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Last Updated on February 27, 2018

Are Carbs More Addictive Than Cocaine?

Are Carbs More Addictive Than Cocaine?

Mmm, bread. There’s a good chance you love the stuff. And if you can, somehow, turn down a basket of rolls at a restaurant, some other carb probably tempts you. Have you ever wondered why we love eating pasta, pizza, burgers and plain old bread so much? Carbs (not unlike cocaine) give you a rush.

With a new year upon us, there’s a high probability you’ve decided to get in better shape. This involves lessening your bread/carb intake. But this isn’t easy, even if you think of yourself as a motivated and strong-willed individual. You see, carbohydrates create cravings in your brain and can create intense longing for them.

Sure, carbohydrates aren’t a drug, but in the same way coke can wreck your brain, carbs can wreck your body.[1] While some carb lovers may be pointing to the food pyramid for justification, keep in mind that graph was created in the 70’s, long before obesity became such an epidemic.

Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health says,

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“You could live your whole life and never eat a single carbohydrate—other than what you get from mother’s milk and the tiny amount that comes naturally in meat—and probably be just fine.”

Yes, we need carbohydrates, but our bodies can make them with the good stuff we eat, like leafy greens and even animal fat. We don’t need the refined carbs.

Are carbs necessary?

While we do need a certain amount of carbohydrates to fuel all of our metabolic processes so we can have energy to do things from breathe, digest, run, do work, think, etc. there is too much of a good thing. Especially if the “thing” is refined carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates will short-circuit your body.

Your metabolism normally stores energy from food so you can use it as fuel later, say for a workout or just getting through your work day. If your diet is packed with carbs (think: bagel in the morning, sandwich at lunch, pasta for dinner), you’re going to reprogram your metabolism, locking your food away as unburnable fat. When you get hungry again you will only want carbs.[2]

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    All carbohydrates convert to sugar in your bloodstream.

    It comes down to is this: the more refined the carbohydrates are, the faster they convert to sugar. But make no mistake, even if it happens slowly, all carbs become sugar.

    When your body breaks down a food, your cells look for glucose to convert into energy. They send this on to the muscles and tissues in your body. If they find themselves with extra glucose, they store it, mainly in the liver, but the rest becomes stored fat.

    Too much of any carbohydrate can lead to chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes since it all ends up as glucose.

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    Reap the health benefits of good carbs

      Don’t worry, this isn’t the article that tells you to drop the carbs cold turkey and ignore the cravings. While that would certainly be an impressive success, for now you can focus on choosing carbohydrates full of fiber. These are the carbs that absorb slowly into your system, therefore avoiding those dangerous spikes in your blood sugar levels. These include whole grains, veggies, fruits, and of course beans.

      Minimize the health risk of bad carbs by eating fewer refined and processed carbohydrates that strip away beneficial fiber. While it can be so tempting to pick up a cinnamon bun while shopping at the mall, is it really delicious enough to risk your health over? If you can focus on the long-term effects, saying no to a sweet treat can be simpler.

      Replace refined carbohydrates with vegetables when you prepare or order a meal. One of my favorite tricks is using riced cauliflower in place of rice. It’s excellent in everything from a southern meal to something loaded with curry!

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      And don’t forget you can get enough carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, and protein. Start small and order your next burger without the bun – opt for lettuce instead! It’s not about changing your whole eating routine, but rather substituting some of the poorer habits.

      Do what you can to lessen your consumption of pasta, white bread, white rice, and chips in particular. This is so tricky, since these are the items that always seem to be within reach. If you eat regularly throughout the day and keep your blood sugar steady, it can be much easier to say no to these tempting foods.

      Just say no

      The next time your tempted to reach for a slice of bread at a restaurant or order bagel at Panera, remember that you wouldn’t start your day or begin a meal by ingesting drugs, so why would you pay for something so detrimental to your health? It may feel dramatic to think of it this way, but the research is there; refined carbohydrates are unnecessary, unhealthy and unwise. Dare to resist!

      Featured photo credit: Couleur via pixabay.com

      Reference

      More by this author

      Sam Aloysius

      Self proclaimed chai expert

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      How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

      How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

      Keeping yourself awake at work can be a real challenge when you’re bored, exhausted or sleep-deprived.

      But before you reach for that can of Red Bull, bottle of Mountain Dew, or pot of coffee, try these healthy remedies to stimulate your 5 different senses and help you stay awake at work:

      Sight – Visual Stimulation

      The first thing you do when you wake up is opening your eyes, so your visual stimulation is very important to keeping your energy level high.

      1. Maximize your exposure to light.

      Your body’s internal rhythm is regulated by the amount of light you receive. The greater your exposure, the more alert you will feel.

      Open the shades and let in the sunlight. Step outside or look out the window. Turn on all the artificial lights in your office or around your work space.

      2. Exercise your eyes (or give them a break).

      Roll your eyes up and down, side to side and diagonally. Rotate them clockwise and then counterclockwise. Squeeze them shut and then open them wide. Do this several times.

      Reading and sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods can lead to eye fatigue.

      Take regular breaks with deliberate blinking and looking out into the distance.

      3. Take note of your environment.

      Learn to enjoy people-watching. Observe their activities, speech, body language and interactions with others. Notice the details of building, trees and other objects around you, including their color, shape and size.

      By doing this, you’re not only relaxing your eye muscles but also calming your mind.

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      Hearing – Auditory Stimulation

      What you hear or listen to have direct effect on your brain. This is why we feel so annoyed and sometimes angry when we hear construction noise when we’re working.

      4. Engage in conversation.

      Talk to a friend or colleague. Trade funny stories. Discuss your business venture, a creative idea, the latest political scandal, or any other topic that interests you.

      Practice mindful listening to what you and the other person are saying. Tune into the tone, volume and content of the conversation.

      Learn how to practice better listening from this guide:

      Why Listen to Reply Instead of Understand Is the Key to Failure

      5. Listen to upbeat music.

      Try hip hop, rock or jazz to keep you alert. Instrumental, non-distracting music works best.

      Sing, whistle, and hum along if you can. Plug in the earphones if you must.

      Smell – Olfactory Stimulation

      If you’re feeling sleepy and suddenly smell the coffee, you’ll probably feel more energetic. This is why smell is an influential stimulation.

      6. Work your nose.

      Aroma therapists recommend essential oils of peppermint (to boost energy), rosemary (to build awareness), eucalyptus (to increase oxygen), cedarwood  (to activate your mind), and cinnamon (to improve your reaction time).

      If you don’t have essential oils on hand, you can use lotions or burning candles that provide the same scents.

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      Citrus like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are also natural olfactory stimulants. Get a whiff of these citrus scents to stay awake.

      Taste – Gustatory Stimulation

      If you want an energetic day at work, you can’t let your tongue feeling plain and flavorless.

      7. Have a good breakfast.

      Start off with the most important meal of the day.

      Think fresh, light and healthy: bran cereals, wholegrain breads, fruits, and yogurt.

      Nix the heavy stuff like sausages, greasy eggs or pancakes.

      Need some breakfasts inspirations? Check out these ideas:

      20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

      8. Drink lots of water.

      Keep a glass or bottle of H2O near you and sip from it throughout the day. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and sleepy.

      So make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Not sure how much to drink? This can help you:

      How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You)

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      Think that you’ve been drinking too little water? Try these friendly reminders:

      3 Best Apps To Help You Drink Much More Water

      9. Eat energy-boosting snacks.

      Nuts and fruits (like bananas, apples and strawberries) are sure bets. Pairings with staying power include baby carrots with a low-fat cream cheese dip; celery sticks with peanut butter; red peppers with hummus; and plain yogurt with granola.

      Avoid carb-filled, sugary snacks that make you crash and leave you feeling tired.

      Here you can find some healthy snack ideas:

      25 Healthy Snack Recipes To Make Your Workday More Productive

      Touch – Tactile Stimulation

      Last but not least, your sense of touch will make you physically feel more energetic and less stressful.

      10. Splash cold water on your face.

      Do this in the morning, during bathroom breaks and in the afternoon. Being exposed to cold water pushes your body to adjust and regulate its internal temperature, which in turn keeps you alert.

      This works the same as you take a cold shower to increase mood and alertness. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

      5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

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      11. Use acupressure.

      Apply pressure to, massage, or tap on the stimulation points of your body. These include the top of your head, the back of your neck, the back of your hand (between the thumb and index finger), just below the knee and your earlobes.

      Watch this video to learn about the acupressure points you can try:

      12. Get moving.

      Move away from your chair and stand, walk, run or climb the stairs. Feel the earth under your feet. Stretch and twist. Do jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups and back bends.

      And if you need to move more discreetly, wiggle your feet, bounce your knee up and down, scrunch your toes, or cross your legs.

      You can also try some simple stretches and exercises at your desk:

      Unlike addictive caffeine fixes, these remedies activate your senses, engage your attention, amp up your energy and prevent morning grogginess and afternoon slumps without the side effects or health risks.

      Pick a few ways from this list of suggestions and practice them consistently. And when you do this consistently, you’ll soon see the positive results — a more energetic and productive you at work.

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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