By Marlena Chavira-Medford
Aaron Snyder was in the prime of his life, a bright 22-year-old student at UC Berkeley with a promising future. Though the world was seemingly his oyster, not everything was on the upswing.
“I was doing a really good job of screwing up my health,” said Snyder, who admits he ate junk food on a regular basis, often binging out of emotion. Snyder eventually ballooned to 220 pounds, about 60 pounds more than what doctors told him was healthy.
“I thought to myself: ‘Big deal, so I’m carrying some extra weight.”
That is, until he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The news, he said, was a wakeup call.
“I was especially worried because I knew my grandfather had type 2 diabetes and, after going partially blind, he passed away in his 50s from kidney failure. I never got to meet him because he died before I was born. But my grandmother told me how severely he craved sugar, and how it’d cause horrible mood swings. His behavior took a toll on his entire family. I did not want to be that guy.”
That realization led Snyder on a quest for information, and a journey toward a new, healthy life. He’s compiled his story in a new book, “The New Diabetes Prescription: The Diet, Exercise, and Mindset Revolution,” which he hopes will inspire others facing the disease.
“This is my story, and I know I’m not unique, but this is what worked for me — my hope is that others can use it as a tool, that someone can find help in it.”
After receiving his diabetes diagnosis, Snyder, who is a self-confessed “number and science kind-of-guy,” started researching the nuts and bolts of the disease.
“I learned that certain foods make you crave them. The body’s internal calculator misses things like high fructose corn syrup. So if you eat something packed with sugar, like soda after soda at the refill station, along with that burger and fries, you’re going to hit the 3,000-calorie mark with no problem. But you try and eat 3,000 calories worth of apples and hard boiled eggs, you’ll vomit.”
Learning how different foods trigger different reactions was only part of the remedy. Snyder, a Del Mar resident, said he also had to address the psychology behind his eating patterns.
“I had to learn that when I got upset, I could not reach for the same solution in a box over and over again.”
Instead, when he became upset, he remembered the reason he wanted to beat the disease: “I thought of my grandfather. I remembered his quality of life, and I reminded myself that I didn’t want to become him.
“For every person it’s different. Every person has a reason they want to beat the disease. They just need to find that reason, and use it as inspiration to help see them through the fight.”
Eleven years later and 70 pounds lighter, Snyder is still going strong. He’s working as a financial trader, and he is a certified trainer and a nutritional coach with an emphasis in the psychology of overeating.