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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

Beating the "Sugar Blues"

Just in time for the abundance of stress that seems to affect so many during the holidays, this month we’re focused on mental health and strategies to help quiet some of the noise and seeming insanity transpiring throughout the world these days.

Our feature article by Ronica O’Hara, “Staying Serene in Turbulent Times: How to Turn Anxiety into Positive Action,” invites opportunities to look at fearful outside circumstances with a new set of eyes. Recognizing the role that anxiety can play in growth and expansion, she offers a unique perspective on how we may use anxiety to turn negatives into something worthwhile.

O’Hara didn’t stop there this month as you’ll see in Healing Ways, “12 Quick Fixes for Anxiety: Simple Strategies for Mental Well-Being.” Here you will find practical strategies which can be implemented at any time for immediate relief. My favorite these days is bonding with an animal. Taking periodic breaks from work at home to play and hand-wrestle with my little twerp Cooper, a 9-lb. Yorkie with a massive personality, has a way of elevating my mood like nothing else.

Those short breaks with my little guy are helpful when I need a minor reset during a stressful day or just an opportunity to step away from the desk and chill after being engrossed in work and meetings for hours.

When it comes to big picture stress and anxiety, for me it’s all about refined sugar. In “Sugar Blues: The Role Sweets Play in Mental Health,” Integrative and Functional Dietitian Alora Frederick offers insights on the science behind the effects of diets high in refined sugar. She goes further with helpful suggestions on how to reduce the impact on mental health and find balance.

You may recall from past letters; I’ve been eliminating sugar from my diet for months at a time. About halfway through the summer I decided I was going to loosen up a bit and let myself enjoy the chocolate, ice cream and alcohol – just a little. For some, “just a little” works. For an addict, it can quickly turn into a black hole of despair; that’s a rabbit hole for another time.

After about two months of indulgence, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Gradually at first, my brain started losing the clarity I had been experiencing since going added-sugar free. My moods became more wide ranging from lower lows to higher highs, I found myself taking passes for not exercising as consistently, and just overall felt a dullness to my emotions. By the end of September, it felt like I was back to square one.

After reflection and self-examination, I decided it was time to choose myself over the temporary high the brain receives from the dopamine hit giving into cravings offers. At the time of this writing, I’m at 17 days with no added sugar and no flour and it feels like a veil has been lifted from my brain. Order has been restored and it feels fantastic.

For all the billions of individuals on this planet there is an equal number of solutions to whatever we’d like to improve in our experience. Whether it’s through lifestyle changes, removing toxic people or finding the perfect therapist, my hope is that you find a way to relief from stress and anxiety as we head into this holiday season.

Happy Thanks-Giving to all!


Maisie Raftery, Publisher