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Kicking Diabetes

If you receive a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, you may wonder, Why me? Although genes may be partly to blame, diet and lifestyle bear the brunt of the burden. Your genes act as a loaded gun; however, diet and lifestyle are what typically pull the trigger. Overindulgence and under activity, which are pervasive in our modern culture, have generated the cur­rent raging epidemics of overweight, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

We’re hardwired by nature to be attracted to the tastes of fat, sugar, and salt. When foods are eaten as they grow naturally unprocessed and whole they contain relatively low concentrations of these flavors. How­ever, when fat, sugar and salt are concentrated and used as principal ingredients in processed foods, our innate ability to control our appetites becomes unhinged.

This is no mere coincidence. Essentially, these flavors provide such pleasure that they trigger cravings and are physically addictive. Foods that are hyperconcentrated in sugar, fat, and salt stimulate the same pleasure centers in the brain that heroin, nicotine, and alcohol do. Essentially, they provide such pleasure that they trigger cravings. To further challenge our senses, portion sizes keep expanding. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average restaurant meal is four times larger than it was in the 1950s. Not surprisingly, evidence confirms that as por­tion sizes increase, people eat more. For anyone trying to make a living selling food, addictive flavors and larger portions means return customers and rising sales.

To add insult to injury, the amount of physical activity we get today has dwindled dramatically since the 1950s. Every possible convenience has been developed to help reduce energy expenditure. Even if people wanted to increase their physical activity, many neighborhoods lack sidewalks and safe places for exercise. In such an environment, it’s a wonder how anyone is able to maintain a healthy body weight. (From the introduction to The Kicking Diabetes Cookbook)