Early Tuesday morning as I was enjoying my first cup of coffee and watching our local news and weather, I was saddened to learn about the death of Penny Marshall as a result of complications from diabetes. Ms. Marshall was a television and Hollywood icon, in the seventies I always loved watching her playing the role of Laverne on the Happy Days spin off Laverne and Shirley. She was a talented and funny lady who went on to become a highly successful movie director. Ms Marshall made history when she became the first woman to ever gross more than $100 million for directing a film. The film was the 1988 hit “Big” starring Tom Hanks.
I do not want to jump into too many conclusions about Ms. Marshall’s death, except that in my experience with people whom I have known who also died of complications from diabetes, it has been exclusively because they did not control their disease by eating a diabetes friendly diet, nor did they attempt to control their weight in any fashion. Diabetes is a disease which can be managed, this disease does not have to cause your early death. The ravages of Type 2 Diabetes can actally be reversed through proper diet and exercise. Yet, too many people settle to monitor their blood sugar and take chances with their health by continuing to eat poorly. Too many have the thought they can carry on their lives as they did pre-diabetes because they can simply take a pill or a shot of insulin in order to keep them “healthy”. The reality though, it matters little how much money you have, nor your access to the best doctors and medicines, if you do not manage your disease through diet and exercise, you will eventually suffer possible amputations of extremities and or death at some point.
Why is it so hard for so many diabetics to give up foods they know are destructive to their health?
To be successful in achieving optimal health and permenent weight loss, the nature of human complexity needs to be considered. Most foods we consume today as a part of the Standard American Diet are full of sugar and can be addicting physically and emotionally. Sadly, there are many people who would rather face death than to change their way of eating. It is as if the subconscious mind quits caring about logic and science. As a species, we humans are physical, emotional and social beings. Many folks will flat reject learning about healthy eating and living, with a good many even rationalizing or making excuses why they can not change their ways.
It is not uncommon that folks will give reasons and excuses to continue down their path to dietary suicide. Yes, suicide is the word. If you refuse to change your dietary habits after a diabetes diagnosis, then you are committing a slow suicide and your family will have to pick up the broken pieces. This being the case, remember, it is never just about you in these situations. Your actions, or lack there of, impacts your loved ones too. You may not have a conscious thought of wanting to die, you likely do not want to. Our brains are designed to dim awareness to information that causes us distress and anxiety.. For many folks, the very thought of changing the way they eat is a huge source of distress and anxiety. So many can not fathom a life without sweet treats and such. Unhealthy, sugar laden foods are a slow working poison, but the human mind can fear change more so than it fears a unhealthy diet.
If you are the type who has an addictive mind, you likely will always be able to dream up a solid reason to justify the continuation of your addiction to unhealthy sugar laden foods. Many food addicts will resort to using the line “If you had a life like mine, you would binge too”. Sorry, but that kind of thinking is a lame cop out, please refrain from getting into a self defeating cycle of of self pity and gloom if you have a diagnosis of diabetes and a weight issue. You can live a healthy life, if you make the choice to do so. Many people with addictive personalities will lose total control once the addiction to their food choices takes hold. Often the food addict will lose control of their own descision making. Over eating, eating poorly and remaining obese in spite of health consequences are prime examples the power a sugar addiction has over the individual.
Over eating is also too often the result of a low self esteem. If you read social media from weight loss apps such as Weight Watchers, you can see this every day, multiple times. This makes people vulnerable to negative peer pressure, addictions and emotional binging. Have you ever feared appearing different than others and believe that changing the way you eat will result in a loss of social status? People will also over eat to raise dopamine and serotonin activity in the brain so that they can dull the frustration, disappointment and pain of life. Is this you? If so, all negativity can be turned around. Changing your diet can go hand in hand with a new attitude about yourself, life and the many possibilities ahead of you. Know that a healthy diet goes hand in hand with a healthy attitude about life and a love of life.
If you are obese and or have been diagnosed with diabetes, please acknowledge the problem. Ackolwedge the difficulties of getting through it, and just do it. You have to face facts, accept your discomforts and then work your way through them. Your mind may not like the changes you have to make to accomodate a new healthier life, but you have to stick with it until the changes begin to just feel natural instead of foreign. No one can cure an addiction unless they are willing and have made the personal choice to fight through it. The key to getting through a food addiction is to make the commitment to stick through dietary changes that will make you healthier. Go forth with the knowledge and comfort that every day spent working to a heathier life will become easier and more pleasurable.