Oh, carbohydrates. How we love the sweet doughy taste of carbs, and the brain chemical release that gets triggered when we indulge in starchy goodness. We feel amazingly energized for a few glorious minutes. Then our blood sugar crashes, the brain chemicals wear off, we want more, and more, and more carbs, until we are bloated foggy-brained zombies. If you are tired of feeling trapped by your love for motivation-killing carbs, here are a few ways to break free.

1. Eat More Protein and Fiber

Protein and fiber help keep blood sugar levels stabilized. When blood sugar levels are stable, we are less likely to experience addictive cravings. Protein and fiber also help us feel more full, without the need to top off the meal with a sweet desert. High fiber foods slow down the digestion of sugar and support the health of our digestive systems.

Include complete protein with every meal, such as nuts and legumes or hemp seeds. Fiber is found in seeds, vegetables, and whole fruits.

2. Always Eat Breakfast

Carb cravings are often caused by a dip in blood sugar levels. If you take too long to break the fast of the night, your blood sugar will be so low that your body will cry out for the quick fix of carbs. Skipping breakfast can lead to binge carb eating later in the day. Eating breakfast brings your blood sugar levels into balance before the cravings have a chance to lure you in.

And eating breakfast kick starts the metabolism. This turns on your fat-burning engines and gives you energy that will last much longer than a cup of coffee or other breakfast replacement.

No, a pastry does not count as breakfast. Sugary baked goods in the morning (or any time) just set you up for a peak and crash, and terrible cravings. Strive to eat a substantial meal with protein and lots of green vegetables as soon as possible after waking.

3. White Out

Processed, refined foods keep carb cravings alive and well. As you are healing from your addiction, stay away from anything refined. This includes baked goods, white bread, white rice, white potatoes, chips, crackers, and anything with sugar or sugary ingredients like rice syrup or agave.

Eventually you can have small amounts of complex carbohydrates like yams and legumes, and even whole fruit, but for the first few days stick to vegetables and protein.

4. Exercise

Vigorous exercise stimulates the production of dopamine and serotonin, the feel good brain chemicals that we are seeking with carbs, without overloading the receptors or triggering addictive cycles.

Exercise also inspires us to breathe deeply. Breathing deeply reduces stress levels and balances the nervous system, which decreases the likelihood that we will experience cravings. When you feel a craving come on, go for a walk.

Exercise for at least half an hour, four times per week to maintain healthy brain chemical levels. Enjoy a variety of exercise to keep you body surprised so your brain does not fall into a rut and stop producing as many of the feel-good chemicals.

5. Replace and Rejoice

Find ways to satisfy your desire by eating delicious food that actually nourishes your body. Zucchini makes great pasta noodles. Cabbage and celery provide a satisfying chip-like crunch. Carrots and yams are filling and naturally sweet. Snack on protein-rich nuts and seeds instead of crackers or candy.

Avoid fruit juice, which only provides empty simple carbs. Instead blend whole greens like spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, and arugula with not-too-sweet fruit like apples and pears to make a satisfying and nourishing drink.

6. Build Your Balanced Eating Plan

Include probiotics foods like sauerkraut and miso. Probiotic foods help restore beneficial intestinal flora. This will enable you to better digest everything you eat, and repair any damage from too much sugar (which feeds detrimental bacteria).

Healthy fats like organic extra virgin coconut oil provide lasting energy and boost the metabolism. When eaten in moderation, they can help prevent carb cravings.

Focus on including foods that will repair your brain chemistry and help you recover from addictive tendencies. These include avocados, broccoli, collard greens, flax and chia seeds, legumes, nuts, and complete proteins.

Plan to eat several small meals throughout the day. If you wait too long between meals, your blood sugar will drop and you may not be able to stop yourself from having a little pick-me-up. Always have healthy snacks available, and know that you will need to eat something every three hours or so to maintain even blood sugar levels.

Breaking an addiction is rarely easy. Remember to be kind with yourself as you transition to a healthier way of eating. Recovering addicts know that awareness is the first step. Understanding that you are working with a physical and mental addiction can help you be both kind and firm with yourself a balance that is required for you to kick a carb addiction. But all the effort will be worth it when you have renewed energy and a sense of freedom.