It’s kinda amazing how satisfying it is to bite into a slightly crunchy, gooey filled, delicately iced doughnut… That is, until the guilt sets in and the sugar overload starts to make you feel a little sick. Whether you’ve got a thing for sweet or savory high-carb foods, time and time again, we keep reaching for these comforting foods regardless of how they make us feel. But, recent research revealed that there may be a physical reason you feel like you can’t resist chips, cakes, ice-cream or good old macaroni cheese. Are carbohydrates addictive? Read on to find out…
How Carbohydrates Affect Your Body
Every time you eat carbohydrates, your brain produces serotonin and dopamine, two hormones that make you feel calm, content, relaxed and happy! So, it’s only natural to want to pig out on high-carb foods after a bad day.
Carbs also increase your insulin levels which naturally tell your appetite that you’re full and don’t want to eat any more.
The problem comes in when you eat too many carbs over a longer period of time and your body stops being able to determine how much insulin is in your blood. Then, eating high-carb foods doesn’t trigger the message that you’re full, leading you to eat more than you really need.
The results? We need more and more cookies, chocolate and pizza to actually feel comforted by eating high-carb foods. It’s similar to the way your body develops a tolerance to caffeine or other drugs where you need more and more to have the same effect.
So, it’s actually physically harder to moderate how much you want to eat sweet and starchy foods than foods that are higher in protein or fat.
Signs You’re Addicted to Carbs
While carbohydrates are a major nutrient your body needs every day, eating too many carbs can lead to a host of health problems including anxiety, depression, type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease.
You might be addicted to carbs if you:
- Are emotionally attached to food. This includes eating when you’re not hungry and eating as a way to comfort yourself.
- Often eat the whole packet before you realise it. Or, make yourself feel uncomfortably full because you’ve had too much.
- Feel like you NEED sugary or starchy foods regularly throughout the day.
How Do You Break the Carbohydrate Addiction?
If you’re addicted to carbs, luckily, there’s a few simple things you can do to break the cycle:
- Eat small meals often. If you let yourself get too hungry, you’re more likely to overeat, especially when it comes to high-carb foods.
- Include healthy sources of low GI, unprocessed carbs. Your body needs some carbs every day so cutting them out is only going to magnify your cravings. Choosing low GI, unprocessed carbs will give your body what it needs while stabilising your blood sugar and hunger levels.
- Read the labels to check you’re not eating foods that are actually high in refined sugars.
- Eat plenty of protein and healthy fats to keep you full for longer and reduce cravings.
- Create healthy habits. Instead of always sitting down to watch tv with a tub of ice cream, find new and healthier ways to comfort yourself.
So, what do you think? Are carbohydrates addictive? Share your experiences and thoughts by commenting below!