Women's yoga class

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Timing It Right

When you reduce sugar from your diet, be prepared for intense cravings—and the resulting irritability and moodiness. Gearhardt says that sugar withdrawal is similar to drug withdrawal: Things are worse in the first week, and then it slowly gets better. A new study from Gearhardt and her colleagues, published in the journal Appetite, found that when people cut back on highly processed foods, symptoms of withdrawal were most intense between days two and five and then began to level off. Choose to start cutting back during a week when there's relatively little stress, you can get enough sleep, and you're maintaining a regular schedule (not when traveling, for instance). In order to stay on track, plan how you'll keep stress low during this period (for example, yoga, meditation, exercise or scheduling activities with friends that don't involve food) and set yourself up for success by planning meals and having nutritious foods on hand.