Art by Vanessa Fonseca

Having a major spike in blood sugar has many downsides: You may experience a headache, severe energy drops the next day, elevated sugar cravings and become at a greater risk for certain diseases — like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance (Team Nutrisense). At a Friday or Saturday Halloween celebration, there is little to no chance that you won’t crave a single piece of candy or chocolate. While it’s important to enjoy these Howmoments while they last, there is one important thing to watch out for, which is a major glucose spike when you subconsciously munch on some Sour Patch Kids or M&M’s. 

According to biochemist Jessie Inchauspé, the specific order and combination of food that you consume can minimize or exacerbate the effects of a cheat day over the Halloween weekend.

In her science novel “Glucose Revolution: The Life-Changing Power of Balancing Your Blood Sugar”, biochemist Inchauspé emphasizes that the order of food matters. The ideal order is as follows: vegetables first, protein and fats second, starches and sugars last.

Inchauspé explains that by eating sugary foods and simple carbohydrates last, after having some fruit with nut butter or good quality protein, you will feel less hungry, have fewer cravings and experience smaller glucose spikes (Frye). 

In addition, consuming gut-healthy foods before sugary snacks may enhance your capacity to recover from a glucose spike. These foods include fermented foods like yogurt and kimchi; prebiotic foods like green bananas and dark chocolate; high-fiber and antioxidant-rich foods like wild blueberries; unprocessed nuts or nut-butters like almonds and peanut butter; and eggs, perhaps in a frittata or egg salad. All these nutritious food categories are great ways to start a day or meal before eating sugary snacks and junk food later on.

Leslie Bonci, a registered dietician and sports nutritionist, found that the best food to eat with sugary products may be protein. Protein is known to trigger the release of glucagon, a hormone that stabilizes insulin levels. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Glucagon is a hormone that triggers liver glycogen to convert back into glucose and to enter your bloodstream so that your body can use it for energy.” In other words, after a glucose spike, the hormone glucagon stabilizes blood sugar levels such that a massive drop in glucose levels does not occur. If glucagon was not there to lessen the impact of a spike in glucose, a person could experience splitting headaches, fatigue, polyuria or excessive thirst and hunger (Cleveland Clinic). Therefore, by consuming a combination of protein and sugar, such as some carrots and hummus with a fun-size Hershey’s bar, protein and sugar can regulate one another. “Our bodies are pretty darn smart in that way,” Bonci notes (Maldarelli).

An improved diet is important, and a day of sugar will likely not do much harm. A “bad night” is normal every once in a while. In order to get back to a healthy lifestyle after a sugar-overload, it’s important to drink plenty of water because our bodies are 60% water and blood is 90% water. Also, try to exercise regularly — even just a 15-minute bike ride can make a difference. Be sure to prioritize resting your mind and body by managing your stress levels and getting adequate sleep, and most of all, staying optimistic about what’s to come!

The takeaway — enjoy your Halloween night! Don’t be scared about a few candy bars but also do the best for your body: incorporate healthy fiber, fats and protein when you do have a couple of Halloween treats. Plan your meals so that your last glucose intake is your Halloween bucket.