Here's the thing about sugar. Did you know that it helps to fuel your brain and red blood cells? That reason alone is why, automatically coming to the ultimate conclusion that sugar is the devil, is not a totally accurate one. According to many health experts, we need somewhere around 6 teaspoons of sugar a day while men require about 9. Problem is, an average cup of juice can give you all of the sugar you need for the day and let's be honest—many of us are well over tripling that amount, just with our breakfast alone. In fact, I actually read that most of us consume somewhere around 20 teaspoons of sugar on a daily basis. This is why, many health experts believe, that sugar addiction is at an all-time high; that it's an epidemic.
Thing is, because sugar is so much a part of our lives (remember carbs turns into sugar once we digest 'em), how can you know if you're someone who simply has a "taste" for sugar or you're someone who is a full-on addict? That is actually what we're gonna touch on today—some pretty telling signs that you've low-key got a sugar addiction, quite possibly without even noticing it.
1.You Have Constant Cravings
One sign that sugar addiction may be a very real issue in your life is, that you never seem to be able to get enough of it. I mean, no matter how much candy, juice, and carbs (more on that in a sec), you consume, you can always take in more. The reason why this happens is that, when you binge on sugar, that actually causes your blood sugar levels to tank because the insulin in your body will push the sugar into your cells in order to prevent sugar-related damage. And when your sugar levels are low, you end up wanting to eat more of it as a direct result. Kinda crazy, isn't it?
2.You Can Never Get Enough Carbs
Carbs are a vital energy source; there's no doubt about that. But when you eat them, your digestive system actually converts that food into glucose, which is sugar. Unfortunately, because carbs typically don't have enough fiber or protein in them, your body is unable to slow down how quickly carbs are able to turn into sugar, and, without protein and fibrous foods, you can find yourself craving carbs all the time (which basically means you're craving sugar all of the time). By the way, foods that are high in carbs that work against you include cereal, desserts, canned fruits, chips, bread, and fast food. High-carb foods that are actually good for you include quinoa, oats, bananas, sweet potatoes, blueberries, and apples.
3.Your Energy Levels (and Moods) Are a Roller Coaster Ride
While caffeine is sho 'nuf a stimulant (a drug, in fact, because it is something that stimulates your nervous system), I once read that sugar is a "false energizer" because, right after it gives you a surge of energy, it can cause you to lose it just as fast. Not only that but because sugar can also have your blood sugar levels all over the place, it can give you some pretty nasty mood swings as well. So, if "roller coaster" would be a good word to describe how you feel most of the time, that's another indication that you just might have a sugar addiction.
4.Whenever You Don’t Eat “It”, You Feel It
Whenever someone tells me that they don't have a caffeine addiction but then turn right around and says that the reason why they need 2-3 cups of coffee in the morning is that they will have a killer headache if they don't, I'm often like, "Umm…yeah. That means you've got an addiction going on." The same thing applies to sugar. If when you try and go a few days without it, you notice that you're feeling extremely drained, nauseated, you've got muscle discomfort, headaches, or even that you can't sleep much or well—all of this points to your body going through mild withdrawal symptoms.
This is why, if you are trying to consume less sugar, it's best to wean off of it slowly. It's also a good idea to keep in mind that the withdrawal symptoms usually don't kick in until 24-48 hours after you step away from sugar (some people say they actually do feel anything until they're two weeks in) and typically last between 2-14 days.
5.You’re Bloated Often
It's pretty common for us to get a little bloated, right around our period. That's because, when our progesterone and estrogen levels shift, leading into our menstrual flow, our body's cells start to retain both salt and water. Well, did you know that something else that can trigger bloating, pretty much right after you eat, is sugar? That's because sugar has a way of disturbing the balance of our digestive tract once it ferments into our system. As a result, sugar is able to feed the bacteria in our digestive system which can cause bloating (and eventually yeast infections too).
Plus, 80 percent of our immune system is in our gut, so that's just one more reason to limit your sugar intake.
6.When You Miss a Meal, It’s a BIG Deal
While it's definitely a good idea to eat three square meals a day (because it can help to give you the energy that you need while preventing you from overeating or binge-eating unhealthy foods), our bodies are actually designed to be able to go hours without feeling like we're gonna die (or kill someone) if we don't eat something. Problem is, when you're a sugar addict, you feel like you need to be eating something all the time; especially salty foods which is a heads up that your body isn't receiving all of the nutrients that it needs.
Again, you need to eat a good breakfast, lunch and dinner. But if you happen to miss one of those meals and it's got you literally climbing the walls, well—you already know what I'm about to say. Right?
7.You’re Suddenly Packing on Body Fat
Here's something that you may or may not know. Were you aware of the fact that your body stores up energy in its fatty tissue? And here's the thing—since it takes fatty tissue a significant amount of time to break down into energy, that's why eating sugary foods creates bulges where you may not want them to be (this is also why it's so much easier to put on weight than it is to lose it). Not only that, but sugar also gets stored into your muscles in the form of glucose too. Until your body feels like you need to use that stored up energy, it will keep it in the form of fat—whether you like it or not.
One more. Some of you might remember when a huge news story broke that sitting all day, for months at a time, had become "the new smoking" when it comes to what it does to our health. The reason why is because a sedentary lifestyle affects our posture, blood circulation, and breathing—and all of that can result in major health issues up the pike. Well, to that, if you haven't been moving about (or exercising before or after work), you know that you've been consistently getting no less than six hours a night, and still, no matter what, you feel worn out 90 percent of the time, this could also be a sign that you're a sugar addict.
When your system is reliant on large amounts of sugar in order to give you the energy that you need, if you're not consuming it, your energy levels drop which makes you want to go to sleep.
So, what if you happen to see yourself in any of the signs of sugar addiction that I just shared? First, as I briefly already mentioned, going cold turkey isn't smart. Since you've still got to earn a living—and going through sugar withdrawals can make you moody as hell—it really is best to ease off a little bit at a time.
Here are some ways to do that:
- Don't put extra sugar into or onto your food.
- Have only 1-2 glasses of un-water drinks a day (the rest of the time, drink water only).
- Go totally without fast food.
- If candy is your thing, get some dark chocolate that is made up of at least 65 percent cocoa.
- When you crave sweets, opt for protein instead (it will help to curb the desire). Some good protein snacks include peanut butter, coconut, unsweetened Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, tuna, pumpkin seeds, and almonds.
- Read food labels before making a purchase (because remember, you need less than 25 grams a day).
- Have a slice/piece of something sweet rather than several.
Having a sugar addiction is nothing to be ashamed of. However, the reason why it's so important to take this seriously is that too much sugar increases your chances of having heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer, experiencing breakouts, becoming depressed, and, of course, gaining weight.
A little sugar is cool. Just make sure not to overdo it, OK? Being addicted to anything is problematic, so choose your foods (and drinks) wisely.
Featured image by Shutterstock
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Queen Latifah On Her Journey To Self-Acceptance: 'I've Been Trying To Maintain My Freedom To Be Me'
Actress and rapper Dana "Queen Latifah" Owens is defying societal standards by refusing to be confined in a box regarding her personal and professional life.
Owens, who has been a part of the entertainment industry for over three decades, is widely recognized for her empowering songs and the variety of acting roles she has obtained throughout her career, among other things. The list includes Living Single, Set It Off, Chicago --with which she earned an Oscar nomination-- Just Wright, Girls Trip, and most recently, The Equalizer series on CBS.
Owens is also very tight-lipped about her personal life. However, in 2021, The Last Holiday actress showed appreciation to Eboni Nichols, who is reportedly her partner, and their son Rebel after receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award.Since then, Owens has revealed why she doesn't want to be defined as anything but herself and how she maintains her sense of freedom. In a resurfaced video from theGrio Awards, Owens opened up about those topics when she accepted the Television Icon Award for her past contributions
In a clip uploaded on theGrio's Instagram account last week, Owens explained that she often had to fight to be herself because "the world" kept trying to put her in a box based on what society thought a woman should be.
"My whole life, I feel like I've been trying to maintain my freedom to be me. And the world is trying to put these things on me to stop me from being who I am," she said.
Further into the speech, Owens explained that although many would have their own opinion about her from what the media spews out, she would continue to be herself by wearing "beautiful gowns and dresses," playing in the dirt, participating in basketball games with men and loving who she loves because that's what makes her happy.
The Beauty Shop star also added that despite her celebrity status, she would continue to show respect for others because that's who she is as a person and how she was raised.
"So I wear these beautiful gowns and dresses because I want to because that's part of me. I play in the dirt. I play basketball with the boys because that's me,” she stated. "I love who I love because that's me. I love all of you who have supported me. I give you your respect. I don't have to be above you because that's me. I know me."
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