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How to overcome after you’ve overdone it on sugar

I vividly remember the last time I over-did the cookie eating. 

I had been able to say no to sweets and refined products in general. That particular night, however, it all went to pot. 

Hubby and I had a guest over and, on a whim, I made gluten-free chocolate chip cookies from a boxed mix. 

I ate dough (a lot!). 

I ate a warm gooey cookie too. 

Between the two I probably had at least two to three cookies-worth of sugar. 

I felt so horrible. I mean, I felt kind of bad that I had lost it and ate so much sugar but more than that, I actually felt sick to my stomach. I had the jitters and felt dizzy with twinges of nausea (totally characteristic of too high of blood sugar). Trust me, it wasn’t the “bad girl” psychological-induced guilt symptoms. 

It was just the over-indulgence “blaaaaa” symptoms. 

Now I know I am not the only one who succumbs to the temptation of eating too much tantalizing sugar. You have been there too. 

The reality is, no matter what food plan you follow or how much self-control you possess, “overdoing it” happens to everyone at some time or another. 

But what can we do to relieve the yucky physical symptoms of overindulging on the sugar in order to restore our blood sugar and energy? 

Here are my top tips recovery from sugar overload: 

1. Prevent bad bacteria from growing: You can use this solution immediately after you realize you’ve overdone it. Take a probiotic to combat the growth of bad bacteria that the sugar surge encourages. Also, you may want to take an antibacterial supplement if you have it (try oregano oil in a capsule or garlic oil).

2. Drink diluted apple cider vinegar (raw preferred): One tablespoon in a quarter cup of water can help decrease a blood sugar spike. 

The America Diabetes Association recommends apple cider vinegar and 1 ounce of cheese at night for diabetics who have high fasting blood sugar levels (if used consistently). An added bonus is that the vinegar taste really cuts the cravings for sugar too!

3. Move, if possible: If you have an opportunity (say you overdid it at the lunch work party), go on a walk or whatever your favorite exercise happens to be. This is NOT about punishing yourself! This is about moving your blood sugar from your blood stream to your muscles so you don’t feel as yucky or store it as fat.

I repeat: This is not about punishing yourself! 

4. Manage blood sugar well the next meal/day: Continue to eat regular meals (possibly smaller, more frequent ones). Do not skip meals (as is the tendency for some people who feel guilty about their over-indulgence)!  

Skipping meals will continue the rollercoaster of imbalanced blood sugar (which affects cravings and your weight). Focus on protein, healthy fats (olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil) and lots of water and raw veggies. Avoid sugar and refined foods the next day the best you can.

5. Support your “plumbing:”  You will want to move your stool along to get the crud you ate out in a reasonable amount of time. Fiber and water is important here! Take 1-2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal mixed in water. 

Raw veggies are another great way to get fiber. If you have a tendency towards constipation, you may use a magnesium oxide supplement to help a smooth passage.  

6. Replenish: Processing sugar requires magnesium (Mg). Research shows that many of us are deficient in Mg anyway, so a high sugar binge can put a strain on an already depleted system. If you have a Mg supplement handy, try to take it (try Mg citrate or Mg Malate). 

7. Give yourself grace:  This is important and hard. The reality is, you overindulged. So admit the silliness of your actions and move on. Don’t let guilt weigh you down or lead you to over-react. 

Honestly, sometimes those moments when you overdo it are good because they can be instructive. For me personally, it reminds me why I stick to a low-processed, low-sugar diet…otherwise I feel disgusting! Healthy eating habits really do make you feel more alive and well! Maintain a positive mindset. 

8. Smart Substitutions/Start Smart: Avoid the sugar crash from happening with these final tips. Remember that typically, when we reach for those oh-so-easy-to-overdo sweets, we are looking for a particular texture or flavor – salty, sweet, hot, cold, crunchy, smooth etc. 

Try making these smarter substitutions when you are getting those cravings (you might not even need to use the seven tips above! ) When you are looking for… 

Bubbly – Try seltzer waters vs sweetened drinks and sodas (both regular and diet). Seltzer waters have flavor and carbonation without the sugar!  

Some versions are simply fruity flavored with no sweetness flavor while others boast soda-like flavors with only stevia added. 

This gives you that sweet boost you might be craving. 

These won’t leave your blood sugar low, your appetite/cravings high and body dehydrated. Instead, you’ll be hydrated and refreshed!

Ice cream/pudding – Greek yogurt, with a few additives, can become your next favorite ice cream/pudding taste-alike! Go fruity – add frozen berries. Go chocolatey and nutty – add cocoa powder (or 1 tablespoon of chocolate chips) and 1 tablespoon of nut butter. 

Go tropical – shredded coconut with lemon or lime flavoring. You can use stevia or 1 teaspoonful of honey or maple syrup to sweeten naturally.  

Try making some and freezing them for a true frozen yogurt experience! 

Crunchy – When looking for crunchy, choosing a natural, unsweetened or lightly sweetened popcorn can be a great way to go! Instead of eating 170 kcal for a measly eight chips (a typical serving size, per food labels) you can eat up to 4½  cups of popcorn and feel more satisfied!  

Look online or at most large grocery stores for individual serving bags or larger bags of pre-popped popcorn. 

I personally enjoy Boom-chicka-Pop, Skinny Pop, or Trader Joe’s brands when buying pre-popped. 

Try Orville Redenbacker’s “Natural – lightly salted” for microwavable popcorn. Both are handy for the office or at home!

Nuttiness – That craving for nutty candy bars is real, especially in the mid-afternoon! Turn to a quarter-cup of “real” nuts or a maximum of 2 tablespoons of a nut butter. 

Even better, substitute unsweetened peanut butter powder! Peanut butter powder is peanut butter that has been defatted, dropping the overall calories while keeping the protein high. 

This is easily added to smoothies, beverages, Greek yogurt (see note above) or even straight off the spoon! 

Cathryn Arndt is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She lives in the McDowell Creek area with her husband and daughter. She owns a nutrition counseling business called The Pantry Lab LLC. To learn more about Cathryn, visit her Facebook page or You Tube Channel by searching under “Dietitian Cathryn.” Find her blog at thepantrylab.com.