GAPS & Stress Part 2: Why Will Power has Nothing to Do with your Ability to Heal Yourself [Energy, Mood, Weight, & Cravings]
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So I have to preface this article by saying it contains the best kept secret known to humans. And this is because when you understand how your Blood Sugar literally controls your life, you’ll understand that there is nothing wrong with you as a person. All your ‘bad’ decisions, all the crappy food you’ve eaten [when trying not to], all the awful sh** you’ve said in the heat of the moment that you didn’t mean, it can all be explained by your blood sugar levels.
Blood Sugar is Queen
Maintaining your blood sugar is one of your body’s #1 priorities. It keeps you alive. And if it goes to high or too low, your body starts dying, so it will do anything in order to maintain normal levels.
With the modern day, processed food diet as the status quo, there has never been a time in human history where our blood sugar has been more out of whack. Having a f***** up blood sugar is the typical human experience. Which was definitely true for me before I knew how blood sugar worked. It looks like this:
Blood Sugar Rollercoaster
Now I’ll explain what you are looking at. Forgive me while I oversimplify, as blood sugar + all its effects on your body are individually complex, but I’ll give you the main jist of what is going on!
Healthy Fat as the #1 Ingredient to Maintain your Blood Sugar
First thing that is important to understand before we really dive into blood sugar is FAT. Healthy fat is imperative for slowing the release of sugar into your bloodstream. As a society, we’ve been taught that saturated fat is bad and that it will give you a heart attack and kill you. But the very fact that you are reading this right now shows that you are at least entertaining the idea that not everything society tells you (especially about diet) is true.
That being said, the point I want to make here is not only the fact that you need fat to regulate your blood sugar (and therefore your weight + hormones [I’ll get into to the details of this soon]). But that on GAPS, consuming saturated, pastured ANIMAL fat is an integral part of healing yourself. Dr. Natasha says that the more animal fat she sees people eat, the quicker they heal. And I have also known this to be true in my own experience, going from housebound to working within a matter of months. If you want to know more details, you can read about my story here.
When Your Blood Sugar Rises Beyond SAFE Levels (all the time)
So let’s say you don’t put enough fat on your GAPS carrot fries, for instance. And your blood sugar, without fat to slow down your body’s absorption of even this natural sugar, rises rapidly + goes out of range. Your body will go into a state of emergency (aka STRESS) because this amount of sugar in your blood physically destroys your cells. This sugar overwhelm is when you’ll start to feel anxious, irritable, not be able to think straight, etc. You will not be able to cope with stress gracefully at all.
Then your pancreas starts pumping out insulin as fast as it can. Because insulin literally brings this extra sugar into your cells for energy, which is how insulin technically ‘lowers blood sugar.’ However, if this happens often enough (aka it probably does), insulin becomes an annoying neighbor to your cells. Who doesn’t understand boundaries and keeps coming over at all times of day and night, knocking on the door incessantly. Then your cells stop answering + using the sugar because [f*** that]. This phenomenon is also known as insulin resistance. When this mechanism takes place, your body has no choice but to store this excess sugar as fat, which is how you gain weight.
Weight Gain or the Lack Thereof
I yoyo-ed up & down with my weight (give or take 35 lbs) for about 10 years before I understood how to regulate my blood sugar. Now I’ve maintained a healthy weight for two years straight without having to think about it much at all.
And the weight gain is if you are lucky! If you are constitutionally thin, or a person who can eat sugary + low quality foods without gaining weight, the excess sugar in your bloodstream will destroy your cells with abandon instead of being converted into fat. Hardcore. And hard to hear. No matter who you are, if your blood sugar levels are too high, you are suffering.
How You Need to Have a F***** Up Blood Sugar for Sugar Cravings
But that’s not all! Next, all the insulin (emergency hormone) pumped out frantically by your pancreas ends up overcompensating. And now your blood sugar crashes. Fast. And it drops below functioning levels. This is when you get cranky AF, hangry, brain fog, or when you will snap at someone and say something you don’t mean. This is also when you cannot keep your eyes open and in extreme cases, you will pass out.
And as a natural result of this dip below normal levels, you’ll CRAVE anything that will get sugar back into your blood. Grabbing that donut, that Honey Mama’s chocolate bar. Whatever you can stuff down your throat. Willpower has nothing to do with these cravings. There is a reason why your mind cannot stop your hand from cramming sugary shit into your mouth- because your body is dying. And staying alive is the priority.
This process also pertains to substances that raise your blood sugar like caffeine, alcohol, or other harder drugs. So this mechanism can give you a great insight into addiction & substance abuse as well.
Stress & Its Affect on Your Blood Sugar
While you’re crashing, not only will you be awful to be around + disengaged from the reality of your life, your adrenal glands will be pumping out cortisol, which is THE stress hormone (you can read more about stress raising blood sugar + what to do about it here). The function of cortisol is to literally break down your muscles into sugar for energy. So between that sweet treat that you grab to eat and the cortisol catabolizing your muscle tissue, your blood sugar will consequently spike past healthy levels, and you will go on this Blood Sugar Rollercoaster all over again.
This is how most people live their life. Thinking that their experience is normal. And that there is something wrong with them for having no self control, lashing out, or having a panic attack. When really, your body is just trying to protect you from dying.
How a F***** Up Blood Sugar is Necessary for F***** Up Hormones
However, I want to note that the constant overuse of both hormones, insulin & cortisol, throws every other single hormone in your body off balance. Why? Because the physiology of hormones is like a symphony. When one of the instruments, or hormones, is off, the whole song doesn’t work.
And hormones are the tinted glasses we use to look at the world through. If they are balanced, you’ll feel great, benevolent, wanting to give even strangers the benefit of the doubt. But if they are off kilter, you may overreact with anger that is unwarranted. Not to mention that your menstrual cycle will fucking hurt you and/ or you get really moody/ anxious/ depressed/ pissy beforehand. You’ll bleed harder. Hormone balance is also what allows you to get a good night’s sleep, to rest, to relax, and to enjoy your life.
Before I understood how to regulate my blood sugar, my period would f****** kill. I’d be guaranteed in bed for the first few days of it. The pain was exacerbated because I have a copper IUD. And sometimes my period would hurt so bad that I would wonder if my IUD traveled up a fallopian tube and was tearing up my insides. But after I got my blood sugar leveled out (it took about 6 months), I am pain free. I also sleep through the night MUCH easier now, after struggling with insomnia for years.
The Blood Sugar Lazy River
So here is what we want your blood sugar to look like:
No spikes and no dips. Has anyone ever told you that it’s your birthright to feel even-keeled and at peace?
Well it is.
But the way we’ve been taught to eat in Western culture makes us believe something else.
Getting Back to Your Birthright
So how do we get off the blood sugar roller coaster and onto the lazy river of our birthright? GAPS with the correct amount of animal fat can normalize this alone (1-4Tbsp per meal, up to 1/2 cup per day).
But I also like to give my clients this trick. When your blood sugar is dropping, your body is really craving fat and sugar. So that’s what you need to give it to stabilize.
Enter in: coconut oil/butter + honey mixture.
#1 Trick for Stabilizing Blood Sugar
How to make Coconut Oil/ Butter + Honey Mixture:
- put extra virgin cold-pressed coconut oil or grass-fed butter into a small-to-medium-sized container/ mason jar.
- mix honey in to taste, doesn’t matter how much as long as it tastes like a good balance to you
- when you are experiencing unwanted sugar + alcohol + caffeine cravings, eat 1 Tbsp of this mixture every 15 minutes until your craving goes away (I’ve done this for 1.5 hours before)
- take this container everywhere you go until you don’t need it anymore.
Alright! Hope you understand how and why you are awesome, why your willpower isn’t sh*t, and why your unwarranted emotional outbursts are really your body crying out for help. GAPS, pastured animal fat, and this butter/honey mixture has helped me regulate my weight, my hormones, and my sleep in profoundly life-changing ways! And I hope it helps you too. 🙂