Addicted to Mountain Dew

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So I have a client who came to me for help with weight loss. He drinks about eight 20 oz bottles per day. That’s not a typo. Eight Mt Dews contain 2,320 calories and a whopping 616 gm of sugar. That’s equivalent to over 51 Tablespoons of sugar per day. What’s amazing about this is the fact that my client was in a period of maintaining his current weight (270#.) This consumption was not making him gain weight but he could not lose any either. This is a true food (or in this case beverage) addiction. It involved mindless drinking. Sometimes he would down an entire bottle and not even realize he drank it. He had strong emotional ties to Mt Dew. He grew up with it offered at every meal just like many of us Southerners grew up with Sweet Tea. It brings back fond childhood memories for him and creates a dopamine high making him feel good. He gets a chemical reward from his brain every time he drinks Mt Dew.

So how do we break this addiction? My first thought was to slowly decrease the Mt Dew consumption. Let’s wean off of it gradually. My client agreed and we set a goal for the next week to drink 1 less Mt Dew per day. Fast forward 7 days and he came back for follow up. Did he do it? Maybe a few of the days but not 7 days. Did he lose weight? NOPE. The trained dietitian in me wanted to tell him to try harder and let’s give it another week but my client made the statement “I think I’d rather just quit cold turkey.” This made me think. From what I have studied about food addiction my client was right and I was dead wrong. Nobody is addicted to broccoli. We are addicted to hyperpalatable foods that are high in sugar, fat and/or sodium. In this case it was sugar. We don’t treat an alcoholic by weaning them off alcohol. And we don’t treat food addiction by weaning off the addicted food. We quit cold turkey. So for the next 7 days I challenged my client with abstaining from all Mt Dew. Fast forward 7 days and he came back for follow up. Did he do it? YES. Did he lose weight? 5.5#. This led us to develop a detox diet for those people just like this client who feel they don’t have control over a certain food or beverage. If you are interested in learning more, contact me today.