Posted on 04-13-2017
Written by Alison Lewis
Easter isn't one of those holidays that comes to mind when we think about overeating and being a little too generous with portion sizes. That honor usually goes to Thanksgiving. But what about all those sweet treats the Easter bunny leaves in our baskets every April? That pile of Reese's Easter egg wrappers in the trash can doesn't lie. We all try our best to eat clean and care for our bodies, but a slip-up now and then is to be expected. We’re only human after all.
In fact, you may still be feeling a little sugar hangover from this past weekend as we speak. There's no harm in occasionally imbibing in some sweetened goodies now and then, but have you ever thought about what happens to our bodies when we go overboard with the sweet stuff?
Many of the holiday treats we see lining store shelves are made with high fructose corn syrup and all sorts of other unpronounceable (aka unnatural) ingredients. According to research by Dr. Robert Lustig (sugarscience.org), processed fructose—the sweetener found in our beloved Easter candy—is the number one driver of obesity and diabetes, as well as a host of other chronic, preventable illnesses such as hypertension, heart disease, and liver disease.
Several studies have shown that processed sugar is literally just as addictive, if not more so, than cocaine. It’s no wonder chronic disease is skyrocketing in the US. So how do we put an end to this unhealthy love affair with sugar? For a lucky few, maybe just one piece is enough to keep your sweet tooth satisfied until Christmas. Many people, however, aren't so fortunate to have such ironclad willpower and can overdo it with so many temptations lying around. Here are some tips to avoid that sugar hangover when the next holiday rolls around:
- First and foremost, don’t keep sugary treats in the house if you know they’re your kryptonite. Out of sight, out of mind. Instead try filling Easter baskets (or Christmas stockings) with healthy treats such as nuts, oranges or high quality dark chocolate.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Water is key to helping our bodies flush out toxins, including excess sugar. Also, we are more likely to overeat when we’re dehydrated, as our bodies often mistake thirst for hunger.
- Don’t let yourself get hungry. Nothing makes you more prone to a sugar binge than forgoing breakfast and lunch to save room for that delicious holiday dinner. Energy levels lag as a result of unstable blood sugar, making you more likely to look for a quick energy fix, i.e. sugar. Stay satiated with lean protein, vegetables, and healthy fats throughout the day.
- Optimize your gut flora to minimize the impact of sugar on your digestive system. There’s a delicate balance going on in your gut at all times, and excess sugar can tilt the scales in favor of the ‘bad’ guys. Strengthen your good bacteria so things don’t get thrown too far off balance if you do decide to treat yourself.
- Don’t forget to exercise. Working out not only helps you to burn off the excess calories from your Peeps overdose, but building muscle mass improves your insulin sensitivity, a key factor in preventing the potential long term damage of sugar consumption, according to Dr. Joseph Mercola.
At the end of the day, it’s impossible to be perfect in our eating all the time. Life gets in the way, mom still insists on gifting you a 4-pack or two of Cadbury eggs every year because they were your favorite growing up. It happens, but you have the tools and the knowledge to prevent a candy binge. And if you slip, pick yourself up and remember that each day we can choose to start fresh and respect our bodies.