“That’s Not Energy; That’s Dopamine” – Carb Addiction is Real

We may not pay attention to it, but carb addiction is definitely a problem for many.

That's Not Energy That's Dopamine Carb Addiction is Real

One of my guilty pleasures is reality TV.  I love seeing real people (or as “real” as producers edit them to be), in real situations. There are very few scripted shows I find as intriguing as those that are unscripted.

One of my favs is – My 600-Pound Life.

If you haven’t seen the show, it’s about the super-morbidly obese patients a weightloss doctor in Houston, Dr. Nowazaradan, sees. Each show documents a patient’s journey for a year, as they struggle with their weightloss.

In one episode, a gentleman named Doug, starts at 684 pounds. He follows Dr. Nowzaradan’s advice, loses some weight and gets weightloss surgery.  After a 200+ pound loss, he’s on track for skin removal surgery. He only needs to lose another 25 pounds, but his cravings for carbs is getting to him.

Sliding Back Into Carb Addiction

Enter the Internet.

He begins looking online for advice contrary to Dr. Nowzaradan’s advice to eat a diet primarily made up of meat-based protein.  He decides to follow a vegetarian diet instead… one that is incredibly high in carbs. High-glycemic fruits, pasta, breads – all are now back in Doug’s new Internet-inspired diet – and no meat.

When Doug goes in for his monthly checkup, instead of losing 25 pounds, he’s GAINED 6 pounds!

He justifies his dietary change to the doctor that this vegetarian diet is supposed to be “healthier.” He tells him his family has a history of heart disease, so eating meat will be bad.

Dr. Nowzaradan immediately sets him straight – that there’s a lot of misinformation out there about meat not being good for your heart. “That’s a bunch of crap,” he says bluntly. “That’s not the reality of physiology of human beings. And meat is NOT going to give you heart disease.”

Doug counters with the fact that he’s had more energy than he’s had in a long time though when eating carbs.

Dr. Nowzaradan replies simply,

The fact that you’re feeling more energy is because
you’re taking in too much carbs in your diet. (…)
That’s not energy; that’s dopamine.
Because your brain is responding just like a drug addict getting a fix.

Wow! That’s it exactly!!

Carb Addiction is Real

Carb addiction is real. The struggle is real. I consider myself a carb addict. So, I feel Doug’s struggle.

What’s worse, unlike other addictions like cigarettes, alcohol, other elicit drugs — carb addiction is hard to overcome because we HAVE to eat. And, that means, unless you never go out to eat, and only have your groceries delivered to you, you’re always going to have temptation in your face.

If you’re an alcoholic, you can stay away from bars and social gatherings where there will be alcohol served. For chronic smokers, you can stay away from others who smoke and not go to the “special” aisle at the grocery store where they sell cigarettes. If you’re a drug addict, you can stay away from the people you used to do drugs with and areas where you used to purchase drugs.

But food addiction – carbs – is different.

Every restaurant. Every grocery store. Even gas stations are LOADED with tempting carbs. Go to a friend or family’s home for dinner, and chances are they’re going to serve some sort of pasta, rice, potato, tortillas, or bread… and, they’ll probably even have a sugary dessert.


And, like any addict – once an addict; always an addict.

Doug is proof of that. He made such amazing progress with his weight loss, but still once he had a taste of carbs… he was sliding down that slippery slope into addiction. Justifying his usage. Unwilling to simply admit that it’s not what he should be doing. Avoiding future appointments with the doctor, because he doesn’t want to face the problem and the fact that he’s an addict.

He finally commits to therapy, to address the addiction.

Doug says one of his challenges is he doesn’t have time. His therapist, Dr. Tiffany Stewart, opens his eyes to how he’s, in the past, found time to feed his addiction. She tells him to now take that time and direct it to something healthy, something to improve his life.

When you take care of you first, it shifts everything else in your life,
so you are better for everyone else in your life.
There’s nothing selfish about that.

That’s the first step in beating carb addiction — putting YOU first.

That’s hard.  I get it. I REALLY get it.

But, you have to make YOU a priority. You are not just a parent,  a spouse, an employee, etc..  You are MORE.

Dr. Stewart tells him he needs to dedicate 30 minutes a day to exploring what he wants to be – who he is – what he wants to do that’s good, healthy and beneficial to his life.

30 minutes a day – find something for you, just for you.

I challenge each and every one of you struggling with any sort of food addiction to do this. 30 minutes — just for you.

Carb Addiction - make you a priority

I look forward to hearing comments about the things you’ve tried and how it’s benefiting your life!

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