If you have followed previous blogs, you will know that I have successfully broken my addiction to refined carbohydrates, then re-introduced them into my diet. I found myself re-addicted, then thinking I had broken the addiction, deciding I was still addicted, and, frankly, uncertain. Well, I am certain now. I AM re-addicted to these carbs. I find myself craving chips, sweets, breads, and my appetite is up for everything. Or is it? Is my appetite increase really addiction? Yes!
I used to be satisfied on as little as 800 calories/day, which was TOO little for good health and I would have to occasionally force myself to eat more to assure proper nutrition. I averaged 1200 calories/day for about 6 months, but after indulging, I now find that I need at least 1700 calories/day to be satiated. The 500 calorie/day difference amounts to 1 pound/week! While I am still losing S-L-O-W-L-Y, it is not the dramatic 2-3 lbs/week I had been losing before that. And, I find it quite easy to maintain a daily intake of under 2000 calories, BUT….
Sweets, crunchy snacks, bread, potatoes, etc all look much better to me than they did when I was totally abstaining, so the temptation to deviate from prudent eating is MUCH higher now, requiring “will power” to avoid these foods. While I can do this, for the most part, the appeal results in too-frequently diving into ice cream, some cookies, chocolate, potato chips, etc. And, as a bonafide carb addict, I have great difficulty putting down a pint of Ben & Jerry’s after eating only 1/2 cup. That just gets me started, so I finish the carton. When I do such binging, my food intake jumps to 3000 calories, from that alone, and would result in the slow staircase to obesity, with each small rise followed by maintaining the weight for a while, then another small rise. Hey– we don’t become huge overnight!
Since I still want to lose 50 more pounds, the easiest and most healthy way for me to do this is to go back to avoiding these snacks entirely, which means going through the carb withdrawal for a few days and following a diet much closer to the Paleo Diet. This is paramount to get the body to switch from glucose-burning (which we get from carbs) to fat-burning. Once our metabolism changes this way, the belly bulge and hips that we hate are our energy sources, so it is as though we are being fed via IV. If our blood sugar drops, no problem– our bodies just burn some fat for energy, replacing the glucose with ketones made from the fat, and our hunger is largely tamed and unwanted fat is lost. Without the ravenous hunger, it is easy to stick with sensible meals and quite easy to avoid the refined carbohydrates to which we had been addicted.
So, no more slice of toast with breakfast. Instead, I will eat an egg, some turkey meat or ground bison, and even an ounce of cheese, and a bit of fruit for the other nutrients, isoflavinoids, and anti-oxidants. I alternate egg days with fruit/cottage cheese/whey protein days. I usually skip lunch or eat an energy bar that is mostly nuts, with a bit of dried fruit. Instead of burgers with thin buns, or whole wheat tortillas, I will just eat them sandwiched between two halves of a romaine leaf. And, while I LOVE jalapeno potato chips, I will forego them and eat a serving or three of veggies or salad. Desert, if any, will be a little more fruit. And so on. My goal is to keep my carbohydrates to below 100g/day and to avoid the high glycemic index ones– foods containing sugar, flour, rice, potatoes, corn, winter squash, bananas– and choose green veggies and fibrous fruits. No fruit juices– just whole fruit. For fun, I make a fruit salad with all the fresh fruits I can find at the supermarket, usually the ones on sale, so each batch is a bit different. Hint: drizzle with squeezed lemon and/or lime juice to reduce oxidation and add to refrigerator life, if you make enough to last for several days, as I do.
If you’re a carb addict, I can hear your groans now. How B-O-R-I-N-G! No crackers, no chips, no Ben & Jerry’s, no chocolate, no fun, right? And, I would be the first to agree with you, because I have felt that HUNDREDS of times, if not many thousands. But, there is something you should know. This strict eating is to break the carb addiction! It is Draconian but necessary for a week or two to break this addiction. After this period of time, this “boring” diet is not so boring at all. In fact, it is fun to discover new vegetables and dishes that are tasty AND healthy. And, the ice cream, chocolate, potato chips, crunchy snacks, etc, all take on a greatly reduced appeal. This is the key to The Weight Agency Method, which is quite similar to the Paleo Diet but allows dairy and later, SOME whole grains. This is one reason I don’t call this a “diet” but more of a weight-loss method, because it it teaches principles and explains some of the psycho-physical effects of our food choices.
We have all heard about how crack cocaine is very addictive, as is nicotine, heroin, and some other drugs. One thing in common is that their addictiveness is largely dependent on how fast one can get it into the bloodstream. Snorting cocaine makes it more addictive than eating it. Similarly, smoking crack cocaine makes it more addictive than snorting it. The same holds true for many/most other drugs, which is why heroin addicts usually end up injecting it directly into the bloodstream. Well, refined carbohydrates are akin to crack cocaine! The faster they are absorbed, the greater the addiction potential. If you study a glycemic index table, the snack foods are at the upper end, and the “boring” foods are at the lower end. For this reason, the lower the glycemic index, the slower the absorption, the less the addictiveness. I won’t set a threshold, but do study the foods at the bottom compared with the foods at the top. One of the highest glycemic indices we’ve found was from rice cakes! While not calorie dense and while many think this makes it a diet food, the glycemic index in one study showed that rice cakes are over 100 on the index! Compare this with glucose (~100) and sucrose (table sugar) is about 85. Dates are 103. You can find more info on http://www.montignac.com/en/search-for-a-specific-glycemic-index/ and other sites. Be prepared to find quite a bit of variation in values– I have seen rice cakes listed at 78 and at 140. Much depends on how well cooked something is, and how it was prepared and measured, but while specific numbers may be questionable, the general idea is not. Avoid foods at the high end of the table and eat the foods at the low end with caution. I say that because some foods, like peanuts, are only about 14 in glycemic index, but are mostly fat and hence carry significant calories.
So, here’s to my breaking the addiction AGAIN. Stay tuned for a report on my success.