Why Can’t I Manage My Weight Anymore?

Why Can’t I Manage My Weight Anymore?

By Dr. J. Renae Norton

If you suffer from Bulimia, Bulimarexia, obesity, unwanted weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and/or high cholesterol, you are no doubt under the illusion that you can manage these conditions and be at a healthy weight by restricting, purging, dieting, or taking medication. You are wrong. I am going to give you the straight scoop on why and what you can do instead that actual does work.

For The Bulimic’s

If you are bulimic, you think that when you purge the food you are preventing weight gain, right? I am so sorry to break it to you, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Actually, there is a part of you that already knows this, but you just can’t accept it. After all you’re not keeping the food in your body, you’re purging it, so how can it cause weight gain? This also applies to the chewers and spitters. You don’t even swallow the food and yet you still can’t lose weight. Huh? So unfair. In fact, you are actually gaining weight over time if you binge and purge or spit. I’m going to explain that shortly. But I’ll give you a hint; blood sugar levels.

For The Overweight or Obese

For those of you who are overweight or obese and have been on every diet starting when you were eight or nine years old, and continuing on until you’re into your 50s, 60s, or 70s, you know that dieting is definitely not the solution. But you keep doing it anyway, hoping against hope, to get a different result. They say “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.” Well it’s true.  If you’ve done your homework or just paid attention, you know that the more you diet the more you weigh. 

Diets not only fail 95% of the time, they fail miserably, as you end up re-gaining more than you lost. How can this be happening? You paid a fortune for that diet program. You were religious about doing it for an entire year and you still ended up regaining all the weight back and then some. What the heck? 

I am going to give you the same hint; blood sugar levels.

For Those Who Are Anorexic and Bulimarexic

Many of you who were previously Anorexic are now Bulimarexic, which means that you have added bingeing and purging to your restricting. Whereas in the past you could go for days without eating more than a few hundred calories, these days you may be able to restrict for a couple of days, and then all hell breaks loose. You know what I’m talking about, you have to eat! It is usually a binge of mega proportions which is horrifying for you. You worked so hard at being the perfect anorexic.

Those most at risk for Bulimiarexia are often graduates of residential treatment centers that pushed polluted food. “You should be able to eat any food and not be afraid!” is their motto. (Really, I surveyed the top 10 residential treatment businesses across the nation several years ago and that is what they reported.) In fact, if you want to eat clean healthy food these folks label you as an Ortharexic, which is insane given the polluted nature of US food and what it is costing us from a health perspective as a nation. Have any of them noticed that we are the most obese nation in the world? Or that we are also at the bottom of the list when it comes to wellness, despite the fact that we have more access to food and medicine than any other country in the world?

I do not believe that eating polluted food is a good idea for someone with disordered eating as polluted foods attack the part of the brain and the gut that manage eating behavior. Even more importantly, polluted US foods are highly addicting with added MSG, HFCS, and sugar substitutes that drive an intense desire for more highly palatable foods containing these addictants. This leads to bingeing and bingeing almost always leads to purging for the former anorexic as well as the bulimic.

In a survey I have had online since 2007, in response to a question about the impact of treatment, 12% and 16% of respondents said that residential treatment resulted in cross-over symptoms between Anorexia or Bulimia respectively.[1] (This survey has been taken by more than 5000 people.)

Chart, timeline, bar chartDescription automatically generated

Not only is Bulimarexia devastating to your ego, it is medically unsafe, and forget about a normal life. If you aren’t restricting, you’re eating everything in sight. You don’t have time for school, or a job, let alone a boy/girlfriend or normal relationships. You may currently still be living with your parents at the age of 25. Ugh!  But still, you hang on to the belief that if you restrict for as long as possible, you will lose the weight and still get to eat your treats. 

Prior to residential treatment, you did not need/want the treats. You got a little hooked on them during the refeeding process and you blame yourself for that. Don’t. If you had been refeeding on clean foods instead of conventional foods which are loaded with HFCS and MSG, you wouldn’t have come away from treatment with a taste for the sugar. The upshot of conventional treatment (and I use the term loosely) is a need for highly palatable foods. You still restrict, but now you need the reward from foods that drive blood sugars up. So there it is again, sugar.

But, if bingeing and purging are dangerous, restricting, bingeing and purging is 10 times worse as the combination is particularly hard on the hypothalamus, which puts your thyroid and other organs at risk.  This is why a high percentage of ED folks end up with thyroid disease.  Worse still is the fact that the Bulimiarexia creates an incredibly vicious cycle, i.e. no matter how much you restrict, you end up bingeing and purging, which results in a slight weight gain, and the cycle begins again as you feel you must REALLY restrict this time to lose the weight.  

In theory it is a cycle that allows you to eat the highly palatable foods that you had to go without when you were anorexic, without causing weight gain. In practice, it doesn’t work. Individuals who are bulimic are usually slightly overweight, while bulimarexics have very volatile weights, going up or down as much as 20 pounds, which is just downright terrifying  and keeps many patients feeling so anxious that they may look psychotic.  Indeed, many ED patients are on antipsychotic meds, especially those who are Bulimarexic.

But, you say I, I’m different because I don’t purge. Maybe you don’t throw up your food, but there are many ways to purge. You may have figured out how to abuse laxatives that temporarily drop your weight, mostly because it dehydrates you, or perhaps you walk 10 miles a day or exercise to excess. That’s purging as far as your brain is concerned.  And again, it doesn’t work. It just ensures that the cycle repeats over and over again. It is self-perpetuating because you can no longer get back down to your former perfect 80 or 90-pound Anorexic self. The culprit? Blood sugar.

For The Dieters

For those of you who are professional dieters, most diets do not address the issue of blood sugar at all or the role it plays on weight gain. Instead, the vast majority of diets focus on lowering calories. Huge mistake. Reducing calories works for a minute, but then you gain the weight back. Very often my dieting patients admit that they use all of their calories to eat deserts. The old belief was that calories are calories, so it didn’t matter how you get them. That is simply not true.

There is now clear evidence that the quality of the calories matters. The more organic/safe the foods, the less weight gain there is even when the calories are the same. The more polluted, the more weight gain, again, even with the same number of calories. Why? Polluted foods raise blood sugar levels more than whole organic foods.

The other major problem with dieting is that calorie restriction lowers your set point for calorie burn. The fewer calories you eat, (dieting) the fewer calories you can eat without gaining weight. Another vicious cycle!

For the Sugar Free Lovers

Finally, dieters and calorie restrictors love sweeteners and zero calorie stuff. Guess what? They cause weight gain. Yup! The use of sugar substitutes compounds the problem, largely by damaging the parts of the brain that drive food cravings and/or hunger which only increases the desire for carbohydrates and generally drives more overeating. The most controversial sweeteners on the market today are Aspartame and Acesulfame. They are also the most dangerous. Both have been shown to have neurotoxic effects. Aspartate, which is the most controversial artificial sweetener on the market, is derived from Aspartame. It is the main ingredient in NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful and other sugar substitutes found in low calorie prepared foods and diet sodas.

While there is controversy over the benefits and risks of aspartame, one fact is undisputed, and that is that it gets metabolized, meaning that it doesn’t get excreted in the same form that it is when it is ingested. For this reason, it is life-threatening to individuals with PKU, but it isn’t very good for the rest of us either.

Research has also shown that besides being dangerous to the population at large, it contributes to obesity. Yet it remains in our low-calorie foods in abundance and is often put into foods, including baby foods, that aren’t labeled as low calorie.

Dr. Robert Walton surveyed the studies of aspartame in peer-reviewed medical literature. He states that of the 166 studies relevant for Aspartame’s safety, 74 had NutraSweet industry related funding and 92 were independently funded. Further, 100% of the research performed by the company that makes aspartame confirmed its safety, whereas 92% of the independently funded research found problems with consuming aspartame. Wow! You mean NutraSweet wasn’t objective? Imagine that?

One physician, H.J. Roberts, MD, coined the term “aspartame disease” in a book filled with over 1,000 pages of information about the negative health consequences of ingesting aspartame, which included headache, dizziness, vomiting, memory loss, fibromyalgia and autoimmune diseases. Aspartame is composed of Aspartic Acid, Phenylalanine, and Methanol, all of which have serious side effects that have been documented. For the purposes of this discussion, the take-away is that it causes obesity/weight gain, it does not prevent it as it is touted to do.

For the High Cholesterol and Type 2 Diabetics

There are two more groups that struggle with weight; those with high cholesterol and those with type 2 diabetes. There is definitely a connection between high cholesterol and type 2, or acquired, diabetes. The American Heart Association (AHA) states that diabetes often lowers HDL (good) cholesterol levels and raises triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Both of these increase the risk for heart disease and stroke.

Type 2 diabetes is the direct result of raising blood sugar levels too high on a regular basis. The correlation between type 2 diabetes and cholesterol is a strong one, but we all know that correlation is not causation. I am not sure I agree that it is the diabetes that causes high cholesterol. I believe there is another link between high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes i.e. the fact that doctors over-prescribe strains for high cholesterol. Statins have been shown to result in type 2 diabetes. [3]

Case in point: My doctor suggested that I try a supplement, Red Rice Yeast Extract, to help with a cholesterol problem that really was not a problem. (link to Sunlife Discovery) Unbeknownst to me, this supplement is basically a statin and it behaved just like a statin by driving my perfect blood sugar levels (80) up to pre-diabetic levels (110) over the course of a year.

The point here is that what is at issue again is blood sugar, only this time it has nothing to do with the way you eat and everything to do with a prescription medication, statins.

How Does Blood Sugar Cause Weight Gain?

In fact, you cannot gain weight without raising your blood sugar levels.  Let me say that again: In order to gain weight you must raise your blood sugar levels.  Eat all the fat you like, you will not store the fat or gain weight from it unless you raise your blood sugar levels. That’s why you do not gain weight on Keto despite the copious amounts of fat that you are eating. No carbs.  Carbs raise blood sugar levels. Some carbs more than others. 

Blood sugar levels are raised based upon the glycemic load of the particular food.  Foods that have a higher glycemic load raise blood sugar levels more than foods with a lower glycemic load. Every food has a glycemic index as well as a glycemic load except for protein. The higher the glycemic load, the higher the blood sugar level and the higher the blood sugar level, the more fat we can store.

Here is a chart showing the glycemic index and the glycemic load of popular foods:

FoodGIServing Size (g)GL
Honey872 Tbs17.9
Jelly Beans781 oz22
Snickers Bar6860g (1/2 bar)23
Table Sugar682 Tsp7
Strawberry Jam512 Tbs10.1
Peanut M&Ms3330 g (1 oz)5.6
Dove Dark Chocolate Bar2337g (1 oz)4.4
Corn Bread11060g (1 piece)30.8
French Bread9564g (1 slice)29.5
Corn Flakes9228g (1 cup)21.1
Corn Chex8330g (1 cup)20.8
Rice Krispies8233g (1.25 cup)23
Corn pops8031g (1 cup)22.4
Donut (lrg. glazed)7675g (1 donut)24.3
Waffle (homemade)7675g (1 waffle)18.7
Grape Nuts7558g (1/2 cup)31.5
Bran Flakes7429g (3/4 cup)13.3
Graham Cracker7414g (2 sqrs)8.1
Cheerios7430g (1 cup)13.3
Kaiser Roll7357g (1 roll)21.2
Bagel7289g (1/4 in.)33
Corn tortilla7024g (1 tortilla)7.7
Melba Toast7012g (4 rounds)5.6
Wheat Bread7028g (1 slice)7.7
White Bread7025g (1 slice)8.4
Kellogg’s Special K6931g (1 cup)14.5
Taco Shell6813g (1 med)4.8
Angel food cake6728g (1 slice)10.7
Croissant, Butter6757g (1 med)17.5
Muselix6655g (2/3 cup)23.8
Oatmeal, Instant65234g (1 cup)13.7
Rye bread, 100% whole6532g (1 slice)8.5
Rye Krisp Crackers6525 (1 wafer)11.1
Raisin Bran6161g (1 cup)24.4
Bran Muffin60113g (1 med)30
Blueberry Muffin59113g (1 med)30
Oatmeal58117g (1/2 cup)6.4
Whole wheat pita5764g (1 pita)17
Oatmeal Cookie5518g (1 large)6
Popcorn558g (1 cup)2.8
Pound cake, Sara Lee5430g (1 piece)8.1
Vanilla Cake and Vanilla Frosting4264g (1 slice)16
Pumpernickel bread4126g (1slice)4.5
Chocolate cake w/chocolate frosting3864g (1 slice)12.5
Gatorade Powder7816g (.75 scoop)11.7
Cranberry Juice Cocktail68253g (1 cup)24.5
Cola, Carbonated63370g (12oz can)25.2
Orange Juice57249g (1 cup)14.25
Hot Chocolate Mix5128g (1 packet)11.7
Grapefruit Juice, sweetened48250g (1 cup)13.4
Pineapple Juice46250g (1 cup)14.7
Soy Milk44245g (1 cup)4
Apple Juice41248g (1 cup)11.9
Tomato Juice38243g (1 cup)3.4
Baked Beans48253g (1 cup)18.2
Pinto Beans39171g (1 cup)11.7
Lima Beans31241g (1 cup)7.4
Chickpeas, Boiled31240g (1 cup)13.3
Lentils29198g (1 cup)7
Kidney Beans27256g (1 cup)7
Soy Beans20172g (1 cup)1.4
Peanuts13146g (1 cup)1.6
Potato104213g (1 med)36.4
Parsnip9778g (1/2 cup)11.6
Carrot, raw9215g (1 large)1
Beets, canned64246g (1/2 cup)9.6
Corn, yellow55166g (1 cup)61.5
Sweet Potato54133g (1 cup)12.4
Yam51136g (1 cup)16.8
Peas, Frozen4872g (1/2 cup)3.4
Tomato38123g (1 med)1.5
Broccoli, cooked078g (1/2 cup)0
Cabbage, cooked075g (1/2 cup)0
Celery, raw062g (1 stalk)0
Cauliflower0100g (1 cup)0
Green Beans0135g (1 cup)0
Mushrooms070g (1 cup)0
Spinach030g (1 cup)0
Watermelon72152g (1 cup)7.2
Pineapple, raw66155g (1 cup)11.9
Cantaloupe65177g (1 cup)7.8
Apricot, canned in light syrup64253g (1 cup)24.3
Raisins6443g (small box)20.5
Papaya60140g (1 cup)6.6
Peaches, canned, heavy syrup58262g (1 cup)28.4
Kiwi, w/ skin5876g (1 fruit)5.2
Fruit Cocktail, drained55214g (1 cup)19.8
Peaches, canned, light syrup52251g (1 cup)17.7
Banana51118g (1 med)12.2
Mango51165g (1 cup)12.8
Orange48140g (1 fruit)7.2
Pears, canned in pear juice44248g (1 cup)12.3
Grapes4392g (1 cup)6.5
Strawberries40152g (1 cup)3.6
Apples, w/ skin39138g (1 med)6.2
Pears33166g (1 med)6.9
Apricot, dried32130g (1 cup)23
Prunes29132g (1 cup)34.2
Peach2898g (1 med)2.2
Grapefruit25123g (1/2 fruit)2.8
Plum2466g (1 fruit)1.7
Sweet Cherries, raw22117g (1 cup)3.7
Ice Cream (Lower Fat)4776g (1/2 cup)9.4
Pudding44100g (1/2 cup)8.4
Milk, Whole40244g (1 cup)4.4
Ice Cream3872g (1/2 cup)6
Yogurt, Plain36245g (1 cup)6.1

Notice that animal protein has no carbs, glycemic index or glycemic load and therefore no chance of raising blood sugar levels. Hmm, no wonder vegetarians and vegans have a tougher time with their weight. If you are a meat eater, your food is basically free.

The other thing to understand is that it is the glycemic load not the glycemic index to which you need to pay the most attention as the glycemic index takes also into consideration the amount of fiber. In general, the more processed a food is, the higher its GI, and the more fiber or fat in a food, the lower it’s GI.

But the glycemic index tells just part of the story. What it doesn’t tell you is how high your blood sugar could go when you actually eat the food. The glycemic load does both — which gives you a more accurate picture of a food’s real-life impact on your blood sugar. Watermelon, for example, has a high glycemic index (72). But a serving of watermelon has so little carbohydrate that its glycemic load is only 5.

Why Does Sugar Cause Weight Gain?

Here’s what happens when you eat foods high in sugar or high in carbohydrates:

  1. The sugar in food is absorbed into the blood as glucose.
  2. The pancreas secretes insulin in reaction to the increase in blood glucose levels going up.
  3. With the help of the insulin, the glucose is then absorbed into the liver, muscle, and adipose (fat) tissue where it is used as energy.
  4. This allows the blood sugar level to go back down. 

No problem, right? Hold on. This only works as long as you eat foods with a lower glycemic load, or as long as you do not eat foods with a high glycemic load too often. While raising your blood sugars may just cause weight gain, it can also cause type 2 diabetes, which is currently epidemic in the US.

How Does High Blood Sugar Cause Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is the result of raising blood sugar levels so often that too much insulin is secreted. Eventually this results in a condition called insulin resistance, which means that the cells in your muscles, fat, and liver no longer respond well to insulin and therefore can’t use the glucose from your blood for energy.  Instead, the body stores the glucose as fat which accumulates over time and we eventually gain enough weight to be considered obese. Notice, nowhere in this scenario is eating fat the problem.

It also means that highly palatable foods (aka binge foods) or those foods high in sugar and the type of carbohydrate with a high glycemic load are also out.  This includes almost all processed foods, fast foods, and foods high in hydrogenated fats and sugar…… In other words, the most popular binge foods are off the table. No pun intended.

If you are bulimic, bulimarexic or a chewer/spitter you say, “But I purge it or spit it out so that does not apply to me. I am safe.”  

Not even.  The first digestive juice is saliva.  Guess where it is secreted? In your mouth, while you are chewing, before you even swallow.[4] In other words, you are raising your blood sugar levels enough to gain weight before you even swallow the food.  So spitting it and certainly purging it do not help you.

The bottom line is that raising blood sugar levels causes unwanted weight gain, as well as metabolic diseases; “Surges in blood sugar levels, known as the glycemic response, can increase a person’s risk of developing obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes……”[5]

More importantly for this discussion, surges in blood sugar levels begin in the mouth, making purging or spitting as a way of avoiding weight gain, diabetes and high cholesterol impossible.

Want help eliminating sugar from your diet and finally getting your weight under control? Contact me. I am the eating disorder pro and I can really help. My patients get better and stay better when it comes to achieving a healthy weight.  So can you.


[1] I believe that most of these folks ended up with a combination of Anorexia and Bulimia which I call Bulimarexia.

[2] //www.healthline.com/health/high-cholesterol/treating-with-statins/guide-to-diabetes-and-high-cholesterol#Treating-and-Managing-High-Cholesterol

[3] My doctor was so concerned about my high cholesterol, despite the fac that I had NO symptoms of vascular disease, that he put me on Red Rice Yeast Extract, which it turned out was the same thing chemically as a statin and raised my perfect blood sugar levels to borderline pre-diabetic levels.

[4] J Contemp Dent Pract.  2019 Apr 1;20(4):494-498 Correlation of Blood Glucose Levels, Salivary Glucose Levels and Oral Colony Forming Units of Candida albicans in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Patients//pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31308283/


Dr. Renae Norton specializes in the treatment of eating disorders. Located in Cincinnati, Ohio. Call 513-205-6543 to schedule an appointment or fill out our online contact form for someone to call you to discuss your concerns. Tele-therapy sessions available. Individual and family sessions also available.

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