Sugar is a wily one, and even those of who do our best to avoid it sometimes find ourselves falling into the sticky trap of overindulgence when it comes to the sweet stuff. Especially during holiday season, it can become even easier to find ourselves in the throes of a sugar binge.
It starts in a seemingly innocent way – you take that brightly sprinkle-crusted cookie that your coworker made so as not to be rude, and you think to yourself “just one won’t hurt.” And while it’s true that this one cookie most likely won’t ruin your healthy lifestyle, it’s that second one you grab later on when the cravings start that can lead to a cascade. Sure, you “never eat this way” and “it’s the holidays, after all” but guess what: the binge is just beginning.
The Binge Isn’t Entirely Your Fault…
That’s how sugar works. You eat a little bit of it, happy chemicals release in your brain and you naturally want more. Our body is smart at talking us into stuff that it wants, so it’s important that we get a hold of ourselves before we’ve gone too far down the hill. You see, the happy chemicals aren’t the problem, it’s the damage the sugar does to your body that we want to avoid. So here are my top 3 tips for recovering from a sugar binge, no matter where you are in the process:
3 Tips for Recovering From A Sugar Binge:
1. Know that the cravings will come.
Once you pop, you can’t stop, as the saying goes. Sugar triggers a mechanism in your body that makes you want more of it. Whether you’ve just had one cookie, or you’ve had one week’s worth of cookies, sugar will make you crave more sugar. If you can psychologically prepare yourself for the inevitable cravings, they won’t strike you by surprise. Remind yourself that the cravings are a natural part of the sugar-detox process, and instead of giving them control over your actions think of them as a small child inside you asking for more candy. Kindly and lovingly say no, and move on to Tip #2.
2. Replace those sweet treats.
The thing about cravings is that for most people you can’t just ignore them and they go away. Again, much like a child, we need to give them something else to distract them while the sugar-detox process happens. This is where fresh, whole foods source of natural sugar come in. Fruit (fresh fruit, not dried fruit) is a great bridge between your sugar cravings and your health – it’s packed full of nutrients that slow down the absorption of the sugar into your bloodstream, which helps bring your blood sugar back into balance. So when you feel a craving coming on, reach for a piece of fruit.
Be aware, though, that your body will not be fooled immediately! Natural sugars do not have the same level of “happy chemical” effect that processed sugar does, so eating fresh fruit will not be 100% satisfying in the moments – at least, not at first. Again, think of sugar recovery as a process and know that eventually the cravings will fade once you get off the sugar merry-go-round.
3. Fill up on fat (and protein, and lots of veggies).
Focusing on fat will give your body long-lasting fuel that will help you feel full and cut back on cravings. Protein supports your body’s internal detox process and also helps you feel full. Same with veggies – fiber is great for feeling satisfied and flushing out toxins (and yes, sugar is a toxin), plus all the vitamins and minerals mean your body is loading up on nutrients that were depleted while you were sugar-binging. And it’s still okay to eat things like sweet potatoes and other naturally starchy veggies, just don’t cover them in brown sugar before you chow down.
Adding in a good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement will help your body recover more easily from a sugar binge because it will replace the nutrients that were depleted by the refined sugar. If your sugar cravings are really bad, you can try the herbal supplement Gymnema Sylvestre to curb the callings.
It typically takes about 3-5 days to feel like you’re past the point of relapse after a sugar binge, so give yourself time and know that eventually the cravings will stop, your mood will stabilize, and the bloating will go down. Oh yeah, and you’ll be able to sleep again 😉
Also, remember that binging doesn’t make you a bad or wrong person – our body is designed to crave more of certain foods, it’s just that we didn’t have damaging substances like refined sugar around when our system was developing so modern sugar is basically like a drug to us. And now you have these three simple tools to help you move forward and feel great in your body!
I hope these tips help you get back on track so you can have your healthiest holiday yet. Take care and be well!