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By Max Greenberg

Kaiser?s Sugar & Artificial Sweetener Challenge: Doesn?t go Far Enough

Uploaded: Mar 13, 2015

As a Kaiser member, I recently received an email promoting their Sugar & Artificial Sweetener Challenge, which looks like a great idea for a program. Here's the details: http://partnersinhealth.kaiserpermanente.org/#march-2015/national/cant-stay-away-from-sweets-nat-march2015

On the whole, I think it's a really positive approach to helping folks get off the sugar merry-go-round, but do feel that it is missing a key component, which is recognition of the need for, and providing for, emotional support. Sugar, I am not alone in believing, is an addictive substance similar to other drugs in many ways. If you accept that premise (and some of you won't) then I think you would agree that you wouldn't advise a drug addict to just stay off the stuff for a couple of weeks, their cravings will go away, and they can then continue on either without the drug in their life anymore or they will be able to become a "normal" user and not abuse it any longer. That's pretty much what this program is telling you to do, ultimately. To reset your palate and carry on.

If you are an emotional eater, and many folks are (how else to explain the marketing of "Comfort Foods" and the failure of so many overweight and obese people not to yo-yo on their various diets) if you don't do anything to address this condition, your mind will still seek out comforting foods at times of emotional stress. Without some kind of support that addresses this emotional eating factor in one's life, if a person is somehow on their own able to get through that initial 2 week period and reset the palate, the chances of quickly relapsing and reverting back is extremely high. There are programs around that try to address this component of changing food behaviors, and I myself have benefited from one of them that has worked for me for nearly 4 years.

I will report that when you stop eating all types of sugars, honey, sweeteners (natural and artificial) except from fruit, a banana tastes like the sweetest thing in the world. But even fruit can be a source of a sugar fix if that emotional component is not addressed.

So good for you Kaiser, but how about going all the way next time with your great ideas. Ironically, one of the independent support programs available uses meeting rooms at various Kaiser locations. They just haven't "penetrated" the Kaiser treatment/prevention inner sanctum yet.

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