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Going cold turkey?

If you want to cut out artificial sweeteners, added sugar or processed food from your diet, is it better to cut it all out at once or to cut back a little at a time?


We have talked about artificial sweeteners being hundreds of times sweeter than sugar, how they mess up your taste, hunger and metabolism, and are very addictive.   Processed foods, bags of chips, etc. are specifically designed at food labs to have the right amount of sweetness, saltiness, mouthfeel, and crunch to be addictive.  Many studies show the addictive nature of added sugar.  With the addictive nature to these foods, is cold turkey approach the best way to get past their hold or is cutting back and gradually reducing better?


I did a good amount of reading and found an even split for both going cold turkey and cutting back gradually.  One thing that struck me was the reasoning for going cold turkey seemed more sound.  While there are some differences, you would never hear AA, or a rehabilitation center tell someone that is addicted to alcohol, cocaine or another drug to gradually cut back.  It is tried and true that the only way to get past these addictions is a clean break.  There are some similarities between these drugs and our group of sweeteners and processed foods in how they hit the pleasure centers of our brains and trigger pleasure hormones and how it is a biochemical addiction.  It is prolonging the process of getting over this biochemical addiction when you slowly reduce your consumption.


You will possibly have some of the same symptoms that someone breaking another addiction might have such as shakiness, cloudy thinking, general ill feeling, and intense cravings that can occur when they are cut out. If you partake in whichever item, you are cutting out, you may stop those symptoms, but at what cost? These symptoms usually start to diminish in just two to five days.  Some of the cravings can take longer.


With artificial sweeteners and processed foods, like these drugs, you can cut them out entirely.  However, with sugar, while you would need to be diligent, you could cut out added sugar, but cutting out all sugar would mean not getting many kinds of great nutritious vegetables such as carrots or tomatoes and many more.


Some tools to go cold turkey?  Where did the phrase “cold turkey” come from?


Let’s talk about that next Thursday.  In the meantime, you can start thinking if there is something you need to ‘take off your plate’.


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