Curbing Your Carbohydrate Addiction
Some experts consider carbohydrate craving and addiction as
something more of the body than of the mind, meaning
biological factors are generally considered to be the main
trigger for carb cravings. These cravings are described as
a compelling craving, or desire for carbohydrate-rich
foods; an escalating, recurring need or drive for starches,
snack foods, junk food, or sweets.
This is where the cycle of carbohydrates and cravings
start. High-sugar, refined starch, convenience and comfort
foods feed the addiction like a drug. This results in high
blood sugar and insulin levels which results in more
cravings. The situation also results in higher levels of
serotonin - a brain chemical that acts like Prozac. People
eat sweets to get the “sugar high.”
Another contributing factor to overeating and sweet craving
is stress. When we are tense, the adrenal gland produces
more of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol stimulates
production of a brain chemical called “neuropeptide Y.”
This is kind of a carbohydrate craving switch. Aside from
this, neuropeptide Y also makes the body hang on to the new
body fat we produce. In other words, tension not only
triggers carbohydrate cravings, it also makes it more
difficult to lose any additional weight. Cortisol also
stimulates insulin, which leads to blood sugar dips and fat
It's a vicious cycle that feeds on itself, over and
Food is not just a biological need; there is also an
emotional element to it. Something in our emotional state,
particularly a negative one evokes an urge for “comfort”
food. By dealing with the issue behind the cravings, it
produces emotional relief that can reduce or even eliminate
the urge to overeat.
All in all, most experts agree that by eating enough
wholesome foods at meals and by having a healthy afternoon
snack, people can minimize their cravings for sweets.
Here are recommendations to curb carb cravings.
1. Eat less but more often. Eat small meals or snacks
containing some PROTEIN every few hours to keep blood-sugar
Skipping meals causes blood sugar levels to drop, which
leaves you yearning for processed carbohydrates and sweets
2. Be selective about the carbohydrates you eat. Avoid
nutrient-stripped foods made of white flour, white rice,
refined sugar and highly concentrated sweeteners. Look for
foods rich in fiber such as fresh vegetables and fruits,
which level off blood sugar.
3. Don't skimp on protein to 'make room' for large amounts
of carbohydrates. Protein gives the body extended energy,
helps balance blood sugar and keeps cravings at bay.
4. Limit your intake of alcohol, fruit juice and
caffeinated drinks. These cause abrupt blood-sugar highs
followed by troublesome blood-sugar lows, leaving you
starved for energy.
5. Eat small portions of seasonal goodies AFTER
protein-containing meals or snacks, if at all. If you eat
sweets on an empty stomach, you'll experience blood-sugar
lows that trigger the desire for more sweets.
6. Avoid becoming famished during shopping trips and while
traveling. Carry protein-rich snacks such as nuts,
hard-boiled eggs, nutrient-balanced energy bars or
"vegetable greens" like those listed. These high-power
foods are great when you feel your energy drop.
7. Get enough sleep. When the body and mind are
well-rested, cravings for carbohydrates often vanish.
By Christopher Guerriero, BS, CPT
Global Health & Fitness