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Why Diets Fail (Because You're Addicted to Sugar): Science Explains How to End Cravings, Lose Weight, and Get Healthy

Why Diets Fail (Because You're Addicted to Sugar): Science Explains How to End Cravings, Lose Weight, and Get Healthy

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by Nicole M. Avena

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This revolutionary eating plan reveals definitive proof that sugar is addictive, and presents the first science-based program to cut out the sugar, stop the cravings that cause most diets to eventually fail, and lose weight--permanently.
If you’re like most people, you’ve tried a few  (or maybe many) different diets without success


This revolutionary eating plan reveals definitive proof that sugar is addictive, and presents the first science-based program to cut out the sugar, stop the cravings that cause most diets to eventually fail, and lose weight--permanently.
If you’re like most people, you’ve tried a few  (or maybe many) different diets without success. The truth is, most diets work for a while, but there’s usually a point at which the dietary restrictions become too difficult to maintain. Why? Because whether you’re following a low-carb, paleo, gluten-free, or even an all-liquid green juice diet, the addictive nature of sugar causes cravings to take over and sabotage your diet-of-the-moment.

In Why Diets Fail, Dr. Nicole M. Avena and John R. Talbott reveal definitive proof that sugar is addictive and present the first science-based program to stop the cravings and lose weight—permanently. A neuroscientist and food addiction expert, Dr. Avena has conducted groundbreaking research showing that sugar triggers the same responses in the brain as addictive drugs like cocaine, nicotine, and alcohol. And like those other substances, the more sugar you eat, the more you need to get the same pleasurable feelings. (No wonder your last diet didn’t stick.) 

Avena and Talbott’s eight-step plan walks you through the process of going sugar-free and surviving the make-or-break withdrawal period—those first few weeks when your body feels the absence of its favorite sweetener most acutely. An easy-to-use Sugar Equivalency Table developed by Talbott lists the amount of sugar in hundreds of common foods so you know precisely what to eat and what to avoid. And when it comes to what you can eat, you have a lot to choose from. In fact, you’ll probably eat more on this diet than you normally do—while continuing to lose weight.

This science-based program is the diet to end all diets. It will help you break the yo-yo dieting cycle, end those maddening sugar cravings, and develop a new longing for the good food that will keep you fit, healthy, and happy.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Neuroscientist Avena joins journalist Talbott in a timely investigation about why so many Americans are overweight or obese and unable to lose unwanted pounds. Their theory, supported by Avena’s research into the causes of overeating and obesity, maintains that sugar addiction has striking similarities to drug and alcohol addiction. The reason diets fail, they assert, is because sugar is both addictive and ubiquitous. In addition, many diets can be confusing, expensive, or time-consuming. The authors present “The Sugar Freedom Plan,” a five-phase method that helps readers gradually reduce their sugar use, deal with withdrawal and cravings, and make lifestyle changes. Not surprisingly, recommendations include eliminating or reducing intake of such foods as soft drinks, cookies, cereals, pasta, breads, salad dressings, and sauces. To aid readers in this “revamping” process, which occurs over a period of weeks, they provide a Sugar Equivalency Table that reveals how much sugar is in specific foods so that readers can make better choices. Rather than calorie counting, the plan prompts readers to get to the root of the problem by focusing on cutting sugar and carbs, as well as alleviating feelings of failure and self-blame, while empowering readers to take proactive steps. Talbott’s personal journey with sugar addiction (which opens the book) is an added touch that effectively connects with readers. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
Sugar, fat, salt—a daunting combination. Avena and Talbott do an excellent job of analyzing the role that sugar plays in the obesity epidemic.”
—David A. Kessler, MD, author of The End of Overeating
“This book not only offers an in-depth explanation of our society’s dependence on sugar, it also provides a realistic, step-wise approach to managing it and improving your health.”
—Dr. Melina B. Jampolis, CNN diet and fitness expert
Why Diets Fail describes the new science of sugar addiction and teaches us how we can use it to beat cravings and overeating—even in our modern food environment, which is plagued by sugary, hyperpalatable fake food. This book teaches you not only to think differently about how you eat, but also shows you how to do it.”
—Sara Gottfried, MD, New York Times bestselling author of The Hormone Cure
“In Why Diets Fail, Dr. Nicole Avena and John Talbott discuss the addictive powers that certain foods possess over the mind and offer insight on conquering the addictive cycle. Following the guidelines in this book, you will learn how to turn your new diet into a lasting lifestyle, understand the science behind food addiction, and use this knowledge to approach your food as healthful nourishment rather than a source of guilt and frustration.”
—Andrew Larson, MD, medical director of JFK Medical Center Bariatric Wellness & Surgical Institute and author of The Gold Coast Cure and Clean Cuisine

Product Details

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Random House
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4 MB

Read an Excerpt

Why You Need to Read This “Diet” Book
These days, diet books are a dime a dozen, but few books combine the lived experience of someone who has implemented that diet and seen amazing results with the scientific research that supports and explains why the eating plan works. In Why Diets Fail, you gain all the latest scientific knowledge and expertise from Dr. Avena, who has a PhD in psychology and neuroscience and is an expert in the fields of addiction, nutrition, and obesity, informed by insights from John, who has lived through this experience.
     Moreover, you will learn about some fascinating research discoveries that you may not yet be aware of, many of which may explain why certain approaches that you have taken in the past to lose weight have been unsuccessful. All too often, research findings are reported in scholarly journals or discussed among researchers and members of the scientific community, and even though they may have direct application to human life, they rarely reach the larger public. Thus, such findings fail to have a significant effect on the day-to-day lives of the people who could benefit. That’s why this book is so valuable. Together, we’ll explain why John’s revelation, and resolution, regarding addiction to sugars was beneficial to his life, and could be to yours, in so many ways.
     Although diet will certainly be discussed, we’re reticent to call this a “diet” book, as that term doesn’t necessarily reflect how extremely valuable this book can be to individuals who struggle to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. But trust us, when you implement the diet, like John did, you can reawaken to a life that is more fulfilling, fun, and rewarding than anything you could have imagined.

Meet the Author

NICOLE M. AVENA, PhD, is a world-renowned neuroscientist and expert in diet, nutrition, and addiction. She received her doctorate in neuroscience and psychology from Princeton University and did her postdoctoral fellowship at The Rockefeller University in New York. Dr. Avena is a faculty member at the New York Obesity Research Center at Columbia University. She has published more than sixty scholarly journal articles on topics related to diet, nutrition, and overeating. Her research achievements have been honored by awards from several groups, including the New York Academy of Sciences, the American Psychological Association, and the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Avena lives with her husband and daughter in New Jersey. 

JOHN R. TALBOTT is the bestselling author of ten books that have sold more than 200,000 copies in twenty countries. He is an associate professor at the SP Jain School of Global Management in Dubai, which is ranked in the top twenty international management programs in the world by Forbes. Previously a visiting scholar at UCLA, Talbott has published academic research on AIDS prevention, democracy, inequality, and economic growth. He graduated from Cornell University with a degree in engineering and earned his MBA at UCLA. His work has appeared in The Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, The New Republic, Financial Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

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Why Diets Fail (Because You're Addicted to Sugar): Science Explains How to End Cravings, Lose Weight, and Get Healthy 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just read this book and it is excellent. I have had trouble with diets before and having weighed over 300 pounds it's been a real struggle to maintain a healthy weight. This is the first book I have read which clearly explains to me, a normal person, how to avoid sugars and why I have had trouble avoiding these types of things. I look forward to implementing this plan and sharing the book with friends and family. Donna P. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
ReegerCortell More than 1 year ago
As a nurse practitioner in surgical weight management I can tell you that sugar addiction is very real and very challenging for those who struggle.  Dr Avena's book explains the science of sugar addiction in laymen terms for the general public but also in scientific terms for those who want the data.  The first half of the book is the why and how of sugar addiction. The second half is a realistic self-directed treatment plan to wean oneself off of sugar. If you think you may have a sugar addiction and you want to know why and how to free yourself, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have just read this book and I thought it was exceptional. I felt like the book was written for someone like me, not a doctor or scientist, just someone struggling with weight loss for many years. Not only did I like that the book was written by an actual scientist but I also enjoyed that it explained in clear language why I have been struggling with weight loss and what I can expect to go through when reducing my sugar intake. If you are like me, someone who gets headaches and irritable during diets, then you should read this book which will aid you in overcoming these obstacles and achieve your weight loss goals. I have already started my diet and feel better already knowing what to expect. Jennifer R. New York City
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I very much enjoyed this book...I have been waiting for a book like this for a while. I have felt that I was addicted to food, especially sugars, but when I mentioned it to people they looked at me as if I was crazy! This book explains the science behind it, and the easy to follow steps make sense and seem like they will be easy to implement. It tells you about what to expect when you cut out sugars (withdrawal, craving) and how to deal with it. It also has a lot of great tips on how to still go out to dinner and go to parties, but continue eating right. If you have tried diets and failed in the past, this book will help you see why! It is one of a kind and a great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is poorly written. The scientific explanations are misleading and confusing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago