By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
August 15, 2014
- The vicious cycle that’s making you tired
- Let’s not tiptoe around carbohydrate addiction
- Best way to fortify your energy
Awhile back I saw a new patient who had a big problem with fatigue. He told me he had a few small bursts of energy throughout the day, but they didn’t last long. And between those energy bursts, all he wanted to do was sleep or eat. He’s only in his 40s, but he told me he felt like he was in his 80s.
Well, it turns out he’s something of a carbohydrate addict. He grew up eating cereal, pasta, rice and all sorts of breads. I suspected this was a big part of his problem.
You see, these foods carry a high-glycemic load. They send your blood sugar through the roof. This gives you a “sugar high.” And your body has to pump out more insulin to deal with it.
Next thing you know, you crash. And your body automatically starts to crave more of these foods to bring it back in balance.
Naturally, you reach for more refined carbs to satisfy the craving. But all that does is set you up for another round of sugar highs and crashes. They’ll spike your blood sugar and then send you into a downward spiral – over and over again throughout the day.
It’s a vicious cycle that may be the driving force behind sugar and carbohydrate addiction. And it doesn’t just make you feel tired, fuzzy-headed and hungry. It puts your body in an inflammatory state and leads you directly down the path toward obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Now, here’s the thing…
The patient I’m talking about wanted to “ease” into breaking his carbohydrate habit. This is something I see quite often. A patient thinks it’s too difficult to cut out the refined carbs “cold turkey.” He feels the need to cheat just a little bit. The problem is, he often ends up biting off more than he can chew. (And I say that literally, because the minute you put a refined carb in your mouth, the cycle starts right back up again.)
The good news is, if you’re struggling with breaking the carb habit, I can make things a whole lot simpler for you, just like I did for my patient.
The best way to beat carbohydrate cravings is to eat meals that will fortify your energy and make you feel satiated. And it’s pretty easy to do.
You can start out by replacing those breakfast cereals, sandwich lunches and pasta-filled dinners with meals that contain a combination of healthy protein, good carbohydrates and beneficial fats.
This in no way limits your choices of tasty foods…
- Healthy protein choices include wild-caught fish, pastured eggs, organic free-range poultry, organic Greek yogurt, nuts, seeds, grass-fed beef and almond milk. These foods will keep you feeling satisfied and energized for longer than refined carbs will.
- Good carbs include non-starchy vegetables, like green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower). Carrots, cucumbers, mushrooms, peppers and onions are also on the list.
- Most fruits are okay, too. The fiber slows down the speed at which their natural sugars get into your bloodstream. Berries, apples, pears, nectarines, and peaches are some of my favorites. Plus, they come in real handy when your sweet tooth kicks in. Avoid the melons, since they’re primarily fructose and water.
- Certain fats are much healthier for you than others. I like getting my fats from wild-caught fish, avocados, nuts, seeds and virgin olive oil.
You can begin your day with a high-protein breakfast. An egg scramble with onions, green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach and any of your other favorite veggies will help keep you feeling more full and satisfied as you make your way through the day.
At lunch try incorporating a variety fruits, greens and proteins. There are several different choices…
You can make a green salad topped with avocado, tomatoes, cucumbers, sprouts, boiled eggs, nuts and grilled chicken. Finish it off with an olive and garlic oil drizzle.
Or, how about a chicken or seafood salad wrapped in lettuce or a low-carb wrap? Toss a little fruit on the side, and you’re good to go.
Dinner can be just as easy. Seafood and veggies are always a great choice. But, if you’re not a fish-lover, grass-fed beef and free-range poultry are good alternatives. Just make sure to keep meat at 10-13% of your plate. The remaining 87-90% should come from vegetables.
If you’re adding fruit, wait a few hours. There are different digestive enzymes for protein versus fruit. If you eat them at the same time, you can wind up with poor protein digestion and probable bonding of the fruits’ fructose sugar with the protein, resulting in what’s called an A.G.E. (advanced glycation end product)… not the best thing for your body.
This takes care of your regular meals, but what about snacking?
One of the carbs most of my patients find hardest to give up are those found in their favorite snacks. But, if you keep the texture similar to the foods you normally snack on, it can be a lot easier. For example…
Chips and dip can be replaced with carrots, celery and cucumber dipped in hummus. You’ll get the crunch – and the flavor – without the processed carbs.
Replace ice cream with plain Greek yogurt. You can even top it with fruit and nuts for added flavor.
Miss those sugary milk shakes? Try substituting with a protein drink. Use a natural, unsweetened protein powder mixed with almond milk.
When you find yourself craving something sweet, try eating a handful of berries, a fruit salad or even some nuts mixed with dried fruit.
If it’s sugary sodas and energy drinks you find yourself yearning for, try mixing carbonated water with your favorite fruit juice.
You can also replace sugar and artificial sweeteners with stevia. This is a natural, calorie-free sweetener that doesn’t carry any of the risks you find with refined sugar or artificial sweeteners.
After just a few days, your body will instinctively begin to desire these naturally sweet foods instead of the refined carbs. Better yet, they’ll quench your cravings without disturbing your blood sugar or driving up your inflammation levels.
You have the power to make good decisions about your health. And if you follow the plan I’ve outlined above, it can work wonders for you, just like it does for my patients.
If you’d like to let me know how you beat the “carb addiction” just hit reply to this email and tell me your story.
Dickinson S, et al. “High-glycemic index carbohydrate increases nuclear factor-kappaB activation in mononuclear cells of young, lean healthy subjects.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 May;87(5):1188-93