If a Former Diabetic is No Longer Diabetic Why Isn’t a Former Addict No Longer an Addict?

A few days ago, I got a text from a friend who asked me a very powerful question. It was so compelling that I decided to record a vlog addressing it. Watch to hear all about it.

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  1. Phyllis Watson

    Hi Susan; I am on day 12 of your 14 day challenge and just want to thank you for all the work you have put into this wonderful eating
    Plan. I am 89 yrs old and have struggled with my
    Weight loss for many years and was at the point
    Of “what’s the use” until I heard of BLE from my good
    Friend Cindy.
    I have lost ten pounds in 12 days and want to learn more.
    Boot camp sounds excited but I can’t commit
    untill after Oct 8th, can this work ?

    Reply ·
  2. Almudena Laredo

    Non Diabetic for a former diabetic = SOBER for an addict

    Reply ·
  3. Annica Brinks

    Susan , so often you get into my thoughts and verbalize them so well and answer questions that I’ve been struggling with for a month. I’m having a hard time getting out of the “diet” mentality. Even my family is conditioned to it. They want me to be happy and in the past I’ve given them permission to encourage me to justify having a little bit of “something “ and that it won’t hurt. I’ve conditioned them to give me permission. Now it’s a whole new ballgame. I’m learning so much about myself….& it’s overwhelming at times… I am an addict. Period.

    Reply ·
  4. Rachel Cullar

    I’m proudly 2 years sober from alcohol. The reason the DSM uses the Alcohol Use Disorder label, and the reason that identification is graining traction in the sober world, is because it allows people that would not be labeled alcoholics to get help and see their relationship with alcohol for what it is. I was never what someone would label an alcoholic and it’s one reason I never attended AA. However, I was miserable, drinking nightly, going crazy in my head about, and scared for my health, and now my life is amazing, peaceful, and free without alcohol and I’m sure if I hadn’t stopped I’d still be struggling and perhaps finally be an “alcoholic.” I was on my way, now I’m not.

    Reply ·
  5. Rosalind Rogoff

    Your current Vlog on diabetes is very timely for me right now. Over the years my blood sugar tested just below diabetic levels, but I kept gaining weight. I was binge eating and worried that I would test positive for Type 2 diabetes, but I never did.

    Then after I turned 72 I stopped binge eating. I stopped being obsessed with food. I stopped being, as Susan calls it, “An Addict.” I had been a food Addict most of my life, but when I hit my 70’s my food addiction stopped. I don’t need food anymore to fill whatever emptiness in me I was using it to fill.

    Reply ·
  6. Dana S Rodgers

    This is a vlog I will watch and rewatch again and again. This is the power, the beauty, and the importance of SPT weekly vlogs. Invaluable helping and support. So very much love and gratitude to SPT…..again!

    Reply ·
  7. Lauren

    This was interesting & helpful. Thanks for a thoughtful presentation.

    Reply ·
  8. Lehandre

    I totallyagree with Susan I suffered from annorexia now more than 11years ago, well that was when I was at my lowest weight….I have since “recovered” to a normal weight….but I will always be an annorexic….have the thoughts of an annorexic…how much did I eat….when did I eat ext. A voice on repeat in my head on a day to day basis…even now. But bright line eatin has helped me to find a new controlled normal….and I have now made peace with my label…

    Reply ·
  9. Edwina Crum

    I really enjoyed this topic thanks for taking the time to help us.

    Reply ·
  10. Adrienne Rayna

    I strongly believe that there is very strong connection – like two sides of the same coin – between Insulin Resistance, Diabetes AND Sugar, Carb, Fat addiction.
    At least that is what I observe in myself, I believe.
    I think the sugar spikes and dips that I experience as short lived energy bursts followed by a drugged up – zombie- like tiredness.
    If I don’t want to be tired and sleepy, then I eat, and eat, and eat …
    Until I do want to sleep. I then go to sleep like being knocked out on some drug…. Oh yeah, it is a drug…. sugar.
    — Hey, I can get a literal ‘buzz’… with clumsy walking and everything when my blood sugar is off.
    – thankfully, I am being so much more conscious of what I am doing with food, and how it is affecting me, and learning about all the foods that balance blood sugar,
    which helps me a lot with my cravings to over eat and it is a viscous cycle going in a good direction, rather than going in a bad direction now. (189 lbs to 165 lbs)
    and less brain fog, and more consistent energy.

    I would love to hear about the connection between insulin resistance / diabetes & food addiction, if you have not already done that one.
    I think there may be a lot of people in that boat, where they go hand in hand. I also think that thyroid plays a huge part too, as my family has a history of low thyroid,
    all these health issues play into the cravings, I believe.

    Also, the whole … what micro-organisms are in your gut flora, that are releasing toxins and neuro -chemicals that can go to your brain… Did I inherit the genes for this tendency to over eat, or did I actually inherit the gut flora ??????

    It’s probably different things for different people that lead to overeating and /or combinations of these things playing into the problem. Low energy from low thyroid, from low blood sugar or from overgrowth of yeastie-beasties and the like (who are telling your brain, “FEED ME.”) , all could make you crave energy / calories. That’s how I think of it. And if you get some relief from the depression like low energy from the food ‘med’, then you want to do it again, and again….
    And psychological stress and all the hormones that stress releases also play into it too.

    I think these things are all related in the bio-electrical-chemical caldron of the body-mind. Anyway, I love to hear about how the dots connect between what can seem like discrete diagnoses, but are integrated dynamics in the body.

    Reply ·
  11. Laurie

    This is so funny— when you began the vlog I had the sudden hope that “maybe Susan will say that it’s not necessary to abstain from sugar and flour forever!” And then I realized that just having that thought makes me an addict.

    Reply ·
  12. Sonia

    “I’m a non conformist .. I like to step onto the white hot tip of life and look over the edge … I’m curious.” I love how Susan can take on these complex topics with bravery, combined with so much love and empathy for these two marginalised groups of people. Diabetes and addiction are growing problems, but they don’t have to be. We can solve this.

    Reply ·
  13. Din

    thank you Susan for this nice vLog, as always. A very well informed and balance view you put out there.

    Reply ·
  14. duba

    This is sorta comical to me …When someone asks a ? Like is diabetes something we can heal…and then asks if addiction is permanent ! I hesitate to decide if they understand scienc e… Actually I think they might need to read the last studies on both and then if they don’t understand the latest results of our testing then we can discuss broccoli and cheese soup!

    Reply ·
  15. Julie

    Impossible to listen, you said UM over 12 times in first 2 minutes. Please get some speech coaching the Ums, you knows, AHs …. You are doing these vlogs, please learn to do a clean talk without all the fillers!

    Reply ·
    1. Zoe Zuniga

      I don’t mind it. it is a conversational quick vlog. I find Susan to be extremely articulate, intelligent, funny and interesting. I noticed on NPR Kia Risdal says um a lot. he is a fast talker and was interviewing a slower talker who did not say um or any of those filler phrases nearly as often. If you listen to the radio, notice that fast takers tend to have more filler words while slower talkers stall by leaving longer spaces and more time to think.

      Reply ·
  16. Anne Wing

    Intriguing topic. My first thought was those two things are not really comparable.
    I was thinking about your brain science info, Susan, on the physiology of sugar addiction as being
    comparable to cocaine addiction and your following explanation of how the nerve endings work
    in the brain. Once I heard this I knew I would always be a sugar addict.
    As far as Diabetes 2, I was borderline before I lost 137 lbs and after that my A1c has been 5.0 to 5.4.
    I was glad you addressed a question I’ve long had about once a diabetic no longer a diabetic, can they
    become a diabetic again. I felt the answer to be of course if I start bingeing on sugar again of course
    I can be diabetic again and that helps me keep reined in.

    Reply ·
  17. Judi Krogstad

    From a medical standpoint, maintaining the diagnosis of diabetic definitely serves an individual. Their risk of returning to that diagnosis is very high if they do not continue the intervention of diet and activity. From an insurance reimbursement standpoint services available to someone who has had that diagnosis are much broader to support them in maintaining their improved health. This has nothing to do with how they feel about the diagnosis, but may help people be more comfortable with the fact that your medical provider doesn’t want to remove that label… it is in your best interest.

    Reply ·
  18. Elizabeth

    If “no longer diabetic” means one is no longer at risk for the sequelae of Type II diabetes, then I understand and agree with that definition, although that same person would be at a higher risk of developing it again than somebody who never had it. I’m not a Type II diabetic, but I have very mixed feeling about the label addict. I never realized I was a food addict until I watched some of Susan’s videos and read the book. Based on the science mentioned, I’m an addict. I was addicted to cigarettes for 26 years and finally after 10 years of on and off smoking realized that I cannot have just one puff. I haven’t smoked in almost 26 years and am no longer am tempted, but it has really helped to have smoking become socially unacceptable. Overeating and eating everything I love is not only socially acceptable, but it is encouraged. That makes me feel like admitting to being a food addict makes me socially unacceptable. I’m already getting little comments about no longer drinking alcohol and no longer eating between meals as in “you’re no fun.” It’s as if me not indulging is somehow ruining somebody else’ good time. I’ll be glad when there is general social support for healthy eating. Meanwhile, I’ll remember “I’m responsible for my recovery.” Thank you for this VLOG Susan. Lots of good information and thought.

    Reply ·
  19. Deborah Harper

    There is growing evidence that a ketogenic diet can restore stem cells that in turn have travelled to the pancreas and repaired pancreatic cells. So in some cases type 1 diabetes can be cured. It is an autoimmune disease. Therefore reversible. I am not sure if this will work for people who have been diabetic for 20 years but it certainly has worked in people who have had type 1 diabetes for less time.

    Reply ·
  20. Linda

    So, Susan, my question is …. how does the brain react/people process the difference between “I am a diabetic”and “I have diabetes”? Or “I am an addict” vs “I have an addiction”? I love linguistics and think that “I have” makes it , whatever it is, more controllable by the individual vs. I am. Is this a good thing or a bad thing or just a thing? 🙂

    Reply ·
    1. Lisa

      In Rehabilitation this difference is actually important – for any kind of chronic disease. You may not use the exact words, but accepting a condition, owning it means you take on the responsibility for your selfcare, you find peace with the way your are and deal with it in grace. I am a food addict. With the BLE-treatment I live a healthy life with a normal lifespan no other treatment could offer me. I am grateful I found it.

      Reply ·
  21. Peter

    A brilliant, wise, and immensely helpful vlog for this addict. Thank you, Susan. And thank you, Josie!

    Reply ·
  22. Gina

    I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 20 years ago . I can say that in that time I have been able to control diabetes through diet but have never cured it. As soon as I go back to eating the wrong foods again the diabetes comes back and is out of control. There’s no cure for it, it can only be controlled. I believe any addiction works the same way, be it food, drugs or alcohol or any other addiction. If a food or drug addict or alcoholic abstains from using they are controlling their addiction.

    Reply ·
  23. Sherry Kubach

    Thank you for your explanation about labels and recovered diabetics and addicts

    Reply ·
  24. barb

    As a type 2 diabetic who DOES have the disease managed by proper exercise and nutrition, I consider myself as a recovering diabetic for the very reasons you outlined. It serves to remind me that if I go back to my former way of eating and not exercising properly, I WILL be diabetic again. That is a place I do not want to go again. So keeping that label on myself keeps me accountable. Plain and simple.

    Awesome blog and awesome question!

    Reply ·
  25. Monica Leggett

    Susan, your points make a lot of sense. I also wonder how the susceptibility scale plays with the label.
    I could be a 5 on the scale, eaten badly for years just out of poor habits and become type II Diabetic, then found BLE and lost weight and no longer diabetic. After enough time I would say I’m not Diabetic and I’m not addicted to flour and sugar.
    Someone who is a 10 and eaten badly for years and become Type II Diabetic, then found BLE and lost weight and is no longer diabetic but has a daily urge she has to fight – she’s still addicted but not a Diabetic but because of her addiction she is always at risk of Diabetes. If she gives into her food urges she’ll likely go back to being Diabetic.
    I like when you said to use the label if it serves you.

    Reply ·
    1. Peter Pitcher

      You would only know if addicted to flour and sugar after trying them again. Are you
      sure you would be willing to risk type 2 diabetes again to find out. If you are, that tells me your need/craving/desire for those foods out weigh your thoughts of your health. I would call that an addiction.

      Reply ·
  26. Heather Hudson

    Susan, thank you once again. You rock girl! Love you big time.

    Reply ·
  27. Alan

    Thoughtful commentary.
    “Recovering addict/alcoholic” is also
    an empowering label.

    Reply ·
  28. Liz

    Thank you for this discussion. I found it helpful and supportive as I wind my way toward health.

    Reply ·
  29. Susan Sickles

    Labels are funny things. Sometimes we want them, sometimes we don’t. Like you said, how does it work for a person? Will the term ‘diabetic’ make it hard for someone to get insurance? Then having their condition under control and being ‘not diabetic’ is a good thing.

    However, another perspective is having or not having a diagnosis for a condition. It is helpful and a relief when someone struggling for years with symptoms, gets a definitive diagnosis. AH! that’s what it is! Now I can 1)have a sensible plan of action for dealing with this condition and 2) others will understand better. The aspect of having understanding from others cannot be overstated. It can be very demoralizing to think the symptoms one has are simply ‘psychosomatic’ or in the case of food addiction, a person is just ‘lazy’ or doesn’t ‘take care of themselves’.

    I KNOW I have an addiction to flour and to some extent, sugar products. I KNOW, if I want to keep my condition in abeyance, I must abstain from products that trigger addictive behaviours. I really have no issue with accepting a ‘label’ if that is what it is. I find it a relief.

    Reply ·
  30. joseph

    Susan, your thoughts are so inclusive and circumspect. Every aspect of every detail is so thought through.
    Joseph in Missoula

    Reply ·
  31. Jane Baddoo

    Since I was five (I’m now 72), I have been a sugar addict. I so identified with this blog because I have been trying to complete a degree in Psychology and I come to realize my thoughts were wily and unreliable. I also realized that flour is my gateway drug.

    Taking your 14 day challenge has helped me so much to be able to say no to my addiction. Right now I am finding this way of eating boring and tasteless. But I realize that it will become much less boring after I reach the point it becomes automatic. The other thing I know is, I need to play around with seasonings more.

    My excuse for not.improving the taste of my food is exhaustion. Part of it is due to working 11 to 7 am on three nights a week and having a lot of difficulty sleeping. This is real. But the other days I just give myself a go by because (whine, whine) I am old.

    Thanks again for your programs and daily videos.

    P.s. I used to work at Strong Memorial as an RN.

    Reply ·
    1. joseph

      Keep on chooglin’ Jane! Hats off to ya!
      Joseph in Missoula

      Reply ·
  32. Joan

    As a Certified Diabetes Educator, I can tell you it can be controlled but not cured.

    Reply ·
    1. joseph

      Susan said that there are two camps on this, both professional. Do you deny that?
      Joseph in Missoula

      Reply ·
    2. JJ


      From my research as a diabetic, if you had had a glucose tolerance as a teenager it would show that your glucose tolerance would be skewed in a similar way as a type II diabetic, although you were asymptomatic. We don’t metabolize glucose (sugar/carbs) at the same rate or curve as someone who is not predisposed to being a diabetic. You can go back to a normal a1c and not have glucose/ blood sugar spikes after meals, but it is all about controlling your carb/protein/fat intake at any one time.

      You can not eat what you want; when you want or your symptoms will return.

      Reply ·
      1. Claudia Bullock

        Joan and JJ, some people are more pre-disposed to becoming overweight than others. But, suppose an obese person loses weight and becomes thin by making healthy lifestyle changes, i.e. diet and exercise. Would either of you say that this person is still obese, because they have a condition that can be controlled but not cured? After all, they can’t go back to their former dietary practices without having their symptoms return. My thinking on this is that the person used to be fat but no longer is. Yes, they may be pre-disposed to gaining weight, and they could always become fat again, but having a tendency or being pre-disposed toward weight gain is different than actually being fat. Likewise with diabetes. A person is initially diagnosed as diabetic based on their A1C level being in the diabetic range, and some people are more pre-disposed to become diabetic than others. But, if the diabetic is able to get their A1C level back to the non-diabetic range without medication, I think we need to say that they are no longer diabetic, and give them credit where credit is due for having cured themselves of diabetes. Yes, they are still predisposed and they could always become diabetic again, but having a tendency or being pre-disposed toward diabetes is different than actually being diabetic. Diabetes is a horrible disease, with horrible symptoms that get worse over time, and as long as the symptoms are only ‘controlled’ through medication, the disease will always continues to progress. A person who is able to keep their A1C in a normal range without medication no longer has a serious disease condition that is continuing to progress. Similarly, when an obese person loses weight and becomes thin, they no longer have the serious health risks associated with obesity.

        Reply ·
        1. Debbie G

          Right on Claudia! I completely agree with you!

          Reply ·
        2. JJ

          The whole point that I, for one, am making with my comment is you can have control, but the underlying problem is still there whether you are obese, a diabetic, a celiac or an addict. It’s not like having an infection or you stubbed your toe and get over it. It is there, in the background, and you have to be aware of its presence at all times.

          A1Cs are just averages. You can be brittle (wild swings in blood sugars) and still have decent A1Cs. Research shows more damage happens to your organs with the wild swings in blood sugars than when your blood sugars are elevated but stable.

          No, diabetes does not have to progress to amputations, renal failure, or cardiovascular disease. It is up to the individual diabetic to get a handle(control) of their lifestyle in this day and age. 50 years ago it was tough but not today.

          Reply ·
          1. Claudia Bullock

            JJ, FWIW, I spoke with a Lifestyle Medicine specialist who explained that if a person does have a
            favorable A1C level, that it is highly unlikely (maybe 1 in 10,000) that it would be due to
            wild swings in blood sugar during the period of measurement.

    3. Leah

      If the beta cells are chugging away again, I say it’s cured.

      Reply ·
  33. maria celeste ramos


    Reply ·
  34. maria celeste ramos

    To each ONE HIS vice

    Reply ·
  35. Maria celeste d'Oliveira Ramos

    Forcelly to be addicted of some “drug” does-not mean to be to anything – It dep+ends on society – familly tendance – friends – sociocultural society – individuality – geneticalapetence and many other reasons – We are all equal all diferente a

    Reply ·
    1. Joseph

      Nope. Addiction is a neurological disorder, and hormones are involved.
      Joseph in Missoula

      Reply ·
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