Most people do it on occasion, eat too much sugar. If you find that you have overindulged and you are now feeling the effects of unhealthy choices, take a few minutes to read these 9 great tips about what to do to get back on track.
1. Recognize the pattern.
When you eat too many sweets, your body will switch between having high energy and very low energy. It’s important to recognize that this happens, and know what to do about it. Amanda Bontempo, RD, a nutritionist at New York University’s Langone’s Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Centre states, “The minute you put a sweet in your mouth, you get a surge of dopamine, a feel-good hormone with addictive properties.”
After a couple of hours, Bontempo explains, your body will be missing the good hormones that make you feel full and satisfied because the pancreas will have released insulin to handle the high blood sugar levels. Your “full” hormone, leptin, will lower, and you will feel a crash.
Bontempo states, “The crash depends on the person. It can be 15 minutes to a couple of hours after eating. Your instinct is to eat more sugar to get another jolt of energy, but it’s really important to resist. Once your willpower bank is tapped, it becomes increasingly challenging to make healthy choices.
2. Try a spoonful of peanut butter.
After you eat too much sugar, you might have an urge to fast and avoid all high calorie foods. But, you still need nutrients to battle the blood sugar swings. A spoonful of peanut butter might just do the trick. Hummus and vegetables are also great choices, and give you the fibre you need to slow the absorption of the sugars and keep things on a more even keel.
3. Walk the stairs.
Even though you are feeling tired from a blood sugar low, you should resist the temptation to take a nap. Instead, Bontempo recommends that you do something active.
She states, “Get moving. This will help your muscles use the blood sugar instead of just storing it.” This doesn’t mean you need to go full throttle for an hour, but even a 15-minute walk can help to stabilize your blood sugar and energy levels.
4. Drink tea with lemon.
Both green tea and lemon are diuretics, and will help boost your metabolism. Bontempo explains, “You’re not directly eliminating the sugar, but you are forcing your blood to pump through your kidneys faster,” which helps process the blood sugar. Be sure to stay well hydrated at all times, because this can help reduce blood sugar spikes.
5. Don’t skip breakfast.
Eating a healthy breakfast is more important than ever after a sugar binge. Bontempo states, “The ideal breakfast is high in protein, moderate in fat, and low in carbs. The protein and fat keep you full, and fewer carbs encourage you to burn yesterday’s stored up sugar energy.”
Great options include a veggie omelet with a slice of whole grain toast. Top with sliced avocado for an even bigger boost. Keep the fruit to a minimum, because even though it is natural sugar, you are still fighting off the excess from yesterday.
Also, keep coffee to a minimum. Although it contains no calories, we tend to add cream and sugar, which can knock your blood sugar levels out of whack. If you must, add a little cream and skip the sugar.
6. Skip the condiments.
Condiments may contain way more sugar than you realize. Using dressings, sauces, and other condiments may give you more daily sugar than you intent. Even if you read the labels, it can be confusing because sugar can be included under so many different names. Choose olive oil, or use avocado to spread on your burger or sandwich, instead of ketchup or mayo.
7. Enjoy a healthy smoothie.
After a sugar binge, it can be very helpful to blend up a terrific veggie smoothie. This gives you a huge fibre and nutrient boost, just keep the fruit and juice to a minimum. Bontempo states, “It’s easy to drink way too much sugar. It may come from the fruit and be natural sugar, but you still might drink way more than you’d ever eat.”
Try mixing one part fruit to two parts veggies, and use unsweetened soy milk, unsweetened yoghurt, or nut butter as a base. Unsweetened green tea adds tons of antioxidants without adding any sugar.
8. Skip the leftovers.
If, after your sugar binge, you still have unhealthy choices available, toss them. If you don’t feel comfortable, bring them to work or donate them. Just get the culprits out of your sight so you won’t be tempted.
9. Forgive yourself.
Sticking around on a guilt trip because you slipped up on your healthy diet is not good for you. Instead, just reconnect with your healthy patterns, and be sure that you return as quickly as possible to healthy eating habits. Be mindful about what you eat, and you will be better able to stay on track.
Occasional slips happen to everyone. Overindulging on sugar once in a while probably won’t cause you permanent harm, but you should make an effort to get back on track as quickly as you can.