Diabetes & Hypertension Help Society
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I'm an addict, get me out of here!

Hi guys!

Just been diagnosed with T2 and panicking! Can understand the new regime with diet, and will struggle at first. But what worries me is my penchant for sweet things! I know there are alternatives bt how can I break my sugar 'habit'??

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What are you addicted to find a low sugar alternative or picture yourself at least two stone heavier and think how out of control you would be like this It might help Gail

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if I was 2 stones heavier, i'd probably burst...not an attractive thort, and I'd just have another mess to sort! Having meandered around the internet, there is so much conflicting information that my head is arguing with itself! Sweeteners, added sugar, alternatives...they are all good and bad!

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Hi lell1,

I know pretty much how you must feel, having once been a dreadful sweet-thing addict myself. But remember, it's not just sweet things you are going to have to get to grips with but your diet generally, so there's no point really in trying to instantly look for a 'substitute' for sugary things, or even switching to savouries. The body is very inconveniently able to convert most things into sugar, darn it.

And I'm not going to give a flippant reply to you either.

I lived for years with a diabetic husband and I know that Type 1 or 2 diabetes can ravage your body if you won't commit to a sensible eating plan. Unlike other ailments that will kill you off quickly, diabetes will kill you off slowly in the most horrible of ways, with your circulation suffering, leading to ulcers and amputations, blindness and much more.

So my advice, harsh though it is, is to keep that picture in your mind when you are tempted by a bar of chocolate or anything else you are advised to limit or avoid.

There is a lot of help out there that you will be able to access and I think the support of a community of people who are 'in the same boat' as you, is one of the sure-fire ways to help you to stick your regime.

And on the plus side, if you stick to the regime that's been proscribed for you, you'll not only control the diabetes, but become a lot healthier generally too.

Maybe you could switch your addiction to one for non food treats, such as a new lipstick, or perfume or an extra hairdo once in a while, or, put the money you save from buying your addictive treats, and go to the theatre, or travel, occasionally instead.

Very best wishes. I know it's quite shocking to hear the diagnosis, but I do know there is life after it, and a good life, if you take it seriously and keep yourself healthy.

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Thanx Callendersgal, your words are wise once more! As I don't wear make-up, smoke, drink, go to the cinema etc., chocolate WAS my reward! Don't apologise for maybe seeming harsh, it is the new reality and I must come to terms with it, as you say. I will be attending the local 'expert' group in October, so I guess until then you may be hearing quite a bit from me!

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Thanks for understanding lell1. I wouldn't have wanted to upset you!

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Unfortunately the craving for sweetness is yet another symptom, because of the insulin resistance, your body not being able to use the glucose efficiently ups its demand for it.

The remedy is to have low Gi carbohydrates at each meal to enable your body to replenish any glycogen used, but keeping to less than 130g per day, which is sufficient for most people phcuk.org/wp-content/upload... and aim for no snacking. A study showed that two meals are better than six, because it's when we don't eat that insulin levels can return to lower levels which is more important than keep topping up glucose levels (little and often) as has been a common theory for decades.

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Hi concerned! The first and last bits of ur response make perfect sense! The bit in the middle just missed shaving my hair off!

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Your craving for sweet things is caused by sweet things (and carbohydrates in general). Your body is failing to turn the carbs that you ingest into usable energy - it's basically starving - so it demands more of them. Biochemistry can be a bit dumb sometimes.

I disagree somewhat with Concerned regarding the "130g" minimum for dietary carbs. For a "normal person" this might be perfectly reasonable, but in your present condition, all those carbs will do is raise your blood sugar; there's nowhere for them to go. In any case, your body is perfectly capable of synthesizing either glucose, or reaction intermediates that substitute for it, from either stored fat or dietary fat.

Having said that, if you can stick to a low-carb diet for a few weeks, you'll almost certainly find that your metabolism re-calibrates itself and you can start introducing a modest amount of carbs again. How far you can go with that varies from person to person. Until that happens, you'll need to consume most of your dietary calories as fat: it's the only energy source available to you now.

Just to be clear about this: I assume you're on the low-carb Diabetes Prevention Programme diet? As opposed to the "let's pour some gasoline on this and see what happens" NHS approach?

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I didn't mean for 130g to be a minimum TheAwfulToad, and I think we agree in principle; when blood glucose is high, the last thing we want to do is eat an excess of carbohydrate (or protein) that will add to it.

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Hi the awfultoad!

Thanx for helping me with the science bits a bit! Should be starting the expert course in October and until then I'm swimming around in the whirlpool of diabetes! Think I'll stay here a bit so that the gasoline doesn't ignite! I've no idea of what all the letters and numbers mean, and spent two hours in the supermarket trying to find low carb/saturates n sugars! Yeah gadz! It's a needle and haystack scenario!

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LOL. I noticed that. Once you start trying to look for things that aren't loaded with carbs, you realise how few of them there are in the average supermarket! It's mad, innit.

When you drop the carbs and start fuelling your body from fat, your metabolism changes radically. Saturated fat is no longer an important concern because your body is burning every fat molecule for energy. Fats only become a problem when you're eating an excessive amount of carbs, but even then, the demonisation of saturated fat is based on a misunderstanding. Most of the circulating saturated fatty acids observed in unhealthy humans (specifically, palmitic acid) is not from the diet. It's being synthesized from surplus carbs - crudely speaking, because your body has no other useful repository for them. On a low-carb diet, your body actually shows a slight preference for burning saturated fats over unsaturated.

Try to get plenty of foods containing short- and medium-chain fatty acids, which are the ones that your body can burn most easily for energy. Basically that means butter and cheese (and coconut oil, if you can find it). Also, if you eat plenty of green veg, this will help fuel your gut flora, which in turn deliver a small amount of short-chain fatty acids back to your body in a symbiotic relationship.

As an aside ... I find it interesting that the one country with a large number of vegetarians (India) makes a big deal out of dairy foods, and cows. I suspect this happened precisely because dairy is so important for health, at least for those who aren't dairy-intolerant.

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Thanx again for explaining things for me. Could u give me some examples of these short fat things please?? Kinda sounds like me when put that way!

It's a great thought, but not sure that it would stand up to rigourous research? Having said that, there are a number of cultures that avoid foods that could also be assumed to be associated with health? We could start investigating n end up with Nobel prize!! 🙄

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hahaha ... short fat things, sounds like my horrible cats.

The distinction between 'short', 'medium', and 'long' chain fatty acids is made on the basis of what your body does with them.

Brief organic chemistry overview. Carbon atoms have a unique ability to form themselves into three-dimensional structures via four bonds with other atoms (usually hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen). They like to form chains, rings, and combinations of those. All the molecules of life are based around a carbon-atom backbone: some of them are small, compact molecules with a couple of dozen carbons; some are vast, floppy combinations of thousands of carbon atoms. The word "unsaturated" refers to a carbon atom which has attached to another atom with a double or triple bond. Triple bonds are quite unusual. In fatty acids, a double bond makes a 'kink' in what would otherwise be a straight chain, and represents a point where other chemicals are likely to react with it.

SCFA's are more usually referred to as carboxylic acids (that's a molecule with a couple of oxygen atoms attached to one of the carbons, -COOH), because they're not a common component of natural triglycerides. A triglyceride (also just called a 'fat') is a collection of three fatty acids nailed onto a glycerol backbone. Also, SCFA's are so short that they're not really 'chains' (2-6 carbons). They have recognisable and rather unpleasant smells: acetic acid (in vinegar) is a familiar example. They occur only in very small amounts in food. Mostly, they're produced in our gut by the bacteria there. Some cells in your body use them for energy (including your intestines and your brain). They also appear to have something to do with appetite regulation.

MCFA's have 6-12 carbons. They are also carboxylic acids (ie., they include the -COOH carboxyl group) but we call them 'fatty acids' because they're a common component of naturally-occurring triglycerides (although not nearly as common as LCFAs). As mentioned, the richest dietary sources are butter, cream, cheese, and coconut oil. MCFAs are rapidly absorbed from the small intestine and enter the bloodstream via the liver (a lot like carbohydrates, in fact). On a low-carbohydrate diet, they represent a good source of energy for most cells, either being burned as-is, or converted to ketones. There's no need to go out of your way to consume them, obviously; the point is merely that they don't need to be avoided, because your body can do useful things with them.

LCFA's go through a fundamentally different process of absorption and metabolism. Several types of cell (including your brain) can't use them directly for energy, but they can be converted to other molecules which can be used for energy by almost every cell in your body. Your body can and does make LCFAs for various purposes (often for storage). And of course other organisms do too, which is why animal products in particular have a large fat component.

Because fatty acids have a lot of carbons, there are many different possible variations, and aside from the rough classifications above, your body has slightly different ways of dealing with them all. There are a few fatty acids that it absolutely must have because it can't synthesize them: these are the Essential Fatty Acids.

Lipid chemistry is very, very complex! Here's the short version: everything that your body does with carbohydrates, it can also do with fats (it's not quite that simple, but it's a fair approximation). Which is good news for you, because your body has (temporarily, we hope) lost its ability to do anything much at all with carbohydrates ...

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I kinda get the gist of the massive missive, abridged version! Avoid carbs but nt fats, natural fats good, but animal fats not so good? Short fat things out, long chainy bits in?

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Truly, if you are able to go cold turkey on all sweet flavors for two straight weeks you will adjust your taste buds significantly. The sweet tooth will be relieved and you can make a more clear headed decision about how you want to handle this in your new way of life. There truly are replacements for sugar that do not affect blood glucose and taste very natural, but they have a learning curve and breaking the addiction is well worth the effort.

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Thanx ladylin151! The thought of no sweet things is a bit mind blowing! Have done 2 weeks without chocolate and bread n crisps tho!

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I like sweet things,too and I have struggled with my blood sugars at times. I found that 2 portions of fruit a day helps. A couple of squares of dark chocolate 70% to 80% cocoa content helps. The higher the cocoa content the less likely you are to want more. I don't eat sweets and I keep away from cakes and sweetened drinks. In time you will find that you don't crave sweet things as you once did. Keep away from high carb foods. There are lots of books available to read that give you recipes that contain less sugar and lower carbs. Diabetes uk website is helpful and informative. Are you in the UK?

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Thanx anjijag! The thought of dark chocolate will be enough to remind me not to eat choccy! I haven't had any choc for 2 weeks now! Have been looking at healthier foods, although it's a guessing game as there are so many contradictions!

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