For many people, the problem with weight loss comes from cravings and temptations. Speaking from experience, a plate full of cookies or a big pizza sitting on the counter can be hard to resist. Is there a way to overcome these cravings? Is it possible to reframe carbs to make them less tempting?
For example, I do not smoke. As a person who had severe asthma as a child and teenager, the thought of doing anything that would further damage my lungs is unthinkable. Now imagine that I see a cigarette ad, or cigarettes being sold in a convenience store, or a pack of cigarettes sitting on a table. Am I tempted? Do I feel a craving? Do I have to consciously resist the cigarettes? Of course not. Since I decided not to smoke and have good reasons not to, I feel no temptation.
I do not drink alcohol. My father was an alcoholic and I learned everything I need to know about alcohol by watching that slow-motion tragedy. I took the lessons to heart. When I see a beer ad or a big beer display at the grocery store or when I walk into a restaurant that serves alcohol, am I tempted? Do I feel a craving? Do I have to consciously resist the alcohol? Not at all. I can sit in a bar all day and drink soda water. The thought never crosses my mind to order anything alcoholic. Since I decided not to drink and have good reasons not to, I feel no temptation.
But with carbohydrates, I tend to see them as tempting. Many people can start a diet and have it derailed by cravings. Many more can complete a diet, then go back to “eating normally” and gain the weight back.
So the question arises: is there a way to treat carbs in the same way that I treat cigarettes or alcohol, so that carbs are no longer tempting?
The case can be made that refined carbohydrates are toxic. This article…
Societal Control of Sugar Essential to Ease Public Health Burden, Experts Urge
…provides a nice summary of the problem:
sugar is fueling a global obesity pandemic, contributing to 35 million deaths annually worldwide from non-communicable diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
That is a lot of deaths. And at a personal level, no one wants to get diabetes. Diabetes is a disgusting, expensive, life-sucking disease that, for most of us, is completely preventable.
So here is a possible approach to weight loss. What if a mental change takes place that causes unhealthy carbs to go into the same kind of toxic/deadly category that cigarettes fall into? So, instead of seeing carb-rich foods as tempting, they start to be seen as poisonous. Into this poisonous category would go all the bad carbs like cookies, cake, ice cream, potato chips, pizza, soda, candy, french fries, etc. It might also be argued that bread, pasta, rice and potatoes all fall in the same category (for me they do). The only carbs that are safe are vegetables and fruits (and maybe beans). Vegetables – especially raw vegetables – can be eaten in unlimited quantities.
If this mental shift could be mastered, then it would be possible to live life without temptation. “Would you like a piece of cake?” would sound about as tempting as, “Would you like to smoke a cigarette?”, which is to say not tempting at all. The only problem with this approach is the fact that it may not be trivial – it requires un-wiring decades of sugar consumption starting in infancy.
With “bad carbs” out of the picture, weight loss and weight maintenance would become much easier. The daily food intake starts to look almost exactly like the Dukan diet or the Atkins diet.
I am giving this approach a try.
[OK – here is a progress report after 1 week: Update on looking at carbs like they are a poison. It worked really well!]
See also this article:
How to lose weight – the one true secret is revealed