Bread is a notorious diet-buster. The flavor, texture and high carbohydrate content make it difficult to stop eating bread once you’ve started. In fact, many people undergo a chemical process while eating bread that triggers them to eat more and more. It’s no wonder that many diets advise us to stay away from bread, especially bread made from refined white flour.
Are you a bread addict? Here are some of the signs of bread addiction:
- Strong cravings for bread products (including pastries, cakes, crackers and cookies)
- A compulsion to eat bread products instead of other foods
- The inability to stop eating bread products when full
- A feeling of calmness and well-being after eating bread products
- A drive to eat more bread products soon after finishing a meal
If you answered yes to most of those questions, you might have a bread addiction. The good news is that you’re not alone; it’s been estimated that up to 75% of all overweight people have an addiction to bread and other carbs.
Now that you’ve figured out whether or not you’re addicted to bread, let’s move on to the next question: Why is bread so addictive? After all, isn’t it made from grains? Doesn’t bread contain healthy fiber and carbohydrates? How can a natural food cause addiction-level cravings in so many people? Different people react to bread in different ways. Some individuals can happily eat a dinner roll or a slice of toast and go about their day without any repercussions. Others find themselves obsessing over baked goods, sneaking carb-laden snacks to quell their cravings, and then eating more bread with their next meal. For the latter group, bread is as addictive as a drug. When these people eat bread, their bodies release too much insulin, also known as the hunger hormone. Insulin stimulates appetite, making it easy to overeat. Over time, a bread addict can develop insulin resistance. Insulin resistance occurs when a person’s body stops using insulin properly. This malfunction causes glucose, which normally fuels the internal organs, to stay trapped in the bloodstream. Type 2 diabetes can result. High blood glucose levels also trigger hunger, which makes the person crave high-carb foods. Eating these foods causes more insulin to be released and ignored by the body, thus making blood glucose levels to spike higher. It’s an unhealthy cycle, no doubt. Add to this the psychological effect of eating bread, a popular comfort food, and it’s easy to see why bread is so addictive. Since the act is strongly associated with feelings of well-being, many people eat high-carb foods, like bread, when they are feeling lonely, stressed out, sad or bored. Needless to say, the bread is only a temporary fix and does not address the person’s real underlying needs. People who self-medicate in this way are prone to overeating without finding true satisfaction from the food.
It’s important to note that whole-grain bread, which contains complex carbs, doesn’t seem to have the same addictive properties as ultra-refined white bread. This is because the body digests white bread much more quickly – essentially unable to differentiate between a slice of white bread and a slice of cake. Both are broken down into sugar, causing blood glucose levels to spike. After this rapid digestion, blood glucose quickly plummets, resulting in hunger and additional carb cravings.
Breaking a bread addiction can be challenging, but the health benefits are worth it. Start small by giving yourself a two-week break from bread. You might find that your cravings disappear altogether after a week or so. When you do eat bread, eat a small amount of multigrain or rye bread instead of white. Also, make sure to indulge in your favorite treats occasionally to keep yourself from feeling deprived. Then get back on your diet plan immediately to avoid cravings that might keep you off track all day. Proper nutrition is 80% of effective and healthy weight loss, and if you can manage your diet then you’ll never have to worry about your weight again.
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