One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

WEEKLY QUESTIONS

Carb Cravings?

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So I’m having one of THOSE days.

Despite going to bed the earliest I have in months — which Ryan thought was hysterical because I hit the hay before he did — I woke up in a foul mood with a horrible dry cough. To make matters worse, Evan is sick again. He doesn’t have any symptoms besides a fever but he cycles between burning up and lukewarm. He’s also really lethargic.

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Poor little guy.

All day I’ve been fighting the urge to eat, which hasn’t been like me. I’ve actually been killing in the food department lately and feeling really good about my choices.

Today though, I could not get the idea of pretzels out of my mind. It’s like they were calling my name from the pantry even though I wasn’t hungry at all! I finally caved deciding it wasn’t worth fighting myself. If it wasn’t them it would have been something else. I just wanted something crunchy, salty, carby.

That when I googled carb cravings and this article on WebMD popped up: Craving Carbs: Is It Depression? Many people crave carbohydrates when they feel low.

Basically the article says that carb cravings may be the result of a drop in serotonin levels, depression or a habit learned from childhood to deal with stress or anger. I tend to think… all of the above.

I know personally when I’m in a “funk” I crave carbs. When I get stressed about the kids… carbs. When I’m juggling tons and not feeling as though I can handle it… carbs.

I also notice the more carbs I eat the more I want them. So sometimes I feel like I’m in a bit of a chicken/egg scenario.

Did I eat more carbs, feel funky and then crave more?

OR

Did I feel funky, eat more carbs and then crave more?

I really don’t know.

WebMD does have some suggestions:

  • Time your eating to accommodate your cravings. The carb cravings typically grow stronger as the day goes on, experts agree. So eat healthfully at breakfast and lunch and focus on protein-rich foods. “In the afternoon, by the time the sun and your mood start sinking, have a carb snack — popcorn or breakfast cereal — around 4 p.m.,” [researcher Judith]   Wurtman says. Then for dinner, pick pasta, rice or waffles, she suggests.

I’m not sure I could handle this pattern. I feel like I need more carbs in the morning because I work out so intensely at 6 a.m, but I do wonder if I should plan a more carby snack in the afternoon instead of at night when I’m struggling with the evening munchies.

  • Choose sensible carbohydrate-rich foods. Carbs don’t have to be gooey and chocolatey every time, Wurtman says. She suggests low-fat crackers, for instance, or pretzels. It keeps the fat low but gives you the carbs you want.

My carb cravings are generally pretzel- or cracker-based so this isn’t a problem for me. I tackled my cravings for cakes and cookies years ago and phased them out over time. Now I don’t even want them.

  • Don’t buy into the guilt. “The current low-carb phase is making people feel guilty,” Wurtman says. “There is nothing wrong with having a carb for dinner, or for a snack. You have to have it in a very low-fat form.”

I try not to fear carbs just like I’m trying not to fear fat. However I don’t think all carbs are equal so I do try to focus on quality, whole-grain carbs that offer other nutritional benefits.

  • Focus on carbs that are “slow foods.”  Think sip, not gobble, when eating these. One of [registered dietitian Evelyn] Tribole’s favorites: hot chocolate. “You get carbs in the milk and the sweetened chocolate,” she says. “It’s hard to guzzle hot chocolate, so you are going to savor it.”

Yikes.. yeah.. I kind of gobbled the pretzels today. Afterwards I had that full feeling and honestly, I felt better. At least in the short term. I do like the idea of hot chocolate and finding things you can savor more naturally. I also thinking making something versus grabbing something is a good approach. I’m kind of mad at myself for not thinking of that earlier today. If I slowed down and made myself a fun snack or sandwich I may have made a better choice then mindlessly consuming pretzels that offer me nothing.

Are you a Carb Craver? How do you deal? 

In other news:



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Discussion

There are 7 comments so far.

    Emily

    March 12, 2015

    Total carb craver. I have found that if I partner some protein with the carbs, the “have carbs-want MORE carbs” cycle doesn’t get such a firm hold.

      roni

      March 12, 2015

      My only problem with this approach is I tend to go overboard so if I add a protein, say like peanut butter I think my calories would be off the charts even more.

    Mary Sue

    March 12, 2015

    I am a total carb craver when I don’t get enough sleep. I think my body is just looking for that quick energy boost when I’m tired.

      roni

      March 12, 2015

      YES! Ditto.. I think that’s my main issue at night too.

    Rhiannon

    March 13, 2015

    I do sometimes crave carbs. I just want something crunchy and nibbly. My default is air-popped popcorn (from kernels), with olive oil spray and sea salt. I can have something like 5 cups of popcorn and the appropriate amount of oil spray for around 200 calories or less, and that’s a huge bowlful! I don’t buy pretzels, chips etc because otherwise I’ll eat them.

    cheryl

    March 13, 2015

    I love carbs…and just eat them freely and don’t worry about it or focus on food. Just eat when I am hungry…intuitive? and doing what I can when I can!

    Mary Nell

    March 14, 2015

    It might sound crazy and I know it probably isn’t true, but I tend to believe that if I’m really listening to my body, eating when I’m hungry and not mindlessly, working out, then if my body craves something, I should listen to it. If I tell myself I can’t have it, I want it more. So, whether it is a craving for veggies because I had a more greasy type of food (like polish sausage, for example) or for pretzels or even for a small piece of chocolate, I just go with it. I don’t binge on it and if it is something heavier in calories or low in nutritional value, I might wait a bit to see if it is my mood versus truly hungry for that. But telling myself I can have some, even a small some, helps me ward off overeating and keeps me from thinking of any food as “good” versus “bad.” Since I’m trying to raise a daughter to have a better overall mindset than I grew up with, I’ve tried to ban that type of thinking in my house.