Are You Addicted to Sugar and Carbs?
Author: Shannon Miller
Article by Teresa Trower M.A. LMHC
Licensed Mental Health Counselor specializing in Anxiety, Pre-diabetes and Diabetes.
Because blood sugar levels must be controlled in preventing, controlling, and reversing diabetes, the cravings for sweets and carbs must be addressed.
Unfortunately, some people are addicted to sugar and eating even a small amount sets up a powerful craving. It is similar to the alcoholic who can’t have even one drink.
For those without a sugar addiction, more moderate approaches are effective. Many times the body is nutrient deficient and the first line of defense is to start a program of cellular nutrition through pharmaceutical grade vitamin supplements. Certain vitamins can actually aid with sugar cravings.
A doctor’s supervision is advised to insure that vitamins are not interfering or contraindicated with current medications.
A major cause of sugar cravings is stress. Stress raises your cortisol levels, increases inflammation, and sets the stage for metabolic syndrome. Long term chronic stress not only exacerbates diabetes but can actually cause diabetes.
Another cause of cravings is sleep deprivation or fatigue. During the night, your body produces leptin, a hormone which controls your appetite. A night of less than 7 hours of sleep will interfere with the production of leptin and leave you feeling hungrier the next day.
Similarly, if you’re under stress and your serotonin levels are reduced, you may crave sweets and carbs as a way of raising your “feel good” neurotransmitter, serotonin. This works for a short time. Then your serotonin level crashes and the cravings return.
Over time, the over-consumption of sweets and carbs causes weight gain, particularly around the middle of the body. When the waist size begins to increase, this is often accompanied by food cravings, night time eating, afternoon fatigue, and difficulty losing weight. This is indicative of inflammation or Glycemic Stress, which is a precursor to Diabetes.
To overcome the cravings for sweets and carbs, the issues that cause the cravings must be addressed.
If you feel that you are addicted to sweets, clean out your pantry and read labels for hidden sugars in products.
Some sweet foods, such as ice cream, are known to be addictive from the first bite. Ever tried to have just one bite of ice cream?
Learn to manage your stress.
Learn what triggers your stress and take steps to calm yourself on a daily basis before it begins to affect your blood sugar. Regarding serotonin, there are other ways to raise serotonin levels besides eating sweets and carbs. Moderate exercise works. Taking a short walk can interfere with the urge. Taking a few slow, deep breaths can turn off the stress response. Do not underestimate the role of stress.
Train your body to enjoy natural sugars. Find fruits that you enjoy and keep a supply in your home or office.
Create your own low calorie snack packs with a few almonds or walnuts with healthy fats to curb your hunger.
In my practice, I utilize low glycemic shakes and bars, such as Usana’s Reset program, to help clients lose the cravings. Once the cravings have been eliminated, it’s easier to limit the sugars and carbs.
If worries are keeping you awake, make an appointment with a professional to find productive ways to deal with your stress.
Finally, make yourself accountable to someone. People are usually more successful when they know they have to report in to another person. Ask a friend to be an “accountability buddy”.
There are many professionals who can assist with sugar cravings and weight loss. Registered Dietitians and Nutritionists are trained to deal with meal planning and nutrition education.