I am hungry — Why do I want to eat flour and sugar compulsively?

by kellylavieri on March 11, 2015

As a Women’s Health Expert I find it so important to share good information. As women we use food as a weapon that yields so much power over our self-esteem, self-acceptance and trust. I hope you find the information below helpful and informative.

Helping you live your life better, daily! K:)


There are several reasons why flour and sugar spike a desire to eat more. There is also a variety of reasons flour and sugar relax us, make us sleep or damage our immune system. Let’s explore those reasons.

Comfort foods
Many food addicts describe eating a high-carbohydrate load of pasta or bread and then feeling relaxed, calmed and satiated. The mere term “comfort food” has an impact on this role our brain has in making us eat certain foods like meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, or Mom’s apple pie.

By eating your mother’s favorite meal, you are reminded of good times, idyllic family settings, safety, and well, comfort. So in these cases your brain is convincing you of how you feel after ingesting a Thanksgiving dinner and then telling you to fall asleep during the football game. These emotional attachments to certain foods are as diverse as are my readers and too complicated to cover in a short blog post, so let me move on.

Candida Albicans infection
Candida Albicans infection is an improper colony of flora in your intestines. Candida Albicans is a fungus that can appear in your gut, your vagina and your toes! It can comprise good microorganisms that live in the human mouth and gastrointestinal tract. C. Albicans lives in 80 percent of the human population without causing harmful effects. However, with an oversupply of sugars and starches it can blossom and overcome the good flora in your gut. The result is that you feel odd, hungry, anxious, tired and perhaps, frightened. Once you add more sugar and starches to the mix, you feel better. So, soon a person learns to eat more sugar to “feel” better. When in actuality, sugar and starches are the cause of the problem. For more on this go to: http://drlwilson.com/ARTICLES/CANDIDA.htm.

Serotonin and Dopamine enhancement
Did you know that 90 percent of the serotonin in your body is produced in your gut? Serotonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters found in the brain and elsewhere in the body and they cause pleasurable sensations, reduce stressful feelings as well as reduce anxiety and pain in the body. Eating certain carbohydrates stimulate the production of serotonin and dopamine in the body. Again, a person learns to eat carbohydrates to feel good; however, this is only a temporary feeling.

This is a common metabolic imbalance that causes energy fluctuations throughout the day and can cause many other symptoms such as anxiety, nervousness, mental confusion, tremors, shakiness, headaches, and even depression.

Basically, the body is no longer able to regulate its blood sugar level perfectly, so you can experience times during the day when your blood sugar dips too low. Hypoglycemia is low energy production and a low glucose level in the cells. The symptoms are caused not only by low glucose in the blood cells, but also by any number of imbalances that affect the body’s ability to burn glucose at the cellular level.

Eating something sweet or perhaps, starchy, is a quick fix for this condition. Just think about that 3pm hypoglycemic low you feel at work and running to a vending machine. It is easy to believe that one “needs” a soda or candy bar as a quick fix to the symptoms of hypoglycemia.

Unfortunately, eating sweets, in particular, but also many starches, just makes the condition worse because most refined foods are lacking the vitamins and minerals needed for the body to adequately regulate its glucose metabolism.

Unfortunately, the blood sugar soon decreases again, causing even more cravings for the carbohydrate foods, and the beginning of a vicious cycle. To break that cycle one needs to eat adequate protein and most likely, quality fats and oils. But these usually will not give the instant pick-me-up one gets from flour and sugar. In addition, most people need targeted vitamin and mineral supplements and a complete healing program to restore the body’s sugar-handling ability. At least 70 percent of the American population suffers from some degree of hypoglycemia.

A need for insulin
I am going to keep this section brief, as I am not a doctor nor knowledgeable about diabetes. Simply said, eating sweets and starches stimulate insulin release. This may have a pleasurable effect on some people, especially if insulin levels are somewhat low and resistance is present. Non-diabetics can experience fluctuations in insulin levels, just as a diabetic can.

Chronic fatigue syndrome, Adrenal exhaustion, fast and slow oxidation
Are you tired? For some of us, eating sugars gives us a boost in energy. The causes of fatigue are varied. There is a theory of health and disease treatment that is called the bioenergetic approach. It is theorized that if you have nutritional balance in your body, you will be well. Here the goal is not to diagnose any disease, nor is it to cure anything. Instead, the focus is on raising the body’s adaptive energy level.

Adrenal exhaustion is a very common reason for low energy and chronic low blood sugar. Cortisol and cortisone, the hormones secreted by the adrenal glands, function to raise and maintain the blood sugar level. When these hormones are low, a person will experience chronic low blood sugar and fatigue. The condition is temporarily improved by eating sugars, fruits, juices or other items containing sugar. Once again, the effect is very temporary, and it can set up an addictive pattern of eating to feel better.

Fast or slow oxidation is when carbohydrates and amino acids are oxidized too slowly (“slow oxidation”) in one cycle or too quickly in another cycle (“fast oxidation”). In both cases energy production is reduced. People that experience fast and/or slow oxidization suffer from inefficient energy production, but for opposite biochemical reasons. The most common symptoms of a fast or slow oxidative rate are fatigue, emotional duress of some type, lowered resistance to infections, a low body temperature, gall bladder or liver problems, and being over or under weight. Your oxidation rate is influenced by both genetics and by your diet. Thus, what you eat affects your rate of oxidation and energy production, which in turn affects your mental, emotional, behavioral, and in some cases, physical characteristics.

The need for essential nutrients
Protein, fat, zinc, manganese, vanadium, chromium, and inositol, are essential nutrients that are often missing in a food addict’s diet. We are so nutritionally depleted that we develop unusual food cravings, in part because we are seeking various essential nutrients that are not present in high enough concentrations in our daily diets.

This can definitely explain some cases of overeating. It is thought, for example, that a deficiency of inositol may cause people to crave sugars. It is well known that deficiencies of zinc and chromium, and perhaps manganese and vanadium, may be involved in sweet cravings due to the need for these nutrients in the metabolism of sugars or glucose. A low intake of protein can cause carbohydrate cravings in slow oxidizers. A low intake of fats and oils can cause carbohydrate and sugar cravings in fast oxidizers.

Caseomorphins and Gluteomorphins – the food opioids
Both caseomorphins and gluteomorphins are morphine-like opioids, which we derive from dairy and wheat respectively, and are critical to our understanding of the power of these two foods in our health and well-being. These morphine-like substances, casomorphin and gluteomorphin, can be very sedating and addictive and help to explain why 75 percent of the calories in the standard American diet come from wheat and dairy, alone. Food addiction is a very real thing and these opioids play a huge role.

Caseomorphins are formed during our attempt to digest casein, the protein that makes up 80-90 percent of the protein content of cow’s milk. It is this same protein that can cause damage to the lower intestinal lining and a malabsorption syndrome similar to that seen in celiac disease, or gluten intolerance. Borden uses casein to make Elmer’s Glue; think what it does to the walls of your intestines.

The gluteomorphins are derived from gliadin, one of the main proteins found in gluten grains (wheat, barley, and rye). Gluten is also used to make industrial adhesives, as are soy and corn. All five of these foods are capable of damaging the lining of the intestinal tract and leading to the malabsorption of calcium, iron, B complex, C, and trace minerals (e.g. zinc, magnesium, lithium, boron, and more). This malabsorption or leaky gut syndrome contributes greatly to the ill health of the brain and immune system, setting the stage for the action of these food-derived opioids.

Dependency on carbohydrates are a major contributor to symptoms of IBS, thyroid dysfunction, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, arthritis, depression, chronic fatigue or other typical signs associated with food intolerance. And because of these food opioids, withdrawal from these foods can lead to classic drug-withdrawal symptoms.

These sedating compounds are also the single biggest contributing factor to post-meal drowsiness. Throw alcohol into the mix and you have a tragic situation just waiting to happen.

Amylopectin A, Agglutinin and Gliadin
Gluten research is coming up with more and more reasons not to eat wheat. U.S. cardiologist Dr. William (Bill) Davis and author of Wheat Belly, contends that wheat’s content of the readily-digested starch amylopectin A, is highly disruptive to blood sugar levels. The lectin (a toxin) in wheat known as “wheat germ agglutinin” can cause inflammation in the gut and elsewhere, and Gliadin, another component of gluten in wheat, has among other things, drug-like effects.

Dr. Davis’ research shows that gliadin might not be fully digested in the gut, and may give rise to small protein molecules known as “polypeptides.” These can sometimes penetrate the gut to gain access to the bloodstream, after which they also have the capacity to make their way across the “blood-brain-barrier.” Once in the brain, gliadin polypeptides can bind to opiate receptors in the brain. Opiates receptors are also similarly bound by the addictive chemicals of morphine, heroin and opium.

The body can generate chemicals which bind to opiate receptors termed “endorphins.” However, when a substance comes from outside the body, it is termed an “exorphin.” Gluten-derived exorphins can induce a feeling of mild euphoria. This might explain why tearing off a piece of a freshly baked baguette or digging into a bowl of pasta can seemingly be so intensely pleasurable for some. It might also explain why some struggle with giving up wheat.

So in reading this you can see that sugar, carbohydrates and other gluten-containing foods have addictive qualities that affect quite a lot of individuals. It seems to be a very real phenomenon and there’s no doubt that eliminating or dramatically reducing sugar, flour and gluten consumption usually leads to a significant improvement in well-being, energy levels, mental function and usually, weight loss. It also explains why we want to eat more after we ingest flour and sugar.

I want to remind you that information and advice contained in this blog should not be used for diagnosis or as a substitute for medical advice. Always consult your doctor, nutritionist or healthcare professional before beginning any new treatment.

Research for this post came from:

Food Addiction Institute

Lawrence Wilson, MD

Dr Jeremy Kaslow, Allergy, Asthma, and Clinical Immunology and Internal Medicine

Dr John Briffa- A Good Look at Good Health Blog

Dr William Davis- The Wheat Belly Blog

Dr Joseph Alaimo, Alaimo Chiropractic- Blog

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