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Gypsy Slow Down...........A Guest Post

Posted Mar 22 2013 2:00am

I asked Claire from Gypsy Slow Down if she would write up a post about how her eating affected her life and I am so glad I did. I am very passionate about eating well and in my own life have noticed so many improvements when I am eating clean. 
I don't know a lot about the science behind it but I know my depression and anxiety are directly related to what I eat so when I found Claire and read her story I felt very compelled to have her share her story here. 

I find this fascinating.

Thank you so much Claire for sharing your story today! 
Hi! I'm Claire and I blog over at . I am so excited to guest post on Hanna's blog today. I feel so passionate about this subject because I really believe it saved my life.  Growing up I was depressed. It was more than pre-teen blues, I would have extreme highs and lows, and my lows were pretty bad. Crying, staying holed up in my room, screaming at my parents. I also had horrible leg aches, anxiety and I would wake up at night so delirious that my dad would have to run my hands under cold water to wake me up. My parents weren't sure what was wrong with me but they wanted to find out the cause and not put me on medication or have me take intensive blood tests right away. So they began researching. What they found was hypoglycemia.  Chronic hypoglycemia is chronic low blood sugar, which means that there isn't enough glucose in the blood. If I eat foods that are high in sugar my blood sugar will spike and then crash because my body can't stabilize my blood sugar. When there isn't enough glucose in the blood it also effects chemicals in the brain which contribute to mood and emotions as well as physical symptoms. I know that was just a major skimming over but I'm not a doctor and so I just want to share the little bit I know about the scientific side. And now the interesting part; the common symptoms. The common symptoms of hypoglycemia are:  Depression, anxiety, social anxiety, trouble making decisions, leg aches, weight gain, trouble concentrating, negative thoughts, fatigue, insomnia, nausea, fainting, head aches, irritability, really bad PMS, panic attacks, nightmares, back aches, crying and so on. I had many of these symptoms. It seems that food allergies are becoming more and more talked about these days. I'm sure we all have at least one friend who is gluten-free or lactose intolerant or has another food allergy. But hypoglycemia is not talked about very much and if it is people confuse it with a symptom of diabetes. But chronic hypoglycemia is different and it causes many problems that are often mistaken for other conditions. So many people are on medications for depression, anxiety, ADHD and so on. For some of these people simply changing the way that they eat could make a huge difference. Obviously many people truly suffer from these conditions but I know that if I wasn't aware of my hypoglycemia I would be on medications for those symptoms. And the medications wouldn't help me. That's really scary to me!
There are few blood tests to determine if you have chronic hypoglycemia and the ones that are available are not very conclusive and can be painful. The easiest way to tell if you are hypoglycemic is to cut certain foods out of your diet and see if it makes a difference. The main culprits are foods that are high in sugar. This means refined sugar but also white flours and starches. Caffeine and alcohol can trigger low blood sugar and it's important to eat a diet rich in fiber and whole grains. I drink my cup of coffee in the morning but the rest of the day I don't normally have caffeine because it can cause me to have a blood sugar drop. I have to eat snacks every few hours to keep my blood sugar stable as well. There are usually a few cans of nuts rolling around in my car that I munch on! I'm so thankful that my Mom jumped on board when my parents suspected this was what was wrong with me. She completely changed the way our family ate. Gone were the yummy donuts before church on Sunday, instead we stuck to bacon and eggs. Whole wheat flour replaced white flour in our Friday night pizza. And we began learning how to make sugar free desserts. You would think all this would be torture for a 12 year old. But I embraced it head on because for once in my life I felt happy and...normal. And it was such a good feeling! If you suspect you might have chronic low blood sugar, the book  The Low Blood Sugar Handbook  by Edward Krimmel is a good place to start. Once you stop eating sugar and sugary foods your body will naturally have a bit of withdraw. But once it's out of your system I promise, the cravings will go too and you will feel so much better. I like the Krimmel book for it's wealth of information but I find that if I'm eating clean, I don't have to be as strict as the book says to be. I can eat veggies with higher sugar content like carrots and corn and I'll drink some wine. But I know if I start to feel depressed or irritable more often I need to go back to being strict for a little bit.  The Suzanne Somer's plan and cookbooks  are another great resource. Level two of her program is pretty much the way that I eat. Whole grains, lots of veggies and protein and no sugar. And her recipes are delicious. If you are hypoglycemic it's important to have a support team. My Mom changed her life to help me eat right when I was a kid and she has continued to support my younger sister who is hypoglycemic too (they blog over at ). My husband understands my condition and has forgive countless low blood sugar episodes when I was irrational, irritable and impossible to get along with! But even if no one else gets it, you can do this. It might be a little more difficult to eat your favorite foods when you are out but at home you can almost always whip up meals that are whole wheat and sugar free and taste delicious. And I would love to talk to you if you ever have questions about the way I eat.  I want to leave you with this recipe I have on my blog for a mocha cheesecake sweetened with stevia. So yummy! And proof that living the low blood sugar way can be delicious :)
Cheesecakes are one of the easiest desserts to make sugar free because you don't need the sugar to bind or brown or do anything other than flavor the cake. So growing up my Mom and I made cheesecake all the time. Caramel, peppermint, chocolate, pumpkin, new york, raspberry, I think we have made every combination there is. One of my favorites to make during the holidays is a peppermint cheesecake. Crush up sugar free peppermints and put them in the batter and the peppermints melt and bake and come out all swirly when you slice the cake. Yum. Here is my recipe for Mocha Cheesecake:

Mocha Cheesecake with Stevia

32 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup Stevia In The Raw 1 tablespoon vanilla 4 eggs 1/2 cup sour cream 1/8 cup warm water 4 tablespoons instant coffee

For the ganache:

1 cup heavy cream
7 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup stevia in the raw
1 tablespoon vanilla
Optional: Candy pearls (you can find these at most grocery or craft stores)

Preheat oven to 350. Beat the cream cheese and stevia until very smooth, scraping the sides as you go. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and sour cream and beat until combined. Dissolve the coffee in the warm water and add to the batter (you can add more or less coffee to taste). Line the bottom of a spring-form pan with parchment paper and grease the sides. Pour cheesecake batter into the pan. Set aside while you make the ganache. Heat the cream on the stovetop until bubbly around the edges. Place chocolate in cream and remove from heat. Cover and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes until chocolate is melted. Add stevia and vanilla and stir until smooth. Take about 1/4 cup of the ganache and pour into the cheesecake batter in pan. Swirl the chocolate around with a toothpick. Refrigerate the rest of the ganache and save for decorating. Fill a roasting pan with water and place on bottom rack of oven (this creates steam and will help the cheesecake to not crack) Bake the cheesecake on the middle rack of your oven for one hour. Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake cool for 30 minutes in oven. Refrigerate overnight.

To decorate:

Melt half of the ganache until silky again slowly over a double boiler. Unmold cheesecake from springform pan and pour melted ganache over top of cheesecake, letting it drip down the sides. Place the cold ganache, which will be very thick, in a pastry bag and pipe stripes in a crisscross pattern over the ganache. Garnish with candy pearls.

Serve at room temp.
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