It can be hard to get back on track after a sugar hangover. Unfortunately, some people allow the holiday season to knock them off track, and suffer the “holiday headache”. It helps to have a few tips to get back in control if you’ve failed to control holiday eating.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Sugar Hangover?
- brain fog
- poor concentration/focus
- mood swings or depression
- cold sores
- digestive discomfort, gas or bloating
- acid reflux
- acne and other skin issues
- aching joints (arthritis hates sugar)
- additional symptoms from any inflammatory condition (includes allergies)
- generally feeling old and creaky
When you’ve been eating clean for a while and then overindulge in sugar, you’ll really notice the difference in how you feel, particularly for the next day or two. If you keep eating sugar, you’ll get a long string of days with some of the sugar hangover symptoms above. The longer you keep eating sugar, the harder your sugar addiction will be to quit.
Making The Hangover Worse
When you’ve kicked your sugar habit and suddenly take in a glut of sugar, you’re going to feel it, and it won’t be pleasant. You’ll make it even worse if you’ve been off gluten and you suddenly consume a bunch of gluten-containing baked goods and sauces. The holidays are a tough time for those who eat clean, and if you throw caution to the wind and eat the candy, pastries, gravies and sauces, you’ll be forcibly reminded of how much your life has improved since you quit eating the junk food. The holidays are also a time when starches are more prevalent – piles of mashed potatoes, for example.
The highly-processed grains, such as white flour or white rice, and the fast-digesting starches are converted almost instantly by your body into sugars. Yes, more sugar, on top of the sugar-sweetened everything you may have already consumed.
Beating Sugar Addiction
After consuming significant amounts of sugar, it will take from four days to a week for your body quit nagging you with cravings. Here are some of the best ways to overcome sugar addiction:
Stop ALL Sugars: For a few days, it’s a good idea to quit cold turkey. It won’t really make the symptoms worse, and it will make the time period you have them much shorter. Eliminate even fruit during this period. Of course, elminate alchohol, and if you can, keep gluten to a minimum, even if you’re not typically gluten free. You can get back to whatever your normal is, after you’ve overcome the sugar demons!
Drink Water: Because sugar in large amounts is toxic, you can become dehydrated as your body attempts to dilute the large amount of sugar intake. Drinking lots of water not only overcomes dehydration, it helps flush out your body. In fact, right after the holidays is an excellent time to improve your water intake. If you’re not already drinking half your body weight in ounces of water, this is a good time to start. Yes, a 200 lb person should try to drink 100 oz of water daily (about three liters). Even if you only do it for a few days while you recover from the sugar hangover, it will help.
Eat Protein: Getting off sugar is difficult, because sugar is very addictive, but eating protein will help. Try to have several small servings of protein throughout the day. For example, thirty grams (just over one ounce) within 30 minutes of waking, and then an additional 30 grams every three to four hours.
Eat Fiber: Increasing your fiber intake is always helpful, but right now it will particularly aid you in helping you feel fuller. None starchy vegetables are a good source, or you could also add oat bran or ground flax to help your digestion rebalance.
Take Probiotics: The “good” bacteria in you gut is fighting a war right now, because you fed the “bad” bacteria lots of nourishment as sugar. You need to reinforce the good guys with probiotic supplements, unsweetened yogurt or kefir.
Avoid Drinking ANY Sugars: This means no sugar in tea or coffee (use stevia for sweetness if you must), no sodas (or even diet drinks), no alcohol (high in sugars), no sports drinks and no fruit juices. Limit yourself to water (lots of it!), teas and vegetable juices.
The Bright Side Of A Sugar Hangover
The bright side, if there is one, of a sugar hangover is how noticable its effects are. If you are paying attention to your body, and you’re normally in the habit of eating clean, you’ll really notice how consumption of sugar and gluten hurts it. The complaints from your joints, your skin, your stomach and your brain can be pretty loud, and that’s a good thing if you realize that it’s proof of how much eating a low-sugar, gluten free diet improves your health.