The Carbohydrate Addiction
Carbs are not bad, in fact they are where we should be getting most of our nutrients. The problem is, that for most people (and about 80% of the grocery store) this is the most nutrient depleted part of our diet. Carbs are full of nutrients when they come in all colors of the rainbow in the form of fruits and vegetables. These carbs are absorbed and processed differently than the processed carbs that dominate the Standard American Diet or SAD diet. I realize they make you feel good right after you eat them and it’s hard to separate your cravings for this immediate rush of serotonin from the long term benefits of eating nutrient dense foods that give you long term energy and support your body with a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that you can not function properly without. This is partly because the carbs from refined grains like wheat work on the same receptors as drugs like heroin. Yes carbs are highly addictive, in every sense of the word, and this is not a good thing for your body. The reason this is built into our evolution comes from the need for nutrients and as we have replaced nutrient dense vegetables and fruits with processed flour we have driven the roller coaster of carb cravings into overdrive. Bread has a higher glycemic index than sugar and most whole what bread is full of added sugars so this rush is even worse when you are having that wholesome slice of brown toast.
The purpose of this post is to first help you stop by giving you solutions for your cravings that will help you get to the point you can eliminate refined carbs from your diet for at least 10 days so you can step off that roller coaster and feel the ground again for a moment. Then I will be covering why you should stick to a great reduction or elimination of refined carbs and how to replace that energy in your diet, with of course a variety of fruits and vegetables. Finally I will be covering why some of you should never touch wheat again. This will be an ongoing post, I will update often and fill in the research and background information to help you understand why this is so important. I will find as many helpful links as possible to help you with food ideas and easy solutions. I am posting this now because I want you to be involved! You can comment here, and I will update the blog post to respond to your questions and worries. This will be public, so if you don’t want everyone in the world to see your question, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know your thoughts ideas, rants and resources! I will do my best to keep up with responses that can help everyone that may have the same thoughts. All emails are confidential.
In the mean time. My initial ideas for carb cravings are:
often we mistake thirst for sugar cravings. This is a process our brain developed to prevent dehydration as the sugar solution will help bring water to where it is needed in the body (this is how laxatives like DSS work) but it is a short term and potentially damaging solution, so make sure you drink a glass of water (I like to add lemon), or lightly sweetened tea (use honey or maple syrup) wait 20 min and see if you still want that bread or cookies.
Often we crave carbs because we started with carbs. The SAD breakfast is filled with nothing but carbs and sugars, and is the wrong way to start your day. Start you day with protein and fat with at least at 40/30/30 balance of carbs/protein/fat. Make the carbs colorful and don’t skip the proteins and fat (a new blog post of fat will help you determine what fats are best).
Maybe you are craving carbs for energy, and you body needs them. So have some, just eat vegetables or fruits. Don’t be shy with all that fiber and nutrition you may need much more than you realize to satisfy your hunger. Eat plenty of vegetables, piles and plates of color. Limit only the highly starchy vegetables or juices (no fruit juice and limited vegetable juice as you are simply extracting the sugar from the beneficial fibers and not doing your self many favors).
Carbs induce stress, as you come down off the sugar high they literally release the stress hormone cortisol. Breathing exercises and mindful based stress reduction where you focus on the moment can make a profound difference.
Many herbs and supplements can help you in your path to well being. It is always best to consult your herbalist (make an appointment) to find out what is best for you.
Some supplement options are:
S. Boulardii, a beneficial yeast that will help kill off the bacteria that may be driving your cravings (they are literally starving to death and have the ability to send messages to your brain to save them selves).
Adaptogens can help you balance out the roller coaster of stress hormones. Herbs like the variety of ginseng’s, rhodiola, ashwagandha, licorice root and theanine are not all the same and you should be on the right one for you.
Cortisol formulas. If you have really burnt out your reserves you may need replacement, you should definitely ask for help with this one.
Amino acid therapy. As the roller coaster rushes surge through us we are upsetting the bodys amazing ability to balance our neurotransmitters, using up the building blocks. These building blocks are amino acids and when you get truely depleted diet alone will not bring back the balance and drugs will make these deficiencies worse over time.
Basic Nutrients. It is likely you are missing some basic nutrients so getting a easily digested, well thought out multi-vitamin and mineral can be very useful to your process. There are a wide variety of options so find out from your provider what is best for you and be very careful of what you get over the counter as many are contaminated, not well absorbed or don’t contain what you need.