Monday, July 7, 2014

Sugar hangover: Recovering and getting back on track

I put a little life into living this weekend. Actually, I put a lot of life into living.

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Especially, if life includes sugar - in all forms. Smores, banana pudding, ice cream, cake, more ice cream. Between the Fourth of July, a birthday for party (how is my baby THREE today?!?) and emotions that tasted like buttercream, I found myself abandoning my NSNG lifestyle and eating without regard or responsibility.

And that's OK, to an extent, but I paid for it. My 6-mile run was sluggish and challenging despite my partners keeping the pace controlled. My gut was angry, too, and a killer headache kept me company most of the day.

The sugar hangover was a good reminder as to why I am choosing to limit the carbs and focus on a vegetable-heavy, higher fat diet. It makes me feel better.

But, the few days after a "binge" are almost just as bad as I find that it takes the body some time to temper and even out. The hunger is more frequent and pronounced, and cravings are more frequent and harder to fight.

 photo PaddySpenceHeadShot_zps613c4df5.pngFor me, sugar is most definitely an addiction or a compulsion, at the minimum. Even with experience, it can be difficult to make the better choices in the beginning. But it can be done. Paddy Spence, CEO of Zevia. quit sugar cold turkey in an effort to upgrade his health about 12 years ago.

"I thought I was a health-conscious person – I exercised frequently, consumed meat in moderation, and used natural and organic products whenever possible. But when I really looked at my diet, I found I was consuming up to 250 grams of sugar per day, between protein shakes, energy bars, juice-based spritzers and other foods and beverages. That’s about 1,000 calories a day, just from sugars."

Tips for Cutting Out Sugar From Your Diet

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Be a sugar sleuth. Take an inventory of your diet to track down where you’re getting most of your sugar. It’s easy to pinpoint sources like the sugar in your coffee, but sugar finds its way to us in all kinds of guises.

Forget fruit knock-offs. Whole fruits offer fiber and other good-for-you ingredients like vitamins. Fruit juice and dried fruit, on the other hand, are sugar-concentrated versions of the real thing.

Cut down on condiments. There’s a reason kids love ketchup…it’s one of the most sugary condiment culprits, and barbecue sauce is just as bad. Perhaps the sneakiest of the lot, however, is salad dressing — especially fat-free varieties. The best way to control sugar content is to make your own.

Cast out coated snacks.  From a sugar perspective, treats like honey-roasted nuts, teriyaki jerky, and yogurt-covered pretzels run neck-and-neck with candy bars. Opt for the naked versions.

Steer clear of cereal. Some choices — like Frosted Flakes and Honey Nut Cheerios — are obvious sugar pushers. But don’t be fooled by seemingly healthy options like granola.

Forego fruit-flavored yogurts. A cup of regular fruit-flavored yogurt can contain about 30 grams of sugar (that’s not much less than a can of Coke)! If you want blueberry yogurt, you’re much better off stirring fresh blueberries into plain yogurt. They’re naturally low in sugar.

Not all sweeteners are equal. Although your body metabolizes different sweeteners differently, at the end of the day it’s all sugar. Try stevia, a natural no-cal sweetener. It’s great for both coffee and baking, and a little goes a long way.

Curb cravings with protein. Everyone’s different, but a high-protein snack can help suppress a sweet tooth. Try a hard-boiled egg, a cup of cottage cheese, or a spoonful of natural peanut butter to stave off a hankering.

Go for lower-sugar desserts. Dark chocolate gives taste buds a treat without sugar overload. A bowl of low-sugar granola with milk will also satisfy an after-dinner appetite.

Don’t try to be superwoman. Trying to eat healthily is a noble goal, but being too strict will set you up for failure. Rather than trying for gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, vegan everything, focus on just one.

What are your tips?


  1. Love the Stevia! I'm a sugar addict too. I find I'm better off if I just don't have it. Once I start I can't stop. Happy Birthday to Miles!

  2. For me, it's all or nothing when it comes to sugar. I do so well off of it, but if I have even a tiny taste of something it's a two week crazy sugar binge. It sucks, but my reality is that I just can't have it.