Thursday Thoughts 4: Sugar Intolerance and Vitamins

Something a bit different for Thursday Thoughts today…

Rather than a bunch of random thoughts thrown at you (!), I thought I’d respond to some reader requests.

A few of you pointed out that I have never actually done a post on my intolerance of sugar after I mentioned it again in this post. Doh. I refer to it so often in passing that I felt like I had, but looking through my archives I don’t have any posts written specifically about that. I know I’ve gone into it in more detail in guest posts I’ve written for other bloggers, but nothing actually on here! Madness.

So I want to address that today, and answer some questions. I also had some questions about whether or not I take supplements and, if so, which ones. I was wary about sharing this only because my supplements were prescribed to me by my naturopath and therefore are personalized. I don’t want anyone to think they should be on the same ones without consulting someone first. Having said that, I feel I’ve had great success with my supplements and so I guess it makes sense to share – also, the multivitamins etc are great – I think – for any average, healthy person to take.

So here goes!

SUGAR:

I would say my intolerance of sugar became noticeable in college, when I hit about 18 or 19. But looking back, I think that there were probably a lot of nasty side-effects every time I had a lot of sugar growing up.

Please note, I am not allergic to sugar. The effects I get from it are uncomfortable and unpleasant, which is why I choose to avoid it, but they are not immediately life-threatening and they don’t even really manifest themselves in any obvious way, like a rash etc. I do know some people react that way, but that isn’t how my body responds to sugar, which is why I still have it in small doses here and there, when out etc. It’s more a choice – I know if I have it I will feel crappy for a bit. And I know I can’t handle it in large quantities, which is why I can’t remember the last time I had a restaurant dessert all to myself. That much sugar would make me feel awful.

Basically, here’s how I feel once I’ve eaten sugar:

  • Immediately, my heart rate starts racing, my hands can get sweaty if I have a lot too, but mainly my heart rate starts racing.
  • My breath can be shorter because of this – not uncomfortably so but it’s annoying.
  • My thoughts start racing and I start talking faster.
  • About an hour to two hours later, my energy crashes. This again depends on how much sugar I had. Sometimes I just get quiet and don’t want to move much, but when I used to have a LOT (before I realized what was causing this), I sometimes couldn’t even move. It was all I could do to find a couch to crash on.
  • On a longer-term basis, sugar is definitely a vicious cycle for me. If I’ve had it a few days running, I start craving it more and more. It becomes pretty hard to break.

I should also clarify what I mean when I say ‘sugar’. The things that have this effect on me are:

  • white sugar
  • brown sugar
  • high-fructose corn syrup
  • The worst is liquid sugar – sodas etc. They hit me much faster than sugar in food, so I avoid sodas like the plague! Funnily enough, sweeteners in frappuccinos etc don’t make me feel great, but aren’t any worse than a baked good. But soda is terrible!
  • I have started to feel a bit of the speedy heart rate etc with maple syrup, if I have it in large quantities. But I don’t get the energy crash, so often I suck that one up!

For this reason, I started experimenting with natural sweeteners.

Copyright to The Guiltless Life

I know there is a lot of controversy around agave nectar, but for me I judge the sweeteners based on how they make me feel, and I have no issue with agave. So that gets put on the safe list:

  • Agave nectar
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Coconut sugar
  • Palm sugar
  • Maple sugar
  • Sometimes maple syrup (see above)
  • Molasses
  • Stevia
  • Sucanat (in small quantities though – if a recipe calls for a lot, I will usually use coconut sugar)
  • Xylitol
  • Honey
  • Fruit juices and fruit – dates, etc.

I’ve probably missed some, because there are so many, but these are the ones I have in my cupboards right now!

If I’ve missed anything about my sugar intolerance, feel free to ask me in the questions below!

Also, on my Recipes page I put the sweetener each recipe uses in brackets afterwards, so if you want to cook by sweetener, check it out!

VITAMINS:

As mentioned above, this vitamin regimen I’m on was prescribed my naturopath, so I do not recommend that you just go out and get these and put yourself on them!

But I can say what I am currently on and what benefits I have felt.

Copyright to The Guiltless Life

(Ignore the messiness!)

Each morning, I take:

  • 2 multivitamins, which are the MultiFactors Women’s multi
  • 2 Estro Detox, a supplement designed to balance women’s hormonal levels
  • 1 zinc (25mg)
  • 1 Multi-B6 blend

NOTE: Pictured also are my vegetarian digestive enzymes, which are produced by Vitazan (I believe this brand can only be bought through a naturopath, as it has to be prescribed). These are for times when I am going out and might be eating a heavy meal. Sometimes the lactose or excessive protein/carbs/fat bother my stomach, and these definitely prevent that. I don’t take them every day though, not even close.

Some people don’t believe in vitamins at all, saying that we don’t need them if we have an adequate diet.

Others, like my naturopath, are convinced that nowadays our soil isn’t as enriched as it used to be, and most of us aren’t even getting the minerals that are in our soil because we’re not buying enough organic goods. Add to that the fact that increased environmental stressors and toxins deplete our vitamin stores more, and a lot of people believe that we need to supplement our bodies.

I tend to believe with the latter, if not simply because I feel so much better now I’ve been on a regular vitamin program for nearly a year.

Why do I take each supplement?

  • My naturopath really believes MultiFactors have high-quality vitamins, and she put me on this multi as it’s high in B vitamins – important for vegetarians
  • The Estro Detox is designed to eventually help lessen menstrual cramps, which I can get quite badly. I say quite because it’s not like I’m crippled with pain, but they are uncomfortable (I have to down a lot of Advil!) and I’d like to get rid of them if possible!
  • Zinc is an immune system booster. I hate to say this because I feel it’s jinxing things, but I have not had a cold or been sick since I started this regimen, and I used to get a cold at least once a year.
  • Multi B-6 blend – more support for my vegetarian diet. Also because I can be prone to anxiety, B vitamins are great as natural boosters for your brain!

I honestly feel great on this regimen. Sometimes it’s a pain having to swallow so many pills in the morning but you can spread them out (I just feel like I’d forget!).

Again, if you have any questions I would be happy to answer them as best I can!

QUESTIONS:

  • Do you stick mainly to natural sweeteners or does sugar not bother you?
  • Do you take any daily vitamins or supplements?
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Comments

  1. Since I don’t eat as much refined sugar anymore when I do splurge whim out or at a party I get a weird headache all oof a sudden depending on how much sugar was in it, say like a piece of cake with really rich frosting! Stevia is my first choice of natural sweetener, then sometimes I use coconut palm sugar, honey, and maple syrup. I have tried agave and do like it, but we have so much honey on hand so I haven’t bought it since that first bottle!

    • I have definitely heard of people getting headaches from sugar, for sure. Just another of the many wonders it does for us! 😛 All of those sweeteners are so fab, I love how natural sweeteners don’t make me feel gross and yet are so delicious!

  2. Wow! I can’t believe sugar affects you like that! I’ve actually never known anyone who has those kind of side affects because of sugar…caffeine, maybe, but sugar? How completely annoying! I’m sorry you have to go through that! As for supplements, I take a prenatal vitamin everyday and that’s it. I should probably take more, but I already take enough meds every day b/c of a back injury that I feel like all I do is stuff myself full of pills first thing in the morning :/

    • Haha I didn’t know many people in ‘real life’ who had these same reactions but since joining the blog world I have discovered a whole bunch of people who are the same. Don’t feel bad, I see it as a blessing in disguise because it keeps the evil stuff away from me! Haha

  3. What a fabulous post, Anna! I’m sorry sugar does that to you! But yay for natural sweeteners! Isn’t it great that there are other alternatives that make us feel good but still taste super delicious? I don’t get heart racing kind of symptoms but I do get totally fatigued and crash like you! I also tend to get rashes and skin irritations and tummy aches. Thanks for sharing about your vitamins. I totally agree with you and your neuropath! I am a strong believer we can all benefit from them. Sadly, our earth and food isn’t what it used to be. Plus, for me personally, I know I function WAY better when I have my multi and B-vitamins. I also take herbal ones for hormone regulation and digestive enzymes, especially for eating out. 🙂 Thanks for sharing for what you take- It actually reminds me to take a look at what I am taking and reminds me of the benefits!!

  4. Sugar (like caffeine) barely has any affect on me! I use sweeteners too but I try not to if I can help it. Do you like the taste of Stevia though? I find that I really don’t like it… especially liquid Stevia! It leaves a weird feeling in my mouth after.

    I don’t take multivitamins but I really think I should…

    • I always think a good multi is good for everyone! Having said that, if you’re not getting sick a lot or feeling sluggish and you have a pretty varied diet then I guess there’s no reason to start!

      I do like the taste of stevia, but only in certain things, and to be honest I really have found that NuNaturals liquid stevia is the way to go. While I also love NuNaturals packets, I have found that other packets taste similarly good too. I can really only have stevia in smoothies etc. Baked goods are fine for me – I can taste it but I suck it up – but because I can taste it I know people who are sensitive to the flavour and aftertaste of stevia will pick up on it too. Does that make sense?

  5. Very interesting post Anna! I definitely don’t experience anything near that from sugar, I’m so sorry you do! I definitely do get bloating and energy crashes though which is why I also favour natural sweeteners. Xylitol bugs my stomach but everything else is something I use! I also recently started using erythritol which I’m really enjoying!

    For vitamins: I take iron (as you probably knew lol), a B12 and vitamin D spray and digestive enzymes occasionally. I also take dong quai- I’ve been taking this to help with hormones. Every since I went off birth control my whole system has been out of whack!

    Anyway, thanks for sharing all that great info 🙂

    • Xylitol can hurt people’s stomachs, especially in large amounts! For that reason I try to make sure that whatever recipe I’m including it in, it won’t amount to more than a teaspoon in one serving. I just don’t want to have it in high quantities because I know it can upset stomachs that way.

      I’m interested in dong quai. I haven’t taken birth control in probably 7 or so years. It just makes me so nauseous (the pill) and I’m wary of other methods. I just can’t handle the screwing around with my hormones!

  6. ittybitsofbalance says:

    SUCH an interesting post, Anna! Thanks for clarifying all of that for us– to be honest I never even knew that people could have such a reaction to sugar. I have to ask, is it ever difficult going out with people and eating in group situations? I know that froyo is practically a recreational activity of mine so I’m just curious how that would be for you?

    Regardless, it sounds like you have a great handle and understanding of yourself 🙂

    • Hey Brittany! Thanks for your question…honestly, I do have sugar from time to time when out, so I just indulge and have a small portion and try to make sure it’s at the end of the day because then I sleep off the worst of the effects ;). Having said that, sometimes I just don’t have it and other times we are lucky enough to find a place with more alternative healthy versions of foods. It’s not so bad that it’s really going to make me physically ill – I just feel like crap – so sometimes I can suck it up in the name of social events! Having said that, my friends and I don’t go for fro-yo that often, so maybe I’m just missing out! I do have a lot of friends that are total sugar addicts, it’s quite funny, but they’re also meat-eaters so we are already well used to having a variety of eating styles within one group!

  7. Very interesting post! My tummy does loops when I have too much sugar. I get all crampy and bloaty and it’s not too pleasant. For this reason i tend to stick to natural sweeteners like you, but limit those that are high in fructose like honey as I’ve got fructose malabsorption. My favourite sweetener is maple syrup, but I tend to use it in small quantities

    • It’s so funny, I’ve had about a 50/50 response to this post between people who also feel crummy from sugar and other people who never even knew sugar could do this to anyone! I think definitely going natural is the way, even if you CAN handle sugar – we all know too much sugar is not a good thing! I also like maple syrup, but as I mentioned in the post, it’s the one natural sweetener that, for whatever reason, can still get my pulse racing. I don’t have quite the same energy crash as I get with sugar but it sure does get my heartbeat up! So I, too, have to have it in small quantities.

  8. I also live in Vancouver and am curious where you found NuNaturals?! I’ve had my eyes peeled! 🙂

    • I got sent it by NuNaturals as I was doing a review/giveaway for them – as far as I know you can’t buy it in stores in Canada. However, you can order it from iHerb.com – they ship to Canada – or if you’re ever in Bellingham on your way to Bellis Fair, get off the highway at the exit before Bellis Fair (for Bellingham Airport) and there’s a Fred Meyer supermarket RIGHT off the highway, you can’t miss it and it really isn’t a detour. They sell NuNaturals stevia packets, liquid stevia and baking stevia in their Nutrition section.

  9. WOW! so interesting! Thank you for explaining Anna 🙂 So much knew things I know about you now ❤ love u!

    I always use natural sweeteners 🙂 You know I love my NuNaturals 🙂

Trackbacks

  1. […] A lot of the sweetness comes from honey, which I super appreciate, being a fan of natural sweeteners. I have to say, I had a bar and it didn’t spike my blood sugar the way sugary items do, so […]

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