Indulged in a few too many sugary treats over the holidays and feeling not-so-fab today? Perhaps a few too many Snickers and Mars bars over New Year’s Eve, followed by plenty of desserts and carb-rich foods? Well, chances are that you’re dealing with a sugar hangover. Yes, it’s real. And it often mimics the same symptoms as an alcohol-induced hangover. Headaches, sluggishness, mood swings…you know, all that good stuff! So how can you recover from a sugar hangover, and how can you prevent one in the first place? Let’s get to the bottom of it, shall we?
A sugar hangover is caused by eating too much sugar over a short span of time. Yes, we are talking about the Holidays, but also any weekend you spent tucking into too much ice-cream will have similar effects. It throws your insulin and blood sugar levels out of whack. Sugars like sucrose and fructose are easily converted into glucose once metabolized, and they send your blood sugar levels spiking. That’s why you feel so good after indulging in a sweet treat.
Sadly, shortly afterwards, your blood sugar levels will crash, triggering a craving for some more of the sweet stuff. It’s really a vicious cycle. Once you indulge in more of the sweet treats, this cycle goes on and on, until you wake up the next morning feeling the full effects of the sugar hangover.
Just like too much alcohol, too much sugar affects all your organs, which is an easy explanation for why you feel this bad the next morning. The liver is tasked with metabolizing the excess sugar, the kidneys are overworked flushing out all toxins, and the digestive system is taxed too. Sugar hangover can also cause dehydration, yeast infection, flare-ups, and disturbed sleep – all these happen because your body has excess circulating insulin.
Now that you know what a sugar hangover really is, let’s understand how to recover from it. Here are our 8 top tips to recover from a sugar hangover.
You may wake up craving more sugars, because of your fluctuating blood sugar levels, but we highly recommend you curb that urge. Also, the day with a sugar hangover is not the day to skip breakfast because you’re feeling guilty after ingesting all those calories from sugary treats.
One of the best ways to cure a sugar hangover is to start your day with a healthy, balanced breakfast. Ditch your regular sugar-laden smoothie or cereal breakfast and instead eat some eggs, grilled meat, and sautéed greens. When done right, the proteins and fats from your breakfast will keep you satiated and energized for the day and also keep cravings at bay. Cook your eggs in grass-fed butter or organic coconut oil, add some mashed avocados and a grilled tomato drizzled with olive oil on the side.
Just like the way to deal with an alcohol-induced hangover, you need to make sure you drink plenty of water. This will help your liver and kidneys flush out all toxins and sugar-caused inflammation, thus preventing you from getting dehydrated. Aim for a tall glass of water every hour if you’re facing a sugar hangover.
Since indulging in too much sugar can mess up with the pH balance of your body, it’s important to eat plenty of alkalizing foods through the next 24 hours. Go load up on fresh leafy greens and seasonal vegetables, and make sure your plate is filled with these magic hangover curers at every meal.
Make a few bottles of green juices (or buying them, if you’re short on time) and drink them throughout the day to combat acidity and inflammation as well as to increase your fluid intake. The high fiber content of vegetables and fruits eaten with their peel will also help normalize your blood sugar levels.
When battling with a sugar hangover, its best to give your favorite Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte a break. We highly recommend you stay off caffeine for the next 24 hours, especially if you like your coffee on the sweet side. Instead, drink herbal teas that will soothe your overworked digestive system and promote healing from within. Add ginger to your tea if you’re feeling nauseous. Or add a pinch of turmeric if you have aches and pains.
If too much sugar has thrown your digestive system off track, digestive enzymes can help. These little miracle workers will aid your stressed out digestive system and pancreas by absorbing more nutrients from the healthy foods you eat and improve gut health. Sugars also feed bad gut bacteria and yeast, which is why we love probiotics for a natural hangover cure. Try yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut or kefir to aid your digestion.
We understand that you’re feeling sluggish and achy after that sugar-overload, but today is not the day to ditch your workout. Put on them sneakers, power up the iPod and head out for a jog….or walk or the gym…whatever works for you. Exercising will help you sweat which removes more toxins from the body, while the endorphin release will help boost your mood and ease inflammation. We aren’t surprised that research has also found that exercise can help keep impulse eating and cravings at bay.
No one sleeps well after a sugar binge. The spiking and falling blood sugar levels caused by too much candy or far too many desserts interferes with a good night’s rest. This is why it’s important to get your rest as you recover from a sugar hangover. Just like nourishing foods and exercise will aid your body in flushing out all those excess sugars (and toxins!), making sure you get some quality sleep will help your body get back on track faster.
This one is a biggie, guys! We are all too aware of the guilt and shame you feel after binging on too much sugar, and those negative thoughts you are harboring are only making you feel worse. Stop stressing about it. The more stressed you feel because you deeply regret your actions, the more cortisol your body produces. And that means your stressing out is only hindering with recovery and aiding further inflammation. Don’t waste any more energy on feeling bad about what you ate. Instead, focus on how you’ll prevent a sugar hangover in the future.
We say prevention is better than cure. And we’re sure you want to avoid such sugar hangovers in the future. So, what can you do to prevent a sugar hangover in the first place?
The idea is to remove all forms of sugars from your diet for a set period of time. Some people do a 7-day sugar cleanse, while others prefer to keep away from sugar for longer. We find the 21-Day Sugar Cleanse to be highly effective for anyone who is addicted to sugar (which means they have to deal with a sugar hangover more often than they would like to). After being on a sugar cleanse, your taste buds will adapt to detect natural sweetness again, and you will learn the right way to reintroduce smaller amounts of natural sugar back into your diet.
Yes, probiotics can help with sugar cravings. Scientists have found that gut microbiome can affect emotional behavior as well as brain function, so we aren’t surprised that your gut bacteria could be the driving force behind your cravings because of the gut-brain axis. And do you know what feeds bad gut bacteria — SUGAR. When you have plenty of healthy gut bacteria, you will crave more of healthy, nutritious foods that nourish not just you but also the good gut bacteria. Eat plenty of fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, and miso.
If your regular diet contains more of sugars and carbs, now is the time to make a switch. Retrain your taste buds by adding more healthy fats like fatty fish, extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, grass-fed butter, nut butters, coconut milk, avocados, nuts and seeds to your diet. Eating more healthy fats helps with satiety and also adds more flavour to your food. The right fats help keep you full for longer, balance your blood sugar levels, and provide much-needed fuel for your cells.
Believe it or not, most people who crave sugars are also the ones who don’t think twice before skipping meals. A missed meal results in lowered blood sugar levels, which will only fire up your sugar cravings. To prevent this, it’s very important that you don’t skip meals. Eat at regular intervals to retrain your body into feeling nourished by eating healthy fats, proteins, and carbs from vegetables.
What are your tips for recovering from a sugar hangover? We would love to hear from you!
The Neurocognitive Connection between Physical Activity and Eating Behavior – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3535467/
Goodbye, Sugar Cravings! What Drives Sugar Cravings and How to Overcome Them – https://bodyecology.com/articles/goodbye-sugar-cravings-what-drives-sugar-cravings-and-how-to-overcome-them
Gut Microbes and the Brain: Paradigm Shift in Neuroscience – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4228144/