Lowering his sugar intake was one of the most significant byproducts of Peterson getting diagnosed with diabetes last season, he told ESPN NFL Insider Ed Werder on Thursday at the Drew Brees Passing Academy in Orlando, Florida.
"Being as lean as I am and being a world-class athlete, you think you can get away with a lot of things," Peterson said. "And at some point in time, your body is definitely the temple and you have to make sure that you have to listen to your body. So, at this point in time, my body was like 'no more sweets,' and [you] have to put it down and slow down a little bit, so that's what it has to be."
Peterson, 24, said he was diagnosed around Week 7 last season, when Arizona played at Oakland on Oct. 19.
Finding out what had slowed him down and hampered his performance was a relief to Peterson. It was also "scary" because diabetes runs in his family. Peterson said his grandparents, aunts and great aunts are all diabetic. He thought it was a disease only older generations could get.
Through conversations with his family, Peterson learned diabetes could be life threatening if it's not treated carefully.
"Talking to them definitely got me through it," he said.
Peterson called the period when he didn't know what was affecting him "very tough." It also showed on the field. Peterson allowed four of his eight touchdowns in the first seven weeks, according to Pro Football Focus.
"I'm looking at it ... I'm a world class athlete and I can't figure out what's going on with my body," he said.
More than eight months after his diagnosis, Peterson said "everything's going well right now." He has a checkup in the next couple months to gauge his blood levels heading into training camp.
Once camp starts -- without the sweets -- Peterson will begin the process of showing what he's capable of when healthy.
"I definitely want to get better," Peterson said. "I believe, health-wise, I wasn't where I needed to be. I think now that I am back to 100 percent – leaner, faster, just more focused and honed in on the task at hand – I feel that (this) is going to be an explosive year for me, just coming back and playing at the level that I know I'm capable of playing."