It’s common for people who are obese or have type 2 diabetes to experience shame. Often for no other reason than the judgement of others.
The assumption is that the personal failings of greed and laziness are behind these conditions, but this ignores the obvious fact that nobody in their right mind would willingly choose to live with these conditions.
The view that those who are obese or diabetic must be weak is simply unhelpful. More realistically, though, it’s incredibly damaging and flat out wrong.
I see many accomplished patients in my practice; doctors, CEOs, lawyers, elite athletes, and people who demonstrate high motivation and dedication. These people are the opposite of lazy, yet they are painted with the same brush when they suffer the ravages of diabetes and obesity.
They don’t deserve to be labelled lazy. This label couldn’t be further from the truth.
Who’s to blame?
In the space of one generation, has the population has essentially lost all sense of willpower and self-control? I don’t think that’s the case.
For those in the medical profession, health practitioners, including doctors, the cause of the ‘diabesity’ epidemic is professionally embarrassing.
For more than forty years, the medical profession has been giving patients bad advice; which increases the risks of diabetes and obesity when followed.
Us medical professionals should shoulder the blame.
How did it get this way?
Forty years ago the advice was primarily based on the assumption that the calorie content of food influenced weight gain, and that energy expenditure was entirely under ones conscious control.
We now know these assumptions to be flawed. While fat does contain more energy per gram than carbohydrates, they have a different impact on hunger and energy expenditure.
Now, I’d like you to do a thought experiment.
- Think about how much steak you could consume before you felt stuffed.
- Now consider how many chips you would have to consume for the same feeling of satiety. One bag, two bags? More?
What’s your answer?
It’s clear that what influences our appetites is WHERE the calories come from.
Calories from a fatty steak will satisfy our appetites and suppress hunger much longer than the same amount of calories from potato chips.
Unconscious energy expenditure can also be reduced or increased depending on what type of foods you eat, even for the same number of calories.
Low carbohydrate diets can increase unconscious energy expenditure equivalent to 1-hour bike riding per day compared to high carbohydrate diets.
So you can see, the focus purely on counting calories is wrong. No one in the 21st century can say with a straight face that 120 grams of salmon are the same as 600mls of Coke, despite having the same amount of calories.
The depths of the deception
Of course, doctors don’t set out to deceive their patients. Unfortunately, doctors themselves are often victims of their education and industry influence.
In the same way, the food industry also subconsciously influences consumer choices.
Processed foods are often highly addictive. Scientists in the employment of the food industry devote much time and energy to crafting foods as delectable as possible.
They can be guided by something called the ‘bliss point’, using a precise combination of flavours, the likes of which are unknown in nature, to make foods as tempting as possible.
In addition to manufacturing foods that can be very difficult to resist, the food industry worldwide spends billions of dollars marketing these foods, often using manipulative psychological techniques to subconsciously convince consumers to buy these food items.
We’re now consuming more industrially produced highly processed foods than ever, a class of foodstuff virtually unknown barely more than a generation ago.
Foods that have been shown through research to increase the risk of chronic diseases. Through clever advertising, we often consider healthy, such as muesli bars, breakfast cereals, and nut milk.
Of course, this is not a secret to industry, who have deliberately crafted them to be tempting to the point of addiction while spending billions promoting them as healthy. Still, many consumers would be shocked to see the amount of sugar and seed oils in these products.
Is it all about money?
There’s no question that this approach to marketing food is profitable for big manufacturers.
Foods that are engineered to be incredibly desirable yet only transiently alleviate hunger are a perfect combination to increase food consumption.
Add to this the ability to convince consumers that these products are healthy, and it’s easy to see how many food habits we didn’t have 50 years ago (like snacking) is now considered normal.
Sadly, all of this has led to skyrocketing cases of type 2 diabetes and other metabolic conditions.
So if you’re an unhealthy weight or have type 2 diabetes, the best advice I can offer is this…
Don’t blame yourself.
It’s more than likely you’ve been both let down by health professionals feeding you misguided dietary guidelines and betrayed and manipulated by the food industry.
It’s not your fault.
Don’t feel guilty.
If anything, you should feel angry.
Angry at being misled for so long.
So I ask you to harness that anger.
Direct it positively.
Spend your energy educating yourself. Creating a healthy environment around you in which you can thrive.
Stop consuming processed foods and go back to eating the way your grandparents used to eat.
Eat fresh home-cooked foods like meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, full-fat dairy, nuts and seeds (don’t like cooking? Try Defeat Diabetes with Thrive meals instead)!
You’ll find you won’t be as hungry and will eat less often.
You will lose weight.
You will feel like exercising more.
Your blood sugar levels will stabilise without the huge spikes caused by large amounts of carbs.
You will also probably sleep better, have more energy, and get rid of that brain fog that’s been hanging around for years.
Your high blood pressure will likely come down, and gut symptoms like bloating will reduce.
You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Remember, it’s not your fault. You’re now in control.