Now that I’ve been off refined sugar for about 2 years, I’ve had a few people ask me what happens when I do have a little bit. Just to be clear, I totally advocate for avoiding refined and added sugars when possible, but I’m not saying you can never have any again. If you have that mindset, it creates a lack and a want for it even more. I just think it’s best to avoid it most of the time when you have better options. I think it’s perfectly fine to sometimes enjoy a meal that has a little sugar in it if you feel it’s worth it and it makes you happy. However, I will say that when I do have more than just a little now, I typically regret it.
I’ve always been a little hypoglycemic, which is just a fancy way of saying I get low blood sugar. It’s the reason I got weekly migraines starting in childhood and why I am a cranky bitch (aka hangry) when I go too long without eating still to this day. This is one of the main reasons cutting refined and added sugars out of my diet most of the time has so greatly improved my health. If I avoid the roller coaster of ups and downs and keep my blood sugar balanced, my mind and body are happier for it.
I avoid refined and added sugars almost all of the time. I probably have it once every few weeks, and usually in a very small amount when I do. This past weekend was a little different. I went to a party celebrating a best friend’s upcoming wedding. It was a daytime affair and there were lots of great drink options; margaritas, sangria, punch, etc. I was caught up in great conversation with some old friends when I was offered a drink. Without thinking, I poured myself a glass and started drinking. It was really good. I was pretty much done with the whole glass when the thought came to mind that it was so good because it was full of sugar. Oops. I finished it off anyway. I was also convinced (very easily) to try a mini cheesecake with guava jam. It was totally worth it to be honest and I could’ve eaten 5 more, but I kept it to one.
Hours later I met up some friends for a couple beers at my favorite bar. It’s a craft beer bar so the options I usually go to for low sugar were not on the menu. I just picked a kolsch and enjoyed it. I’m not one to inconvenience a bartender with a million questions. These are the times when I just give in to the possibility that I might have some sugar. I had another beer a little while later.
Well, after a day like that of way more sugar than usual, I was already feeling it by the time I got home. Mind you, I didn’t even have a buzz, so this was not the cause of alcohol. It was the sugar. I could feel the nausea creeping in and the fires burning in the pit of my stomach and immediately regretted my decisions of the day. I popped a few antacids and hoped for the best.
The best did not come. I spent the next morning with stomach pains and multiple trips to the bathroom; a pretty regular occurrence in my life prior to cutting processed sugar. Not only did I have these physical side effects, but the sugar crash also takes a major toll on my emotions. Whenever I eat too much sugar, I wake up the next day in a panic attack, with my heart racing. I usually spend the rest of the day feeling blah and emo, which is exactly how I felt all day. It was a great way to spend a Sunday. I also notice that my joints hurt more when i eat too much sugar. Sugar breeds inflammation, so when you stop eating it and pick it back up again, you feel it in your entire body. I was lucky enough to avoid a migraine and laying in bed all day this time, which is what usually happens when I eat too much sugar.
The best way to get over a sugar hangover is to eat a high-protein meal and drink lots of water. The protein will get your blood sugar levels balanced again and the water is just a good idea any time. Also, maybe take an antacid and pain reliever if your stomach and head are feeling extra rough. To get over the mental slump it can put me in, the best cure it to just get outside in the fresh air and take in some Vitamin D. Do some yoga or take a walk.
Whatever you do, DON’T EAT MORE SUGAR. The hair of the dog will work briefly, but you’ll eventually end up right in the same place you started-feelin’ like crap.
The sugar hangover is real. Once you detox from it, you will most definitely feel it if you go back. This is what keeps me on my low sugar diet and keeps my cheating to a minimum. Whenever I decide to imbibe, I quickly feel sugar’s wrath and am reminded why I stopped eating it to begin with.
It just never turns out to be worth it for me.