Novant Health offers free 10-day sugar detox

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Sugar has been linked as one of the primary contributors to America’s obesity crisis.

Now, a Piedmont health system is launching a new program to help people get the jump start they need to limit their daily intake of added sugar.

Novant Health is offering a program called Sweet Retreat -- a 10-day sugar detox that requires participants to give up foods with added sugars.

“It's something that's really hard for people to give up because they set up all kinds of rituals with food,” Dan Wilemon, a behavioral health therapist with Novant Health, said.

“We just want to raise awareness because sugar is so addictive and found in so many foods that you don't realize,” Alice Smith, registered dietician for the program, said.

Sweet Retreat is an online program and is open to anyone.

Smith will send daily emails to participants to guide them on meal preparation and physical activity.

Pam Chisholm did the detox under a separate health initiative at Novant Health earlier this year.

She says initially it was difficult but later found herself with more energy.

She has since incorporated what she learned in the detox to make ongoing lifestyle changes.

She uses natural sweeteners such as fruits and no longer drinks soda.

Chisholm says she doesn’t miss the sugar she was consuming before the detox.

“That was the biggest discovery, I didn't know I could go without it,” Chisholm said.

The challenge begins May 2 through May 11.

Novant leaders say more than 1,000 people have already registered.