The older I get, the more I realize that it’s not just nights where too much wine gets poured that have me feeling out of sorts the next day: The Dessert Hangover is a very, very real thing. Now, I’m the last person to say that you *must* cut out desserts entirely/forever, and I’m the first person in line for the pie/cake/cookies at Christmas. So while yes, in a perfect world, we’d all be very moderate and just stick to a small portion that won’t make us feel like crap the next day, for most of us, the dessert hangover is bound to happen every once in a while.
When the dessert hangover does strike, here’s my best advice on dealing with it:
Don’t beat yourself up
It happened, you went overboard on the sugar and the treats. Accept it and move on. Don’t spend time beating yourself up, don’t feel like you need to go crazy and fast for a week to ‘make up for it’ and don’t feel like this single overindulgence means your entire healthy eating life is ruined. You’re going to be fine.
Lots and lots of water
Preferably while you’re indulging. Keep the water coming in, and I find this both fills you up so you might eat a bit less, and it makes digestion a little smoother. And it beats chugging cocktails while also eating cake! The next morning, keep the water coming in.
Ginger tea before bed
I drink this every night, but especially on nights I know I’ve eaten too much, it’s a great one for settling a rumbling stomach so you sleep better, and adding a bit more hydration to speed the digestive process along. Something like cake or ice cream, with all that gluten and dairy, can use a little help.
Your tummy will thank you on days like this if you’ve already been in the probiotic habit and have a healthy microbiome.
Quick yoga flow in the morning
Get those guts moving—I love this one and do it every. single. morning.
Have a protein and fiber-rich breakfast
Do Not Skip Breakfast. Spinach and eggs for the win here. You likely topped off those glycogen stores with that dessert, so you can opt for a lighter carb breakfast. However, I still think eating something is a good idea, even if you don’t feel like it at the moment, just to prevent that blood sugar drop-off mid-morning that’ll make you crave even more carbs and get you into some really bad habits. (Even just sipping some whey protein in water might be an idea to get balanced out.)
Again, let’s use those glycogen stores you topped off! You basically did a pre-race carb-load, so reap the benefits and move your training for today to as early as possible. (This will also, ahem, move things along if that’s an issue.) If you have an off day today, do an early morning long walk.
Hydrate even more
Processed desserts—yes, even sweet stuff!—is SO freaking packed with sodium that you can likely skip your electrolyte drink for the day—just chug water when possible and really try to get your system back to status quo.
Plan your long ride/run day
If I know I have a huge meal out coming up, I try to switch my training schedule so that the next day is a long, slow distance effort, versus something HIIT-ish. It’s a little easier on the guts, plus it actually utilizes the aforementioned glycogen stores!
Avoid going back-to-back
Specifically around the holidays, this gets tricky: Parties, big family meals, brunches followed by dinners, et cetera. But try to avoid going overboard on meals, desserts and booze more than once in a week, and definitely avoid twice in a day or back-to-back days! The more spread out these ‘hangovers’ are, the better.
Write yourself a memo
Really feel like $hit after that huge ice cream sundae? Write yourself a little note on your calendar for the next meal/dessert/girls night/happy hour/whatever you have with a memo to maybe avoid ordering seconds or thirds, or skipping the dairy-heavy option. A lot of the time, we have these realizations the next day, and promptly forget about them the next time temptation rolls around. It’s also a good idea to reflect on if this is something you’re dealing with constantly—if your food is making you feel terrible the next day and it happens often, it’s time for a change. (Listen to our awesome episode with intuitive eating expert Caroline Burkholder, RD, to learn more.)
No one is saying you need to skip the dessert—but next time you over-do it, now you’ll be a little better prepared!