Beer Goggles for Nachos?

Hello Friends!

We know that many of you are excited for the end of your detox and plan on celebrating!  In truth, we are too.:)  It’s been a wonderful 26 days of clean eating, no hangovers (food or alcohol) and increased energy!  If you have followed the program to a “T” you should have experienced one or more of the following:

  • Decreased cravings for sugary foods
  • Increased energy
  • Weight loss
  • Clearer thinking – less brain fog

With the finish line near we realize that a glass of wine or mixed drink is on the celebratory horizon.  We thought we would help answer the age-old question of:

Why does drinking give me the munchies?plate

Many people think that because alcohol reduces our inhibitions, we are more relaxed about what we eat.  This is partly true.

When you drink alcohol most drinks (mixed drinks, full octane beer and liqueurs) are filled with carbohydrates. As you take in all those carbohydrates, they are turned into sugar in your body. That sugar goes into your blood and raises your blood sugar level.   This triggers your body to release more insulin, to deal with all the sugar. Doing its job, the insulin lowers your blood sugar level.

When you finally stop drinking your body now realizes that your blood sugar is low from the previous release of insulin.  To remedy the situation your body sends out signals/hunger pangs that tell you to eat more so your blood sugar can get back to the regular levels.  Those signals are typically for high sugar and high flavor foods.  Creating the perfect storm for late night nachos and peanut butter cups.

Alas, this is not the whole story.

A team of researchers from Sussex, UK found that Alcohol directly interferes with appetite control in your brain! It was found that after alcohol, food actually looked more appealing! Appetite is controlled in the hypothalamus.  Alcohol activates this part of the brain and one of the results is craving high calorie food.

The hypothalamus organizes and controls emotions, feelings and moods, as well as all motivational states including hunger, appetite and food intake.  Along with the aforementioned it also has the responsibility of dealing with the concept of pleasure including satisfaction, comfort and creative activities.

From a metabolism stand point, the Hypothalamus not only governs the motivation to eat, stimulating hunger and appetite, but most importantly how eating is to be experienced and reflected upon, whether it is satisfying or not, and how deep the satisfaction occurs.

So one of the unintended consequences of drinking more than two drinks (the number shown to have an effect) is the that it triggers our hypothalamus into overdrive in the eating department and physically encourages to seek out calorically dense foods i.e. why a pizzeria or diner menu looks so appealing at 3 AM.:)

So how do you combat the midnight marauders?

  • Now that you know it’s just a signal – ignore it and find the nearest bed and fall asleep.
  • Eat a small amount of nuts or fruit to “take the edge off”.  After find the nearest bed and fall asleep.
  • If you are eating something unhealthy, eat the offending food SLOWLY to allow the signal to reach your body.  This will raise your blood sugar level to an acceptable level.  Then guess what?  Find the nearest bed and fall asleep.  Otherwise you risk running into the cycle again.

Note that it’s not just drinking that creates this cycle.  Sugar will do the same thing to your body at ANY hour of the day.  Realizing that drinking alcohol or eating sugary sweets are an enjoyable experience for most of us the first step is awareness in why we get the munchies or uncontrollable cravings. The second step is having a plan in place to combat them so that it doesn’t turn into all out food fest.

Please remember that one day of “falling off the wagon” does not make or break us in our quest for exceptional health.  It’s continuing the undesirable behavior for days, weeks or months on end that have the detrimental effects that we are trying to avoid.  If you have an off day it’s okay, we are human.:)

Love and hugs and congratulations!

Donna and Daniela

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