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19: How To Beat Carbohydrate Addiction | Julia Ross

AIR DATE: June 28, 2012 at 7PM ET
FEATURED EXPERT: Julia Ross
FEATURED TOPIC: “How To Beat Carbohydrate Addiction”

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Say the word “addiction” and most people immediately think of cocaine or heroine addicts, people who abuse alcohol and tobacco, or some other bad habit that is causing serious bodily damage to the addicted. Webster’s Dictionary defines addiction as a “compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal.” Sound familiar anyone? While most people who consume carbohydrate-based foods don’t want to admit it, they are very likely addicted to these sugary, starchy, whole grain-based foods which in turn is making them more obese and chronically ill as the days go by. Nutritional psychotherapist and addiction specialist Julia Ross is here with us in Episode 19 of “Ask The Low-Carb Experts” to get to the heart of the issue about why we crave something so deeply that we are becoming more and more aware is actually harming us. Julia is the author of a newly-revised book The Diet Cure: The 8-Step Program to Rebalance Your Body Chemistry and End Food Cravings, Weight Gain, and Mood Swings–Naturally that addresses many of the issues we’ll be discussing in this podcast.

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Here are some of the questions we addressed in this podcast:

VICKIE ASKS:
Is it really possible to stay on low carb long-term when carbohydrate-based foods are literally everywhere?

ANN ASKS:
Is it possible to use low-carb nutrition to treat bulimia? I found I was absolutely physically and mentally addicted to carb-filled foods which I believe was my body’s response to the low-fat, low-calorie diet I followed for so many years which finally escalated. I was never able to overcome it until I discovered low-carbing. Is this way of eating a possible treatment for eating disorders?

MARY ASKS:
I am convinced that I am addicted to carbs, because I keep binging on them even though it makes me feel awful. On bad days I have ingested probably up to 1000g of carbohydrates (like almost an entire large jar of honey). Of course this makes me feel very ill, but at the same time very calm, almost sedated. I tend to do this (although it’s not always so extreme) during periods when I am very stressed out or upset about something. My question is very simple: how can I stop this madness? I have tried going on a very low-carb diet in the past by counting my carbs with FitDay and also by avoiding all grains and fruits completely. This worked for awhile, but it’s not working anymore. I always end up binging again. But if I try to be more moderate in my carbohydrate intake consuming some fruit and sweet potatoes, it’s like I’m on a slippery slope. I can never hold it to just one or two pieces of fruit and/or safe starches. And having honey in my house is just asking for trouble–I am literally a honeyholic! Can you help me?

Would the feeling I get of being very calm/sedated when I carb binge be due to high glucose levels or insulin levels? I’ve had a glucose tolerance test which was normal, so that should mean that my glucose levels are not going high when I carb binge, but I wonder where that feeling of sedation comes from. Could it just be psychological? Or is it related to dopamine or seratonin? Do you know about the biological mechanisms that produce this feeling and subsequent addiction?

ANNE with an E ASKS:
Four years ago I was able to go from 309 to 140 pounds following Weight Watchers. But then Christmas 2009 hit and the binge eating began–I could not stop eating high sugar items until recently when I started a high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb way of eating. At my worst moments during my binging, I could polish off whole boxes of cookies, a dozen donuts at at time and worse. I just could not stop. Sadly for me I managed to binge eat my weight back to up to nearly 230 pounds–over half of my original weight loss in 2008. I am afraid I will eat myself into a massive heart attack because I am now 55. Thankfully I am starting to gain back my self-control over this addiction thanks to low-carb and one-on-one counseling for binge eating disorder. Do you have any suggestions about keeping me on the straight and narrow?

ANJALA (pronounced like Angela) ASKS:
I now know I am addicted to carbs. I had no idea until just recently, though. My preference of candy carbs are “sour” sweets. But I also love my starchy carbs like breads and pastas. I really need to find lower-carb pasta and bread versions. I’ve been eating a lot more spaghetti squash, but I don’t like it with actual pasta sauce. I do have a friend who is going to teach me how to make “egg crepes,” so I have that. What can I do?

DAYTONA ASKS:
I have been very low-carb (<40g) for over a year and yet I still fight every minute, every day with cravings for sweet flavors. When I do give in it’s with low-carb desserts (like whipped cream with stevia or coconut oil chocolates made with stevia). I have tried cutting out all sweet-tasting foods but the longest I can hold out is a week (usually resulting in a binge). What can I do to stop these incessant cravings?

SHIRLEY ASKS:
Insulin resistance prevents us from burning fat stores and get us locked up so to speak. When in that vicious cycle where the body is screaming for carbs, one problem people have withdrawing is very low energy because the body is sort of stuck in the sugar burning mode and just keeps demanding sugar for energy. I have already been through withdrawal the hard way but if I wanted to advise a friend how to switch gears, would advising them to add coconut oil be helpful? Would the Medium Chain Triglycerides in coconut oil which are immediately burned for energy, just like sugar, but which do not contribute to sugar addiction or cause insulin release make the transition easier especially for someone who has to work everyday?

BARRY ASKS:
While I am finding the addiction model useful for thinking about the proper way to treat carbs, I also worry about it from the perspective of forgiving personal responsibility. Is there a problem if “I can’t help it; I’m addicted” becomes a reason to quit?

PAM ASKS:
In reading Diet Cure, I feel like my symptoms are due to a sluggish thyroid (fatigue, weight gain, brain fog) although my diet is super clean, containing grass fed beef and lamb, butter, plenty of coconut oil and MCT oil, lots of fresh veggies daily, no processed foods…I have also cut out coffee. I am 44 years of age, active, no medications. I am not menopausal. I use Restored Balance progesterone cream before bed. Seems to help me sleep well. As far as the protocol in Diet Cure, I tried taking 500mg of Tyrosine, twice a day. I did this for for 2 days, and developed an intense headache–so intense that I fear taking it again, but think it may be worth a try to experiment with the dosing, maybe taking it every other day. What is your recommendation? And what about Colostrum for thyroid?

JAMIE FROM AUSTRALIA ASKS:
Many people who are carb addicted try to lose weight with a low carb approach. There seems to be two different pathways:

1. Replacing their carb laden foods with artificially-sweetened and creative alternatives of the same foods.

2. Going cold turkey and eliminating virtually all carbs AND artificially sweetened foods and drinks.

Is there any evidence, either short term or long term that one approach is more effective than the other, or is there any evidence that one approach may suit different people better than the other?

  • Peter Silverman

    Interesting that David Ludvig’s research that has gotten a lot of press this week foung the same thing that Ron Krauss found: very low and very high carb diets have a negative effect on cardiac risk. I doubt that this will be the last word on the topic, but it seems like it’s worth discussing on your blog. If you focus on all the good things about low carb and ignore the bad things, you’re doing your readers a disservice.

    • LLVLCBlog

      I don’t ignore anything bad said about low-carb. But I do discredit very poorly designed studies claiming low-carb high-fat diets are somehow harmful. They are not and there is no real evidence proving the supposed deliterious effects as a fact.

  • Martin

    Great interview, Jimmy you are a real expert in finding and interviewing real experts!

    I find the recommendation to supplement with L-Glutamine in order to reduce cravings interesting. I used to do it post workout to speed up recovery, never thought or heard that it could help to curb carb cravings via blood sugar regulation.

    However, I have read that L-Glutamine supplementation can kick you out of the nutritional ketosis!

    I am also a bit confused by the two seemingly conflicting recommendations, both to accompany low-carb, high fat diet: eat lots of proteins to reduce cravings and improve the brain chemistry vs avoid excess protein as it gets turned to glucose.

    • LLVLCBlog

      It’s a delicate balance.

    • jake3_14

      The liver converts protein to glucose only when the body thinks it needs to, not automatically in response to a bigger supply of protein in your diet. Also, there’s a hard limit about how much glucose the liver can make in a day. According to Jaminet, as long as unlimited fat is available for energy production and
      unlimited protein is available as a gluconeogenic substrate, the limit
      is determined by the oxygen supply to the liver and is about 400 g /
      1600 calories per day.

      That should be quite enough for anyone on a low-carb diet whose body thinks it needs more carbs.

  • April

    I would like to warn those who may be considering taking GABA- I took it for about 6 months or so and while I did notice that I was a bit calmer overall, my sex drive decreased substantially. I couldn’t figure out why until I went to a doctor and mentioned all the supplements I was taking- she mentioned that GABA can have an impact on it… to me, it’s not worth it to take the GABA! I find regular exercise helps keep me calmer. I never did see that it reduced my carb cravings either…

  • http://www.facebook.com/charlesandre.fortin Charles-Andre Fortin

    Very interesting PodCast!!! Thanks Jimmy

  • Erica

    If all these proteins are so great at allowing your body to create these various endorphins and hormones – WHY aren’t we PROTEIN addicted??? I know I am a carb addict – but just wondering. (When I first started low carbing, the thought of MORE meat to eat almost made me want to vomit.)

  • Maya

    This was very interesting, thank you. I am very new to low carb dieting but all of this makes perfect sense. It would be good if Jimmy could put the names of supplements along with the recommended doses and times/ ways of taking them. I am unfamiliar with all of them and not sure whether I heard the names of products correctly

    • LLVLCBlog

      It’s all in Julia’s book, Maya. :)

  • Danielle Anne Guttinger

    I know I’m late to this post, but I just had to say thank you! As a recovering addict, hearing this show was like having 200 light bulbs all go on at once, what an AH-HA moment! I used a low carb diet to recover back in 2003 and it was the first time my brain and body really felt good! but because I didn’t have enough supporting information and support I let it go. Since then eating low carb, high fat has been the best way for me to stay in recovery but I didn’t know why – now I do, and so much more. Thank you!