We’ve all been there: cravings after a crap day, menstruation induced munchies, or simply the craving for something moreish.
A junk food binge happens to the best of us, but did you know that the discomfort you feel after your cheat day could be caused by the real life phenomenon that is the Junk Food Hangover?
Foods that are high in sodium, fat and sugar offer little in the way of nutrition and a whole lot in the way of body woes. We all know there are extra calories in those unhealthy food options but the high sugar content leads to spikes in blood sugar. What goes up must come down and when this happens that tiredness kicks in, as can the craving for more sugar to perk you up again, forming a vicious cycle of sugar highs and tired lows. Blood sugar isn’t just related to energy levels either, many women complain of breakouts after indulging in a fast food binge and this is because the increase in blood sugar has been shown to trigger acne and even eczema.
It’s not just our blood sugars causing problems though. Studies show that food high in sodium and fat can take 12 hours to break down in the body, adding to that sluggish, bloated feeling. The high sodium content triggers your gastrointestinal tract to draw water from your body, leaving you thirsty, dehydrated and with a banging headache!
As with alcohol induced hangovers, a fast food binge can effect our mental well-being as well. We might be able to remember all the details of the night before, with less risk of drunk dialing your ex, but studies show eating food high in sugar and fat has a link with feelings of low mood and depression. In fact a large multi-country study showed that food containing a lot of fat or sugar led to inflammation of the gut but also the whole body – something known as systemic inflammation. This can affect the neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for sending out the messages that regulate our mood.
Does this mean I can never enjoy a cheeky takeaway again? In a word, no.
All things in moderation are key. Indulging in foods rich in sugar and fat as an occasional treat should be just that, a treat. You might feel a bit flat and sluggish the next day however drinking plenty of water with your meals and getting up and moving the next day can help reduce those feelings, as can owning the simple fact your going to feel a bit flat today because you over indulged last night but had fun doing it. However regularly eating junk food will increase these feelings and can lead to longer term problems with mood, breathing, diabetes and bone health.
If you find yourself craving that takeaway on a more regular basis then why not check out the Results with Lucy Fakeaway guide for some yummy, alternatives to some of your Friday night favourites? Enjoy all of the taste and none of the morning hangover. Hurrah!
Ellwood P., Asher, M. I., Garcia-Marcos, L., Williams, H., Keil, U., Robertson, C., … the ISAAC Phase III Study Group. (2012, November 1). Do fast foods cause asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis and eczema? Global findings from the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) Phase Three [Abstract]. Thorax. DOI: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2012-202285
Garcia, G., Sunil, T., & Hinojosa, P. (2012). The fast food and obesity link: Consumption patterns and severity of obesity. Obesity Surgery, (22)5, 810-818. DOI: 10.1007/s11695-012-0601-8
Sánchez-Villegas, A., Toledo, E., de Irala, J., Ruiz-Canela, M., Pla-Vidal, J., & Martínez-González, M. A. (2011). Fast-food and commercial baked goods consumption and the risk of depression. Public Health Nutrition, 15(03), 424. DOI: 10.1017/S1368980011001856