A British motoring group is offering some words of advice ahead of the holiday that turns even the most disciplined among us into chocoholics, at least for a day.
MotorEasy, based in Reading, England, cautions that too much chocolate in your system can leave you feeling tired and sluggish and can slow your reactions.
You could open yourself up to large fines, driving bans and even time in jail, warns MotorEasy CEO Duncan McClure Fisher.
“Many people are looking forward to the Easter weekend as a chance to enjoy themselves and see friends and relatives,” he told The Sun.
“While this is fairly harmless in itself, despite not always being good news for the waistline, what many people don’t factor in is that eating a lot of chocolate has an effect on the body that can be a problem if you’re driving home.”
This is due to the high sugar content in chocolate, which the article explains raises blood sugar levels, “which causes the body to produce insulin to fight the effects. But it often overcompensates, making blood sugar levels crash and leaving you feeling tired, irritable and even dizzy.”
In addition, the high fat content in chocolate, which takes longer to digest, can lead to fatigue.
Fisher acknowledges that drivers won’t be pulled over for blood sugar checks; however, if a driver is involved in an accident, he or she “could be charged with dangerous driving.”
According to the group’s website, “Tired drivers have slower reaction times and suffer from reduced attention, awareness, and ability to control their vehicles. Research suggests driving tired can be as dangerous as drink-driving.”
In case you think you’ll be safe if you stick to dark chocolate, which is lower in sugar and fat than white or milk chocolate, Fisher said it can “pose problems” as well.
He points out a 2019 study conducted at Ziauddin University Hospital in Karachi, Pakistan, which found that “chocolate of more than 70 per cent cocoa concentration can ‘induce sleep’ due to its high magnesium content.”
“It’s vital for motorists to be aware of all factors that can affect their performance,” Fisher said. “Anything that distracts or dulls your awareness when in charge of a vehicle is potentially very serious.
“Obviously, if you feel tired or sluggish, the best advice is not to drive in the first place. If these sensations develop while you are traveling, pull over and take a break.
“Having a power nap or drinking a cup of coffee could help in the short term, but much better to plan your journeys and lifestyle choices to make sure this is not the case.”
Fisher is correct.
The LiveStrong website cites an explanation from the University of Rochester Medical Center that describes the body’s reaction in the same way.
After consuming a candy bar (or several), our blood sugar levels increase. This briefly causes a sugar high, but it also prompts the body to produce insulin.
“When this happens, your body may overcompensate for the extra sugar by rapidly dropping your blood glucose levels — aptly named a sugar crash — which can lead to a decrease in energy and feelings of sleepiness,” the website says.
LiveStrong says that, according to Sanford Health, other symptoms of a sugar crash include fatigue, hunger, irritability, shakiness, headaches, dizziness, and difficulty concentrating.
I wonder why Fisher doesn’t issue a warning on Thanksgiving. After all, the tryptophan in turkey is notorious for making people feel sleepy.
Anyway, be careful out there!