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10 Ways to Break Your Processed Carb Addiction

girl with ball and chain around arm holding chocolate barAre you having problems with overwhelming carb cravings? If so, here are 10 ways to help you break your processed carb addiction.

Understand What Causes Carb Addiction

You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know what causes it. Carb addiction has many causes both physical and psychological. Not only is it caused by hormone fluctuations, but it also messes with the pleasure center of the brain and the neurotransmitters that are responsible for that feel-good feeling. And let’s not forget the emotional connection to food most of us have.

Read more about emotional eating and find out how to stop feeding your feelings.

Treat the Problem – Not the Symptom

Get to the root of the problem. Don’t try to fix the symptoms. If you’re craving carbs, don’t just substitute sugar for artificial sweeteners. That does nothing for your problem. You still have a carb addiction, you’ve just found a different way to manage the symptoms.

Cut Out Processed Foods

If you want to break your addiction, you need to start phasing out processed foods. That might seem obvious and easier said than done, but it’s necessary. Processed foods quickly raise blood sugar levels, and send insulin through the roof. They cause feel-good chemicals to be released, making you want more.

While some people can stop smoking by slowly cutting back, a big majority need to stop cold turkey to get over their addiction. Carb addiction is no different. Remove the problem from your lifestyle. You can look at adding them back in later after you’ve learned better self-control.

Find out how to say no to unhealthy food and mean it.

Be Patient at the Beginning

As with breaking any bad habits, you will need to be patient at the beginning. It’s the hardest to do at the start. It’s one of the reasons why most diets fail in the first 48 hours. I can tell you this though, if you can be patient and strong, and make it through the first few days, things will only get easier. Make it a week, and it gets even easier. A month? Suddenly you’ve forgotten why you craved processed carbs in the first place.

Break Old Eating Habits

Is it nighttime and you want carbs? Have you made nighttime carb eating into a lifestyle habit? How likely are you to want some kind of snack food when you plop down in front of the TV? Many times we get in the habit of doing things just because we’ve been doing it that way for a long time.

Your brain creates new neural pathways in response to lifestyle habits. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Is it a habit? Your brain has connected these two tasks together. Given enough time and persistence, you can create new neural pathways that connect your life with healthy choices.

Lower Your Carb Intake

If you eat a high carb diet, your body will up-regulate the enzymes necessary for carbohydrate metabolism. It will start to become dependent on glucose and carbs for fuel. Carbohydrates are quickly metabolized for energy in just a few hours – meaning your body is going to tell you to eat more when the time comes.

If you’re eating in excess of 50-60% carbs, and you aren’t highly active, lowering your carb intake (I don’t mean low carb, just lower) helps you become more efficient at using fat for fuel. If you can lower your body’s reliance on carbohydrates, you will in effect lower your body’s desire for them too.

Find out how many carbohydrates you should be eating to lose weight.

Increase Your Insulin Sensitivity

Successful weight loss and improved health have a lot to do with your insulin sensitivity. Insulin resistance means your body is resistant to the effects of insulin – requiring more and more of it to store the glucose in your blood. You can do a lot to improve your insulin sensitivity by simply cutting out processed foods from your diet and adding in resistance exercise. The reduced insulin levels will help modulate neurotransmitters in the brain that control cravings.

Here are 9 more ways to increase your insulin sensitivity.

Don’t Eat for Happiness

Have you ever asked yourself why you want to eat processed carbs? Is it because you’re happy? Depressed? It’s no secret that processed foods are comfort foods. If you are ever going to break your carb addiction, you are going to need to find other ways to make yourself happy other than eating. Be happy – then eat. Don’t eat to be happy.

Have a Cheat Meal

A well-planned cheat meal can have a positive effect on your carb addiction. For some though, it can cause a negative spiral that keeps you from getting results. It’s important to be honest with yourself and ask if you are able to handle the occasional planned cheat meal.

That means being able to jump right back on a no-processed, whole foods diet until it’s time for your next cheat meal. If you can do that, then cheat meals can be very psychologically satisfying. Knowing you can still eat the carbs you enjoy helps keep you on track during the week.

Find out if you’re the kind of person where cheat meals hold you back.

Meet Your Nutritional Needs

If you don’t give your body its essential nutrients, it will send signals to continue eating. Many people will say that they are craving carbs, but in reality, you are craving nutrients. Then, when faced with your food choices, you choose the one that will leave you with a “food high”.

If you don’t eat your essential fatty acids, your body will tell you to eat until you do. If you don’t get enough protein, your body will tell you to eat until you do. Get in all your required vitamins, minerals, essential fats and proteins, and I guarantee you will experience a reduction in your carb cravings.

This article is part of the 10 Ways to a Better Body blog series. Be sure to check out the rest of the series!

  • Lisa

    Good article. Makes sense to me. I definitely need to get over my sweet tooth.

  • hakirby

    I’m fine with clean eating until I come off the night shift. Then I can’t stop eating carby crap all day, doesn’t matter if its in or not, I’ll go buy it and I can’t stop myself or I’ll go to my parents to see my nephew and then I’ll eat their crap, even if I’ve made the effort not to have it in my house. Any advice?

    • Coach Calorie

      Try to incorporate the ideas that I talked about in this article. Carb addiction is tough to get over, but the biggest factor is getting past the first few days. It gets much easier after that. Make a short term goal of going that long with them.

      • Nicola

        Hi im starting the 30 day challenge on saturday when i purchase cod liver oil..just a question, you say to eat 10-12 times your body weight in calories. Im 80kgs so obviously that is 800 calories, is this enough to live on for a month?

        • Coach Calorie

          Use pounds, not kg

    • Edina

      Like he said, you’ve associated the night shift with eating. I notice, when that’s happened to me, I’m usually alone in a place I don’t want to be. ;) So, maybe socializing or finding some sort of distraction. And of course, not carrying money or creating some other sort of obstacle.

  • Food Stories

    Very good article. To me, being a diabetic, carbs are my evil nemesis.

  • Kathy

    Very good article, I have an addiction to cereal. Love it in the morning and sometimes at night. I have a sweet tooth as well, but I am learning to overcome it. I do try to eat lots of protein, and veggies/fruits, but find that I just need breads or carbs to function.


  • http://coachcalorie sharon

    ive been reading and im slowly getting over my addiction now i know why i keep on having cravings

  • Donna Katchorick

    I removed the processed foods about 1.5 months ago…cold turkey. I now crave fruit at night. I try not to eat it because of the fructose…I say this as I sit here eating cherries at 9 o’clock at night. I also find it very hard to consume 1700 calories a day of whole foods….which is what I need to eat in order to lose fat pounds. Any advice about the fruit craving?

  • Coach Calorie

    Eat the fruit! In all seriousness, fruit is healthy. No one ever got fat eating fruit. In fact, fruit as a late night snack sounds perfect. You don’t want to feel overly restricted. Doing so can cause you to lapse. If it’s a whole food, eat it.

  • HeatherKirby

    I eat carbs because if I don’t I’ll murder the little s*** where he stands, I don’t want to do that. it’s kind of illegal.

    • Coach Calorie

      Carbs equals good. Processed carbs equals bad.

  • Moira Ross

    I don’t understand all this …..but I severely crave sugary snacks all the time n my weight s now out of control ….things I think are good for me turn out to still be full of sugar ….think I’m a lost cause xxx

  • Brigette

    I have been on a detox since August 14th, no alcohol, no wheat, no dairy, no sugar, no additives or preservatives( no processed food). I eat heaps of veggies and meat following a paleo diet. I work out with a personal trainer in a group of six twice a week and walk every day. For the first time in years I feel great, full of energy and I can actually see my body composition change. I am not allowed to weigh my self for four weeks but my clothes fit differently already. Omitting processed foods is the best thing I could ever do. For my sweet tooth I drink Celestial tea Bengal spice and it is naturally sweet and very tasty.