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Break Your Food Addictions

Are you driven to eat certain foods? It could be an addiction.

Breaking the Food Addiction continued...

But if your stomach is already growling at the mere thought of a total fast, try making a complete break just from the foods you crave -- a process that Barnard says works much better than trying to eat them in moderation. He argues that staying completely away from a food item for three weeks often resolves the problem. "At the end of three weeks, your tastes will have changed," he says. "You won't want the food as much anymore."

When you get rid of the sugar or chocolate from your diet "cold turkey," don't expect any of the withdrawal symptoms that are often associated with other addictions. "Occasionally, a person does say to me, 'When I stop consuming sugar, I feel lethargic and depressed,'" says Barnard, an adjunct associate professor of medicine at George Washington University School of Medicine. "But withdrawal symptoms are not essential to the definition of a food addiction."

Also, don't be surprised if you backslide. "You can expect to fall off the wagon into the waiting arms of chocolate," says Barnard. "Just like an alcoholic, you may relapse before making the break permanently."

Originally published April 19, 2004.

Medically updated September 2006.

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