Nutrition and Fitness, Your Health Tamar Raucher | one year ago

‘Tis The Season (To Sugar Splurge)

It’s the holidays! Don’t let a sugar hangover get in the way of your celebrations.

 “I know you’re full, but have you tried my gingerbread cookies?” “Oh, but you NEED a peppermint brownie!” “I hope you saved room for dessert!” “Come on, just have one more ...” Sound familiar? Between trays of sweets circling the office and the endless line of parties, navigating the holidays can feel like being stuck in a real-life version of Candy Crush Saga. And a sugar binge does more than damage your waistline; it can cause some people to experience what is referred to as a “sugar hangover,” a series of symptoms that can include:
  • Fuzzy thinking or foggy mind
  • Fatigue or sleepiness after meals
  • Sleep disruption
  • Gas, bloating or extended stomach after meals
  • Headache
  • Joint pain
  • Stomach and skin problems
  • Allergy symptoms
  • Mood swings
So how do you avoid a holiday sugar binge – and the not-so-sweet consequences? Here are some tips and tricks: Know the Effects of Too Much Sugar “Generally, a body of a person without pre-diabetes or diabetes will handle sugar by increasing the amount of insulin the pancreas produces so that the blood sugar does not go too high,” says Angela Charles, clinical diabetes educator, Carolinas HealthCare System NorthEast. This can lead to insulin resistance and, eventually, diabetes. “The short-term effects of too much sugar in a regular meal plan may include weight gain or obesity,” Charles says, “which in the long run increases the risk of many chronic conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure and more.” Pay Attention You don’t have to say “no” to every truffle and slice of pie that passes your way, but do recognize how your body is feeling before, during and after indulging. Were you even hungry before you took on that piece of cake? How many sweets have you already had? Are you on your first or fifth cookie? Did you feel tired or queasy after eating dessert? Paying attention to how sugar affects you is key to developing a healthy relationship with sugar and your body, and will inform your future decisions to stick to a “single-slice limit” or a “two-cookie maximum” – whatever works for you. Plan Ahead This isn’t always possible (like when you forget your oatmeal for breakfast and have to make do with leftover donuts), but like everything in life, balance is key. “If you plan to eat sweets, limit or eliminate sugar that you may consume from punch, alcoholic drinks, sweet tea, regular soda, juice or Gatorade,” Charles says. If you know that you’re going to a holiday party after work, eat really clean throughout the day so that you have wriggle room to indulge in the evening. And if all else fails, distract yourself. “Focus more on the celebration versus the food and load up your plate with non-starchy vegetables and lean protein,” Charles adds. Oops, I Did It Again You tried, you really did. But your friend would have been so hurt if you didn’t try her peppermint bark, and you had to have some red velvet cake. And then there was the pie. Now your heart’s racing, you feel fuzzy-headed, and you’re tossing and turning in bed. What to do? It’s simple – counter the effects of too much sugar by eating healthfully the next day and cleansing your body from the inside out. “Focus on drinking water, eating non-starchy vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and whole fruits,” Charles says. It’s amazing how quickly your body can go from groaning to glowing if you make the effort to treat it right. And if you want to speed the process up, add some healthy spices into the mix. “Spices specifically for aiding digestion include: chili, paprika, cayenne, curry, curcumin (from turmeric), ginger and garlic,” Charles says. “Adding an array of spices and herbs to everyday dishes in general can add some good nutrition to your meal plan.”