It’s that time of the year again when we are faced with all things sugar. Today is Halloween, and then soon, holiday season is coming up and it doesn’t just go by without cookies, pies, and cocktails. I can always just say practice will power and don’t grab those sugary treats, but we all know that just isn’t realistic. Food is emotional and we connect them to our favorite childhood memories. While we can do our best to stay away from them or limit their intake, we will no doubt slip up from time to time, and we can be faced with a sugar hangover the next day.
I think we’ve all be there before. Nausea, brain fog, low energy, headache, digestive issues, and even depression. I personally start getting acne when I consume too much sugar and this isn’t uncommon for most folks. Sugar hangover and the commonly known hangover from alcohol aren’t much different. They are both symptoms from a high sugar intake which can dehydrate the body and put the liver through a highly stressful state.
While it may take time for a sugar hangover to pass, there are several things you can do to speed up the recovery process and minimize the symptoms.
1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
You’ve heard this one over and over again before, after a night out filled with ALL THE FUN DRINKS. Sugar and alcohol are both extremely dehydrating for the body and overworks the liver to start detoxifying. When you are feeling the effects from this stress, it’s increasingly important to rehydrate your body to help flush out the toxins. I always suggest squeezing lemon juice into a cup of warm water in the morning which helps alkalinize the body after an inflamed state.
Coconut water is also a great choice because it’s filled with vitamins and minerals to refuel the body from the nutrients it lost from the high consumption of sugar. Another great way to stay hydrated is adding a pinch of sea salt to your water. I’m not talking about plain white salt which can do further harm to strip away nutrients. Go for mineral-rich salt that is pink or gray. I like to buy this salt in bulk and it helps me hydrate so much better than just drinking water plain.
Another favorite sugar hangover drink of mine is bone broth, because it’s chock full of nutrients and does an excellent job to rehydrate the body and heal the gut.
There’s no question about it. Sugar feeds yeast and the bad bacteria in your gut. After an overconsumption of candies, sweets, and even processed carbs, your gut bacteria is all out of balance and can cause digestive disorders like constipation, bloating, and diarrhea. This is also the reason for low energy and brain fog during a sugar hangover.
This is when it becomes extremely helpful to incorporate probiotics into your diet. I always suggest getting it from food sources like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, or kombucha. They are so beneficial for rebalancing the gut and will help tremendously with your hangover symptoms. If you can remember to take it the night before, even better!
If you’d rather take supplement probiotics, this brand is the one that I recommend that works for many people.
3. Protein, fat, and greens
Overconsumption of sugar is a real stress on the body that taxes the immune system and throws off your hormones. In order to rebalance your body, eating a well-balanced, nourishing meals throughout the day is important. Also, even if you may want to, DON’T SKIP BREAKFAST! Breakfast helps stabilize your blood sugar so you don’t crash mid-day.
So what do you eat? When you are feeling the effects of a sugar binge the day after, it’s important to focus on protein, healthy fats, and dark leafy greens in your diet. Protein and fat are extremely beneficial in balancing blood sugar, detoxifying the liver, and assisting in recovery. Dark leafy greens alleviate inflammation and are helpful in restoring balance in the gut. These are some of my favorite hangover-recovery recipes:
4. Activated charcoal
I’ve talked about activated charcoal before and I think it can be very useful at times. Activated charcoal is very effective in absorbing toxins or poisons out of the body by attaching to these substances then excreting them out. It’s a great detoxifier both internally and externally.
Internally, charcoal capsules help reduce digestive discomfort after a sugar or alcohol binge. This is especially effective if you take them the night before. Activated charcoal is also helpful in reducing symptoms of yeast overgrowth in your gut, which can happen after a high consumption of sugar.
My favorite way to use activated charcoal is to use it externally. As I mentioned before, sugar is the main contributor to my acne and skin issues, and this is common for many people. Using activated charcoal mask has been a game changer for me when my skin needs a bit of detoxifying and it’s the quickest way to get rid of acne and minimize pores. You can make your own or buy this high quality charcoal mask from Beautycounter which I use regularly and love.
As someone who has had digestive issues half of her life, ginger is my best friend. With digestive problems or nausea, fresh ginger solves the problem almost instantly. Ginger also boosts the immune system, which can be compromised on a high sugar diet, and it’s also a great antimicrobial to kill those bad bacteria that thrive and grow in the gut after a sugar binge.
Instead of drinking ginger ale which is filled with sugar and doesn’t even contain real ginger, make ginger tea with grated fresh ginger or if you are bold enough, chew on a small piece of ginger before swallowing it. It is so effective in settling your stomach and reducing your sugar hangover symptoms.
No, you don’t have to go run a half marathon or do a cross fit workout. You are already tired and dehydrated so pushing yourself too hard is not a good idea. However, it does help to move and get outside when you are going through a sugar hangover.
I always recommend walking and yoga, and these gentle movements increase circulation which helps your body to detoxify. A little exercise can also boost your endorphins to boost your mood when you are feeling down and depressed during a hangover.
With that said, listen to your body. If you are feeling sick or nauseous, make sure to get plenty of rest instead or take a epsom salt bath. Do what feels is the most beneficial to you.
7. Let it go
Lastly, but most importantly, let it go. There’s so much guilt and shame surrounding food that it can really affect our mood for days after bingeing on sugar or just any food. The more you think about how much you regret your decisions, the more stressed out you’ll be, and this spike in cortisol will only slow down your recovery time and increase inflammation.
Ultra processed foods, fad diets, and media’s perception of what we should look like have truly ruined how we view our food. There’s a rule in the RESTART sugar detox class, which is: “Whatever I eat, I choose it consciously, I enjoy it thoroughly and then I let it go.” I think this is so important to constantly recite to ourselves so we end our unhealthy relationship with food and our bodies. We need to stop thinking of food as punishment, reward, or emotional need. Food is just food and it’s there to nourish us. End of story.
Next time you binge on sugar or alcohol, try to be kind to yourself and just accept what happened as is. The more you can get your mind to do this, the less likely it will happen again and it will also become much easier to recover and regain your health, both physically and emotionally.