food.
Stevia,also known as sweet leaf, sugar leaf, are dried and subjected to a water extraction process — 300 times sweeter than sugar with zero calories.
Sucralose (aka Splenda) is an artificial sweetener that is 600 times as sweet as table sugar, twice as sweet as saccharin, and 3.3 times as sweet as aspartame. Sucralose can be found in many low-carb and lower-sugar processed food products.
Sugar Alcohols, also known as polyols, derived from a plant sugar which is extracted by differing means, then reduced and then hydrogenated, then recrystallised. Sugar alcohols are neither sugar nor alcohol. However, they resemble their molecular structure. Sugar alcohols contain about 2.6 calories per gram, and they occur naturally in plant products such as fruits, berries, starches, seaweeds. Sugar alcohols will be listed as Mannitol, Sorbitol, Xylitol, and Maltitol.
Are you dizzy now? That’s not even all the sweet substances out there, but these are the main culprits in most of the foods on the market today — especially processed foods.
Sugar: Not good vs. bad, but better vs. worse.
When talking about the body’s metabolic processes, and the fact that we need glycogen in our body to move, breathe, and function; it can be challenging to think that eating something with sugar isn’t a good choice.
Also, sugar — by its very makeup — IS carbohydrate, which is something we need to produce and store glycogen for all of our essential body functions.
So, if we have to eat carbohydrates — including sugar — how can it be so “bad” for us??
In the description of sugar types posted above, you can see that fructose, a sugar found in honey and fruits, is processed solely by the liver. But wait, the fruit is good for you, right? Yes, the fruit is good for you. Here’s the deal, eating an apple, as opposed to a teaspoon or two of table sugar, (sucrose – which is part fructose) is different. But how? When it comes to sugar calories, they are NOT all created equally.
About those sugar calories
Low carb, no carb, paleo, and IIFYM (just to name a few) are eating plans that discourage the consumption of refined sugar, and some of those plans even prohibit fruit due to its sugar content.
While I agree that when it comes to your overall health, sugar consumption is something to keep in check, however, it’s where you’re getting your sugar calories fromthat is an intricate part of your overall health.
Look, sugar is somewhat unavoidable — it is a naturally occurring ingredient. One way you can break through the sugary confusion is to ask yourself this simple question — to this complicated question: “In addition to the sugar in this item, what other benefits will I receive by choosing to eat this food?” If you can’t list any actual health benefits to consuming that food, it’s probably safe to say that it’s not the best form of sugar to be eating. Let’s take a look at the two examples below.
1. Soda vs. Fresh Juice
I’ve heard this before, “If a glass of fruit juice is just as sugary and has as many calories as a can of soda, than I’m going to have the soda.” While 12 ounces of soda and 12 ounces of juice are close in calories and sugar content, there is a significant difference between the two beverages and how they affect the body.
A can of soda has 140 calories, 39 grams of processed sugar (HFCS), and no fiber, so, therefore, it has ZERO health benefit. Whereas, a glass of fresh fruit and vegetable juice has 177 calories, 32 grams of natural fructose sugar, 2 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein, vitamins A and C, Iron, calcium, and potassium.
2. Milk chocolate vs. Dark Chocolate
One ounce of milk chocolate has 38 calories, 2 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 4 grams of sugar and no added vitamins, minerals or nutrients. Dark chocolate also has 38 calories, 2 grams of fat, no saturated fat, and 4 grams of sugar, however, dark chocolate also contains antioxidants, potassium, magnesium, iron, and Vitamin B12.
Let’s summarize it all.
Sugar comes in a lot of different forms. Some types of sugar come in the form of “empty calories” or “nutrient sparse” foods such as many processed foods, candy, soft drinks, and concentrated juices. While eating sugar may seem unavoidable, you need to ask yourself which health benefits are closely associated with the sugar containing foods you’re about to eat. If you can’t find a single vitamin, mineral, or nutrient in a sugary product in question– you won’t be missing out by giving IT a miss. Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables are essential to our diet. We need a balance of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes to fully absorb the nutrition in the foods we eat. While it’s okay to enjoy an occasional chocolate bar, ice cream, and other sweets — they are not the best source of energy for our bodies.
While your tastebuds may struggle to know the difference between table sugar, and, say, sucralose, your body recognises the difference between foods with fibre, protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
If you get the best stuff to your plate, your body will do take care of the rest.
Hopefully, this has helped to clear up some of the confusion sugar causes for so many people. If you liked this post, check out some more of my eating psychology posts to learn more about how your relationship with food helps to form dietary choices.
Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.
What’s an attitude of gratitude? It’s living your life from the perspective of appreciating what you have instead of focusing on what you do not. You may hear this phrase when people talk about an ‘abundance’ mindset vs. one of ‘scarcity’.
We all struggle with finding positive value in the shitty things that happen in our lives. Believe me, this is something I have struggled with my entire life. In fact, I remember when I was 29 years old I had a terribly toxic boss and suffered with so much anxiety. One day I was helping the HR director – telling her about how tough my prior year had been after losing my job, health insurance, and a personal financial crisis and that things, “couldn’t get much worse.” Naturally, her reply was, “Love, if there is anything I know in this life it is that things surely get better but they can definitely get worse.”
She was right, less than two years later my father was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer and passed away. Things can definitely get worse.
Believe it or not, as much as I miss my father – I learned so much about life helping to care for him during his illness and in losing him. Of course, I would trade anything to have him back, but I also don’t know if I would be the person I am right now – typing this blog – if I didn’t go through one of the worst things a person can endure, the loss of a parent.
We’ve all had times in our lives where something we’ve put a lot of ourselves into didn’t work out. There are not enough words to describe the negative emotions we feel when this type of rejection or loss occurs, not to mention what it does to our motivation and self-esteem.
The truth is, we can learn to internalise and these negative experiences and transform the energy associated with them into positive choices and new directions.
3 Steps For Finding A Silver Lining In Any Situation
Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this situation?” Maybe you’ve lost your job, ended a significant relationship, or found out some crappy news in general. Regardless of which end of the spectrum an event is perceived to be on, there’s always something to be learned — whether it’s about yourself, another person, or situation. Maybe the lesson you learned is that you have to be more or less trusting. Maybe the lesson you learned is that you didn’t feel happy in the job you lost (I’ve so been there on this one)! Maybe the lesson you learned is that you need to take better care of yourself or start making your well-being a priority. Or even that you need to tell the people you care about how special they are more often. Choosing to take a bad situation and turn it into a lesson learned will enable you to grow emotionally and spiritually.
Ask yourself, “What am I able to do now that I wasn’t able to do before?” In any situation, your opportunities will change. Try to focus on how this opportunity will give you the ability to do something (or many things) you weren’t able to do before. What skills did you gain from your last job? If you’re out of a relationship or toxic friendship what time — more importantly energy — do you have to now devote to something that will make you happier, stronger, and more fulfilled? Maybe now you’re more able to speak up for yourself and communicate what you do and don’t want out a relationship/friendship. There is no way that you have not gained the ability to do something bigger and better today that you couldn’t have done yesterday. Discover this, rebuild and go forward.
Ask yourself, “Do I have perspective?” Not to belittle yourself or your struggles, but if you can step back from any situation and answer yes to any, some, or all of the following, you’ve got a lotto be thankful for: Do I have my health? Do I have a place to live? Do I have clothes on my back? Do I have food to eat? Do I have a support system and people whom I love, and that love me?
While some of these things may seem basic and not like much to celebrate, take some time to appreciate each and every item you answered yes to. Being able to truly appreciate all that you do have – right now – is the biggest silver lining of all. Well that and giving back to others who are struggling with something that you may take for granted is one of the most powerful exercises in gratitude out there.
Practicing an attitude of gratitude is all about appreciating everything for what it is right now, and sometimes that means choosing to be content with all the silver (grey) events.
Do you look for the silver lining in bad situations? How do you practice an attitude of gratitude?
Every time I tried to give notice, the insecurity over not trusting myself enough around food stopped me.
It felt familiar. Crash dieting was second nature.
And so was my self-doubt and dissatisfaction with my body.
I tried every crash diet, pill, potion, cleanse whathaveyou over the nearly two decades of my toxic relationship with food and my body.
So, I tried something radical (for me): I simply quit crash dieting.
And this is what happened in the aftermath of my decision.
What I learned when I finally quit crash dieting
I got to eat what I wanted without feeling any guilt.
When you don’t have restrictions placed on your diet left, right and centre it gets a lot less stressful when you decide to let yourself eat!
I spent so many years worrying about whether the food had the right amount of carbs, sugar, fats, macros that it took all of the joy out of eating.
Seriously, just making a decision to eat was like solving a puzzle when half the pieces were missing.
Frustrating AND boring.
When I stopped restricting myself, I also stopped shaming and depriving myself. Deprivation is fuel to the diet and food-obsessed person’s inner motivation fire.
Without all the ‘self-policing,’ I was able to focus on listening to my body and becoming more in touch with what I wanted to eat rather than what I ‘shouldn’t.’
When you take restriction out of the equation, you no longer punish yourself for food choices.
I saved money even though I was eating more.
I was a total sucker for energy drinks, diet snacks, and protein bars; not to mention diet pills, caffeine, and fitness-enhancing supplements.
All of these “health” products were slimming down my bank account and doing nothing for my well-being.
I soon discovered that eating whole foods was not only more satisfying but much more beneficial to my overall fitness level. And because I was eating healthy, flavourful foods like healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and real protein sources, I found that when I did try to eat an odd “energy” bar, I was paying £2 to eat something that tasted like plastic and probably contained it too!
In the same respect, a piece of pie or cake for dessert tasted so much better. Without eating processed foods, I appreciated the richness and flavour of the items I was eating.
Delicious food without a giant helping of guilt afterwards hit the spot as well!
I realised that I was never “addicted” to anything I ate.
One of the most rewarding things about breaking up with food restriction is that you understand that the propaganda about being addicted to sugar and salt is not real.
I also started to recognise my true hunger cues and my body was able to lead me to a better understanding of my appetite and how to feed it.
I stopped being at war with my body
Arbitrary crash diet eating is an anchor for shaming ourselves. When I ceased to shame myself for the foods I was eating, I also stopped the cycle of body negativity.
A new cycle of rational and healthy give and take begins when you quit crash dieting.
Eating what my body needs when it needs it, stopped the mental battle I was living through while I was engaging in restrictive crash dieting.
I stopped continually being in a bad mood which I attributed to two things 1) Arbitrary food guides were no longer screwing with my digestion and bodily functions and 2) I stopped shaming the hell out of myself for not being compliant with a whackadoodle diet plan.
It is incredible how much better you will see your body when you stop punishing yourself for not putting it through unnecessary hell.
Self-compassion is something with which most of us struggle. You’re only human, and there are enough causes in life to get passionate and fight against, your body doesn’t need to be one of them!
I lost some weight (and it has stayed off)
Emotional and physical weight can be present in our lives in equal measure. When I quit my crash diet cycle and began embracing self-compassion, it enabled me to shift weight without conscious effort.
As an eating psychology and behaviour change coach who utilises neurolinguistic programming, I can tell you that when you spend life thinking negative statements, you will also spend your life fighting against those thoughts, and 9 out of 10 times get the very thing you don’t want.
Your mind cannot process negative statements. When you say to yourself “I can’t eat sugar,” your mind will only hear, “eat sugar.” While you think you are commanding yourself into not to doing something, you are essentially talking yourself into the very action.