While a little added or free sugar is okay for most, come the festive season we are often bombarded with excessive offerings of the sugary stuff.
In addition to what is already hiding in everyday and seemingly ‘healthy’ foods, at this time of the year – with gatherings, supermarkets, and gifts brimming with sweetened food and drink – it is easy to overload on the sweet stuff. That momentary sugar-high quickly results in a sugar-crash, leaving one feeling deflated, grumpy and sluggish.
Just know that you are not alone. We are all tempted at times to consume more of the food and drink that isn’t so great for health. The good news, there are things to do to help pick you up and get you back to feeling better again!
Here we share tips for managing the post-sugar slam.
Choose low GI and whole foods for your next meal
When you hit that low following a sugar high, you may be tempted to reach for another quick sugar fix. However, junk and ultra-processed foods can burden the body unnecessarily when it is trying to recover from an onslaught of added or free sugar. Eating real, whole foods provide the body with a stable source of energy it works to recalibrate following the blood glucose roller coaster ride it has been subjected to.
Eating an array of colours from seasonal produce is great, providing an array of health supporting nutrients. Choosing well for breakfast is particularly important for sustaining energy and making better food decisions later in the day, including not reaching for a sugary pick-me-up. Check out our quick no added sugar breakfast ideas!
A blood sugar crash can impact mood, concentration and energy. As can dehydration.
When dehydrated, you may be tempted to reach for sugary food and drinks for a quick energy boost. Instead, ensure you drink plenty of H2O to keep the brain functioning and nourish the vital organs that function to flush and detox the body.
Getting the blood flowing and burning energy with exercise can help ameliorate some of the lethargy and low mood felt after a sugar binge. Get out for a walk, swim, or any other form of movement you prefer. This is a particularly helpful tactic to tackle an emerging sugar craving!
There is also the added bonus for reducing stress levels, and exercise improves insulin sensitivity to deal with that sugar in your blood – exercise encourages glucose to be moved into muscle cells for storage and use.1-3
But remember, exercising after too many Tim Tams does not justify regular sugar sprees – you cannot outrun a bad diet.
But sugar does not help the situation.
Rather than mindlessly devour the entire block of chocolate, take time for yourself and opt for a stress-relieving activity. This could be a guided meditation (there are heaps of apps that offer this), diaphragmatic breathing, connecting with nature, a stroll, a yoga class or having a cup of tea with a mate who makes you feel good. Find something that suits you.
Be kind to yourself
If you do smash a pile of sugar, do not think this means you have ‘fallen off of the bandwagon’. The stress that ensues from this way of thinking can be just as damaging as an unhealthy food choice itself.
Instead, be kind yourself, ditch the guilt and simply make the next food choice a nourishing one!
By Angela Johnson (BHSc Nut. Med)
- American Diabetes Association 2017, Blood Glucose and Exercise, viewed 6 November 2018, <http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/fitness/get-started-safely/blood-glucose-control-and-exercise.html>
- Magkos, F et. al 2008, ‘Improved insulin sensitivity after a single bout of exercise is curvilinearly related to exercise energy expenditure’, Clinical Science, vol. 114, no. 1, pp. 59-64.
- Better Health Victoria 2016, Exercise and depression, viewed 19 June 2017, <https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/depression-and-exercise>