Step 1: Realize what’s going on
One moment you’re wired; the next, you’re making a beeline to the couch. What gives? Your body goes on a physical and emotional roller coaster after too many sweets. “The minute you put a sweet in your mouth, you get a surge of dopamine, a feel-good hormone with addictive properties,” says Amanda Bontempo, RD, a nutritionist at NYU Langone’s Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center. As sugar floods your bloodstream, the pancreas releases insulin to control blood glucose levels. This suppresses the “fullness” hormone leptin, which makes your brain give you the green light to grab more candy. Glucose is rapidly digested, and your spiked dopamine and blood sugar levels fall quickly. “The crash depends on the person. It can be 15 minutes to a couple of hours after eating,” says Bontempo. “Your instinct is to eat more sugar to get another jolt of energy, but it’s really important to resist. Once your willpower bank is tapped, it becomes increasingly challenging to make healthy choices.” These foods have way more sugar than you realized.
Step 2: Have a spoonful of peanut butter
After a sugar binge, you may want to swear off all calories. However, eating food with other nutrients helps ward off that undesirable sugar crash caused by quick digestion. “A spoonful of peanut butter or handful of nuts gives you fat and protein to slow digestion,” says Jennifer Powell Weddig, PhD, RDN, a professor of nutrition at Metropolitan State University of Denver. “Or try hummus with vegetables, which have fiber that helps slow the absorption of simple sugars.”