Do you love chocolate? I do, I really, really do love chocolate. I’m the type of chocolate lover who looks for any excuse to indulge. I had a long day, so I deserve this chocolate, or I worked out…just one little bite, and I made the family dinner, so let’s have a reward…sound familiar? Well, I’m not actually going to argue that a small piece of delightful treat did anything bad; however, when you consider I used all of those excuses in the same day, and it was more like a block of chocolate than a piece of chocolate that landed in my belly, that is a reason to take action. I had let myself get caught up in a reward system that if left unchecked could cause some really serious damage to my body. Let me explain what we call the “vicious cookie cycle.”
When you eat good wholesome food, it goes into your digestive track. The food is converted to sugars and slowly trickles through the digestive track to the inside of your body. Then, your pancreas slowly releases insulin into your system. It is the job of insulin to attach to your cells in your body and make them capable of accepting sugar inside the cell. Once sugar is inside the cell, your body uses that sugar to make ATP, the energy source of your body. And yes, that was a semi-detailed story of how your body uses food to make energy.
When we decide instead to eat-high sugar items (four grams of sugar on a food label is equal to one teaspoon of sugar), the story changes in some important ways. In my choco-aholic state the sugar pours into my body, the pancreas pours out insulin. This causes the insulin to quickly activate the cells and for a while, my body will make energy faster with sugar than it would with food. But, after some time the body starts creating insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is tricky because your blood-work measuring blood sugar levels will be normal, so people often miss this important reversible step. The issue is when we keep eating high sugar and high carbohydrate foods, we keep making insulin at a rapid rate. The result is that your cells become numb to it, and they don’t pay as much attention to insulin as they used to/ Once your body starts to ignore insulin, the sugar you were eating floats around causing cell damage. Your body thinks (correctly so) that it is dangerous, and your body’s way of handling this is to take all of that sugar and place it into fat cells as fast as possible. The remarkable (and sad) thing is that the sugar you ate never made it inside the cell to make energy.
Even though you might have ingested 200 calories, your body stored those calories in fat cells, and low and behold you are hungry shortly after. When we are really hungry, we tend to gravitate to sugary foods thinking we will get energy/satisfaction from the food faster. This is when we reach for another cookie, thus creating the vicious cookie cycle.
There are a couple of easy things you can do to help.
1. Make good choices for food; choose yummy wholesome food.
2. Eat frequently. Your body will be much better at putting sugar into the cells when you give them a slow, steady source of food.
3. If you are concerned you have insulin resistance, you can do a web search to look at the common symptoms (some of which include increasing belly fat, getting the shakes between meals, craving salt and sugar, increasing fatigue and brain fog). The test for insulin resistance is actually going to be a glucose tolerance test, and yes, that is the stuff they make pregnant ladies take. It is the most effective way of seeing if insulin resistance has occurred.