It’s the sugar, Sugar: managing weight problems

From sufganiyot to hamantaschen: Can you handle it?

NO SHAME: You may have eaten sufganiyot blanketed in sugar over Hanukkah – and that’s OK. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
NO SHAME: You may have eaten sufganiyot blanketed in sugar over Hanukkah – and that’s OK.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Myths can be compelling when derived in a vacuum devoid of facts. The absence of dependable information on the subject of nutrition is not simply a case of misleading the public, but it can lead to serious consequences.
Exploring the myths about nutrition is intended to serve as a segue into the understanding of the damage that this can cause. Misleading weight loss advice that still persists can lead to a variety of disorders such as the current increase in the incidence of type 2 diabetes in adults, as well as children.
When popular wisdom that promotes diets, calorie counting, and low fat food restriction is derived from respectable sources, but the expected results aren’t achieved, the natural consequence is to blame oneself, and it is self-blame that has led to severely undermining the efforts of those who seek a solution to their weight problems.
Last week I attended a meeting of people with serious weight problems that have plagued them for years. During the entire 90 minutes it was clear that they felt they were at fault. They ate too much, they ate in a frenzy, they lost weight and gained weight. For them life was a constant struggle around eating and/or starving, and the inference was that it was their fault. One expressed shame, another criticized herself for not being able to be like others. Self-blame is a severe attack on the ego. Regarding weight, it’s a relentless punishment that has no place in our society, considering the progress that science has made.
The truth about weight control is an issue that can now be addressed in scientific terms that completely rule out self-blame.
Over the past several decades, scientists have discovered that our weight is controlled by the sugar/insulin phenomenon. That is, when sugar is ingested, it activates the pancreas to release insulin. The role of the insulin is to transport the sugar out of the blood and into our cells, which gives us the energy we need to move, speak, think and so forth.
How do we gain weight? When we habitually eat foods that introduce too much sugar into the blood, the pancreas cannot secrete enough insulin to decrease blood sugar. As a result the excess sugar is then stored in our body as fat. We gained weight!
When this process continues over an extended period of time, the pancreas becomes overworked and can no longer release sufficient insulin to do the job. This leads to a diagnosis of diabetes. And then, to help remove the sugar from the blood, the diabetic patient is prescribed artificial insulin to do the job. It’s really quite simple when spelled out.
But there’s a definitively more effective solution that is wholly reliable but unfortunately more burdensome for both patient and doctor. And that is, type 2 diabetes can be avoided and also reversed with correct nutrition.
For the skeptics who are difficult to convince, let me refer you to medical doctors – Mark Hyman, Robert Lustig, Michael Eades, and prolific science writer Gary Taubes, who determinedly disseminated information explaining the sugar/insulin action. This is just a short list of professionals who are dedicated to telling the truth about the dangers of sugar that can lead to diabetes, kidney dysfunction, joint pain, inflammation, some cancers and more.
I’LL END with a story to emphasize the truth about food.
Several years ago I watched a TED talk by Peter Attia who at that time was doing his residency in surgery in Johns Hopkins Hospital. At 2 a.m. he was called to the emergency room where he saw, lying on the bed, an obese woman who presented with a diabetic ulcer in her leg whose stench he said he could smell even before entering the room.
Dr. Attia described his utter disgust that this woman allowed herself to reach this condition. The consultation was about whether to amputate her leg.
Deliberating about the decision, he soon came to the realization that this wasn’t her fault at all. It was unusually strange to watch him tearfully explain his perception that she wasn’t suffering from her condition because she ate too much of the wrong food, it was the reverse. She ate too much because she had too much insulin in her system, and because sugar is addictive she couldn’t control her hunger.
From this understanding, it should be clear that self-blame regarding weight control is an oversimplification that leads to a multitude of ineffective decisions. Hunger and weight gain are a physiological phenomenon, not a psychological weakness. Unfortunately, this seems to be a societal secret that we’ll deal with in the next segment.
The writer made aliyah in 1970 from Montreal with her husband and four children. She is a GI counselor in private practice and has written three books on the subject.
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