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Diabetes, Sugar Addiction and Obesity — The Hard Facts

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Although I do not have a weight problem nor do I have any evidence in my blood work of a prediabetic or diabetic condition, I am a sugar addict, and beyond that probably a carbohydrate addict in general.

The first step to solving a problem is recognizing the problem.  I’ve known for years (as I’m guessing a majority of you reading this know for yourselves) that I could not stop consuming sugar.  This in my mind is no different than what I’ve observed with patients addicted to other substances: nicotine, prescription pain killers, alcohol and others. There are urges to consume the substance that are extremely difficult to resist. So strong, in fact, that most of us may have to try and fail numerous times before we are successful.  Not consuming the substance actually causes us to feel ill as we continue to resist consuming the substance (sugar, in this post) in the early days of abstinence.

Just about three weeks ago I gave up sugar.  No sugar in my coffee (just heavy cream — yes, fat is good), no Jujyfruits, no Lemon Heads, no Swedish Fish, no Red Vines, no peanut M&M’s, no donuts, no cupcakes, no cookies, no fruit juices.  You get the picture.  I was a junkie!

I’ve also cut WAY back on carbohydrates in general.  Very little bread, almost no rice, no potatoes, very few chips or crackers. I’m working on more vegetables (not something I’ve naturally craved).  My new best friends are cheese, nuts and dill pickles for snacks. On very few carbohydates (probably less than 50 grams per day and often less than that) I’ve increased my fat intake (butter, cheese, heavy cream to name a few).

At three weeks I’d say I’m well on my way to overcoming the sugar urges.  I do miss fruit, so I’m going to let myself enjoy berries now and then.

For me it’s about sugar addiction.  For most of my patients it’s that plus weight, diabetes, high blood pressure and other sugar/carbohydrate related diseases.

The bottom line is that human beings actually don’t need sugar to survive.  Now I’m not telling everyone that they have to eat zero carbohydrates to be healthy (remember that’s sweets, sugary drinks including fruit juices, alcohol, starchy vegetables, fruits, bread, crackers and the like)  — everyone is different, but if you have addiction, diabetes or weight problems (fat in the midsection) and you don’t want me as your doctor to prescribe medication to “treat” your problems, then you need to eat a diet which is very low in carbohydrates and you need to give up sugar.  Period.

“Diet” is a more controversial subject than it needs to be.  It is more confusing than it needs to be.  There are lots of opinions out there.  I like to be grounded in physiology (what we know about how the body works normally) and also observe what does and doesn’t lead to good health.  Doctors are NOT educated about diet. They learn about diseases and how to treat them.  That IS important, because there are complicated diseases that are not related to lifestyle, but becoming HEALTHY is not the same as treating disease.

In future blog posts I’m going to explain WHY this is the case and provide resources on HOW to go about doing it.  Today I just want to get a discussion started, and to let you know that I, like many of you, am an addict.  A sugar addict.  We are a nation of addicts.  We face a challenging road ahead and I want to help you along if you’ve been in this same boat with me.

2 Responses

  1. David Coleman
    | Reply

    Hi Peter. What are your thoughts on natural sugars (i.e. consumed while eating an apple) vice added sugars? Are all equally evil or is less processed not as bad an impact?

    • Peter Lehmann MD
      | Reply

      Hi David, Sugar is sugar. If for personal or health reasons you either want to or need to avoid sugar completely then the only “natural sugar” I would take in is berries. Sugar in some forms causes a more rapid rise in blood sugar, but in the end if you need to avoid sugar then you need to avoid sugar.

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