How To Cut Down On Sugar, With Dr. Yoni Freedhoff

Trying to lower your sugar intake? We’re learning how this week with the help of two experts: Kathleen DesMaisons, addictive nutrition guru and Dr. Yoni Freedhoff.

DesMaisons is the author of Potatoes Not Prozac: Simple Solutions for Sugar Addiction. Dr. Freedhoff wrote The Diet Fix: Why Diets Fail and How to Make Yours Work. We asked DesMaisons to walk us through her practical and effective approach to gradually cutting sugar out of your diet. Then we spoke with Dr. Freedhoff about why we should avoid diet fads and what habits we should focus on instead.

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Highlights from this week’s episode

From the Kathleen DesMaisons Interview

On how she started developing her seven steps to get over sugar addiction:

I started out as the director of a rehab centre and I was looking for solutions to enhance what we were doing. Typically, alcohol and drug rehab isn’t very successful. And so I was I wanted to find something that would help people get better, longer. So I started talking to everybody, and I realised that almost all of the people that we were working with stopped using alcohol and drugs and then they started using lots and lots and lots of sugar and that their whole behaviour related to that was very similar to drug behaviour. And this was really intriguing to me. So I had an intern at the time and I sent her to the library and said, “see if you can find anything on sugar.” There wasn’t very much, but there was one article in one very obscure journal that made a reference between the connection between alcohol and sugar… And so we began looking at ways of basically enhancing what [patients] were eating and also taking out the sugar. And what happened was people who had never been able to get sober started getting sober and staying sober. And I thought, well, this is fascinating.

On the impact she’s seen in people who have successfully cut down on sugar:

The most important thing is the change in self-esteem, which is really was the most remarkable to me. Initially, I just thought it was that you’re not feeling crazy. [But] your moods even out, your depression goes away, your anxiety goes away, your reactivity goes away. And you just you feel calm and relaxed. But the thing that actually caught me off-guard and seems to be the most profound change is that the underlying feeling of self-worth goes up dramatically. So instead of feeling like an impostor, their self-worth matches who they are.

From the Dr. Yoni Freedhoff Interview

On why there isn’t a perfect guideline for how much sugar we should be consuming:

In regard to sugar, the goal for any food really is or any indulgence is the smallest amount of it a person needs to be happily satisfied. And the question is what is the smallest amount? That question is dependent in part on physiology and part on patterns of eating, in part on our social lives. And so it’s a very individualized thing: what is too much and what is too little? And I don’t think that any person, doctor or otherwise can identify a specific amount for an individual.

On why extreme diets and cleanses are not the best approach to changing your eating habits:

I really do feel it’s about the smallest amount of these foods we need to enjoy our lives, and trying to eliminate them altogether for many people leads them ultimately to quit their efforts overall. I mean, food is not just fuel. It provides comfort, changing stress hormone levels. It’s the root of many celebrations, if not all of our celebrations. It’s the world’s oldest social network. And when people stop allowing themselves to take pleasure from food or to celebrate with food or to socialise with food, I worry that those efforts, however well-intentioned, may fail over time.


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