For those who suffer from frequent headaches, determining the cause can be absolutely maddening! After all, there are many potential culprits … too much screen time, stress, caffeine, and much more.
If you’re looking to zero in on the cause of your headache, you may be wondering, “could sugar intake be to blame?”
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SUGAR
Believe it or not, sugar is a vital component of the body! Let’s break down a few facts about sugar.
WHAT ROLE DOES SUGAR PLAY IN A DIET?
With so many sweet temptations, keeping your sugar intake in check is tricky. On average, Americans eat more sugar than is recommended by the American Heart Association, which is 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men per day.
Some health conditions, like diabetes, are directly affected by sugar consumption. Diabetics are at risk for reactive hypoglycemia, a condition caused by not having enough sugar in the bloodstream. Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels can occur after skipping a meal or going for a long period of time without eating.
Both too much sugar and little sugar can cause problems … you have to get the balance just right to keep your body in alignment. When sugar intake is off balance, it can cause issues with your brain and nervous system in particular.
MYTHS ABOUT SUGAR
Growing up, you probably heard tales about sugar from your worried parents or your dentist. But not every bad thing you hear about sugar is true!
Here are a few common sugar myths:
Sugar addiction: according to a study published in the journal Appetite, there is little evidence to conclude that sugary foods lead to dependency.
All sugar is bad: Not true! Raw sugar is less processed, as well as natural sweeteners, like honey. They offer our bodies some nutrients in addition to sugar.
Artificial sweeteners are better than sugar: Artificial sweeteners contain chemicals, and doctors recommend that you limit the amount of refined sugar in your diet.
CAN SUGAR CAUSE HEADACHES?
Sugar-related headaches are often tied to your blood glucose level. Glucose helps provide your body with energy by entering your bloodstream after you consume sugar. Then, your body maintains the right blood sugar level by breaking down glucose with insulin.
When your glucose level fluctuates, the increases and decreases in glucose can result in the swelling of and around the blood vessels surrounding your brain tissue, causing a migraine headache. Headaches caused by low blood glucose are also related to hormones activated by sugar levels.
SUGAR HEADACHES TRIGGERS EXPLAINED
Eating a lot of sugar in a short period of time can cause changes in your blood glucose levels. Some people call this a “sugar hangover,” and it includes symptoms like a migraine attack, upset stomach, shakiness, tiredness, and mood swings.
If you fear you’ve eaten too much sugar in one sitting and aren’t feeling your best, don’t worry! Here are a few ways you can detox from sugar.
Drink lots of water to flush out your system
Eat whole foods without added sugar, such as nuts, eggs, and other high-protein snacks
Take a few minutes for low-impact exercises, like a walk, swim, or yoga–this can help get your blood flowing and aid in recovery
A healthy way to incorporate sugar into your diet: low or no-added-sugar food
While it’s important to limit your sugar intake, especially within processed foods, keep in mind that whole foods with sugar are important to aiding a well-rounded diet! Even during times when you’re looking to cut down on sugar, be sure to keep fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in the mix, because these foods provide your body with a natural fuel source.
If whole foods aren’t accessible to you, ready-made low or no added sugar foods can be an awesome choice! Low or no added sugar meals can help you feel satisfied without experiencing a sugar crash later on in the day.
LOW SUGAR SNACK IDEAS
Now … how to include healthy sugars into your diet?! That’s the big question, and it can be easier than ever with the wholesome recipes below.
When it comes to yogurt, sugar content can change depending on the flavor, and it’s important to check the label! Some varieties don’t have much sugar but are filled with artificial sweeteners. Plain unsweetened Greek yogurt is a great base for a parfait because it has as little as 5 grams of naturally occurring sugar.
Fage Plain Greek Yogurt is a great foundation for a parfait. Chocolate peanut butter is one option. Or, opt for crunchy apples, pecans, and granola in an “apple pie copycat” parfait recipe!
The best thing about plain oatmeal is that you can top it with whatever you want! If you’re trying to cut down on sugar consumption, you can opt for low-sugar toppings.
A few sweet topping ideas could be strawberries, bananas, raw honey, or dark chocolate. For a topping that’s more out of the box, give sun-dried tomatoes and pesto a try! Or perhaps bacon, scallions, and egg for a “breakfast burrito in a bowl” feel.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, a bowl of fresh fruit is a great way to fend off sugar cravings. That’s because fruits are filled with good-for-you sugars that are essential to bodily function! And what’s better than a fruit salad in the summertime?
You can choose fruits that are in season for this salad to make a refreshing mix. In general, strawberries and blueberries pair well with tropical fruits, like pineapple and kiwi. Fall fruits, such as apples and pears, go well with grapes. This recipe also calls for a dressing, which includes orange zest and juice, lime zest and juice, honey, vanilla extract, and poppy seeds.
Looking for a nostalgic snack? Schoolyard Snacks are suuuper tasty and reminiscent of the snacks you may have enjoyed as a child, but with less sugar! They’re keto and would pair well with any Proper Good keto soup. Plus, they come in fun flavors like cheddar cheese, sour cream and onion, fiery hot, and BBQ! Not to mention these snacks contain 15 grams of protein … not too shabby! ;)
Contrary to popular belief, it IS totally possible to make a tasty, sugar-free apple pie! If you have friends or family members who are looking to cut down on their sugar intake, this is an excellent recipe to have in your back pocket … especially around the holidays, when apple pie is so popular!
Feel free to use a store-bought crust for this recipe. The recipe also calls for apples, apple juice, cornstarch, water, cinnamon, and butter – straightforward and easy! Quick Tip: Make sure to keep your pie crust ingredients cold. Don’t allow the pie crust ingredients to grow warm, and over-mixing the ingredients can add unwanted heat to the crust.
Low-sugar recipes made easy! If you’re looking to use a low-sugar diet to alleviate headaches, we hope these recipes help. Did we leave any of your favorite recipes out?
Another helpful resource for diabetics is here: