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Why I said no when a child gave me a cookie
At one point, saying that simple word would have been difficult...but not today. - photo by Kevin Jones
I was visiting with family one weekend when my niece offered me a chocolate chip cookie. In the past, I would have not only eaten that cookie, but just about every other one in the house. Cookies (especially chocolate chip) were one of my weaknesses. In fact, all things sugary were, and it wasnt great for my health. Over time, I was able to get to a place where I could turn down that cookie without exerting a ton of willpower. Heres what went into creating that moment:

1. Yes, sugar is that bad

The first step in breaking a sugar addiction is by first admitting that sugar addiction really is a thing. It is. It turns out that sugar is just as addictive as cocaine. Its also terrible for you. It doesnt just make you gain weight: it can actually make you sick. By viewing my sweet tooth as something quite a bit worse, it motivated me to take real action and just say "no".

2. Cold turkey or gradual reduction?

This first step in being healthier without sugar is to determine the best kind of plan for you. Basically, you have two options: either you slowly pare down your extraneous sugar intake, or you cut it out altogether.

Figure out which one works best for you. Cutting sugar out of your diet entirely might not be realistic for you to do right off the bat, but on the flip side, sometimes eating sugar in moderation actually descends into the exact same habits as before. Little by little, you'll work your way back to eating high levels of sugar. Figure out what option will fit well with your personality and your lifestyle.

I opted for the cold turkey method and cleaned out my entire pantry.

3. Replace treats with healthier options

If youre constantly eating sugary treats, well, thats a lot of snacking. Youre still going to have that urge to snack, so replace those treats with fruits and vegetables. In particular, go for something low glycemic so you arent adding too much sugar to your blood. Blueberries and strawberries are great substitutes because even though they are sweet, they wont spike your blood sugar and trigger your sugar addiction. You and your taste buds win!

4. Push on through

Im not going to act like this is easy. Its not. Like any addiction, you will feel withdrawal. But if you can hold out for as little as one or two weeks, youll be through the worst of it. Case in point: Dietician Carole Bartolotto conducted an experiment where 20 people from Kaiser Permanentes facilities stopped eating sugar for two weeks. More than half said their cravings ceased within two-to-three days, and 87 percent said they stopped feeling withdrawal symptoms after six days.

Six days.

It may take you longer (it took me closer to two weeks), but any way you cut it, thats not a lot of time. Can you last that long? It will be hard to say no to cute kids offering you cookies but I bet you can, especially when you know your health depends on it.
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