It’s that time of year. The kids come home with buckets full of candy, and no matter what you told yourself before those colorfully-wrapped, sugary treats entered your world, your resolve melted just like that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in your mouth.
Halloween is only the beginning. A few weeks later it’s Thanksgiving – the day families gather together to binge on comfort foods followed by a slice of pie or two and a couple of cookies and some form of sugary drink to chase it all down. And just weeks after that, we’re baking sugar cookies and drinking hot chocolate while sucking on candy canes through Christmas.
No matter how healthy your year has been thus far, the holiday season has everything you need to throw it out the window.
The Candy Binge Hangover
Here’s what happens to your body if you overindulge in the sweets during this season of temptation:
Your brain responds the way it would on cocaine. Sugar is addictive because it releases in a rush the feel-good chemicals dopamine and serotonin. Cocaine and some other drugs cause the exact same reaction. The more sugary treats you eat, the more you’re body craves them.
Your Insulin Spikes. Insulin is what regulates your blood sugar. If your pancreas has to be secreting insulin too often, your cells will become resistant to it which leads to more insulin secretion. This is a vicious cycle that could lead not only to weight gain, but inflammation, diabetes, cancer, and a host of other health issues.
You Crash. That high you got from the sugar rush has to fall. And fall it does! It could leave you hungry, shaky, and dizzy. At the very least, it leaves you utterly exhausted. Think of it as the Candy Binge Hangover.
The Recovery Method
If you overindulge in those sweets and you find yourself suffering from the Candy Binge Hangover, here are some tips to help you recover while setting you back on the healthy track. Because one binge doesn’t have to turn into a lifetime of sugary addiction.
- Drink water. Resist grabbing your morning coffee because what your body needs now is to be well hydrated. This will help get your digestive system moving and protect you from the hangover-induced constipation.
- Get active. Go for a nice long walk or do an easy cardio workout. You don’t want to overdo the activity, but you have lots of extra carbohydrate energy to expend now, so start the process of using it up!
- Don’t punish yourself. Don’t even go near that scale! And don’t jump on some sort of restrictive detox diet.
- Eat. Remember, your body needs to recover so eat when you’re hungry. Choose probiotic, fiber, and protein rich foods.
- Throw out the leftovers! Get the extra candy out of the house ASAP!
The best option for recovering from a binge is to not have one in the first place! That is obviously much easier said than done. But you can set yourself up for success by taking some simple precautions this Halloween and during the rest of the candy season:
- Buy candy last minute.
- Toss or donate all extras immediately.
- Eat a healthy, savory meal ahead of time.
- Keep your mouth minty fresh with gum or mouthwash.
- Give yourself boundaries (a little candy is okay!) and stick with them.
Halloween and the subsequent sweets-heavy holidays don’t have to be the death of your healthy lifestyle. If you overindulge, recover! And prepare ahead of time for the next round of sugary temptations. Finish your healthy year strong!