Safe And Satisfying Alternatives To Cold Turkey

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Nope, we’re not talking about fun things to do with Thanksgiving leftovers (although that would be a pretty good health-centric blog post in and of itself). We’re talking about outright quitting your bad habits without any form of transitional measure and relying solely on willpower to beat our worst habits. It’s okay to admit it, we all have our vices. Some of them may be fairly benign and result in nothing more damaging than a slightly expanded waistline. Others can be more harmful and result in serious or even life-threatening illnesses. Even something as seemingly innocuous as a bad habit for chocolate can lead to a wide range of weight-related illnesses from heart disease to diabetes if left unchecked.

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From trans fats to tobacco, liquor to laziness, we all have our indulgences that can get in the way of a healthy and active lifestyle. Whether you want to set a better example for your kids, prove to yourself that you haven’t inherited the unhealthy habits you learned from your parents, or simply don’t want to wait until the new year to start making healthy new habits, it’s never a bad time to eschew our unhealthy habits for healthier alternatives.

While those of exceptional willpower may be tempted to simply quit cold turkey, the evidence shows that this approach rarely bears the kind of fruit we expect. Here we’ll look at some healthy transitional alternatives to going cold turkey that will help you to live a healthier, happier and more active lifestyle in sobriety...

Why going cold turkey rarely works

While going cold turkey can work for some, it’s rarely a good idea for a number of reasons. Whether we want to admit it ourselves, our quotidian dependencies, from not being able to function before the first coffee of the day to being a real bear until you’ve had your first cigarette are manifestations of addiction. And while going cold turkey removes the addictive substance from the equation, it rarely addresses the addiction itself.

Cutting an addictive substance or behavior out of your life creates a behavioral and biological black hole that can result in withdrawal symptoms which can be tough to deal with. Even cutting caffeine out of your life can result in mood swings, headaches, anxiety and depression.

Often the secret lies in substituting an unhealthy behavior for a healthy alternative which triggers the same reward functions within the brain, giving us a shot of dopamine that gives us the warm, fuzzy feeling we get from indulging our favourite habits, without the harmful side effects…

Find healthier ways to get your fix

Often the addictive substance in question, such as nicotine, is relatively benign but the means by which it is introduced into the body comes with a host of damaging effects, especially when it comes to smoking. Switching to nicotine gum or any of these vaping starter kits is a good way to wean yourself off cigarettes in a healthier manner. Likewise, while caffeine can be addictive, cutting it out of your life needn’t mean depriving yourself of the satisfying taste and aroma of a cup of joe. Recent years have seen an enormous increase in the quality of decaffeinated coffee meaning that you get the same sensory gratification without the caffeine jolt.

Make your own healthy versions of your favorite junk food

The more you know about the food you consume, the easier it is to track your caloric and macronutrient intake to ensure a healthier lifestyle and reach your health and fitness goals. The trouble is that when your biggest vices are the fast food chains around the blocks, it’s much harder to ascertain exactly what goes into the foods you love, thereby tracking the damage they’re doing to your body.

The good news is that you can make your own healthier alternatives which taste just as great and give you the same satisfied feeling without taking the same toll on your health.


Substitute your vices with a trip to the gym

Exercise is addictive… In the best possible way. It’s telling that many people who have conquered issues with drugs and / or alcohol are thereafter reborn as fitness fanatics. Exercise offers the same pleasure and sense of reward as some lesser habits while helping to sculpt your body and lay the foundations for lifelong good health.

Whatever your vices, you don’t have to conquer them alone. Get to the root of what brings you joy, and just find a healthier substitute for it. You’ll find it more enjoyable and sustainable than going cold turkey. 

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