You might be surprised to learn that food can be addictive and act like a drug in your body, but it’s true.
Some of the most troublesome food addictions include:
Sugar cravings (chocolate, cakes, lollies, biscuits, pastries), carbohydrate cravings (bread & pasta).
Refined sugar has very little to recommend it. Once consumed it rapidly goes about increasing your blood glucose and insulin levels and giving you a short lived energy burst. Sadly, when it’s effects wear off you are dumped back down again. In the meanwhile unstable blood glucose levels can create headaches, irritability, tiredness, an inability to concentrate and feelings of being faint or shaky. Even worse high sugar diets can predispose you to Type II Diabetes Mellitus.
You may wonder then why we crave sugar in the first place? Isn’t glucose meant to be good for us? Don’t we need it for our brains and to power our muscles during exercise?
The answer is Yes and No.
All carbohydrates break down to glucose. That includes all grains, fruits and produce made from sugar. Clearly there are good and bad carbohydrates. The difference is the rate they covert to glucose. Refined carbohydrates such as added sugar or cakes, biscutes, white bread, white rice, etc., have a high GI Factor. This means that they are coverted to glucose very rapidly. Therefore, the side-effects mentioned above are far more likely to occur with these types of sugar products.
Complex carbohydrates have a low GI Factor which mean that they covert to glucose much slower. This gives you sustained energy without the sugar highs and lows. This group includes wholegrains, vegetables and fruit.
If you want to exercise effectively, eating complex carbohydrates in conjunction with protein is optimal for energy.
We used to think that the brain needed glucose to function. In recent years we’ve learnt that the brain is more than happy to run on ketones which are made from the breakdown of fats. Energy converted from fat is almost double that of carbohydrates and proteins.Â Good fats are those of the omega 3 and 6 variety found in fish, nuts, seeds and advocados, olive oil and eggs.
Craving sugary foods for a quick fix is usually a sign of an underlying health condition such as: fatigue, mineral/vitamin deficiencies, yeast infections, low iron levels, hypoglycemia (low blood glucose), Type II Diabetes or emotional problems ie anxiety or depression. Often it presents during the later phase of the menstrual cycle. Craving carbohydrates and sugars to ward of PMS is a common finding among women. This is a form of self-medication to help offset the estrogen deficiency and balance moods, energy and emotions.
Sometimes its just a habit that once formed is difficult to break. Often its a lack of real food in the diet to sustain your appetite between meals.
Whatever the cause it’s worth having it checked out if it becomes more of a persistent craving.