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Volume III
May 25, 2012

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

3 Things to Do When We Crave Carbohydrates

By Alice Osborne

Sometimes I crave carbohydrates, almost to distraction. Do you? It's common for people with insulin resistance to experience cravings for carbohydrates. And when we give in to these cravings our blood sugar goes on a roller-coaster ride.

It's this wild roller-coaster effect that continues to cause cravings, and this cycle can repeat all day long. And to add more harm to injury is the happy fact that excess fat storing also occurs (all day long) because of the high insulin production!

So what can we do about these cravings - what can we do to get off this roller-coaster once and for all? I have a helpful book, The Insulin Resistance Diet, that focuses on this. Here are 3 suggestions from its authors, Cheryle Hart, M.D. and Mary Kay Grossman, R.D.:

1. Eat adequate amounts of protein and "good" fats.

2. Take chromium supplements - chromium polynicotinate (NOT chromium picolinate), in does of 200 to 400 micrograms, three times daily with food.

3. Eat more vegetables and legumes.

Let's look at suggestion 3 in more detail. While vegetables and legumes do have some carbohydrates, they are also high in protein. They provide nutrients without spiking blood sugar, which as mentioned above, leads to fat storage. Their high-fiber and low-fat calorie composition will also help to fill you up. So best thing to do is to eat at least seven servings of vegetables, legumes, and a few fruits every day.

Here are some specific ways to do that:

•  Add extra fresh or frozen vegetables to soups, casseroles and stews.

•  Add vegetables to scrambled eggs or omelets.

•  Top your salads with vegetables and high-protein beans such as kidney or garbanzo beans.

•  Top your soups with raw kale, chard, or parsley.

•  Add beans and/or vegetables to rice and pasta dishes.

•  Use broccoli and other vegetables as toppings for baked potatoes.

•  Include cut raw vegetables as a snack or with your lunch. Low-fat dips are fine with these. Try new vegetables as well, such as jicama and turnips.

•  Make it a habit to keep ready-to-eat frozen vegetables on hand because they take only moments to prepare.

And now my suggestions:

•  Consider going the "green smoothie" route. This is a simple and tasty way to having several servings of vegetables in one meal. My typical morning smoothie includes fresh chard, kale, collards, spinach, cucumber, parsley, and a whole lemon. I add chia and golden flax seed for Omega 3s and even more fiber and protein. I sweeten the drink with Sweet Leaf brand vanilla-flavored liquid stevia. In this drink alone I have 7 servings of vegetables and one of fruit - a low-glycemic fruit at that.

I notice a surge in my carbohydrate craving almost immediately when I fall off the green smoothie wagon. This happens most often when we travel - it's hard to haul my Vita Mix with me.

So I've taken to making these smoothies ahead of time and freezing them in quart containers. Then when on the road, I pack our cooler with them. They do double duty - they take the place of ice in keeping our other foods cool, and they are my ready supply of carb-craving busters!

•  Consider getting the book, Spilling the Beans: Cooking and Baking with Beans and Grains Everyday. It explains everything from the truth behind beans and flatulence to demystifying the simple process of soaking and cooking dried beans and lentils. Helpful information from gastroenterologist, Dr. Guido Van Rosendaal, also highlights the physical benefits of incorporating more legumes and whole grains into our everyday diets. Spilling the Beans covers it all, from how to cook up beans and grains, to how to add healthy fiber to our favorite desserts. And there's an entire section on baking delicious desserts with beans; their recipes amp up the flavor in cakes, bars, and cookies!

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