Easter. A time of family, church, reflection, egg hunts, Easter Bunnies, and… SUGAR. Over the weekend my kids had three Easter egg hunts plus treats from the Easter bunny. Needless to say they had a pretty hard time winding down for bed last night. My daughter even wrote us a letter asking us if she could “Plez Plez Plez” watch our movie with us. The movie by the way, was Jumanji and it was so awesome!
Anyway, maybe the kids weren’t the only ones. ! If you consumed way too much sugar over the weekend, here are a few tips to get you back on track to feeling healthy and energetic again.
Let It Go
If you woke up today feeling like you are hungover from sugar, trust me you are not alone! The worst thing you can do is feel guilty and sulk about it. Feeling bad will not change what you ate yesterday, so first and foremost – let it go.
One of the reasons sweet treats are so addictive is because they provide our bodies and brains with a rapid source of sugar. However the energy we obtain from this sugar is rapidly used up and followed by a drop in blood sugar. This drop causes symptoms of hypoglycemia including: Headaches, fatigue, loss of energy, anxiety, shakiness, brain fog, blurred vision, lightheadedness, and other feelings very similar to a hangover from alcohol. Our body responds to these symptoms mostly by craving more sugar to bring energy levels back up. The problem is if you keep feeding your body refined sugars and sweets it will keep burning them up quickly and ultimately craving more.
This is a vicious cycle but now that you are aware, let’s talk about how to stop it in its tracks!
Proteins are digested in the stomach and small intestine at a much slower rate than simple sugars. Eating protein right away in the morning will keep you fuller longer and help your body work on cellular repair (very important from the internal damage caused from excess sugar). Right away in the morning, or at your next meal, I want you to focus on eating healthy protein. This could be in the form of lean, low sodium, unprocessed meat, or plant based proteins such as nuts, seeds, and legumes. Avoid reaching for refined breakfast choices such as cereals, breads, and juices (with the exception of a fiber-rich homemade juice).
The more variety to your protein, the better. This is because each source of protein provides us with a different mix of amino acids. There are at least 20 amino acids needed to build muscle and repair cells in our body. 9 of these amino acids are essential, meaning our bodies cannot make them so they must be obtained through our diet. For vegetarian and vegan diets it is especially important to vary up proteins consumed at one meal because plant proteins are incomplete, meaning they do not provide us with all the essential amino acids we need.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. This equates to about 50 grams a day for a 140 lb. person. Organizations such as ACSM suggest this number to be a bit low, and I agree. For now aim for this number as your baseline because many people fall short even on this level. Aim to eat your target number for protein throughout the day today, starting with your first meal.
Alongside your protein should be a healthy fat. Avocado is one of my favorite healthy fats to consume, especially with a few eggs (protein+fat). I also put coconut oil in my coffee for a dose of healthy fat. Other choices could include nuts and seeds or healthy oils such as avocado and olive.
An emphasis on healthy fat will, like protein, keep you fuller longer because fat is digested much slower than sugar. Fat digestion tak
es place in the small intestine and provides
a level of satiety that curbs hunger and cravings.
Aside from hunger control, healthy fats supply our bodies with Omega-3 fatty acids which aid in brain function, reduce inflammation, and supply our skin with a nourishing glow. All of these benefits from healthy fats are opposite of what sugar does to our body. So pack a few in today (and every day).
Water is essential for maintenance and regulation of body fluids. The hydrating liquid is needed to transport nutrients from place to place, circulate blood and lymph, digest and absorb nutrients consumed from foods, and regulate body temperature.
To properly digest and remove all the foods you are and are not so proud of eating, you need to be hydrated. Do yourself a favor and help out your body as it detoxes all the junk, drink up!
H2O also provides the perfect calorie and sugar free beverage source to keep you hydrated. After a sugar binge you do not want to bombard your body with any more quick sources of sugar, so for today avoid the sugar sweetened beverages, including juice. Aim for at least half of your body weight in ounces as a daily target for water consumption. If you are a 140 pound woman, this means 70 ounces should be a minimum consumed daily.
Today you may feel completely zapped of energy from the not so hot food choices over the weekend. It is not necessary for you to do an intense cardio or high intensity workout today (unless of course you want to). That said, you must move! Not only will it boost your mood and lift some of the post sugar brain fog you have, but it will help circulate fluid to your joints and organs which will aid in tissue repair and detoxification.
If you are at work today try to get up and move at least ten times throughout the day. The best option would be to get outside in the fresh air for some vitamin D and sunshine. If that is not an option for you, at least get up every hour on the hour and stretch, move, forward fold, walk, or whatever you can do to get the blood moving throughout your body.
Last but oh so SO important, go to bed early tonight. When we are sleepy our brains try to make up for it by obtaining any source of quick fuel. This usually comes in the form of mid-day or late night snacking on not-so-healthy options. After a sugar hangover reset day of healthy fats and proteins you don’t want to go down that road again.
Start a calming bedtime routine after supper. Turn the lights down in the house, shut off the WiFi, turn off the TV and other electronics.
Instead, take a nice bath (with or without multiple children bombarding you), put on your favorite lotion and pajamas, and after the kids go to bed, read a story or journal. The goal here is to limit the stimuli to our brains that has been in overdrive over the weekend and from the sugary junk food.
Aim for 8-9 hours of sleep tonight. I know this may seem like a lot for some, but one of the most important things you can do for your waistline is sleep!