15,000-19,999 SparkPoints 19,076

How addictive are carbs really?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Well, it depends on the person. For some people they don't seem to be addictive at all. Unfortunately I'm not in that group. For those people who find carbs addictive often not all carbs are equally addictive. For me the most addictive is sugar and other glucose or fructose-based sweeteners, with the exception of honey (eating too much of it makes me feel sick). Also equally addictive is wheat in most forms.
Rice, beans, starchy food like potatoes or tapioca and most grains don't tempt me at all. For those people that find themselves addicted to carbs I believe more and more that this addiction can be even harder to get over than prescription pain killers or alcohol.
The reason may be that these addictive carbs are much harder to avoid in our environment. We may not have them in our house but we seem them all the time and even smell them when we walk on any busy street, shopping mall, at work, in restaurants, anywhere people eat (which in the US is EVERYWHERE).
In addition most people still do not believe that there is such a thing as a carb addiction and therefore do not extend the same courtesy they would give a dry alcoholic drug addict. This often includes family members that are well-meaning but thoughtless when they invite us to join them for a high-carb treat.
Drugs that are legal and addictive foods are generally considered safer by most people, even though looking at statistics of people getting sick or dying may tell another story.
I'm very good at avoiding my trigger foods at home, but occasionally can't resist the sugary stuff when at a party. Rather than feeling guilty over my failure I have decided to simply go back to eating what is healthy for me as soon as possible.
Unfortunately every time I have to get back on track I go through withdrawal (mostly of sugar) again. It is annoying and makes me grumpy and physically tired for a couple of days at least. Once I have "kicked the habit" again it all does not seem like such a big deal any more and sugar looks quite innocent and not even very interesting, leading me to believe over short or long that having it very occasionally is really not so bad. But I guess alcoholics experience the same thing. It takes a number of repetitions for most of us to be done with our problem carbs for good. I will do very well for several months and suddenly decide that a certain situation justifies a "little going off track". And in a sense it is not that big a deal. I know what to do to get back on track, weight gain is not a problem in the short term and within a few days I'm back to normal functioning, my energy levels return, my mood improves, my sleep improves, the brain fog goes away. But I can't help comparing this to having the flu. Would I do something intentionally to get the flu a couple of times a year just for a short moment of pleasure? Maybe it's not worth it to have the occasional "treat", whether it's a gluten-free brownie, store-bought ice cream or gourmet chocolate (with the exception of very dark chocolate that is very low in sugar).
What do you think?
Share This Post With Others
Member Comments About This Blog Post
    1710 days ago
    I'm right there with you. but it's doable.
    1710 days ago
    I'm sorry to see that it is such a problem many people like you who would prefer to see less carbs when with friends and associates. I must admit, when I'm most apt to eat mindlessly, it is because of a favorite carb (more salty, but sweet seems to somewhat hold me captive, as well).
    1712 days ago
    I think it helps (to stay away from) if eating them makes you ill or sick!! That's the only thing that has worked for me!
    1712 days ago
    Sugar is addictive, and cancer cells LOVE sugar - but is it the processed sugar you are addicted to, or sugar in its natural form? I have found with iliminating or trying to iliminate gluten, I tend to reach out to the gluten free products that I normally would not want. All of a sudden, I need that cookie, or candy or what have you. I've gained weight, not lost, and struggling. Tonight I wanted fried chicken - but settled for my wheat belly cook book bison stew ( beef ) but the craving for the chicken will be back, like quitting smoking, its taking some getting used to and some adjustments. ANY kind of addiction is difficult to over come, especially if its replaced with another addiction that can be as bad. Wishing you luck with that. Perhaps you can plan your next sneak attack er sweet attack and have something from a more natural sourse of sweetening, and at events, b ring your own, how I handle that one, is I do not know the hygiene of the person and that takes care of that !! emoticon
    1713 days ago
    Thanks everyone for your thoughtful feedback. I'm planning to respond to some of you individually soon. Hopefully we can have a great exchange of ideas.
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

    1713 days ago
  • JLKL1980
    I can really identify with this blog. And if I splurge on a carby dessert, like ice cream, I suffer a headache within a few hours and it even goes into the next day.

    The carb sensitivity seems to have gotten worse as I reached my fifties. Need to keep them below 50 or 60 grams.

    Great Blog!

    1713 days ago
    Oh, I can relate to much if not all that you said. Except I don't manage to do without sugar / wheat for months at a time.
    It is indeed so that I stop eating sugar, feel (much) better, and then 'forget' how bad it really is to have it and get lured by having 'just a bit' and then the whole thing starts all over again. I get very tired of going through withdrawal again and again AND still, I cannot see myself cutting sugar out for good. Indeed the fact that it is found all over society, and we see it all the time, is a big problem.
    Wheat is less of a problem for me. I can have it in small amounts and don't get triggered into eating more and more of it. But if I eat two or more slices of wheat bread I find it makes me binge and it seems toincrease some complaints I have.
    So I don't have to be so scared of 'hidden wheat'. I do eat bread, but it's spelt bread; I find that my body responds very differently (better) to spelt than to wheat.

    When you said that things like rice and beans are no problem for you, does that mean you don't have them, or that you can have them but not get triggered into eating more, having negative effects on body and mood, etc?
    1713 days ago

    Comment edited on: 9/10/2013 1:08:24 PM
    I'm a terrible carb addict, too. Mine tends to take the bread-y version. I started off to say, "luckily..." but I'm not sure that's really the case. I have every bit as much trouble with bread and starchy things as others do with chocolate, or sweets in general (believe it or not). A bakery is pure hell for me. I can only control the compulsion by staying strictly OUT of it. And bread aisles at the grocery. Even the smell of that processed bread, through the plastic wrapper, makes me want to load up one of everything and binge like a fool.

    It really IS an addiction. And, like you, when I've been "good" for some period of time, I don't remember that I really can't indulge as I'd like. I do still have tiny amounts of things -- such as half a piece of toast with my breakfast ( I eat soft-boiled eggs almost every morning, and "have" (?) to have the bread to soak up the eggy juice)... or I will eat a small portion of the veggies I know I shouldn't have (peas, rarely corn, beets, sweet potatoes, rare tablespoon of white potato, baked beans...) - but in general, I strictly avoid the things I want desperately, because I know I can't control the compulsion which becomes a monster before I've even ingested the entire piece of whatever-it-is I'm cheating with.

    Luckily (and this is really a "luckily"), my body does help me, albeit after-the-fact, by making me truly sick when I succumb. A bite here and there I can handle, at least so far as not getting sick. But when I cave and really indulge - a sandwich, a muffin or roll, a (whole) baked potato, mac-n-cheese... ohhhh. The agony! It goes as far as my upper intestines and stubbornly refuses to progress. Can we say, "fermentation"? I'm punished. And then I remember why I can't allow myself these "treats" which end up being torments. The next temptation carries less compulsion, thankfully. I'm not yet completely past it... but I get stronger every time I can recall that carb-sickness and reject it.

    It's so true about addictions. You wouldn't expect a recovering alcoholic to be able to allow themselves "just one swallow." A drug addict can't take "just one hit" to get them past some stressful situation, or party indulgence. No one (knowing they're trying to make those good changes in their lives) would tempt them, or harass them that they're being "antisocial" if they won't join in "the fun" for the sake of their companions or the situation. Why is that behaviour acceptable to apply to people who are trying to make healthy dietary changes in their lives? why would others, especially those who profess to love or care about us, put us in this position? I simply cannot fathom it. I explain my purpose repeatedly and calmly... and resent every repetition of it, and know that there will never be an end to it. The next time, I'll have to go through the whole rigarmarole again. And if I "cop some attitude," whose fault you KNOW that is!

    I wish there was a way to reach those people en masse... the public in general. Would they change their tactics? well, probably not. A few might. Some may not even realize the pressure they're adding to others' efforts. Oblivion seems to be ubiquitous in society these days. But although it's good to be able to share our mutual frustration here, where it NEEDS to be shared is with those who *aren't* here, who are contributing to the problem. And I don't know how that will ever be accomplished.

    Thanks for a great blog.
    Luck to all of us in our various "addictions"!
    1713 days ago
  • ERIN1957
    For me they are truly trouble and I know I have an addiction to them. I am talking grain based carbs or chemically based carbs like processed anything.
    I have to go zero, no in between for me. Won't even have them in our home.
    To get off them a challenge to stay off them is as equally hard.
    Zero tolerance.
    1713 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1713 days ago
    I eat a little of what I like -Dark chocolate and cake ---- hardly eat any carbs at all except in fruit .
    1713 days ago
    I think you got to the crux of why addictions work. Yes, you have something innocently enough, until, over time, it becomes a full blown problem. You get away from it, and once again it seems very innocent and harmless, you try it, And on and on, etc. I think eventually a sort of wisdom can come on, and you can handle those indulgences and make adjustments as you go. Good luck to you. Glenn
    1714 days ago
    Yes! I have the same issues. ;)
    Hopefully some day I`ll overcome my sweet tooth ;) emoticon emoticon
    1714 days ago
    They are very addictive!! I can say that I have been and my friends are total carb junkies that I can't seem to get through to! Pasta and bread are not everything in this life!!
    1714 days ago
    just finding substitutes is so hard thank you for this great blog
    1714 days ago
    Carbs are definitely addictive but only when sugar or salt are involved :)
    1714 days ago
    Boy I don't know if the withdrawal is worth it. And believe me I've cheated enough to know! emoticon
    I'm working so hard to find enough new foods to replace those I cheat with. It is slow going- but eventually!!
    emoticon emoticon
    1714 days ago
  • Add Your Comment to the Blog Post

    Log in to post a comment

    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.