Do you happen to have an irresistible hunger, a morbid craving for sweets, bread, pizza or pasta? Do you often have drops in energy, lack of concentration, swings mood not justified?
Americans would say that you are carb addicted , which means you are addicted to carbohydrates.
But what does this term mean? There’s been a lot of talk lately, but is it a real addiction? What are the consequences?
Let’s go in order and evaluate some aspects that underlie the problem:
1. Qualitative alterations
Although today we eat mainly to satisfy emotionally, the purpose of nourishment is to give the cells of our body energy and substances essential for their functions.
In a nutshell, every time we eat something the amount of sugar in the blood rises and the pancreas produces insulin, a key hormone that allows cells to absorb energy.
In the ancient world this mechanism was little and delicately solicited . Food was scarce, physical work was high and the foods available were wholesome and unrefined.
Their ability to raise blood sugar was quite limited. Today we are instead surrounded by refined foods and therefore lacking in fiber, rich in sugars and therefore capable of stimulating the production of insulin in a completely abnormal way.
This qualitatively alters our metabolic response. In other words, our metabolism is unable to tolerate such violent stimulation and therefore loses its natural self-regulation qualities.
The pancreas begins to produce excessive amounts of insulin and the chances of this insulin becoming less and less effective increase, giving rise to a vicious circle called insulin resistance and which is the preamble to diabetes.
This altered mechanism also excessively stimulates the appetite and contributes to worsening our physical and mental performance.
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2. Quantitative alterations
The other aspect to keep in mind is that which alters the quantitative component of our metabolism making us look for foods rich in sugars in a morbid way.
Why does this happen? Every time we eat we are satisfying a primary need. On the cerebral level, this involves a release of dopamine which gives us a feeling of pleasure. In some cases it is referred to as carb craving , that is, an excessive search for carbohydrates (sugars) to eat due to abstinence due to a diet or a temporary or voluntary renunciation.
Evolutionarily this mechanism means that behaviors useful for the survival of the species (eating and reproducing for example) give pleasure and fulfillment. In the natural world this works perfectly but if, as it happens today, we are surrounded by artificial foods designed to make us produce huge amounts of dopamine, we enter a trap.
Dopamine in fact runs out quickly and, when it is produced in excess, the subsequent sudden drop leads to frustration, boredom, dissatisfaction, emotional states that strongly push us to search again for the food that previously made us feel good . Here’s how addiction arises.
3. Social alterations
We are social animals and we influence each other. We live in groups or rather tribes and seek confirmation through the behavior of others. For this reason, those who are sporty tend to be with sportsmen but those who drink, smoke or use drugs in the same way surround themselves with others.
These networks of social influence make change more complex because the person not only has to get rid of their negative habits but also has to unravel the meshes that keep them prisoner.
Although carbohydrate addiction is certainly less serious than other forms of addiction, it still ends up affecting our behaviors, worsening our health and thus limiting the quality of our life.
Luckily getting out of this is less difficult than it seems. 4 weeks of absolute abstinence from refined sugars and grains, eating modest amounts of whole grains, fruits, legumes, lots of vegetables and continuing to eat proteins and fats regularly are generally a great strategy to get rid of this bondage.
As the weeks go by, stability is regained on all fronts: in terms of energy, as regards concentration, mood and, last but not least, the freedom not to depend on a food. You should try!
If you are interested in how Potentiating Nutrition works and how you can regulate yourself while eating, watch the free video lesson “The timing of Nutrition” . So as to understand more why you eat too much.