In the years (okay, decades) that I”™ve been helping people conquer sugar addiction, some clients have balked at the idea of giving up sugar all at once: cold turkey, as it”™s known. They wanted to wean themselves off sugar a bit at a time.

Experience has taught me that the tapering approach doesn”™t work for a number of reasons. Yes, some sugar-users get results by tapering, but everything works for some people. Serious addicts may never get themselves off sugar completely if they feel they can get away with a little bit. That little bit can cause problems.

It”™s easy for sugar addicts to rebound and relapse when they still have sugars — even sneaky ones — in their diets. This can be attributed to a priming-type effect, where a little makes us want more. Some “experts” claim that priming doesn”™t happen with sugar (the term came from drug addiction literature), but decades of experience have shown me that it absolutely does.

Clients have told me that starting the day with orange juice, for example, sets them up to crave sweet foods all day long. Frankly, I don”™t care if the clients can cite a reference in a science journal; I just listen to them and help them conquer their sugar addiction.

Loophole Thinking
As a result of continuing to eat sugar in small amounts, addicts may start looking for Loopholes — substitutes for sugary foods or ways to sneak sugar into their diets. They begin eating extra dairy or using agave or artificial sweeteners while telling themselves they”™re “off” sugar. Some substitutes can be addictive in themselves. I had a client who was even more hooked on aspartame than she was on “real” sugar. Some addicts use diet colas for their fix. And let”™s not even get started on fruit sugar, fructose. It”™s the worst of all — and makes sucrose the junk it is.

Tastes Won”™t Change
Sugar addicts who taper may never acquire a taste for healthful foods. Their tastes are still oriented toward sweet, maybe in smaller amounts than they used to eat. This is especially true where vegetables are concerned. I”™m forever pushing vegetables on my clients (just ask them), but the ones who are most severely addicted to sugar typically say they hate vegetables. It”™s fairly obvious that the reason is vegetables aren”™t sweet.

(That”™s why I”™m against that 5-a-Day rule. It”™s supposed to refer to fruits and vegetables, but sugar addicts will turn it into all fruits, given the chance.)

Excess Insulin
Advocates of tapering don”™t seem to know that sugar addiction is often grounded in carbohydrate sensitivity. Carb-sensitive people release high insulin when they eat sugar, including fruit and syrups. Artificial sweeteners can trigger insulin in carb sensitives, as well.

Carb sensitivity is not the only factor in sugar addiction, but it can be directly related to health issues. For optimal health, we want to release just enough insulin to do the job and no more. Excess insulin has been associated with a large number of diseases — most of the ones we tend to die from in the US.

The Bottom Line
As you see, a plan that encourages semi-recovery from sugar addiction can result in priming, a diet that”™s still oriented toward sweet foods, long-term preference for fruits over vegetables, continued cravings, excess insulin if substitute foods are big insulin triggers, and possible relapse.

I want better for my clients with sugar addiction. I want them to gain optimal health AND the self-confidence that comes from knowing they didn”™t just stop using sugar halfway (and maybe relapse), but quit it completely.

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