In one way, your body is unavoidably addicted to carbohydrates. It's a major nutrient, and your body is addicted to it the same way it is "addicted" to calories and oxygen. However, too many refined carbohydrates can lead to health problems including overweight, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Because of this, breaking a psychological or physical addiction to refined carb foods can make a difference in both your lifespan and your quality of life.
Drink a large glass of water whenever you feel a craving for carbohydrates or sugar. Refined carbohydrates create a cycle of peaks and valleys in your blood sugar. You experience the craving during the valley. If you eat more carbs in response, you will experience another peak and another subsequent valley-- which means another food craving. If you fill your stomach with zero-calorie water, you can break the cycle in the short term.
Allow yourself whole grain carbohydrates. These foods are filling in the long term, and do not create the destructive cycle of peaks and valleys you experience with refined carbohydrates. Part of addiction recovery is choosing your battles. Some examples of whole grain carbohydrates include whole grain bread, brown rice and whole grain pastas. Look for the words "whole grain" in the first three ingredients on the food label.
Keep vegetable sticks, nuts and cuts of cooked meat on hand for easy snacking. One reason carbohydrates are so easy to be addicted to is that most snack foods -- for example, chips, cookies and crackers -- are heavy on carbs. If you make it easy to make another eating decision, you'll find yourself more successful in resisting the carbs.
Remember that carbohydrates include sugars. Milk, sweets and fruit all contain refined carbohydrates. Vegetables, nuts, legumes and meat are better eating choices as you break the cycle of carbohydrate addiction.
Get help from your friends and peers. Let them know about your decision to eliminate refined carbs from your diet. You may also find support groups like Overeaters' Anonymous or Weight Watchers helpful.
Track and celebrate your progress. Mark your calendar for each day you successfully resist the temptation of refined carbohydrates, and celebrate for each week and month. Choose rewards that motivate you, but don't tie eating carbs to your reward structure.
- "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy"; Dr. Walter Willett; 2004
- CoronaryHealth.com: Living With Carbohydrate Addiction
- "You: Losing Weight"; Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen; 2006