Carbohydrates can be found in large quantities in breads, pastas, or grains. Many of us may find these foods filling and satisfying, but some simply cannot ever seem to get enough. When this happens, we may be suffering from carbohydrate addiction. Just like drugs or alcohol, carbohydrates stimulate reward and pleasure centers in the brain through the release of dopamine. This substance makes us feel better and happier, even though those suffering from carbohydrate addictions may be contributing to their likelihood to develop obesity and disease associated with excess weight, like diabetes. What factors may lead to this type of addiction? What are some steps you can take to break carb addiction? Read on to find out more:
Carbohydrate Addiction: What Makes Us Crave Carbs?
Because carbs stimulate the release of dopamine, they may us feel good. But this may not be the only factor that leads us to become addicts. Genes, propensity to overeat carbs, high levels of stress, even emotional or physical pain can cause carb addiction. When you realize that carbs make you feel better than other types of food, and you turn to them for emotional support, you are heading for addiction. The same could be said for those addicted to any other type of substance or behavior.
Serious Lifestyle Changes
Though it is not recommended that you totally stop eating carbs to break your addiction, you will need to make serious lifestyle changes. These include changes to activity, behavior, and diet. Before you start any kind of lifestyle or diet change, consult with your doctor. They can help you to determine if you are actually an addict, as well as help you to figure out a diet plan and lifestyle that will encourage weight loss, support as you transition, and a healthier overall lifestyle. Here are some things they may recommend:
Follow a Healthy Diet
One of the easiest ways to begin breaking your carbohydrate addiction is by beginning to follow a healthier diet. This does not necessarily mean eliminating carbohydrates all together, but, instead, limiting your intake to a healthy level. According to The American Heart Association, the healthiest diets are composed from 45 to 65 percent of calories derived from carbohydrates. If you do not get enough carbohydrates, or are greatly restricting your intake of them through a diet, you may need to supplement your diet with vitamins and minerals to help replace those you are no longer getting from your diet. Talk to your doctor before beginning any diet, as they can give you guidance, and recommend what supplements you may need when following a restrictive diet.
Stop Eating Processed Carbs
When you begin restricting your carbohydrates, you also want to change where your carbohydrates are coming from. Remove any white flour, white bread, white rice, or overly processed carbs from your home. Replace these with healthy whole grains. Whole grains can help to lower your risk for obesity related diseases, as well as keep you fuller, longer, provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber, as well as help to stabilize your blood sugar. Good selections include oatmeal, whole wheat bread, whole grain pastas, brown rice, and quinoa. Although you may want to remove white-flour items from your home to limit your intake and the convenience of them, choose one day every week to enjoy your favorite white-bread food item, like pasta, pizza, or bread. Simply pair these choices with fruit and vegetables to keep them healthy.
If you are struggling with your carbohydrate addiction, there are several ways to prevent relapse. One of them is the above system of allowing yourself to “splurge” once a week on your favorite processed foods. Others recommend making a list of why you ware changing your lifestyle in order to better gauge why you are making the lifestyle choice. This serves to encourage you when things get tough. Some herbs, like licorice used as sweetener instead of sugar, may also help with withdrawals experienced from less sugar being in your diet. Deep breathing or meditation can help you focus on other, more important things when cravings strike. Studies have shown that addicts that participate in deep-breathing and meditation have higher success rates than those who do not.