How to Hack a Sugar Hangover

By Kate Hofberg

February 15, 2016

A few tips on how to recover from all the Valentine's Day sweets


On the day after Valentine’s Day, it’s not uncommon to wake up stuffed full of guilt over all the rich chocolate and candy hearts you ate. But you also may be suffering from a very real and very painful sugar hangover.

According to Sarah Adler, Queen Anne-based nutrition coach, healthy lifestyle expert, food blogger and owner of lifestyle brand Simply Real Health, when you eat too much of the sweet stuff, your blood sugar spikes and crashes within the next hour or two, resulting in the sugar hangover feeling. “This is especially true when you have sugars that don’t have any other fat or protein to balance them out,” she says. “Candy for example, would give you a worse sugar hangover than a cake baked with butter, eggs, etc.” 

Too much sugar affects the kidneys, liver, stomach and small intestines and as a result you’re likely to experience symptoms such as dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, gastrointestinal disturbances and disruption of sleep. Yikes. 

Need some help?

After an intense bout of sugar consumption these tips should help you bounce back in no time.

1. Drink LOTS of Water

This step may seem a little bit obvious, but it’s too important not to mention! If you’ve eaten way too much sugar your body will try to get rid of the excess glucose by filtering it through the kidneys and eliminating it as urine, which can make you feel extremely dehyrdated. Drinking water will help flush the sugar from your system and help you recover. 

2. Drink Some Juice

Just make sure it’s either fresh or a no-sugar blend, because some bottled varieties contain almost nothing but added sugar. If you’re looking for a clean and no-sugar added blast of energy, go with a made-to-order blend from Assembly Hall Juice & Coffee in Belltown. Its Emerald Juice is loaded with parsley, inflammation-fighting kale, spinach and pear.

Juicebox Seattle on Capitol Hill is another spot that specializes in organic, made-to-order cold-pressed juices with no added sugars. Its Ginger Beet juice option has red beets, apples, lemon and ginger, which can help alliviate the pain of the sugar-induced tummy ache. If getting to there seems a little bit out ot the way for you, it’s not a problem. Juicebox will deliver in the city of Seattle within a five-mile radius of the cafe, which is located on 12th Avenue.

3. Try a Protein-Rich Smoothie

As much as your body needs vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables, it also needs a healthy does of protein. At Custom Smoothie and Sports Nutrition (locations in Fremont, South Lake Union and downtown), you can satisfy both needs with a custom blended smoothie that is made with locally grown, whole fruit, non-fat milk and whey protein. Ask them to “lighten up” when you order your smoothie, and they’ll hold the cane sugar sweetner used in some of their blended drinks. For 20 grams of soy or whey protein, opt for its Plain and Simple Smoothie in a choice of 12 sugar-free flavors with skim milk or light soy. 

4. Take a Walk

Be as active as you can. Your energy may seem low, but doing something that will have you moving and releasing endorphins is a good way to clear the sugar fog. Sitting around and sleeping can actually make a sugar hangover worse. “Any time you help your blood circulate more, you speed up the detox process,” Adler says. A light walk paired with a healthy dose of vegetables and protiens would, according to Adler, “be great options for balancing it out.”

Try making your neighborhood walk interesting! The Seattle Art Museum Olympic Sculpture Park is a perfect place to stretch your legs. The walking path, accented with large and interesting works of art from renowned artists like Alexander Calder and Beverly Pepper, is mostly flat and offers sweeping views of Elliott Bay. If you’re feeling bold, get physical on the exercise station with pull-up bars, a sit up bar and a parallel bar. The park is open to the public every day of the year and it’s free to visit. If you want to make your morning stroll a little bit more informative, 60-minute walking tours are offered. Tour times and topics vary throughout the year but they are also free and open to the public. 

The Washington Park Arboretum is another good place to walk off all the sweets. It also offers walking tours that lead through the sprawling park. Every February, the walking tour highlights the Witt Winter Garden where vistors can enjoy winter bloomers, colorful ground covers, amazing tree barks and fragrant flowers. Tours begin on Sundays at 1 p.m. (giving you plenty of time to get up and out of bed) at the Graham Visitor’s Center and participation is free. This weekend walk is a good idea when you’re feeling extra affected: it’s less of a walking tour and more of a prolonged visit to an area of the Arboretum that houses an amazing winter collection plants like winter-blooming honeysuckle and and camellias.  


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