It may be hard to believe but there really is such a thing as carbohydrate addiction...yes, a number of people are enslaved to carbohydrates....Oh no...Not another addiction definition. Well...yes unfortunately it is.
It's possible to be hooked on just about anything...certain kinds of food are no exception. Addiction is described in the oxford dictionary as...Doing or using something habitually or compulsively.Generally carbohydrates are an essential category of food that folks in industrialized 'modern' nations eat in abundance.This important food group is vital for your ongoing health and day to day energy requirements. 'Carbs' or carbohydrates represent one of the three main food groups or macronutrients. You will also be familiar with the other two...protein and fat. The carbohydrates are normally found in the starch of commonly available foods such as...
- grains and cereals
- legumes - chick peas, lentils, beans
Also, carbohydrates are normally found in the naturally occurring sugars found in the following common foods.
- Sweet vegetables such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrot
- fruit juice
- milk...but not cheese
Some foods contain extremely high levels of carbohydrate while some contain very low levels. Grain based foods, potatoes, rice, pasta and legumes have a tendency to contain high levels of carbohydrate while many salad vegetables tend to contain much lower levels. The carbohydrate that is found in protein and most fats is zero or near zero.
Starch is what is known as a complex carbohydrate. It's termed complex because many simple sugar molecules that occur naturally in the food are joined together to form a much larger molecule. Starchy foods can definitely pack a punch because they are absorbed rapidly into the blood stream where they become blood glucose or blood sugar. Starches can offer you with instant energy and force a rapid response from your pancreas to produce insulin. They do not taste sweet however.
Is Sugar a Carbohydrate?
Yes, sugar is actually a carbohydrate. Probably the most simple and recognized form of sugar is glucose. Glucose is additionally the building block of starch. Interestingly, the greater simple sugar molecules that are joined together, the less sweet is the flavor from the food containing them.
A number of people have daily, intense cravings for food for foods that contain...
- lots of starch
- sugary snack foods such as sweets and chocolates
- burgers and other junk food
Cravings for these types of foods is how carbohydrate addiction may present itself in certain individuals. Most people think that snack food and junk food is not healthy for you because it has a high fat content. Even though the fat content could be high...it's more the sort of fat that is the problem. Although some food manufacturers have produced low fat versions of their snack and junk foods, many low fat foods contain higher levels of carbohydrate than their higher fat counterparts. Just do a comparison next time you're out shopping and you'll see for yourself.
Many people who try to eat responsibly eat low fat this and low fat that, thinking they're doing the right thing... BUT they're adding to their daily carbohydrate intake in an unbalanced way. An excessively high and unbalanced carbohydrate intake puts extra stress on your pancreas as it's stimulated to produce an ever higher insulin level in reaction to the blood sugar level being spiked whenever you snack...or eat a main meal. This can lead to weight gain, insulin resistance and coronary heart disease. A number of people are more susceptible than others in their desire to eat considerable amounts of carbohydrates every time they eat...which can develop into carbohydrate addiction ...where the individual simply 'has' to consume high carbohydrate foods to be able to feel satisfied.
While not everybody has a problem with carbohydrate addiction or will become a carb addict, everybody should reduce their reliance upon high carbohydrates at each and every meal and snack time and think about a balanced approach to eating and snacking.
A low carbohydrate diet could very well benefit you if you suffer from a certain amount of carbohydrate addiction. Be careful however. Make sure that you have some good quality carbohydrates everyday...but not necessarily each and every meal. Carbohydrates are nutritionally important...it is the excess...the almost complete reliance on...and the source of carbohydrates that is a problem in many peoples diets.
But wait a minute...isn't fat in foods the major issue?
A sensible consumption of 'good' fats in your diet will not make you fat or give you heart disease. Good fats are crucial for your health and should form part of your everyday balanced diet. That means that somewhere in each of your three main daily meals, good fats ought to be present...but not over represented. Remember, balanced eating includes protein, fats and carbohydrates.
How does one define a carbohydrate addict?
Well...do some of the following factors apply to you?
- high blood pressure
- high blood cholesterol, especially high LDL, low HDL and high triglyceride levels
- type 2 diabetes
- coronary artery disease
- Difficulty controlling your weight and fat gain
- do you like to snack between meals with sweets and pastries
- drink lots of sodas or 'fizzy' drinks
- eats lots of pasta, rice and breads
- is your level of daily physical activity minimal or non existent
- are you always stressed
- do you substance abuse to deal with your stress levels, smoking, alcohol, recreational drugs
This is not a definitive list, but the more factors you answered yes to, the more likely it is that you may have some extent of carbohydrate addiction. I recommend a very well thought out and straight forward questionnaire to determine your level of carbohydrate addiction which you will discover in "the carbohydrate addicts healthy heart program" by Dr Richard Heller, Dr Rachael Heller...and Dr Frederic Vagnini."Therefore carbohydrate addiction is a physical imbalance leading to a compelling hunger, craving or desire for high-carbohydrate foods - an escalating , recurring need or drive for starches, snack foods , junk foods or sweets"
If this sounds like you, then consider re-balancing your diet to include much less reliance on breads, grains, pasta, rice and at the very least cutting way back on commercial snack foods and junk food snacks. These foods just fan the fire and feed the flames of an addiction that so many people just kind of fall into without even realizing it.
What is so bad about carbohydrate addiction?
Consider the list above. Many people who are carbohydrate addicts struggle with many or all of the issues listed. Moderating and balancing your addiction can calm the cravings that can lead to lots of these health issues. Although it is often recommend that everybody consume a low Glycemic Index diet, this may not be sufficient to regulate the craving for carbohydrate foods as is the case with 'carbo' addiction.
Low Glycemic Index and Carbohydrate Addiction
Low GI foods can still contain a high percentage of carbohydrate...but being a low GI food will mean that the carbohydrates will absorb slower into your blood stream and produce a much more moderate and time delayed blood sugar and insulin level rise. This is very beneficial and a far healthier way to eat and drink...however, if you suffer from carbohydrate addiction it may be necessary for you to manage your carbohydrate intake more aggressively to manage your blood sugar levels and insulin levels.