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Sugar. It’s everywhere, we consume too much, and the health risks are impossible to ignore. Ready to take action? Sure, reducing your sugar intake can feel like an insurmountable challenge. But thousands have made the jump… and so can you.

Lasting dietary changes are of course the long game, but there are lots of ways to get started. Let’s begin by limiting sugar’s visual footprint in your home.

An easy trick is relocating temptations like cookies and candy to a high shelf, or a difficult-to-reach cabinet. In no time, that extra degree of effort will have you instinctively choosing healthier options… quite literally, “the path of least resistance.”

The very next day, you’ll want to — hmmm.

Sometime in the night you managed to drag a chair from the office, reach the highest shelf and eat four boxes of coconut macaroons.

That’s perfectly okay! It’s important not to beat yourself up: sugar’s grip on the metabolism is a formidable opponent, and we’re far from done.

Let’s up your game. Stash forbidden snacks in a remote area of the house: the attic, the boiler room, the crawl space behind the nursery. As a deterrent, arrange a series of delicate or noisy items in front of the entrance: faced with moving them, you’ll be afforded a critical moment to ask, is another sugar rush really worth it?

Now — huh.

Fifteen minutes later and the attic is empty. The pie, the blueberry cheese braid, yes, but also the winter clothes, the musical instruments, even the trunk of encyclopedias you planned to give to the church; all gone. Where did…? Never mind.

The framed family portraits meant as obstacles lay smashed in the corner. It’s like you didn’t even look at them.

Time for the heavy artillery.

Bury all remaining snacks deep in the earth. Destroy the shovel. Surround the area with barbed wire. If possible, adopt an angry dog to — holy Christ, it’s thirty seconds later and the backyard is a wasteland, one giant crater: just black earth and flashes of the bone-white limestone upon which this community was built. The barbed wire has been tossed aside like so much bothersome tinsel and the dog, given to a loving home. How? It goes without saying the maple logs are gone.

What you need now is a friend. A good friend… one who doesn’t scare easily. Have them gather all the sweets from the surrounding area and bring them to a location you have never seen, could never guess.

When the items are secure, your friend must restrain you with industrial-grade equipment, such that you cannot harm yourself or others.

Finally —

— you regain consciousness. Caroline is dead and there’s blood everywhere. Blood and… frosting? Oh, god. You have to run. Caroline was such a great part of your life, maybe the best part, honest even when it was painful, forever curious — remarkable at such a late age — but there’s no time for that now. You hear sirens in the distance and you throw a change of clothes and five sleeves of Fig Newtons in a backpack and leave.

That was six months ago.

You live in the cracks between the veneer of polite society now. When you do surface, it’s never long enough for someone to learn your face. You spend your days foraging for roots, nuts, edible flowers, the occasional sick or injured animal you bring down with your dirty, claw-like hands. That sun-drenched kitchen, its cabinets full of poison, is a receding memory.

Congratulations. You said goodbye to sugar.

In this healthier, grateful body, take a moment to appreciate the benefits of your new life. Feel how much energy you have at the start of each day, wiping leaves and rain from your face, scanning the horizon for threats and sustenance. Appreciate how soundly you sleep each night, rags or hay piled beneath you, the cold stars wheeling above.


Writing: Work In Progress on Showtime, The New Yorker, NPR’s Live From Here, Hello From The Magic Tavern, McSweeney’s, Jackbox Games | Twitter @MisterSniffen

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