Have a blast this 4th of July weekend, be safe and try your best not to over-indulge…especially with sugar! And if you do have a bit too much ice cream, or some of Aunt Mary’s famous Apple Pie, don’t crash on the couch like I know you’re going to want to do.
When we get too much sugar in our system, our bodies go through this up and down roller-coaster both physically and emotionally. “The minute you put a sweet in your mouth, you get a surge of dopamine, a feel-good hormone with addictive properties,” says Amanda Bontempo, RD, a nutritionist at NYU Langone’s Cancer Center. As sugar floods your bloodstream, the pancreas releases insulin to control blood glucose levels. This suppresses the ‘fullness’ hormone leptin, which makes your brain give you the green light to grab more sugar/ice cream/ candy. Glucose is rapidly digested, and your spiked dopamine and blood sugar levels fall quickly. “The crash depends on the person, It can be 15 minutes to a few hours after eating,” says Bontempo. “Your instinct is to eat more sugar to get another buzz, or sugar high, but it’s really important to resist. Once your willpower bank is tapped, it becomes increasingly challenging to make healthy choices.” You see, technically, it’s not that you have no will power; your brain takes over and makes you act like a 3 year old who just dropped his ice cream cone on the cement.
Here’s a few tips to get your system back on track.
- Eat a spoonful of peanut butter or hummus and fresh veggies. Both slow the absorption of simple sugars and with the high fiber in the veggies, you’ll feel fuller and more able to walk away from the cotton candy.
- Get active! I know you’re going to want to crash, and hard – but resist. Go for a walk; take a bike ride, anything to get your body moving. Getting active allows your muscles to use up the blood sugar instead of storing it.
- Drink tea with lemon. Green tea and lemon are both diuretics, which means they’ll make you take more bathroom breaks. You’re not directly eliminating the sugar, but you are forcing your blood to pump through your kidneys faster. And drink plenty of water which helps you feel full and counteracts suppressed leptin levels.
4. Don’t forget to plan your morning breakfast – I can’t tell you how important this step is!! A low-sugar, balanced breakfast is imperative the day after a sugar surge. “The ideal breakfast is high in protein, moderate in fat, and low in carbs,” says Bontempo. “The protein and fat keep you full, and fewer carbs encourage you to burn yesterday’s stored-up sugar energy. “Try a veggie omelet with a slice of whole-grain toast, topped with avocado. Go easy on the fruit, it may be a natural sugar but it’s still sugar to your system. And if you drink coffee, go easy on the creamer. Most store-bought creamers are filled with sugar and you don’t want to start that roller-coaster all over again.
Be safe, have fun, enjoy your family and friends and try as best as you can to only have one slice of Aunt Mary’s famous Apple Pie!