My eight-year-old has attended many birthday parties at a bowling alley or similar venue where guests are served pizza (with white-flour crust), chips, soda pop, frosted cake, ice cream, more soda pop, and sometimes candy too. That’s a lot of simple carbohydrates! It’s the kind of meal that may be enjoyable while you’re eating it but tends to make you “crash” an hour or two later. It’s even worse without the pizza and ice cream, which at least have some protein–frosted cake and soda pop on an empty stomach is a recipe for hyperactivity followed by meltdown.
I often attend these parties, too, because these “fun center” places are out in the suburbs, far from home. Often I end up eating some of the food, if there’s extra.
We’ve always made a point of eating a solid, healthy meal not too long before the party, so that we don’t put the junk into a completely empty stomach and don’t overeat junk because we’re hungry. I also try to plan for a healthy meal not too long after the party so that we eat again before getting hungry. It’s the moment when the simple carbs are burned up and you suddenly have no calories to power your body that feels so awful. After a party is no time to run a bunch of errands on the way home, unless you bring sandwiches or stop at a healthy restaurant–you will end up snapping at each other as you drag around some store, in our experience. I’ve also learned that drinking too much coffee before or after the party will make the sugar crash worse or at least make me more irritable about it.
After the last such party we attended, I drove Nicholas straight home–40 minutes in the car, which was extremely hot at first, along an under-construction highway, in sunlight that seemed very bright after two hours in a bowling alley, with Nicholas clamoring, “Look what I drew on my dry-erase board NOW!” every few minutes (the board was a party favor), and then stop-and-go traffic through our neighborhood because of the detour around the tunnel renovation–so when I was finally getting out of the car and Nicholas was saying, “Can I watch TV? I only watched one half-hour today, so can I watch another half-hour now?” and I said, “Well–” and he screeched, “YOU’RE INTERRUPTING!!!”, it was hard to resist clobbering him. As I stomped toward the house, vowing for the hundredth time never to eat supermarket-bakery frosting again, I suddenly remembered a tip I had read a long time ago but never tried:
To recover from eating excessive sugar and white flour, eat an entire sheet of nori seaweed. This is the usual blackish-green seaweed used to wrap sushi and maki rolls. Buy it in any Asian grocery store or some supermarkets. (Here’s an article with lots of interesting information on nori but no references cited, and here’s a scientific article on the nutrition in nori.) We had purchased a value-size package a couple of months ago and had a lot left.
I went straight to the kitchen and got out the nori, explaining to Nicholas that I had read that this was a good snack to balance one’s metabolism after eating a lot of sugary foods. We each took a full sheet and chomped on it. After a few bites, we calmly agreed to play a card game together. After the game, we started preparations for our healthy dinner. We felt fine. Whew!
I still think I should not eat those supermarket cakes (it’s not as if they even taste good!!) but it’s great to know that if I do, there is a way to calm the crash. Apparently nori contains minerals that are depleted from your body as you digest simple sugars. I can’t find an online reference for this specific idea, but I see that nori balances blood sugar. At any rate, it worked very well for me!