Is this vegetable making you crave sugar?
Good morning tribe!
I received a very interesting e-mail about a week ago from a reader about an encounter she had with a doctor at an event they both attended.
Since I am sure that so many of us can relate to this kind of conversation about dietary choices, I wanted to share her story here and get some feed back on what you might have responded in this situation or what advice you would give this person for how to deal with her sugar issues.
I ended up talking with this reader over the telephone, and in the end, she was pretty excited about the information that I shared with her about sugar addiction and she had high hopes for making some well needed changes.
Here's what she wrote:
I hope that all is good with you and yours.
I want to share a conversation I had last night. At a fundraising dinner I attended, I met a local physician who ate nothing but a slab of red meat while I ate my vegetarian option. We ended up talking about nutrition. I mentioned that my sugar addiction has worsened to the point that I’m thinking about seeing someone who specializes in addiction because I think about sugar/chocolate during all waking hours and can not get through a day without it. When I eat sugar/chocolate, I can feel the reward center of my brain clanging with happiness. It’s an immediate high. If I can’t get it when I need it, I can think of little else but my next fix. I’ll leave my office and drive to the store for Peanut M&Ms.
He said—Readers’ Digest version here—that fruits and vegetables are the culprit because they are just carbs and don’t have fats or protein (except we know legumes have protein.) He said that because fruits and vegetables are carbs, it’s the equivalent of chain smoking, effectively creating the craving/need for more sugar. He said, “You’re probably eating Brussels Sprouts and kale, thinking that you’re doing the right thing.” I told him I couldn’t believe he named those two—I have kale every morning in a green smoothie with blueberries and am so in love with Brussels Sprouts that I often call my husband on the way home from work and ask him to have some ready for me when I get home.
He reminded me of what I already know which is that we want to avoid inflammation and that sugar causes inflammation. The logic is that since carbs become sugar (I’m paraphrasing here and probably incorrectly but you get the idea), all of those vegetables are causing inflammation. Even the fiber in fruit that we believe slows down the effect of fruit sugars is bad.
I asked him why he didn’t choose the salmon——“because the red meat has more fat.” He reads and researches this topic extensively and, with his medical degree, is in another league from me (cell physiology, etc.) so I was at a loss in terms of explaining why I do what I do and think it’s right.
Since he started eating “keratogenically” eight months ago, he’s lost ten pounds. He doesn’t care that his cholesterol level is high—thinks it is not an indicator of his health. He said that fats bring satiety. By depriving myself, I’m actually creating the cravings. He buys fatty meat and believes that the fats are making him healthier.
Wendy, my sugar addiction has worsened and is so all-consuming that I’m actually thinking of eating meat and other animal fat to see if it will help. This is from someone who looks at meat and is almost repulsed at seeing only hunks of some poor dead animal that was cruelly treated. All I know is that my years of weekly batch cooking of dried beans and eating those with other vegetables and some fruits is either leaving me nutritionally unsatisfied, hence the worsening sugar addiction OR it’s a psychological problem that needs some other type of attention but my life is great—family, friends, job, no depression, I exercise, sleep well, blah, blah, blah. There must be an explanation for this, though.
I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’m thinking of trying what looks like the old-fashioned Atkins diet. When I have tried it, I go through sugar withdrawal for about a week (splitting headaches which I ordinarily never get) but then get over that. I’ve not been able to sustain the effort but that was years ago—maybe it’s worth another try. All I know is that no matter how much I read about sugar addiction, talk to myself about it, write things down, try to give it up—you name it—it’s worsening.
I know you’re not health-care provider but you have been challenged for years by these issues. Any thoughts on this?
Oh boy, did I have A LOT of ideas! But before I share with you how I responded, which I will do in a five (yes, five!) part follow up blog post series, I would love to hear your thoughts. What would you advise this reader?