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Diabetic Momentum Series: Overcoming Diet Frustration

 

“Damn, Doc, I love carbs!

–anonymous patient

At first I laughed when I heard this newly diagnosed diabetic make this announcement about his diet frustration.

I had my work cut out for me with this guy!

Many diabetics express the common frustration over a “Restricted diet.”

The research is pretty clear and many distinguished physicians have written extensively on the relationship between excessive carbs (sugar) and the epidemic of Diabesity (Diabetes + Obesity).

My patients quickly learn that when you see me regarding T2DM, I will certainly steer you away from these foods.  Medication offer to cure, only lifestyle and diet lead to diabetic remission.

Carbohydrates and sugar are addicting.  They cause a spike in neural activity in the brain which triggers a type of endorphin (Feel good hormones in our body).  Therein lies the problem for someone sick with diabetes.

This creates a real “Chicken & egg” dilemma.  The more sugar you eat the more you crave, the more sugar you eat the more likely you are to have diabetes.

Experience Cutting Out Sugar

So for those dreading the idea of cutting out their favorite sweets, breads, and pastas, consider the experiences many of my patients have had.

1)Most patients in my practice that have cut out significant sugar, starches,  & carbs note better energy, mood, and sleep.  This of course stems from the complex neurologic and hormonal affect sugar has on our body.  This burst of energy, mood and improved sleep often outweighs the short-lived pleasure of a sugary treat.

2)Most food cravings subside after the first one to two weeks.  When cravings arise….and they will…I usually recommend patients try eating protein or densely fat foods.  These might be avocados, eggs, nuts, seeds, or jerky.  If something slightly sweet is necessary to break series cravings, I will ask the patient to try a cut up apple with a side of almond butter or similar fat/protein source.

3)Avoiding sugar will reset your taste buds creating a built in aversion in the future.  Simply said, the more you avoid sugar the easier this habit becomes.  A classic example comes from patients that quit drinking soda.  Weeks after quitting, they will relapse, only to discover the soda tastes so sweet they’re disgusted!!   (YEEESSSS….)

4)Patients have more success when they visualize the pleasures associated with avoiding sugar.  Literally, I ask people to apply the PAIN/PLEASURE principle to food.  Every time you have a craving for a coke, visualize/envision the “Pain” of dialysis, a heart attack, or the loss of time with loved ones.  This seems dramatic…but it works.   Instead, envision the “Pleasure” of a tighter waistline, better energy, healthier skin, better sex life, less medical bills, pills, and doctors visits.junkfoodcompass_thumb.jpg

Final word on Diet Restriction

The frustration over diet restriction is real for many diabetics.

“But my friends eat whatever they want!”

Just understand, your friend isn’t healthy.  Sugar and excess carbs affect everyone.  When we add in the damage many experience not just with sugar but gluten sensitivity….it’s not A problem, but THE problem.  (More on Gluten sensitivity in the future)

Don’t judge yourself, compare yourself, simply take one small step.  Break from the herd mentality. Change your attitude about food from doing whatever “feels” good momentarily, to thinking of food as fuel….fuel your engine better and get better results.

Once many realize the low carb / high fat diet necessary to improve T2DM is actually quite satisfying, the frustration over avoiding sugar subsides dramatically.

Many before you have gone this route.  You can do it.

Please comment, I would love any feedback you have.

I am sharing my clinical experience but I what to know your struggles!

 

 

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • George June 15, 2016, 12:28 pm

    Though I nor my wife have diabetic issues, I started following a VLCKD (Very low carb ketogenic diet) way of eating since November 11,2015. Since then I have lost a total of 43 lbs and with regular heavy lifting have gained muscle mass. I keep Net carbs below 25g per day, with a Fat cap of 179g an protein goal of 150-200g.

    I used to be addicted to sugar, carb-y food, and of course sodas. But I can say that since I changed my WoE I have better sleep, higher levels of energy, less stress, less body fat, less illnesses, and less joint pain. Most importantly fats keep you full, so you are never hungry. The carb cravings also go away, you know you are doing it right when you rather have an avocado or some chicharrones than a cookie…

    I recently convinced my wife to follow the same way of eating. Over the past two weeks she has dropped 8 lbs, and never has felt overcome by hunger pangs.

    • William Curtis MD June 22, 2016, 9:39 am

      Your story is a testament to what simple but profound, consistent habit change can do. Thank you for sharing and offering motivation for others…I bet you “Numbers” improved to (blood sugar, lipid panels, etc!)

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