The health issues that my clients discuss with me truly run the gamut, but by far the most common concern I hear is:
HOW CAN I STOP CRAVING CARBS?!!
Carb cravings are especially challenging this time of year when you are surrounded by Thanksgiving pies, dinner rolls, homemade breads, and Christmas cookies and candy.
But never fear! Because you CAN break your carb craving cycle.
Here is what you need to know:
Know the good from the bad
While carbohydrates are a necessary food group, starchy carbs are the least healthy (and most addictive) form of carbohydrates.
I am talking about things like bread, pasta, crackers, bagels, rolls, muffins, snack chips, pastries, rice, and cereals.
Although they may provide some nutrients (and that is a stretch in many cases), starchy carbs turn to sugar upon digestion and in that respect are not much better than eating a candy bar or cookie.
When it comes to truly healthy and nutritious carbohydrates, vegetables (other than potatoes and corn) and legumes are your best bets.
It’s all in your head
First, it is important to know there is a good reason why carb cravings occur.
Current research supports the fact that a primary underlying cause lies in your brain’s reward system.
Sugar and starchy carbohydrate foods cause the release of serotonin (your body’s feel-good chemical) and you feel a calming sensation.
Refined carbohydrates also trigger increased releases of dopamine and norepinephrine, and as your brain becomes deluged with these neurotransmitters, a feeling of euphoria results and a craving for more refined carbohydrates is stimulated.
Health issues that can trigger carb cravings
There are a sizable number of health issues that can make your carb cravings spiral out of control and send you running to the pantry or bakery.
Here are some of the more common ones:
Low thyroid function
Having an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can cause feelings of fatigue.
In an effort to combat this fatigue, many people reach for refined carbohydrate pick-me-ups including soda, chips, candy bars, crackers, and other similar foods.
Yeast (Candida) overgrowth in the gut
Candida (yeast) overgrowth is another factor behind carbohydrate cravings and addiction.
Most refined carbs are quickly converted to sugar upon digestion. Yeast feeds on sugar, and in turn can multiply out of control, and overcome your friendly intestinal flora (which normally helps to keep yeast in check and under control).
A vicious cycle can then result where the yeast, wanting more nourishment, triggers cravings for sugar, which in turn leads to greater yeast overgrowth, which then triggers MORE intense cravings for sugar.
Menopause and/or pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)
As levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone drop, women may become more prone to insulin resistance, where the body’s cells do not respond as they should to insulin.
This in turn can cause sugar cravings to soar, since the cells have not received the glucose, they are expecting from the bloodstream.
People suffering from depression often report feeling less depressed after eating high-carb snack foods.
This reflects the increased production of serotonin following refined carbohydrate ingestion, which mimics the action of antidepressant medications.
Lacking B vitamins
Lacking nutrients (especially B vitamins) can also trigger cravings.
Stress triggers the release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones raise your heart rate, dilate your blood vessels, and mobilize fat and carbohydrates for quick energy.
Once the stress ends, adrenaline production subsides, but cortisol helps refuel your body and bring it back to balance—and it does this by making you hungry, especially for carbs and sugars.
But when stress becomes chronic, this can lead to the familiar “stress eating” of carbs, since your body is repeatedly following the instructions of cortisol and looking to refuel itself.
Tips for reducing cravings
In addition to addressing any underlying medical issues behind your carb cravings, here are some measures that can help:
Probiotics: A full-spectrum probiotic formula like Super Shield multi-strain probiotic formula can help support a healthy gut microbiome, which in turn will help encourage proper serotonin production (which can help prevent depression) and help keep yeast (Candida) under control.
Vitamin D: Low vitamin D levels are associated with decreased satiety. Since vitamin D is a VERY common deficiency, and many people (especially those in the northern hemisphere this time of year) may be running low, the best way to ensure you have health-supporting, therapeutic levels of this vital nutrient is with supplementation with a complete formula like Optimum DK Formula with FruiteX-B. Optimum DK Formula provides a healthful 5,000 IUs of vitamin D3 plus vitamins K1 and K2 and the mineral boron.
Whole foods diet: Have a healthy, whole foods diet to provide a variety of natural nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants, and avoid refined carbohydrates at all costs. Purge them from the refrigerator, cupboard, and pantry, and bring protein snacks (like nuts, cheese, or hard-boiled eggs) or raw vegetables (like carrots and celery) to work with you.
Fight Candida overgrowth: Once Candida has grown out of control, it is exceedingly difficult to get a handle on it and keep it at bay. But our Optimal Yeast Support Blend can help fight back at Candida, keep it under control, and support a healthier intestinal microbe balance that favors health versus sickness.
Eat at home: Cook meals at home versus dining out. Home cooked meals can encourage better control over what is served, and avoid the strong temptation of the breadbasket, desserts and carbohydrate-rich dishes like pasta.
Destress: Do whatever you need to do to reduce stress in your life, keeping in mind that regular exercise is the #1 stress reducer there is! Also, consider deep breathing, counseling, yoga, massage, prayer, meditation, visualization and even adopting a pet (if you are an animal lover).
Drink plenty of water: Dehydration is the number one nutritional deficiency in North America. Our bodies often mistake hunger for thirst, and not drinking enough water can lead to overeating. Be sure you are drinking at least eight 8-oz. glasses of filtered water per day.
Avoid caffeine: Caffeine can aggravate sugar cravings because when a person comes down from a caffeine-induced energy ‘high,’ they often reach for sugar as a pick-me-up.
Talk to me: If you feel you need some more guidance and suggestions, book a FREE 30-minute consultation with me! We will chat about your situation and produce a solid plan to help get you on the road to better health!
YOU CAN take control over your carb cravings. Use whatever measures you need to say goodbye to carb cravings for good!
To your health,