In victory, you deserve champagne. In defeat you need it.
– Napoleon Boneparte
Ever noticed mood changes on the day after the night before a few too many drinks? Perhaps you’ve been out a few nights in a row. You feel off kilter and not just because you’ve got a headache.
Somehow the aspirin doesn’t quite sort you out… you need something else.
The reason why you’re feeling low is likely to be your serotonin levels are a mess – alcohol is basically sugar-in-disguise – you’ve been bingeing.
Now you’re crashing and your mind is working hard to get your body back somewhere near balance.
The mind’s job is to move you away from pain towards pleasure and so that’s why you’ll crave sugary drinks. And food. Lots of food. Not broccoli either. Funny, that.
Of course sugar does have a practical purpose – it boosts serotonin. This is why you crave carbs around your period – hormone fluctuations can mess with your serotonin too. So perimenopause and menopause will impact on your serotonin levels when estrogen drops.
Of course, the problem with white carbs is they only work for a few hours, like pain medication. Three hours later and you need more.
It’s not just the wine and Netflix evening that messes up your healthy eating aspirations, it’s the day after too.
So how do you boost your serotonin levels effectively without plunging off into sugar spiking bingeing.
There are complex carbs that do the job. Sweet potato, oatmeal, quinoa, lentils are all ideal. All you need is 30g, according to Dr Judith Wurtman, author of The Serotonin Power Diet.
If you want to get them into your bloodstream fast, eat them without protein or fat, as this slows down digestion.
Nutritional cures for a hangover are one thing. But addiction recovery expert and yoga teacher, Tommy Rosen, has linked poor diet to other addictions. He has first-hand experience of dependency. In conversation with Dr Mark Hyman, medical director of the UltraWellness Centre and best-selling author, Tommy Rosen linked his own progression into addiction with a poor early diet. Plenty of highly-processed preserved meats, lots of sugary foods and absolutely no vegetables were his staples growing up.
Dr Hyman said there is certainly evidence that while some people are satisfied with one glass of wine, others need far more to achieve the same level of satisfaction and that may be linked to a sugar-heavy childhood diet.
If you’ve grown up eating all the wrong foods it doesn’t mean you’re destined to be an addict, but it’s likely that your brain is more familiar with the highs and lows associated with sugar rushes and crashing and so you may even find the highs and lows of alcohol, cigarettes or drugs more familiar than frightening.