5 Ways to Break Your Addiction to Carbs and Feel Great

Blog-5 Ways to Break Your Addiction to Carbs and Feel Great

Refined carbohydrates and sugar hit you right where it counts- in the pleasure centers in your basal ganglia.

This is the part of your brain that releases the neurotransmitter dopamine, and it’s the epicenter for addiction cycles.

This very common issue is often referred to as “food addiction”, however the culprit is sugar and the refined carbohydrates that break down into sugar once inside your body. If we were addicted to real food – vegetables, lean proteins and complex carbohydrates – we wouldn’t be talking about addiction.

Sugar Addiction is REAL

Researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital’s Obesity Prevention Center devised a high-quality test to prove whether meals with a high glycemic index (read high sugar) trigger an addiction phenomenon, not in behavior alone, but in the brain.

The Study

• Investigators analyzed 12 obese men ages 18-35.
• The men were given two different meal replacement shakes, indistinguishable by sight and taste and even calorie count, but very different in glycemic content (amount of sugar).
• One milkshake had a high glycemic index (high-GI), one had a low glycemic index (low-GI).

The really interesting impact of the high-GI meal shake was what happened in the brain four hours later:

• Four hours after each shake was eaten, when the participants would likely be thinking about what to eat at their next meal, they were asked to rate their hunger.
• At the same time, the investigators took blood to measure glucose levels and used functional MRI to measure blood flow to the brain.

What They Found

Compared to the low-GI shake, at four hours after eating the high-GI shake the participants experienced:

Decreased plasma glucose
• This is evidence of a sugar crash – the drop in energy that occurs as blood sugar levels fall.
• When you experience a sugar crash, you’re going to be compelled to reach for more sugar to get back to the energy high. It’s a vicious cycle.

Increased hunger
• High glycemic index meals intensify hunger.

5 Ways to Conquer Sugar Cravings

1. Stabilize Your Blood Sugar

Cravings may come on because you did not eat enough protein, vegetables or healthy fats at meals. Eat small amounts of protein and healthy fats with each meal. Protein is key so don’t go more than a few of hours without eating some. Increasing your protein intake throughout the day will rev your metabolism and enhance weight loss.

2. Stop Eating Sugar

The more sugar you eat, the more you crave. Just give it 3 days to get over the hump… 3 days. Take out the all bread, pasta, crackers, cereal, most grains, white rice, white flour, soda/diet soda, sugar and artificial sweeteners out of your diet.

3. Address Your Triggers Head-On

Stop letting your brain get hijacked by unresolved emotional issues that you “treat” with food (or other addictions). Calm your brain’s emotion centers by:
• Talking – it gets the issues out of your head.
• Journaling (rather than eating) when you’re upset.
• Writing down 5 things you are grateful for every day.

4. Calm Anxiety

The nucleus accumbens is part of the basal ganglia. When the basal ganglia work too hard, we can be anxious or overly driven; when they are low in activity, we are unmotivated. Balance your basal ganglia by:
• Consciously limiting use of technology – it wears out your pleasure centers.

5. Before You Reach for Food, Use H.A.L.T.

Ask yourself, am I: Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired?

Hungry: If you are hungry, ask yourself: “Would I eat an apple right now?”
“Yes” = truly hungry
“No, I want cookies” = sugar craving
Angry: Instead of eating take a walk.
Lonely: Instead of eating call a friend.
Tired: Instead of eating take a nap.

We Can Help

At Amen Clinics, we know that food addiction issues are not a function of not trying hard enough, being lazy, or not having enough willpower. We will work with you to address your specific brain type so that you can eliminate food addiction, reach your weight loss goals and feel amazing every day. Click here to learn more about how the Amen Clinics can help, or call today at 888-288-9834.


  1. I have what seems to me to be a perfectly functional metabolism. That is, I can monitor my diet, and tell whether an incremental gain or loss is related to, for example, water or food intake. After I had children, it became increasingly difficult to maintain my weight, which I did by weight lifting and aerobic exercise. Most of my adult life, I was on a very low fat, hight carb, low salt diet because my father-in-law was a doctor with a heart problem, so the whole family wanted to eat that “healthy” way. This was a slow-moving disaster for me. It ruined my skin, and when a period of high stress came, I developed early adrenal fatigue.

    Over a long period of time, I have been using the keto diet for recovery, because adding in fat was recommended to me, and this was the only diet that would accommodate the prescribed fat amounts. I don’t like measuring my food, so although I tried to do it and keep records, I dropped that behavior early. I got accustomed to low-carb eating over a period of several months, nothing extreme. The diet is high protein, moderate fat, very low carbohydrate. In addition, I make sure to supplement electrolytes.

    1. Keto-style eating stopped a persistent, long-term trend to gain weight following recovery from early adrenal fatigue and also menopause. It happened quickly and easily. At this time, I tried all kinds of substitutes for sweets and breads.

    2. As I adapted to the Keto diet, I found myself over-eating nuts and cheese, and under-eating salads and vegetables.

    3. The key to weight loss on the Keto diet for me was to add back the vegetables. Once I did that, weight loss was fast and dare I say it? easy. I lost the desire for sweets, and had “fat bomb” treats made of chocolate, oil, and sugar substitute left over in my freezer for months. I stopped eating bread substitutes, as well, for lack of interest.

    4. Once I hit goal weight, stopping the weight loss was tricky. I had a tendency to over-lose. I lost the last 10 lbs right out of my face and arms. Ewww. Weight lifting has helped substantially with that, along with a a switch to something more like a Paleo diet. When I started adding in carbs, I would get cravings. It was noticeable. One time, I ate a chicken tamale (the carb was the masa, there was no added sugar) and found myself craving sweets for the first time in ages. Making the carbs I do eat a minor component of a fuller meal seems to work well, for me.

    5. 4 oz of wine in the evening has no effect. 8 oz of wine stops any weight loss cold for the day. If I do not have food with my drink, the alcohol hits me hard. Fat and protein work well with red wine, so that I do not immediately fall asleep.

    6. There are certain sweet or carb foods that I enjoy, and I do consume them from time to time. I have a weakness for real, flaky, hard-to-find croissants. I like wine, and enjoy it with most of my evening meals. The wine is a regular habit, the croissants are an irregular treat, with knowledge that I will want something sweet, later.

    Comment by VALERIE LOOPER — April 27, 2018 @ 8:25 AM

  2. You forgot the most important thing to consider what to eat to control you blood sugar level and hunger at the same time, that’s called fiber foods Such as lentils, legumes. This page needs more update

    Comment by Mo alin — April 27, 2018 @ 3:49 PM

  3. Need Help

    Comment by Linda Evans — October 30, 2023 @ 9:29 AM

  4. I am a diabetic

    Comment by Linda Evans — October 30, 2023 @ 9:31 AM

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