As soon as we get over Christmas indulgences we buy the latest diet books by the truckload to lose weight, detox or simply to be healthier but is there an underlying problem that needs to be sorted first to help stop those cravings that undo even the most dedicated dieter?
Patrick Holford, founder of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition, has written a new book that claims to provide a fast, safe, and highly effective way to stop cravings and end addictions – whether they’re for chocolate, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, illicit or prescription drugs. So How to Quit Without Feeling S**T might be the answer to keeping those New Year pledges.
Patrick’s book explains that whatever the addictive substance, whether it’s sugar, caffeine or cocaine, the brain reacts in much the same way and the answer to beating the addiction and cravings is a combination of diet, specific supplements and lifestyle factors that help ‘reset’ your brain’s chemistry, depending on your addiction.
His 12-week action plan shows how you can help yourself to become addiction free – and finally able to stick to your New Year’s resolutions without constant cravings. Patrick has also set up a how2quit.co.uk website which includes a questionnaire to see if you are addicted, short extracts from the book and case studies.
Patrick will be talking about How to Quit Anything on Monday 12th January from 7pm – 8.30pm at St Jame’s Church, Picadilly, London. See www.patrickholford.com for more details.
How To Quit Without Feeling S**T (Trade Paperback Original, Piatkus, £12.99, Published 1st January 2009)
Patrick’s Ten How To Quit Tips
If you’re a sugar addict halve your sugar intake and switch to xylitol. This is a natural sugar found in cherries, berries and plums. Nine teaspoons has the same effect on your blood sugar as 1 teaspoon of sugar. Available in some supermarkets, all health food stores and on-line at www.totallynourish.com.
Caffeine promotes adrenalin. When you quit you feel like your get up and go has got up and gone. Adrenalin is made from the amino acid tyrosine. Supplement 2,000mg of tyrosine in the morning, on an empty stomach, plus adaptogenic herbs such as ginseng and reishi. Some supplements contain these in combination. Have two cups of green tea instead. This has much less caffeine and contains theanine, a relaxing amino acid.
Alcohol promotes GABA, a brain neurotransmitter that helps you relax. GABA is made from two amino acids, glutamine and taurine. Hops, passion flower and valerian also promote GABA. Find a supplement that contains these ingredients for a natural chill-out in the evening. The mineral magnesium, rich in pumpkin seeds, is also calming.
Don’t just quit cigarettes. You need to get ready by balancing your blood sugar. The reason why so many people crave cigarettes on quitting and overeat instead is that nicotine upsets your blood sugar balance. You need to follow a low GL diet (explained in How to Quit Without Feeling S**t), which means eating slow-releasing carbohydrates together with protein. Oat flakes and seeds for breakfast, an apple with some almonds as a snack, or fish with brown rice for dinner, are all low GL.
Make a list of all your smoking triggers
For example, with a hot drink, when stressed, before a meal, after sex, with alcohol. Now pick one and, for a week, break this habit. For example, don’t smoke with a hot drink. Each week break another trigger.
If you’re a chocoholic, eating chocolate every day, you need to give it a break. The addictive substance in chocolate is both caffeine and theobromine. Firstly, follow a low GL diet since blood sugar dips are what makes you crave. Secondly, take a supplement providing the amino acid tyrosine plus adaptogenic herbs such as ginseng and reishi or rhodiola. Some supplements contain these in combination. Having three squares of dark chocolate a day is OK. After all, it’s high in antioxidants. But not three bars a day!
Quitting diet cola
If you’re a diet cola addict follow the same advice as for coffee, substituting apple juice diluted with fizzy water, or something completely different.
If you crave something sweet or a caffeinated drink
First drink a glass of water, then eat a piece of fruit with some seeds or nuts. When you’ve satisfied your thirst and your hunger you may find your craving has gone.
If you’re feeling uptight, anxious or blue and feel like a drink
Go for a walk, a run or a bike ride. Get out in fresh air and do something physical that gets you out of your head and into your body. Or talk to someone.
Eating oily fish and supplementing omega 3 fish oils daily reduces craving and anxious and aggressive feelings associated with use and withdrawal from addictive substances.