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Why You Get the Junk-Food Hangover

May 11, 2015 2 min read

Clean eating is definitely a challenge. That's why the 80/20 rule is such a great thing to have in your arsenal of tricks: 80% clean eats and 20% cheat. You get all the hot bod benefits of clean eating but can still enjoy the occasional indulgence as well. Sometimes though, that 20% comes back to haunt you. Have you ever woken up feeling headache-y, bloated, groggy—basically like a hangover?  But You did't even drink? It was just cake?! Why?!

Think of it this way: a food hangover is a form of feedback from your body. Your stomach is having a little chat with your brain, sending it a warning signal about what you just ate. Even though it makes you feel like utter garbage, this reaction is actually good thing. If that didn’t happen, we'd be living off of nutella and pringles every day - and that's just bad news (yet tasty) all around.

So why the food hangover? For starters, fat takes a long time to digest—which can cause bloating and acid reflux - salt dehydrates you - which can trigger a headache and cause your body to retain water, making you feel puffy and sugar - and carbs will spike your blood sugar levels - causing jitteriness and more head pain when levels fall back to normal.

These foods also damage the good bacteria that live in your intestinal tract. In just 4 hours, you can change the balance of the good vs. bad bacteria and gut bacteria imbalances can cause damaging body-wide inflammation, digestive issues, and weight gain.

Junk food isn't the only culprit in a food hangover either. Eating more than you normally would in one sitting can also cause the nasty morning after food feeling. In order to help digest, your body diverts blood away from your brain, lungs and heart to you GI tract, which causes fatigue and brain fog.

So take note: You can still enjoy the 20 part of the 80/20 rule without suffering from a food hangover. Just drink plenty of water with your treat, watch portions and, perhaps, even take a daily probiotic. Listen to your body. You may find that certain junk foods just don’t agree with you, while others are totally fine.


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