Food Hangovers, Food Comas, & Food Addiction
For some reason a few weeks ago I had the wild idea that guest bartending at my old job for Cinco de Mayo would be loads of fun, and then yesterday rolled around and I had already been up and running for 12 hours by the time I was supposed to go in and serve a bunch of cheap margaritas to people in sombreros, and deep regret sank in. Within ten minutes of being there I remembered why I was done with the restaurant biz in the first place. I was sweating, there was pureed fruit in my shoes, and people were snapping their fingers at me for attention even though I was trying to make it VERY obvious that I was ignoring them.
I also remembered what happens to me after being there for 5 hours. I get hungry and irritated and there I am standing in the kitchen stuffing broken chips in my face. And once I get some fried stuff and a generous serving of sodium and a dump truck of sugar in my system it’s OFF TO THE RACES. It’s like a switch is flipped in my brain, or my stomach, and I just want moremoremoremore. They got pizza delivered. I ate it. I was in a bad mood; I got ice cream. And when I woke up this morning: I WAS HUNGOVER. Yes, really.
When I spend weeks eating broccoli and chicken and sweet potatoes and then disturb that lovely trend by introducing garbage into my system, I feel it. I woke up today with a foggy headache. Not the throbbing or sharp-pain kind, more like someone tied your brain up in a plastic bag and there’s not enough O2 getting in there (google brain fog and diet and do some light reading). Also my stomach was nice and bloaty, and I was still full from the night before which is just the worst feeling, because I love breakfast. I go to bed in anticipation of breakfast and wake up HYPE to make buttery-coffee and eat some bacon and eggs and avocado and probably other stuff too. But today all I wanted was a big glass of water. Boring. Terrible start to a disgusting rainy Friday.
And to make it even better, with all the addictive food in my system, I want to eat more of it! I have to convince myself to eat the homemade breakfast casserole I packed in lieu of going to Dunkin Donuts and taking down a half dozen. *must eat sugarcarbdoughpocketsforever*
And I have to remind myself of how BLECH I felt this morning, and how hard it was to get out of bed, and how instead of being like “F*K YEAH CANT WAIT FOR THE GYM LATER” I was like “maybe I should just take a nap after work instead of working out today and also maybe drink a chocolate milkshake and eat French fries” ….. NO NO NO!
If you have eaten the same way for years, you may by now have just chalked up your eating habits to preference, rather than dependence, when really it’s the other way around. “Eric Stice, PhD, a neuroscientist at the Oregon Research Institute, has used fMRI scans to conclude that sugar activates the same regions of the brain that are activated when a person consumes drugs such as cocaine. He also found that heavy users of sugar develop tolerance (needing more and more to feel the same effect), which is a symptom of substance dependence” (goodtherapy.org). And it’s not as simple as soda + candy = sugar. Bagels are sugar. White pasta. Wonder bread. You eat it and it turns to sugar in your system. You crash and burn and you crave more of it.
Only in the past few years when I have basically overhauled my diet (I never ate a green vegetable until I was like, 18, for real) do I feel the immediate and drastic difference in the way that my body feels and responds to different types of food. If I eat a bowl of white pasta, I may already be uncomfortably full, but I have to have a second bowl. Seriously, I have to. I get up and fill my plate and eat it like I’ve been programmed to do it by someone else controlling my brain.
This is not a call to drop everything you like to eat and force yourself to eat leaves for the rest of your life. But maybe think about finding ways to make substitutions. I like ice cream and milkshakes, but if I drank one every day I would have chronic headaches and a spare tire. So I make frozen banana, natural chocolate, espresso, almond milk + protein smoothies. They’re delicious and they make me feel good, instead of leaving me unsatisfied and flumpy (I just made that word up but it feels right). Sometimes, though, I just want a double scoop of pralines n’ cream on a waffle cone. And that’s okay too, as long as I’m equipped with plenty of tums and water for the hangover in the morning.
Editor's note: I apologize for how good the donut looks in the picture above. My bad.