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Craving carbs? Here’s how to stop!

By Dr. Joey Shulman

Do you have a sweet tooth that just won’t quit? Do you need to have a piece of bread, cookie, cracker or a bowl of cereal to give you a pick-me-up or to relax your nerves? If so, you may be suffering from carbohydrate cravings! Fear not, there are definite nutritional steps that can be taken to end the vicious cycle of cravings.

What is a craving?
Carbohydrate cravings are often an indication of biochemical imbalance. This is not to say that there is not a time and a place to occasionally indulge and enjoy a sweet treat or a delicious piece of bread. At Truestar Health, we call this the 80-20 rule of eating. In other words, eating in a healthy fashion 80% of the time and indulging in treats 20% of the time can still achieve optimal health and wellness.

When looking up the definition of the word craving, I found it defined as, “an intense desire for some particular thing.” The “thing” may involve alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, caffeinated substances or foods such as sugar or refined carbohydrates.  Cravings are often hard to pinpoint as they can show up as headaches, moodiness, fatigue and a general sense of fogginess. I always ask people that when they are in the throws of a food craving to try and decipher their symptoms. Remember, there is a big difference between, “I would like to eat that chocolate chip cookie” and “I would kill for that chocolate chip cookie!”

The vicious cycle
To understand why the body undergoes cravings, it is important to have a brief understanding of blood sugar control. Let’s say person A continually eats sugary treats, such as candy or pop or refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, muffins, crackers or cookies. All of these products have a high glycemic index rating and enter the bloodstream at a rushing speed. In order to control blood sugar levels from being too elevated, known as a state of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), the pancreas is triggered to release the hormone insulin. Insulin facilitates the uptake of blood sugar into the cells and lowers blood sugar levels. When refined sugars and flours are routinely eaten, the body tends to over-secrete the hormone insulin, which will result in a dramatic plunge in blood sugar levels, a state known as hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). When low blood sugar occurs, person A will experience uncomfortable symptoms such as fatigue, fogginess, moodiness, shortness of breath and inability to focus. This is a very uncomfortable state for the body to be in, therefore, in order to compensate, the brain sends out a craving for another sugary treat. In other words, person A feeling fatigued and tired after a pasta meal at lunch will reach for a sugary coffee and muffin 1-2 hours afterwards to compensate for the plunge occurring in their energy. The result? The vicious cycle continues again and again.

Now let’s take the example of person B. Person B decides to eat a carbohydrate that is rated low on the glycemic index.  Examples of these foods are most fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans. These foods are loaded with fiber, which slows down their entry into the bloodstream.


 

Instead of entering the bloodstream at a rushing speed, these foods trickle into the blood stream and do not create a dramatic surge in blood sugar. In response, an appropriate amount of insulin is secreted to deal with the amount of sugar in the blood. Therefore, a state of hypoglycemia does not occur and symptoms, as well as cravings, are not triggered. See the difference?

Protein and Fat
In addition to fiber, fat and protein also slow the entry of carbohydrate foods into the blood stream. This is why it is critical to have a protein, fat and carbohydrate at each and every meal or snack. At Truestar, all of our meals and snacks have been perfectly balanced with all three macronutrients to keep you hormonally balanced and symptom free.

If it is quick weight loss you desire, you will be put on our metabolic booster phase (phase I) where the protein content is higher. If your desire is to have more continual, gradual weight loss, you will be on our continuum weight loss program, which is based on a 40:30:30 method of eating. The take home point is to ensure you have the proper amounts of protein, fat and carbohydrate at each and every meal or snack. Visit the Truestar nutrition section to design the perfect nutritional program for you!

Additional tips to break your carb cravings!

1. Keep chewable vitamin C on hand. When you do have cravings, have 250mg-500mg of vitamin C to help curb the craving and give you something sweet to chew on.

2. Lean on herbal teas. Berry flavored teas such as raspberry, blueberry, lemon and orange can help give you that sweet edge to get over the craving hump.

3. Drink plenty of fresh, clean water. If you need to have something sweet, fill your glass with ¼ fruit juice and ¾ water.

4. Experiment with natural sweeteners such as stevia that do not alter blood sugar levels.

5. Lean on supplements for support. According to Natasha Turner, Vice President of Natural Medicine at Truestar Health, glutamine, chromium and conjugated linoleic acid are all effective at helping to reduce and rid carbohydrate cravings.

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