Do you find yourself craving refined carbs in the morning? Do you have a hard time cutting back on the amount of carbs you eat? Do you feel awful if you go a day without refined carbs? You might be addicted to carbs. Before you beat yourself up, remember that carbohydrates are just as addictive as cocaine. So it’s not going to be easy to be free from this addiction. But you CAN do it!
How It Works:
Carbohydrates release serotonin in the brain. They are very sedating. Especially highly refined carbohydrates (e.g. white bread, pastas, bagels, cookies, etc). “Heavily processed carbohydrates quickly raise the amount of sugar in your blood,” said Dr. Simon Thornily, a registrar with the Auckland Regional Public Health Service, whose report appeared in the journal Medical Hypotheses. “This rush of sugar stimulates the same areas of the brain that are involved with addiction to nicotine and other drugs.” Scientists at Princeton University have also been studying Thornley’s thesis. The American scientists have turned rats into sugar addicts and then suffered cravings when the sugar was taken away. When the scientists gave the rats sugar again, the rats binged on it.
Having a craving every once in awhile is normal, but having to eat carbs to feel good is an addiction. Carbs and cocaine have the same effect on the pleasure center in the brain. Like all other addictions, you become immune to small doses; therefore, it takes more and more carbs to get the same fix.
Too much carbohydrates will dangerously affect your health. Not only could you gain weight, but you’re putting your body at risk for diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and you’re completely throwing off your hormones. You’re probably asking yourself, “How do I change?” First of all, when you’re weaning yourself from anything, it’s not always good to go cold turkey. Instead of focusing on what you “can’t have,” focus on what you can eat. Focus on a plant-based diet. Numerous studies show that this type of eating is healthiest in many ways. You’ll not only feel better, but you’ll lower your cholesterol, blood pressure, and most importantly prevent a variety of diseases. Make sure that the meat you eat is organic (free of hormones, antibiotics, etc) and 100% grass-fed. (More on this topic in another post). Start adding seeds & nuts to your meals for extra nutrients and healthy fats. At first it may be difficult to get out of the habit of thinking that you need grains at every meal. You definitely don’t need them because most grains are extremely processed so aren’t even good for you. If you’re going to enjoy whole grains, make sure they’re soaked or sprouted when possible.
What’s Causing You to Overeat on Carbs?
Many people overeat on carbs because they release serotonin, which is a feel-good hormone. They solution to this problem is pin-pointing the reason you’re turning to carbs for comfort. Are you stressed? Are you down about something? Do you have unresolved conflict that needs to be addressed? Instead of turning to food, try going for a walk or talking to a friend about how you’re feeling. Yoga or any other type of exercise is a great way to feel good without turning to food.
Could you be addicted to carbs? What steps will you start taking today to free yourself from this? It will be difficult, but so worth the freedom. Good luck in taking charge of your health!
Kristen M. Pardue, RD, LDN