Just the other day I was on a popular diabetes advocacy website reading through some really touching and interesting blog posts from women who suffer from type 2 diabetes.
The woman was sharing how after attending a diabetes meetup with other women in her area, she got into a conversation about why she has aggressive cravings for carbs and sugar.
Like her the other women in the conversation agreed to having the same experience.
The way she described it lead me to understand that no matter how they tried to tuck it away, pacify it, or hide from the cravings, they just wouldn't diminish.
I thought to myself, “hey I know a thing or two about this.”
So here is my take on addressing the question, why do I crave carbs and sugar?
In my last series about understanding sugar I painted a pretty clear picture for you that sugar is addictive and that carbohydrates are essentially sugar.
Sugar is so addictive that eating just a little bit of it sets you up to want more sugar.
To illustrate this let me share with you a story about an experiment my friend Molly did with me.
Back in college at UVA Molly was probably one of the most health conscious people I knew at the time.
I’ll never forget one evening during our last year she dragged me to a drag-bingo charity event...at least I think it was a charity event.
Anyway…For the game we had our bingo cards and poured onto the table as covering chips were, you guessed it, Skittles.
Taste the rainbow, ya'll.
While playing, a few of the other people at the table were nibbling on the Skittles as the game went along.
At this point Molly and I were not eating the Skittles when she tells me, “sugar is so addictive I bet that anyone at this table who starts eating them can't have just one.”
She goes on to explain that once we let sugar into our body it creates a surge of sorts that taps into our brain’s reward system, making us feel the urge to eat more of the sugar.
At the time of her explaining this I had eaten a Skittle, and by the time she finished I had already gobbled down a handful of them, and finding it increasingly difficult to not continue you picking from the pile in front of me.
Needless to say, she won the bet.
What Molly was explaining back then was that eating that little bit of sugar triggered an intense release of the happy hormone dopamine into our system.
Dopamine tells our body it’s all good, so to speak, and drives us to continue doing the thing that causes the dopamine to release.
All in all, it ain’t your fault, girlfriend!
The sugar in the food that you are already eating is causing you to want more sugar.
If I were in a conversation with the average diabetic who really cares about monitoring their blood sugar, the first thing I can imagine them saying to me is something along the lines of I don’t consume a lot of refined sugar. I can't— I'm a diabetic.
Allow me to put things into perspective for you.
Do you eat whole wheat bread?
Scratch that, do you eat bread in general?
Whole wheat, white, brown, whole grain, 12-grain, wherever your preference, just 2 slices of it is equal to 2 tablespoons of sugar.
How easy is it to have 2 slices of bread?
You can do that without trying.
2 slices of toast with breakfast, 2 slices for that sandwich at lunch.
Heck if you are anything like my family used to be, you'd slap a slice of bread on just about anything.
Yes, I was that person who was raised pairing a slice of lite-bread with a cold piece of chicken and walking out the door eating it as a snack (or in some cases a quick breakfast).
By the end of the day how many tablespoons of sugar have you had just by eating bread? Let's not even draw pastas, cereals, and soft drinks (yep, even the diet ones) into the picture which can easily weigh in more tablespoons of sugar per serving than a couple slices of bread can.
In order to address and pull the reigns on your sugar/carb cravings, the best thing you can do is reconsider your relationship with fat.
Eating good fats is far superior to anything else you can eat when working to control your blood glucose levels and when trying to tame your cravings.
Eating fat has a number of benefits that always get overlooked for all the badmouthing and naysaying the media and our government throws at it.
For instance, most vitamins our body uses are fat soluble which means that eating fat is essential to help those nutrients be transported and absorbed by your cells.
What’s the use of eating healthy stuff like carrots, greens, sweet potatoes, fish, nuts, and broccoli if your body can’t even use it?
Fat also allows your body to more readily use stored fat you already have.
What could be an easier way to flatten your tummy like you've been wanting to accomplish for so long!
Fat is satiating; you feel full for longer after eating.
Fat allows you to spend less energy monitoring 2 of the most undesirable aspects of watching what you eat: calorie counting and carb counting.
Lastly, protein and carbs insight an insulin response from your pancreas to be processed.
Fat does not.
To tackle any sort of craving requires you to work at it, but knowing what foods work for you and work against you makes that task a whole lot easier.
By finding ways to incorporate more healthy fats into your eating while cutting back on your refined carb sources will make a world of difference to your emotions and your cravings for the better.
Eating more fish, olive and coconut oil, real butter, avocados, and the saturated fat from meat should do the trick.