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.
• 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.
• 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.