Halloween is only a few weeks away. If your station is anything like my husbands everyone feels the need to share candy with you.
You may be someone who can easily resist sweets. They’ve never been your thing… But I’m going to bet that as your career has gone on the ability to resist carbs and sugar has become next to impossible, even if you could resist at one time,
Why can’t you resist sugar?
There are many factors involved as to why you can’t resist sugar: stress, sleep, lifestyle, social environment(shift work), and so forth. Quite often it’s our brain’s response to sugar, not the sugar by itself that can often lead to overconsumption.
When you are under stress your brain releases glucose hormones (broken down sugar found in most foods) into your body to give you energy to manage the stress. Every time you put on your uniform your body has to prepare for whatever may happen in your day. That stress lasts your entire shift. So for 10, 12+ hours your body is sending out glucose.
Overtime your brain says, “ Hey, we are using up way too much glucose, we need to do something about this” So it does two things.
- It stores the glucose in belly fat so you have reserves. It thinks it needs a lot of reserves so you end up with extra belly fat around your middle that no matter how healthy you eat and how often you work out you can’t get rid of it until you strengthen your stress management system and decrease your stress.
- You run out of glucose stores faster than usual and your body will not release this glucose it’s storing easily, so your brain tells you that you are in crisis and need glucose fast. The fastest source of glucose is processed sugar and starchy carbs.
Sleep is a time when your body rebuilds and repairs itself. When you are working 12+ hours, plus your commute it’s tough, come home eat and shower and do a few things that have to be done around the house before your next shift it is tough to get 8 hours sleep. Throw in being tired and wired and waking mid sleep and it’s next to impossible.
This throws off the way all of your hormones work including your glucose hormone which is often what wakes you mid sleep and can cause insulin issues including diabetes.
Grehlin (hunger hormone- tells you how hungry and how much to eat) and Leptin (hormone that tells your body when you are full) are also affected when working a First Responders schedule and for anyone who does not get enough sleep. Grehlin tends to increase and Leptin tends to decrease when sleep deprived causing you to be hungrier more often and not know when to stop.
When our glucose is low our brain wants whatever will give it the fastest spike in fuel. It’s not thinking about nutrition, which is why we have this pull towards highly processed, sugary foods that often our willpower can not resist.
The problem is, as quick as they spike your blood sugar and give your brain that relief it was asking for the energy drops just as fast. Your brain then sends that signal that it needs energy again and the blood sugar roller coaster has begun.
Be cautious as sugars are hidden in many processed foods (like yogurt, granola, juice) or even so-called “health foods” / “fitness foods” which can send your blood sugars on that ride without realizing it.
We live in the real world where abstaining from every single food that is deemed “bad” for us makes socializing and living a real life impossible. Life is about living and enjoying it.
I like “treats”, “junk food” and tasty stuff just as much as anyone else, whether that’s a glass of wine, a bowl of ice cream, potato chips or a hot dog at the ball game.
For most people, a little bit of sugar like a halloween treat fits just fine into an overall healthy diet pattern.
How Do You Resist The Rollercoaster?
Your stress management system is in charge of 50 different hormone responses. Sleep, wake, digestion, moods, cognitive thinking, energy, blood sugars, hunger, satiety, thyroid, libido, reproductive and more…
If you wake mid sleep, get hangry often or struggle to keep your sugar consumption down the odds are your body is giving you signals that your hormones need some support.
Most likely you have other symptoms:
Tired and wired
Waking mid sleep
Need to control everything
Depression and the list goes on…
The first step is the strengthen your stress management system by helping realign your hormones and then add in healthy lifestyle habits that work for a First Responders unpredictable shift work schedule.
This will take a stress load off of your body, so that you have enough in your tank to handle the stresses that are out of your control and allow your hormones to repair and rebuild them self as they should.
Not only will your blood sugars stabilize so you can easily grab 1 candy, enjoy it and resist inhaling the rest of the bowl. But you will be able to fall asleep easily, stay asleep, wake with energy, have stamina and be able to recover after each block of shifts quickly so you can thrive at home and at work.
All of this I teach in my simple, step by step program 911 Elite Performance.
If you are a First Responder and would like to find out if this program is for you book a 911 Performance Assessment with me .
Not everyone is a candidate for my program. We will talk about what you are currently experiencing, where you want to be and together we will create an action plan to get you there be it my program or through other avenues. Regardless if it’s with me or not, you will leave the call with an action plan that will work for you.
The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider. Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.
About the author
Andi Clark is a mom, wife of a Police Officer and the founder of 911 Lifestyle.
Andi has a background in athletics including a 25+yr career as a personal trainer, nutrition and mindset coach to athletes and stressed out high end executives.
Being healthy and active was what she lived for. Until her body started waking absolutely exhausted, workouts become something to push through instead of enjoy. A short fuse crept in, motivation left and injuries seemed to be a part of life. All of this added up to the point that she had to stop all activity altogether.
Doctors, specialists and prescriptions were never able to fix the problem.
Once Andi realized she had a genetic stress condition that puts her body into an increased stress response state all the time (similar to what Police Officers and First Responders experience when they put on their uniform and have to mentally prepare for whatever may happen in their day) was she able to figure out what was happening and how to reverse it.
Through years of research and studying, Andi formulated a completely different way to thrive when your body is always functioning at higher than usual stress levels. One where it is possible to reverse and prevent an officer from getting to a point where they struggle to get through their days by taking a preventative approach instead of a reactive one. And one that reduces the negative effects of shift work on the body.
Through her husband’s career as an officer her focus has been on preventing burnout,
exhaustion and a tanked immune system that she knew can result from high levels of stress that are out of your control.
As she watched his co-workers struggle with everything from sleep, exhaustion and anger leading to divorce, PTSD and even suicide it became apparent how LIFE-SAVING the foundations she was laying down for her husband actually were, because not only was he tolerating the shiftwork lifestyle, he was thriving in it.
Andi created 911 Lifestyle once she realized the strategies her husband was using MUST become available to all Police Officers and First Responders so they can peak during crisis, recover quickly after, have energy left over for their families and become the Elite First Responders that they were born to be.