By Kate Barnes
Is giving up the carbs something you’ve committed to? A New Year’s resolution perhaps?
It’s something we know we need to do and eagerly commit to BUT… in reality is hard! (Especially those sneaky mid afternoon chocolate fixes)
Carbohydrate (carb) cravings might feel like:
- A need for something sweet after a meal (especially a healthy meal).
- A dip in energy after a meal or mid morning or afternoon.
- The need for food at around 4-5pm.
- Irritability without knowing why?
- Or you just HAVE to have that slice of bread or sweet treat.
So how do we kick these cravings to the curb and live a little more?
It’s by stabilising blood sugars. It is one of the most important things we can do.
Great. So how do we do that?!
We understand how simple carbs can send our blood sugars on a crazy rollercoaster ride – you know the ones, i.e. pasta, rice, pizza, bread, biscuits, generally highly refined and processed foods and grains that the body can use quickly for fuel.
This conversation with my son and analogy about twigs vs. logs will help.
Twigs vs. logs.
I’m not sure how the conversation started. We were sitting at the family dinner table when our youngest stated he wanted to eat more pasta and pizza because it was good for him?!
He was “fishing” for a bite that’s for sure. I reckon he got a bit more than he could chew!
Stay with me because this might help your family too.
About to jump up and down and correct his misguidance, I caught myself and kept quiet for a moment (not so easy to do).
With my hubby’s support, I explained…
It’s like keeping a good fire burning.
To make a good fire what do we use? Logs and twigs.
What gets it started, by making it burn fast and hot? Twigs.
So what makes the fire burn steadier and for longer? Logs.
What happens if we used just twigs and no logs? We need to keep adding twigs constantly.
So there are three types of energy our bodies use for fuel: fats, carbs and protein (macro nutrients).
Fats and protein are like the logs – add them to the fire, or our metabolism and they give us good, sustaining, steady energy for a longer time.
Simple carbohydrate is like the twigs. When added to the fire (or our metabolic system) alone, they’re burnt up super quickly. We need to add more and more twigs to the fire to keep it alight.
It’s an over-simplified analogy of energy production but he totally got this. And maybe it’ll help you and your family too.
So getting back to our blood sugars. It’s like the twigs.
The twigs burn quickly, and quickly need to be replenished to stop the fire going out. It’s the same for us. Eating a lot of simple carbohydrates means we need to keep replenishing the fire. If we don’t, our blood sugars swing and cravings kick in (we need energy). It’s almost always leading to excess energy and fat storage, i.e. weight gain.
Eat more sustaining fuel, i.e. protein and fats, and our blood sugars are more stable (this doesn’t necessarily apply to type 1 diabetics).
An interesting fact about these sources of energy is that fats and protein are essential to our diet. We need to get these energy sources from our food. Carbohydrate on the other hand is non-essential, i.e. our body metabolises (makes) glucose (a product of carbohydrate) from fats and protein as and when required. Carbohydrate therefore is a non-essential dietary fuel – i.e. we actually don’t need much in our diet.
Okay that’s all well and good… HOW do we STOP the cravings?