The Grind 

The Grouse Grind

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Sugar and your brain

I’ve been sugar-free for a few days and already I’m starting to feel, well, sharper. My memory seems better and my afternoon brain fog is gone. Is this because of my no-sugar eating plan I wondered? So, I googled sugar and brain health and this is what I found.

Not only is sugar bad for your weight, skin and heart, but also your brain.

And here’s what will happen to your brain when you give up sugar:

You may experience cravings – Possibly intense cravings.

I’m writing this blog post on day 3 of my no-sugar lifestyle and, although I slept like a little log last night (a sugar-free bonus) my head is pounding today. And I never, ever get headaches..well, unless I’m hungover and I’m certainly not hungover today. Nope, I suspect this is good old sugar withdrawal. Since sugar helps release the feel-good chemical serotonin in your brain, giving sugar up temporarily depletes your levels of the happy chemical until your body adjusts and manufactures more on its own.

I know this headache and slightly off feeling will only last a few days so I’m staying strong, but on my way home tonight I had a fantasy about opening a bottle of maple syrup and drinking it straight from the bottle (I’ve actually done this before. More than once). So, yes, you may experience intense sugar cravings for a few days.

Your memory and learning skills will improve.

A 2012 UCLA study on rats found that a diet high in sugar impairs learning and memory by literally slowing down the brain by stopping communication between brain cells. I personally don’t feel extraordinarily smarter these past three days but I totally believe that sugar does negatively affect the brain, especially in people who are sensitive to it, so I’ll keep you posted!

 

Your depression and anxiety will lessen.

If you’ve ever had a sugar binge, followed by a sugar crash, you know up close and personal the feelings of crankiness, mood swings, tiredness and brain fog. This has happened to me on more afternoons than I care to count. And it all happens because eating a piece of chocolate cake or drinking a soda causes blood sugar levels to spike and then crash. This is exactly how sugary food messes with the neurotransmitters that keep our moods calm and stable. I’m definitely looking forward to less afternoons of feeling like I’ve hit a wall, very hard.

 

You can worry less about age-related cognitive decline and/or dementia.

There is a body of research showing that a sugar-filled diet increases the risk of cognitive decline as we age as well as developing Alzheimer’s disease. I don’t know about you but Alzheimer’s is one disease that I have watched older relatives suffer from and that I will do anything to avoid getting. If giving up sugar is insurance against future dementia, I’ll buy that insurance, thank you very much. Find out more about the research here.

So, to summarize, these are a few of the sneaky ways that sugar can affect your health, happiness and your entire life. It is now thought to affect our brains in a similar way as cocaine and other opiates.

And even though I’m typing away through an annoying headache and occasionally day dreaming about chugging maple syrup straight out of the bottle, I’m also so excited to see how I’ll be feeling in a few weeks.

Until next time.

Post Holiday Detox Bowl

I started this holiday season full of strength and resolve and my will power lasted quite a while. Right up until someone place a warm, fresh plate of ginger snaps under my nose. Now, after a few weeks of gooey dark chocolate, bread pudding, hot chocolate with (extra) whipped cream and 1st, 2nd and 3rd helpings of holiday meals, I’m back on the path of balance and health.

If you were a little over-indulgent this Christmas season too, here is a green, detox recipe full of vitamins and anti-oxidants to get your day off to a great start:

Detox Smoothie Bowl

  • 2 bananas
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup frozen mangos
  • 2 T shredded coconunt
  • 2 T hemp seeds
  • 2 T your favourite greens powder

Blend, top with mangos and coconut garnish and get back on track with this delicious and nourishing bowl!

Polar Bears & Smoothies

Happy New Year!

I had an amazing New Year’s Day doing the polar bear swim in English Bay.



  
Now it seems like the holidays are long gone but lots of us are still carrying reminders of all of the feasting and parties around with us in the form of soft, squishy muffin tops. And if you’re like me, the feeling of wearing too tight clothing is annoying the heck out of you and you’re thinking of ways to make your “winter weight” disappear.

A solution? Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Green Smoothie Challenge.

Just drink one of these smoothies every morning for 14 days and, from what I’ve read, your mood will improve, your body will get sleeker, and your energy levels will skyrocket.

Interested? Join the Facebook group “Beauty Detox Group” and dust off your blender.

A little glow in January is a beautiful thing.

Beyoncé and Me

I was perusing an awesome Vegan cookbook I had been given for Christmas last night and couldn’t help but think a) how pretty all of the food looked and b) how much I admire vegans. As an animal lover, how could I not adore all of the people on this planet who don’t actually eat any of the them?

I’ve tried to go vegan countless times before but, since I’m a little anemic, find it super challenging to eat a totally plant based diet for more than a few months. As I was thinking about this dilemma, I decided to check my Facebook feed for the umpteenth time (as any self respecting social media addict would do) and what did I stumble on?

This:

Beyonce and Jay Z’s 22 Day Vegan Challenge

I admit I took this as a sign from the Universe that I needed to do this vegan challenge just like Beyoncé had done. I realize that she and Jay Z did this a couple of years ago but they’re still on the vegan bandwagon with a new 22 day home delivery service that is totally plant based. And, hey, there’s nothing wrong with being a couple of years late to a challenge, right?

So, not only will I be looking at the pretty pictures in my Oh She Glows cookbook, I’ll be sampling quite a few of the recipes for the next 22 days and chronicling my faves here.

Stay tuned for the successes, failures and everything in between as I journey along the Vegan Challenge.

beyonce

 

Creamsicle/Dreamsicle

I have a bunch of happy childhood memories that involve me running around on hot, sunny, Ontario summer days with a bright orange creamsicle melting in my hand. And the other day as I was perusing one of my fave food blogs, I stumbled on a post about the blogger’s juice cleanse last winter. One recipe in particular made me drool. It was a juice called the dreamsicle.

Unfortunately I’m not really a juicer. I don’t own one, it seems really expensive to buy a bunch of fruit and veggies, get a tiny bit of juice and have a ton of pulp left behind. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love buying the occasional raw juice but would never invest in a juicer and try to make them at home regularly. But, this dreamsicle/creamsicle was calling my name….

So, I decided to transform the juice recipe into a smoothie version. Should work right? It did. I went a little crazy with the greens, so mine doesn’t have the brilliant orange hue that the juice version has but, damn, it tastes good and reminds me of those sunny, summer creamsicle days.

Creamsicle Smoothie

  • 1 apple
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup pineapple, cubed
  • one orange, cubed
  • 1/2  sweet potato, shredded
  • 4 carrots, shredded
  • handful dark greens
  • scoop of Greek yogurt

Blend until smooth.

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