What the doctor said

Posted by Paola

I saw my GP today for my six-monthly review.

I had a few things I wanted to talk to her about including metabolic syndrome as advised by Ginni’s doctor. Ginni – my cousin once removed – was recently diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, which runs in families.

My GP (Dr D.) said matter-of-factly that it was likely that I had it. She said that my abdominal weight, hirsutism and acne suggested the syndrome. She explained that it was a pre-cursor to type 2 diabetes. I’d read up on it before and knew that treatment included losing weight to achieve a healthy BMI, getting exercise and not smoking. I just have to not put weight back on if I don’t want to develop diabetes.

Always be vigilant

If I do have metabolic syndrome, I metabolise things differently. Dr D. said “you know how some people only have to look at a cake to gain weight whilst other people have trouble gaining weight.”

I realised that this fitted in with my recent discovery that I only need to eat 1,600 to gain weight and that, to maintain my weight, I’d need just 1,400 calories a day. Dr D. wasn’t surprised, saying that it wasn’t fair, that people with the syndrome put on weight easily and just can’t eat the same amount as other people. We agreed that it means that I must always be vigilant about what I eat.

This discovery is a blow; I’d already realised that my appetite was broken – I just want to eat more than most people – but to find out that there’s a physical reason why I’ll always put on weight easily makes me a bit sad.

“The last few pounds are the worse”

I mentioned that I’d lost very little weight over the last month and Dr D. said that it’s normal, that people who have less to lose find that their weight yo-yos.

That was a relief but also made me realise why the other Food Confessors had found it so much harder to lose weight!

Eating makes me hungry

Disclaimer: the following is based on 30 mins online research. Please research this yourself or ask your GP before making any changes to your diet.

When I got back, I did a little research online. Metabolic syndrome is related to insulin resistance, where the body doesn’t properly turn glucose sugar into energy. It turns out that high sugar levels in the blood cause hunger and that this is what GI means, something I was aware of but which I had ignored.

“The Glycemic index – or GI – is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates that break down rapidly during digestion releasing glucose rapidly into the bloodstream have a high GI; carbohydrates that break down slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the bloodstream, have a low GI.” From Wikipedia.

High-carb foods tend to have a high GI. Carbohydrates are metabolised as glucose. A high sugar level in the blood tream 1) causes weight gain and 2) causes hunger!

Maybe this is why, when I end a meal with a piece of fruit, or when I have a big bowl of veg soup, I am hungry again after half an hour. And maybe it’s where the idea comes from that proteins are more filling – it’s actually that carbohydrates make you hungry whilst proteins don’t.

To test this, I added some Quorn ham and cottage cheese to my last meal of soup. Besides a pang of hunger 45 mins later after lifting some crates, I haven’t been hungry.


However, here are my questions:

  • why did my doctors never tell me that I had metabolic syndrome?
  • why did no one ever explain how close I was to developing diabetes?
  • why didn’t I know about the relationship between carbohydrates, glucose and hunger?

3 thoughts on “What the doctor said

  1. Your first question was on the tip of my tongue as I started reading this. Why should you have to ask? That’s frustrating.

    I used to be on a low carb mailing list and there were a lot of people with insulin issues that were successfully “self-medicating” with a low carb diet, focusing on complex carbs and keeping totals down. There was a doctor on the list who was very helpfully answering questions, I’ll take a look at my archives and see if I saved the posts. I remember they were very interesting even though it wasn’t a specific issue that I was looking at.

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