Wellness Scout

Did you have a Sugar Hangover this morning?

Have you ever had a Sugar Hangover ?

Do you even know what one is? It’s when you are unable to wake up easily—you feel parched, lethargic and fuzzy headed. A sugar hangover may cause you to skip your morning workout and go for that large latte with three shots if espresso instead. Does this remind you of how you feel after too many martinis only without the craving for fried foods? If so, this is a sugar hangover-- when you eat more sugar than your body normally processes, causing your body to produce an inflamed and toxic response.

A couple weeks ago, I posted a picture of a wonderfully delicious Vegan Chocolate Sea Salt Tart.

It was dense and rich, but not heavy since it was made with coconut oil and agave syrup. However, it was intense. After indulging in a nice-sized piece in the evening, the next morning I had a sugar hangover. Seriously. My husband even asked me “why are you so tired?” as I lay groggy eyed in bed with our 17 month-old who was anxious to start the day. Not fun. I shuffled downstairs muttering about motivating myself to do one of my self- directed workouts. I was tired, lethargic and my stomach was achy. I decided to test my hypothesis. The next two nights, I abstained from the cake and instead had some peanut butter on rice cake and a piece of dark chocolate. The result? No sugar hangover the next two mornings. It worked without fail. I was able to get up without difficulty and I slept well each night.

So why did I get a sugar hangover? Not because the cake itself was too sugary, but because I had reduced my sugar threshold at this point. Ever since my husband and I joined forces to complete a food based detox, we had reduced our nightly dessert intake and vowed to eat only homemade desserts on occasion. I now make 95% of our desserts and I do it using less sugar. I can’t imagine what a mass produced, high sugar cake would have done to our system or my morning.

Why does sugar have such an effect on us? It’s because sugar is addictive.  As  kid, candy was one of my favorite foods. My first job after college was the Assistant Manager of the Candy Department in a specialty food store. To this day, I MUST have snack/”dessert” after dinner and usually something “sweet” after lunch. If you asked me what would I bring to a desert island – cake or fried chicken – I’d choose the cake without a second thought.

However, when I cut or reduce sugar, I’ve noticed the following: clearer, younger looking skin, less facial lines, a stronger stomach, less bloating, little moodiness, less cravings and an overall better bill of health.

So how does one address a sugar hangover?

  • Sugar can have the same effect as alcohol on your body.
  • Reduce your sugar threshold and you’ll notice that you will crave sugar less.

  • If you love dessert – move it to the afternoon. Your body will burn some of it off and it won’t impact your sleep.
  • If you have dessert at night, eat two hours before bedtime. Otherwise, skip it.
  • Choose low sugar or fruit based desserts. Berries, watermelon, or nuts. Peanut or almond butter on a rice cake. Avoid baked goods, intense chocolates and tarts with lots of sugar.
  • Drink water when you feel the urge to nosh.
  • Slowly wean yourself off the by having lower sugar items. Try having toast with Nutella and some jam. Or peanut butter and jelly on rice cakes. Even berries with plain yogurt is a great snack that will satisfy your sweet tooth just a little.
  • Rather than having a cut off time and gorging up until that point, have your snack, be done with it, and drink tea or water.
  • GO TO BED EARLIER and read.
  • Be wary of sugary alcoholic drinks. Sugar is a byproduct of fermentation, so adding more sugar to a cocktail or mixed drink more doubles the effect of the sugar/alcohol hangover.

Aside from desserts, sugar is everywhere, especially in processed goods. So be aware, be conscious, and stay committed to your goals. The energy in the morning, improved sleep and reduced aging effect on your body will be well worth it. Contact me if you need help conquering sugar! 

Wellness Scout

Healthy Eating Travel Series Part 3: Tips for fighting the wellness battle on the road with ease!

Traveling for work may sound sexy at first with corporate dinners, frequent flyer miles, happy hours and the excitement of client visits or urban full service hotels. But it’s often fraught with long travel delays, grueling hours, too much dining out, and most of all havoc to managing your weight, your sleep, and your gut health. Yes, travel affects all these aspects and can eventually lead to faster aging, less mobility, and a host of health related challenges – heartburn, chronic inflammation, IBS, eczema, insomnia, hormonal imbalances and more.

Are you sure you want to travel for work? Well sometimes we don’t have a choice. Here’s 8 tips to combat the effects of Road Warrior eating challenges. Although there’s so much to tackle in regards to sleep and exercise, this blog will just focus on the dietary aspect. Need help in the other areas – contact me.

  1. Run offensive with Clean Eating: This means eating “clean”, freshly made foods, in their original form with little to no additives – whenever possible. Clean foods don’t require a box, plastic container or some snazzy transportable package. Of course there are exceptions – i.e. yogurt, bag of plain almonds etc. A way to weed through the exceptions are by following the 5 ingredient rule. If the item contains more than roughly 5 ingredients OR you can’t pronounce or recognize the ingredients, then reconsider eating. Clean eating isn’t as much as an issue with fine dining, but keep in mind to choose items that have the least amount of sauces as who knows the restaurant’s ingredients and whether using canned or processed sauces. 
  2. BE PREPARED Part 1 Bring supplies: So one of my clients has a bag of bars. We discussed which were best for him – high protein, low sugar, few ingredients/all natural. I love KIND and 88 Acres as they are either nut protein based or provide a low sugar snack within reason for cost. I love some others, but honestly, they do get pricey. If you can, there are GoMacro Bars that are vegan and GMO free. Other than bars, there’s a list of things to bring such as hard boiled eggs, veggies (carrots, peppers, jicama) and hummus, almond butter or even coconut butter packets, unsalted mixed nuts, nitrate free beef or bison jerky, raw milk and/or full fat cheese, roasted chickpeas, and even cans of water packed salmon.  Some of these may seem a stretch, but try for at least the first day of travel to kick-start your trip.
  3. BE PREPARED Part 2 Research: The night before you leave or on a brain break at work or maybe while waiting for your flight at the airport, conduct a quick search of your destination’s foodscape including restaurants and hotel dining options. See if a Wholefoods is accessible or find the location of the nearest grocery store. For corporate dinners, review the menu in advance and select a meal that meets your wellness needs versus choosing when under social duress or low blood sugar. Good food is hard to find with temptation everywhere. Combat temptation with thoughtful preparation either through your own food or making decisions before the critical moment when temptations override. This will keep you convicted to stay on track.
  4. Time management: Some people manage their time better when on the road with less home life distractions. However, there are also a lot more distracting temptations – happy hours, long work dinners, hot cookies at check in, poor workout conditions, long stretches of sitting and family time check-ins that can impact sleep and poor nutritional intake. Set a realistic intention and stick with it such as exercise for 30 minutes one morning and sleep in the next. Don’t set yourself up for failure with overly ambitious goals.
  5. Wise Choices: Think before you eat. Literally. Before choosing off the menu, think to yourself what does my body need today? What will energize, nourish and replenish it. Did you have a vegetable rich salad? Did you refuel with enough protein?  Having some basic knowledge about what foods fuel you up without weighing you down will keep your weight in check, your energy levels high, and your cravings at bay. Forget the latest fad diet or what the cover of the checkout magazine says – learn your body. Wise choices will inhibit poor caloric intake, skipping meals and thus binge eating later. Need help deciphering your body – contact me!
  6. Convicted and Committed: What motivates you? What keeps you committed? Find out and stick with it. Is it putting on tight clothing for dinner? Is it laying your workout clothes on the bed to encourage an early rise versus that additional glass of wine? Remember your goal and that sustainable goals are reached with long term commitment and consistency. Show up to your wellness plan every day and you will have success. What tips ensure you stay committed – post it notes on bathroom mirrors? A drawer stocked with low sugar, high protein bars? Tighter clothes? A good bar of dark chocolate in your room versus that oversized restaurant dessert? Networking and socializing are the strongest deterrents from our diets. Leave time for indulging so you won’t feel denied with checks in place to ensure you survive.
  7. Routine amidst the chaos: The downside to work travel is that it interferes with the home life routine. So plan for the unexpected. Create a routine at home that you can easily jump back into. Have workout clothes and an extra pair of shoes specifically for travel. Have a list of travel snack staples that you restock upon your return. If regularly traveling to the same location, spend the first trip acclimating to the area. Find the nearest grocery stores, get to know the staff so they can meet your needs and practice steps two and three from above. Have rules of conduct meaning when at home eat as clean as possible with home cooked meals and aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.  
  8. Food Deserts:  Is good food inaccessible? Sometimes it’s about making do with what you have. Do you like sushi but fear it won’t fill you up within your per diem? Remember quality over quantity and that you can supplement with other items – miso soup, protein bar, yogurt as a snack. Rural areas pose the most difficult in food accessibility. If that’s the case, try to bring your kitchen sink salad from home for the first day on the road. Focus on high quality snacks – nuts, high fiber fruits, and even protein bars to get you through the days. Keep your blood sugar level to ensure you don’t crash and binge later.
These may seem like a lot of tips. So implement ONE per business trip. After you feel you have successfully ingrained this tip (usually taking 3 trips) then add an additional step. You want the first step to be natural and easy before tackling another. Rush to accomplish all at once and you may set yourself up for failure.

Need more help implementing long term solutions or maybe you know what choices to make, but you aren’t making them. The latter is sometimes more important than the former. Contact me about coaching sessions that will help you manage working on the road without sabotaging your wellness goals.