Most of us have a complicated relationship with refined sugar (the “white stuff”).  Today, I’ll be sharing the first steps you need to consider as you explore the role sugar plays in your life.

(Don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging. I have a free resource available that I’ll share more about later.)

Most of us have made certain conclusions about sugar that prevent us from truly understanding its role in our lives, and knowing exactly how to disentangle our unhealthy relationship to it.

Before we can talk about any level of sugar detox, we must get one fundamental truth straight:

Consuming refined sugar is not the same as our biological need for a sweet taste.

Eating large amounts of refined sugar is most certainly detrimental to your health, but the desire to satisfy your craving for sweet tastes is not only completely normal, you are hardwired for it.

Biologically, we seek out sweet-tasting things.  This begins at infancy, when we know that breast milk is delightfully sweet. This simple truth turns everything on its head. Your desire for sweet tastes is not “bad” or the result of failing will power.

You can stop beating yourself up and start the process of working with your design to release the stronghold refined sugar has on you.

Here are the three main steps to experience a successful, long-term sugar detox.

Step 1:  Honor your need for sweet tastes and feed yourself healthy, nourishing, naturally sweet-tasting foods.

Let me give you a quick example from one of the women I’ve worked with.

A mom came to me because she was experiencing extreme cravings and late night binging episodes, and felt totally out of control.

We were just beginning to work together, and we started by creating a strong foundation of healthy foods that truly nourished and satisfied her.   I made a suggestion for a quick homemade pizza crust that was made with a touch of honey.

When she heard honey, she was very concerned that she would be eating any kind of sugar at all.    I realized this woman believed that all forms of sweet-tasting things was bad, and she had been trying through sheer willpower to stay away from anything that included any sugar at all, natural or refined.

This mom had been trying hard to keep everything sweet out of her diet, but then was completely binging on candy and junk food late at night when her willpower failed and her stress from the day piled up.

Our natural craving for sweet tastes, and our addiction and over-consumption of refined sugar are two totally different issues.

The more you deny yourself any sweetness in your diet, the more you will crave it — because you are designed for it. When you’re aware of this, you can naturally work sweet tastes into your diet and enjoy them completely.

Step 2:  Discover exactly how you use refined sugar in your life.

Determine your personal sugar blueprint. Beyond your natural need for sweet taste, there are other critical reasons you crave sugar and can become caught in a sugar addiction cycle.

Photo by norwichnuts

Very briefly, I’ll share another example from a mom that was in one of my courses.

At the beginning of the course, this mom would never have said she was addicted to sugar. She was taking the course because she wanted to establish a stronger self-care pattern and routine in her life.

She was a naturally thin woman and never had to worry much about her weight. And I can tell you from my own experience and working with hundreds of other women, most women who aren’t concerned about their weight never imagine that they have an unhealthy relationship with food.

We have been brainwashed by the media and diet industry to focus exclusively on weight as a marker for health.

As she worked through the course, it became clear to her that she had chronically used food as a way to stuff down and numb out deeper emotional needs, in particular the very basic need of just having something of her “own” again in life. She had no outlet for personal growth or creativity — nothing that just made her feel alive.

And that is one of our fundamental needs.

So it was through exploring her patterns with food that she began to listen and observe what was really happening in her life, and it led her to uncover a deeper, starved need.

When she began working on small, simple but significant ways she could come “back to herself” and feel more alive and creative, her addiction to sugary treats all but disappeared.

Step 3:  Restore your body of the depleted nutrients and imbalances from overuse of refined sugar.

Finally, you must bolster your diet with foods that truly satisfy and nourish a healthy life.

There is no doubt that a body chronically fed large amounts of refined sugar is nutrient-depleted and imbalanced. In addition to the inner work of understanding the role of sugar in your life, it is essential to move your diet toward nourishing, healing, and restorative foods — foods that heal your intestinal tract, heal your insulin response, and heal chronic inflammation.

And like I said in the beginning, this post simply scratched the surface of this weighty topic.

If you’d like to go further, I’d love you to have my 19-page workbook, Break the Sugar Habit , which helps you, step-by-step, discover and determine the roles sugar plays in your life. This is one of the free gifts you’ll receive when you sign up to be a part of the WellGrounded email community.

Do you feel like you’re addicted to sugar?