by Colleen Cackowski
So how do we break our bread and carb addiction?
It is possible! Most people, once they focus on eating better by incorporating more healthy proteins and fats, along with lots of fresh vegetables into their diet, will naturally find themselves less drawn to satisfying their appetite with bread, carbs, and sugary foods. Over time, your body will naturally regain its ability to burn energy from fat, and once you are getting proper nutrition (protein and B vitamins) your serotonin levels won’t be dependent on eating sugar. The relentless cravings for bread and sweets will slowly dissipate over a couple weeks. You may even find that it is much easier to go without food entirely, because your body is learning how to use your fat stores as fuel again. If you skip a meal here and there, you won’t have a problem with the blood sugar roller coaster and you will probably experience greater mental clarity and ability to focus than before.
The first step is to recognize that when your body tells you it wants bread or sugar, it’s actually a message from the unhealthy bacteria that want to be fed so they can proliferate. A better choice is to feed the good bacteria and make them stronger so their voices drown out the less than healthy ones.
When you find that craving for carbs hits, reach for one of these things instead:
- Seeds and Nuts
- Green Vegetable Juice or Steamed Veggies
- Fermented Foods (miso, sauerkraut, kefir, etc.)
It’s helpful to always have these kinds of snacks easily available so you don’t reach for anything that is more processed because it is convenient. You can also try having a cup of herbal tea or just some good spring water. Often our body gives a signal to trigger hunger when actually it is dehydrated and asking for liquid.
Try just going for a walk. Changing your energy state with mild to moderate exercise will help get the blood flowing and change the temporary brain chemistry that may be causing the cravings to hit.
Distract yourself from pesky thoughts of food and immerse yourself in a completely different activity. Find something creative—a craft or a hobby— to do that makes you lose your sense of time. You may go for hours without even thinking about food and maybe even have something beautiful that you produced at the end of it!
The brain does indeed use carbohydrates for fuel, but the body can easily make these out of protein, leafy green vegetables, and the healthy fats. As an endocrinologist and an epidemiologist from Harvard pointed out in the Journal of the American Medical Association, carbohydrates are “a nutrient for which humans have no absolute requirement.”
If you can go cold turkey, go for it, but many people also find success changing their diet gradually over time and letting their body slowly adjust to the changes. Just be aware that once you change your diet, the temptation to go back to carbs will always be there and indulging just once puts you in the danger zone of slipping back into old patterns. It truly is an addiction that is as powerful as some narcotics.