Cutting Carb Cravings
It looks as if she might make the wrong choice. Has she been reading the Health section of The Epoch Times? (Photos.com)
Recently in practice I saw a female patient who, among other things, was troubled by the fact that she craved sugar “like you wouldn’t believe.”
It is my experience in practice that many individuals with sugar cravings view it as a sign of weakness on their part. However, food can have powerful addictive qualities, and the physiological processes here can sometimes be overlooked. Often, taking an approach designed to normalize and balance whatever physiological issues are at the root of such food cravings can be extremely effective in stopping the cravings in their tracks.
One potential and important cause of sweet cravings is episodes of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). If blood sugar levels get low, it’s natural for the body to crave foods that replenish sugar quickly into the blood stream. While this can happen at any time, one particular time of day where such cravings are common is the mid to late afternoon.
It may be that these individuals are suffering from a blood sugar low caused by the body’s reaction to a blood sugar high that can come after lunch (particularly from something like a sandwich). My sugar-craving patient yesterday, as it happens, found that her symptoms were most intense at this time.
The cornerstone of combating such cravings is a diet that helps stabilize blood sugar levels. This means having regular meals based on foods that tend to release sugar quite slowly into the bloodstream. A relatively protein rich, carb-restricted “primal” diet tends to work very well here.
In addition, certain supplements can help. Sometimes, it can help to take some chromium. Chromium helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and has been shown to reduce hunger and food cravings as a result .
Another nutrient that can help combat sugar cravings is the amino acid glutamine. Within the body, glutamine can be converted into brain chemicals such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), which seem to have the capacity to reduce the desire for certain foodstuffs, namely sugar and alcohol.
I recently bought some glutamine to try. I dissolved one teaspoon of glutamine powder in a pint of water to sip throughout the day. It might have been my imagination, but I noticed a distinct reduction in my desire for carbohydrate throughout the day.
I went out for dinner last night with some friends and was offered a dessert (cheesecake) as part of a set menu I’d opted for. When the dessert arrived, I had zero desire to eat it. This is strange because while I don’t seek out this sort of food, once it’s plunked in front of me, I usually am able to muster enough enthusiasm to eat it (or at least some of it).
The value of stabilizing blood sugar and combating cravings should not be underestimated because I’ve seen it work well in individuals diagnosed with bulimia nervosa (characterized by bingeing and purging). Purging has been shown to have the capacity to induce hypoglycemia, which can lead to bingeing, typically on carbs, and so the cycle repeats.
Anton SD, et al. Effects of chromium picolinate on food intake and satiety. Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics 2008; 10(5): 405-12.
Dr. John Briffa is a London-based physician and health writer with an interest in nutrition and natural medicine. His Web site is drbriffa.com