There are lots of popular buzzwords being spoken in the health and wellness community right now, and insulin resistance is definitely one of them…but probably for all the wrong reasons.

A somewhat elusive disease, insulin resistance seems to catch many people by surprise, interrupting that decadent chocolate fudge cake like a total Debbie Downer, bringing along with it a saddening message from your pancreas: PLEASE EAT A KALE SALAD INSTEAD.

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may be suffering from insulin resistance:

--> Abdominal obesity

--> Cravings for carbohydrates or sugary foods

--> A fasting blood sugar level greater than 97

--> Acne or large pores on your face

--> Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

--> Hair loss and/or skin tags

--> Acanthosis Nigricans, a darkening of the skin

--> High blood pressure

--> Fluid retention anywhere on your body, such as your fingers, face, abdomen or ankles

Having suffered from insulin resistance for many years, I know the frustration the disease can bring—the endless struggle to lose weight or to maintain a stable, healthy weight…constantly feeling hungry despite having just eaten five sushi rolls and a whole pizza with a 20-ounce steak on it…having a zit the size of Texas on my forehead even though I’m pushing 40…

After a somewhat denial-based, pseudo-attempt at addressing my insulin resistance with my doctor, I decided to do a little research on how exactly the disease affects my body, because insisting that a dose of metformin and one less mocha frappe a day was all I needed to solve the problem was a bit of a miss.

In simplified terms, insulin resistance occurs when the cells in your body becomes desensitized to the insulin produced by your pancreas. Whenever you consume food, your blood glucose (sugar) levels rise and your pancreas releases insulin into the blood. Normally, insulin acts as a carrier for the glucose to enter your body’s cells for fuel. But with insulin resistance, your cells aren’t responsive to insulin. It’s almost as though insulin comes knocking on your cells’ doors like the Uber Eats guy, but your cells are unable to hear it and therefore never let it in, even though they’re starving. Then, because your cells are going without the glucose they need, they alert your brain to send out an ‘I’m hungry! I need to eat!’ signal, even though there is already plenty of glucose available in your bloodstream.

As you eat more and more, your cells get confused and start sending out mixed signals like, ‘We’re still hungry, keep eating, but there is too much glucose in the blood!’ To help compensate for the excess glucose, your pancreas begins pumping out an ever-increasing amount of insulin, but it’s attempt is to no avail. Eventually, the excess glucose in your blood is stored as fat, because your body has nowhere else to put it.

It’s not entirely clear why some people develop insulin resistance and others don’t. Currently, being overweight or obese are the leading risk factors for developing the disease, but this is a bit of a catch-22, as insulin resistance itself often causes weight gain and obesity.

If you think you may be suffering from insulin resistance, talk to a trusted healthcare professional. They can run the necessary tests to determine if you do in fact have the condition, as well as provide you with a treatment plan to help your cells become receptive to insulin again.

As for me, I learned that metformin alone can’t fix the problem. I needed to be more mindful of my food choices, exercise habits, and even stress levels. Do I still eat decadent chocolate fudge cake from time to time? Absolutely. But I had to stop eating it for a while to give my body a chance to heal and recover. When I did, the cravings started to subside and my weight started to go down. As an added bonus, the new Smart for Life® Luscious Lemon Protein Bars(which are launching tomorrow) are so good, I really don’t miss the cake anyway.