Holiday Sugar Overload and How to Fix It
Sugar is everywhere – particularly during the holidays, beginning with Halloween, through Thanksgiving and long after Christmas, so it is no surprise that people are not feeling their best or feel simply rotten. Sugar’s effects are very real and there is a reason for this: sugar is inflammatory. With an excessive intake, the body goes on a physical and emotional roller coaster, causing blood sugar spikes and crashes – a toxic event. The spike triggers the feel-good hormone dopamine that helps promote sugar addiction. The hormone insulin is released (a fat storage hormone) that in addition, tamps down on the fullness hormone ‘leptin’ which sends the signal you’ve had enough food. The result? You go in search for more sugar. Then the crash happens, your blood sugar falls roughly 15 minutes to a couple of hours later. The body always wants to maintain balance, it needs to bring the blood sugar level back up. So here you go again, in search for more sugar to raise your blood sugar level. This is where it is crucial to resist that desire for more sugar, to break the sugar addiction cycle.
Reverse the sugar inflammation with these tips that will have you feeling better, while getting your body functioning and back up to speed. Here are 7 simple ways you can keep overindulgence from being stored as fat.
How can one create damage control after a binge or holiday season of sweets?
- Resist the urge to swear-off all food. Instead, wait until your body feels hungry again and eat a small fiber and protein-rich meal like salmon and roasted broccoli. Salmon is high in protein and broccoli is high in fiber – both will re-balance your blood sugar. Eat protein and fiber at every meal.
- Reduce your carbohydrate intake. Avoid white flour products – they are metabolized just like sugar. The goal is to maintain a balanced blood sugar level. With an excessive intake, you are, once again, spiking your blood sugar.
- Add healthy fat to each meal. Healthy fats, particularly fats high in omega 3 fat such as salmon, sardines, fish oil, grass-fed meat or dairy, will help to reduce and reverse cellular inflammation as a result of the excess sugar intake. Healthy fats to include: avocados, nuts, seeds, whole eggs (omega 3), macadamia nut oil, avocado oil, chia seeds, flax seeds. A spoonful of peanut butter or handful of nuts gives you fat and protein to also slow digestion.
- Drink water. Sugar creates an acidic environment that can impair enzyme function and decrease your body’s water storage capacity. Your body needs to dilute the large amount of sugar which is necessary to metabolize all the extra sugar. Drink half your body weight, in ounces, of water daily. For example, if you weight 120 lbs, drink at least 60 ounces of water a day.
- Add cinnamon to your diet. Cinnamon can improve your body’s ability to metabolize and use carbohydrates (sugar is a carbohydrate). Cinnamon also induces the feeling of being full (satiety) to prevent continued overindulgence of sugar and the after-meal spikes in blood sugar and insulin that result.
- Exercise to help reverse the toxic effects of sugar. Research shows that exercise may blunt the negative health effects of sugar. During exercise, your body burns sugar (glycogen) and improves insulin sensitivity – a key marker of optimal health. Any type of physical activity will benefit you. Combining cardio activities — such as brisk walking, swimming, and cycling — with resistance training, or weight training, has the greatest effect. Exercise also returns the physical energy that excess sugar can deplete.
- Avoid Added Sugar. Be vigilant about avoiding added sugar to your diet. Look at the ingredient list on products to determine if they contain added sugar. Watch out for packaged foods, they tend to be high in sugar – whether sweet or savory. Instead, get sugar from natural sources, such as low-sugar fruits (berries, apples, pears, kiwi, grapefruit).
Yes, you CAN get back on track after a sugar binge, a season or a lifetime of excess sugar and be well on your way to weight loss and optimal health. Resist the urge to continue as before.