I woke up this weekend with all the symptoms of a hangover.
Everything hurt and I was ready to cry, and my whole body felt lazy AF. The mystery, of course, was that I hadn't drank any alcohol the night before, and I had no sign of getting sick or anything.
Then I remembered: The day before, I had eaten chocolate for breakfast, a cheeseburger and fries for lunch and two slices of greasy New York pizza for dinner.
While those last two choices are more savory, all those meals have one thing in common: they are laden with refined sugar, which can destroy your body, and therefore, your productivity.
Here are a few more pains and ailments that could be the direct sign of consuming too much sugar.
Sugar causes inflammation in the body, which can cause pain in your muscles and joints in much the same way that a hangover can.
This makes sense because when I woke up this weekend after my sugar-binge, my head ached, and I couldn't turn it more than 30 degrees to the right or the left. My joints ached to an extent that is beyond the reach of words to describe.
I couldn't even look down at my phone without a shooting pain going down my spine.
Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD writes, "Diets that promote inflammation are high in refined starches, sugar, saturated and trans-fats, and low in omega-3 fatty acids, natural antioxidants and fiber from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains,"
You can wake up with that feeling that you slept wrong when, in fact, it's just that the inflammation in your muscles and joints is causing you pain, making it difficult to physically navigate through your day.
The effect of a sugar rush is to increase the amount of dopamine in the brain before and during consumption. If you eat enough of it on a regular basis, the body produces less dopamine on its own.
A study at The University of Utah proved this theory. Mice addicted to the sugar ingested it in a binge-like manner that released dopamine in the accumbens during and right before consumption, much like heroin use in humans.
Also like drug addiction, this sugar bingeing causes changed the expression and availability of dopamine receptors in the brain, requiring more sugar to get the next "high."
Let's say you decide you're DONE with sugar. You decide to get off of it, much like I did this weekend.
At first, you'll feel fine. "This is easy," you'll say to yourself.
Then, around 3 or 4 pm, you'll get a headache that'll make you feel like you're going blind, much like I did. Similar to when you give up caffeine, headaches are a very commonly reported symptom of sugar withdrawal.
And sure, headaches could just be a minor inconvenience, but at the very least they are a distraction from what you really need to focus on.
Another effect of too much sugar intake is your energy will literally pack up its shit and LEAVE your body, like "peace bitch." It will refuse to return until you either go through a total withdrawal or you get some more sugar to feed the beast.
This is another by product of uneven spikes in blood sugar. The crazy spike that comes from ingesting sugar will make you feel like your energy soars, but over-consumption of it can lead to chronic tiredness.
Balancing the blood sugar is an important part of regaining energy and health. You can do this by hydrating regularly, eating protein heavy meals with whole grains, vegetables and less refined sugars like candy and white bread.
I can speak to this from personal experience, as someone who has tried time and time again to get off sugar. The first two to three days coming off of sugar can cause severe brain fog.
When detoxing from sugar, you might find that you get lost driving a route home that you always take, or that you have difficulty doing a part of you job that always comes pretty easily to you.
Datis Kharrazian, bestselling author and a leading expert on autoimmune diseases, published a book about this phenomenon called "Why Isn't My Brain Working?" In it, he explains that brain fog is the result of inflammation in the brain causing neurons to fire more slowly.
One thing you can count on, though, is less sugar leads to less inflammation. While swearing off of sugar can lead to more harm than good, a more balanced approach is always a good idea.
Ask yourself if you're drinking enough water, staying hydrated and getting enough of the right kinds of foods.
Vegetables are always a good for carbohydrates, and whole grains. Instead of snacking on fruit snacks, switch to apples and peanut butter.
Small changes like these can make a world of difference.