Yes, you heard it right. Carbohydrates are addictive. So are sugars. In this article we shall explore the complicated reasons for addiction and how to de-addict yourself.
Types of foods
Food is the source of energy for our body. Broadly divided in three categories, Carbs, proteins and fats. Carbohydrates and sugars are a quick source of energy to the body. But they are toxic which is why the body digests it first to get rid of it. Refined carbs like maida are even more dangerously toxic. Proteins are the next to be digested and finally fats are the slowest.
Not all carbs are dangerous, only the ones that spike your insulin. Vegetables also consist of carbohydrates, but they are so low on the Glycemic Index that they cause negligible change in insulin levels. A carb rich diet is digested quickly but floods your blood with sugar. That is why people experience a spike in blood sugar once they eat their meal.
A low carb and low sugar diet on the other hand is digested slowly and the release of glucose in the blood stream is gradual. Fats are digested the slowest and the best to feel full between the meals.
Number 1 reason for addiction – the brain
Carbs consumption releases dopamine in the brain. It makes us feel happy for a short amount of time. Like the kick of caffeine. When someone likes your social media post, the feeling of happiness is due to dopamine. But this kind of happiness is not good because it is addictive. The brain remembers the source of happiness and drives us to it again and again.
If we understand the brain functioning we realise that it is not that smart when it comes to happiness. The brain wants us to be happy and works hard for it. Brain also does not have any list of Do’s and Don’ts and have no boundaries. Which is why addiction leads us to do wrong things too.
Carbs and sugars are sweet and hence addictive because they send an instant kick of glucose to the brain through the blood. Brain does not have any fat or glucose storage. So all the energy it wants has to come from blood glucose.
But just like the glucose, once the happiness and feeling of elevation has reached the peak, it starts to subside leaving being an empty feeling akin to depression.
Hypothyroidism & Serotonin
Hypothyroidism is the condition where the thyroid gland goes off to sleep and does not produce enough T4 hormone. Reasons for hypothyroidism are multiple and complex but the three basic are liver unable to convert from T4 to T3, elevated stress levels due to recent event and/or elevated estrogen hormone levels.
One of the main effects of hypothyroidism is craving for carbs and sweets. What is believed is that carbs simulate the release of the neuro transmitter serotonin. Thyroid problem causes reduction in serotonin which then the body tries to ramp up by demanding more carbs and sugars.
Remedy for addictive carb meal – the de-addiction process
Modern lifestyle is based on a carb rich diet. Day after day, meal by meal we consume large amounts of carbs for food. It is almost that we have tuned our body towards carbs and sugar based energy source. So now we need an action plan to de-addict.
Start with Intermittent Fasting. But you need to gradually ease yourself into limiting to two or three meals a day. Keto diet is the best way to reduce carb intake. Make sure your meal has sufficient amount of fat which you should consume last. This makes you feel full till the next meal. You need to eat nutrient dense food. This will ensure your are healthy and feeling good.
Read more about Intermittent Fasting here.
There are some common problems you will come across while making the transition from sugar burning to fat burning. Here is a run down on the problems and how to overcome them.