This weekend I visited some friends and ended up varying my usual eating habits. That is to say, I went off into the (sugar-laden) deep-end! It started innocently, with just a few bites of cheesecake here and there, but the sugary treats kept coming.
Let’s just say, it helped me to re-learn some very interesting lessons about how sugar interacts with my body. By Sunday morning, the extra inflammation in my body made me woozy and dizzy when I tried to get up, and I could feel a sore throat coming on because of my decreased immune response. Needless to say, I’m going to steer clear of inflammatory foods for the next couple of weeks to give my body a chance to recover. As a healthcare practitioner, I spend a lot of my time talking to my patients about how food affects overall wellness. If you’re a regular reader, you know that foods such as sugar, dairy, and wheat cause inflammation throughout the body, which can lead to chronic pain, mental fogginess, and lots of different digestive problems. I like to avoid these foods, since they leave me feeling like I’m not at my best. However, just like everybody else, there are times when I indulge in foods that I don’t normally choose to eat. And the most important thing I tell myself (and my patients) is that if you “fall off the wagon,” it’s okay- it’s a chance to learn about how different foods affect your body, so that you can make more informed choices in the future.
I bring all of this up because I know candy is abundant and tempting on Halloween (and, let’s be honest, throughout this entire season). If you’re going to indulge, it’s best to have a game plan, so that you’re not just blindly shoveling anything sweet into your mouth to get your sugar kick. When it comes to candy, try choosing options that give you some protein as well as sugar. Candies that include nuts can be more filling and slightly better in terms of the nutrients you’re getting overall, since they have protein as well as sugar. Of course, reaching for trail mix would be a step up from a Snickers bar, and regular mixed nuts would be an even better choice. Plan ahead and decide what treats are worth it for you, and then enjoy them– slowly. Savor what you’re eating instead of letting the sugar train run you over.
If you’ve indulged a bit and find yourself feeling poorly– perhaps you’re sluggish, your stomach is upset, or you’ve got some extra aches and pains– try getting up and moving around. Gentle stretches or a short, fast-paced walk will help accelerate the movement of your lymphatic fluids, to metabolize the sugar and ease your symptoms more quickly. You can also try adding sour flavors into the mix. From the Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, sour flavors counteract an overindulgence in sweets. Increase your intake of lemon or lime juice, which will have the added benefit of boosting your immune system due to their high levels of Vitamin C. If your indulgences have been more substantial or prolonged, these steps might not be sufficient to clear out your inflammation. In that case, consider going to see an acupuncturist. Acupuncture and herbs can help clear the body of inflammation quickly, to detox your system and get you back on your feet.
Whether you choose to indulge or not, and whatever your preferred treats, I hope you all have a very Happy Halloween!
Learn more no-nonsense tips for your health by reading every week! For previous entries, visit the blog.