No carbohydrate addiction- what?

  • Dear Friends and Readers,
  • Ever wonder why white carbs are so addictive? The bad news is that even medical doctors disagree that there is such a thing as carbohydrate addiction. I tend to disagree, however John McDougall, MD, one of the participants in the debate on fad diets last spring in Washington, D.C., an event sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture who  is the head of the McDougall Program, a center for the rehabilitation of dietary diseases at St. Helena Hospital in the Napa Valley of California, and a lecturer in nutrition says “We are designed to be seekers of carbohydrates,” he says. “The tip of the tongue has one kind of calorie-seeking taste bud, and that is for carbohydrates.” But the famous Dr. Oz  disagrees and says “It has to do with chemicals that travel from the stomach to the part of the brain where you produce dopamine, a hormone and neurotransmitter that affects the brain’s pleasure and reward centers. Once these areas of the brain are stimulated, you’ll keep on wanting more of the addictive substance, whether it’s alcohol, drugs or carbs.”
  • Others say that carbohydrate addiction is a compelling hunger, craving, or desire for carbohydrate-rich foods; or an escalating, recurring need or drive for starches, snack foods, junk food, or sweets. We all know the bad ones. Carbohydrate-rich foods include, but are not limited to: breads, bagels, cakes, cereal, chocolate, cookies, crackers, danish, fruit and fruit juice, ice cream, potato chips, pasta, potatoes, pretzels, rice, pie, popcorn, and sugar-sweetened beverages. (Is there nothing left?) But the list gets worse and includes  carbohydrate act-alikes (sugar substitutes, alcoholic beverages, and monosodium glutamate)  also may trigger intense or recurring carbohydrate cravings.  This of course leads to  weight gain, but the picture is even bleaker. Too many refined carbs—baked goods, French fries or processed snack foods like chips and pretzels—are simply toxic for your body. They’re often responsible for visceral or omentum fat, the dangerous fat you can carry around your middle that actually inhibits your body’s ability to make insulin, which makes you more prone to diabetes. White carbs also increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and even cancer.
  • As I said earlier doctors disagree about whether there is such a thing as carbohydrate addiction,  there are some doctors say “there are people whose biological processes that convert food into energy fail to perform as they are supposed to. These doctors add “for reasons that are not yet clearly understood, sustained high levels of insulin in the blood result.” The elevated insulin, according to their theory, makes carbohydrate addicts crave food throughout the day. But a big question — why does this condition create carbohydrate craving? — is not answered.
  • I wish I could give you a bullet, but there is no magical bullet for why we are predisposed to love carbohydrates, but my research indicates and the following facts seem to be shared by food authorities. It takes about 28 days to turn off the physiological or psychological addiction to carbohydrates. Start small by substituting complex carbohydrates such as fruit. Doctors say don’t worry about calories just try to wean yourself off the donuts, cookies, white or brown rice, potatoes, potato chips, french fries and eat lots of protein, nuts, cheese and fats. Drink lots of water to flush the toxins. Stay away from events or activities such as pancake breakfasts  or bagel and donut day at the office. The promise is that after a month, you will lose weight and the cravings will stop. However, if you retreat to your old habits the weight will come back on and so will the cravings.  We only have this one life, this one body. The system biologically and socially is stacked against us. As the holidays near watch out for over consumption of alcohol and all the other treats and foods that come along with these celebrations. Start today and cut out one carbohydrate. Start with one that is dispensable- like potato chips- my nemesis. Seek a partner or  a friend or a group -anything that will support you in freeing yourself from carbohydrate “addiction”. And remember if its’ bad for you, its bad for your family too.
  • Signed,
The Addict Writes.

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