Archive for the ‘Cartoons’ Category

Case Study: Sugar Cravings

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

This month’s case study is 31 year old ‘Suzi’ who came to the Clinic with sugar cravings:


I had always had a ‘sweet tooth’ as most people do. People were amazed at work how I could eat so many chocolate bars and sweets and not gain any weight – they were almost envious of me! It was true, I was eating at least two bars of chocolate plus pick and mix sweets during the day and I stayed the same weight!


This almost justified it for me that it was fine to carry on this way. However, it got to the point that I would be thinking about chocolate and sweets the entire day and it was actually interfering with my concentration at work. I started replacing my breakfast and lunch with chocolate and because I was snacking all day on sweets, by the time it came to dinner, I just had no appetite. At night the cravings would be even stronger and sometimes so bad that I would go out in the middle of the night to buy chocolate and sweets from the 24hr petrol station.


I started feeling very lethargic and irritable and really short tempered with my work colleagues and husband. I also started feeling light headed and dizzy at regular intervals during the day and regularly lose concentration which was interfering with my work. This was quite a scary sensation especially when I thought I was going to black out on several occasions. Someone at work mentioned that I was feeling like this because of the amount of sugar in my diet, but I ignored it and continued to fill my body with chocolate and sweets.


I was coming home from work on the train one night feeling exhausted and I read an article in a woman’s magazine about ‘adult onset’ diabetes and how people in their twenties are now developing the disease because of too much sugar in the diet. Reading the article really resonated with me because my diet was setting me up to develop diabetes, plus both my grandparents suffered with the disease in their later years. There was a contact number for The Dr Marilyn Glenville Clinic at the end of the article so I decided to phone to find out more about their services. What with Easter looming, and even more temptations, I thought what better time to take action!


I spoke to a very helpful nutritionist who talked to me about what the clinic offered and I decided it was time to help myself. She explained that the initial consultation would be one hour and in that time we would go through an in depth questionnaire which would be looking at my current health issues and most importantly my diet. She recommended I perform a blood test to assess how well my body was dealing with sugar. With my current diet and strong family history of diabetes I could see why it was so important. I managed to get this test done with the results back in time for my first appointment. The questionnaire I had to complete was very thorough which really made me think about my health and the food I was putting into my body. It was quite frightening when I actually had to write this down!


At my first appointment the nutritionist took a detailed case of my current health issues and asked me what my main priority was and essentially what I wanted to get out of my first consultation. I explained that I wanted to change my diet in order to reduce my risk of developing diabetes. I told her that I often felt totally out of control and had a constant desire to eat chocolate and sweets which were so strong it had started to take over my entire life.


She explained that by eating chocolate and sweets it was just ‘fuelling’ my cravings because the body would keep demanding more and more sugar. Also when there are underlying vitamin and mineral deficiencies, caused by poor diet, it makes the body crave more unhealthy foods.


Sugar is released into the blood stream when we eat carbohydrates (bread, pasta) and sweet foods like cakes and biscuits and chocolate. The problem is that our body cannot tolerate too much sugar in the blood.  When it gets too high the brain will stimulate the pancreas to release insulin.  This is an hormone that can help take the sugar into the muscles for use or will take the sugar to the liver where it is stored as Glycogen or converted into fat. Insulin is very good at it’s job and will clear the blood of sugar very quickly, however, over the longer term if the diet is very high in sugar and more insulin is having to be released it can then lead to diabetes.


This happens if either the insulin receptor sites cannot take any more sugar into the cell and become ‘insulin resistant’ or the pancreas simply runs out of its supply of insulin. The results of my blood tests confirmed that I had a problem with high insulin. Seeing this result on paper was very motivating for me as I suppose I wanted to know how much I was putting myself at risk of developing diabetes to give me the push I needed to change my diet!


She then went on to explain that the brain which needs a constant supply of sugar to function, reacts to a drop in blood sugar by either releasing stress hormones which will release sugar from the stores of create a craving for us to eat more sugar, so we grab another bar of chocolate or sweets and so the whole cycle is repeated.  She explained that low blood sugar gives rise to symptoms such as irritability, fatigue dizziness or lack of mental function. This was just what was happening to me!


The nutritionist gave me lots of menu ideas to inspire me which was exactly what I needed. She explained that once I started eating more fresh produce, my tastes would naturally change and my body would crave less sugary foods. I couldn’t imagine this, but I was determined to change. She recommended I take some vitamin and minerals to really help balance my blood sugar and consequently reduce my cravings for sugar. The mineral chromium is particularly important for blood sugar stability which she added into my supplement programme.


After the first 6 weeks my cravings became less prominent and I would manage to go an entire day without thinking about a chocolate or sweet! I was eating three good meals each day with plenty of fresh dark green vegetables, wholesome snacks like nuts and dried fruit and oatcakes with pure fruit jams and nut butters. My energy was better and I no longer had the dizzy feeling during the day. One major improvement was my concentration which made a huge difference to my performance at work.


For so many years I think I had ignored the signs of my sugar ‘addiction’ partly because I wasn’t gaining weight (which I suppose was the only side effect I was looking for) so I thought ‘it must be ok’. It wasn’t until I read the magazine article that I decided to do something about it.


I’m looking at this as a life change and not just a ‘quick’ fix.  I know that I can still have sugar occasionally, as long as I don’t come to rely on it as ‘prop’ and providing my diet on the whole is nutritious. So, I may still have my Easter egg but the thought of eating more than one now actually makes me feel ill – I never thought I would hear myself say that!


Marilyn’s Comments:


Suzi’s story is a good example of how easy it is for people to get onto this sugar rollercoaster. Just like Suzi, people don’t often realise the damaging effects of sugar on their body, especially if they are not gaining weight or presenting with any major ‘outward’ symptoms. There is only so long the human body can function with a low nutrient diet and at some point our health suffers and in Suzi’s case, this may have led her to develop diabetes.


This case also goes to show just how important diagnostic testing can be in diagnosing underlying health issues and from Suzi’s point of view, seeing her results in black and white really proved to her that she did have a problem.


If you are interested in having the test mentioned here please see the resources page.







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Friday, June 1st, 2007

Cartoon - stress pills

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Thursday, May 10th, 2007

Cartoon - omega oils