Do you have a relationship with sugar? If so what kind of relationship do you have?

I asked a coaching client that question several years ago and she told me she had a codependent relationship with sugar and carbs. She laughed when she said it. But it’s really not funny.

Co-Dependent on Sugar

The definition of being codependent is having excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically because you require support on account of an illness or addiction.

To be co-dependent on sugar is like elevating this substance to the level of a person that we have some kind of  relationship with. When we promote any substance, like sugar, to the status of a human being we have automatically given it a position that includes the possibility of control.

I know exactly how it happens because back years ago my mentor asked me, “Where did you learn your relationship with food?” I didn’t hesitate to ask myself if I had a relationship with food. I knew I did.

I immediately knew I learned it from my loving Grandma, who allowed me to eat all I wanted of all my favorite foods. Not only that, she allowed me to help her prepare them. I can only describe that time as magical to me as a kid.

My relationship with food, especially foods made with sugar and flour, such as cookies, cakes, pies and other desserts, was forged. When I got to be an adult and wanted to feel a sense of comfort no matter where I lived at the time, I was transported back in my mind to Grandma’s Kitchen. Of course, that meant I had to bake a batch of oatmeal cookies right then to feel comforted, loved, and  adored.

My Companion

It was as if sugar became like a companion in my life to get me through the good times and the bad times. If I was lonely it seemed sugar was right there with me soothing the pain of that loneliness.

When I was tired, it seemed sugar was the one who gave me the pick me up. Sugar made me feel like I had energy to go on even if just for a few more minutes.

When I might be ready to blow my top, it was sugar that soothed me. Sugar made the anger go away and if it came back, I knew sugar would be there to help me again.

When stress would overwhelm  me, I would run straight to sugar. It would make me forget about everything and just focus on my own cravings, wants and desires. Sugar seemed to take care of them all.

My Protector

My best friend, sugar, was also a protector. It made sure no men would get close and take advantage of me.  With sugar by my side I was always safe because it padded the distance between me and danger.

I felt I never had to field off those who might want to take advantage of me because sugar made them go away and leave me alone.

Even in good times, sugar made everything better. Just one look at the sweet desserts and I knew I would be all right, even if it was just for a short time. Sugar made any event worth it.

Sugar also helped me celebrate when I worked long hours without any notice or encouragement from anyone else or when I met a deadline and wanted a reward. Sugar was always my first choice.


As with any relationship, though, it wasn’t all rainbows and roses. Oh, it looked good at first. All addictions look good in the beginning. All addictions start with us needing something from them. We put all our faith in that relationship or that substance and then, we find we are hooked without a way of escape.

Because of my codependency on sugar and my all-in love and commitment to it, I weighed 430 pounds and was headed to an early death. This relationship had gone wrong. I was on a track towards destruction.

Why did sugar do that to me? What did I ever do to sugar? It was my everything, my comforter, companion, protector, lover and friend. Now it was my deceiver.

I had heard the doctor and I knew sugar had been trying to kill me. I needed to find a way to get rid of it for good.

How Did This Happen?

We know with anyone who is truly co-dependent ending that kind of relationship isn’t easy. Although I knew sugar was the cause of my super morbid obesity and congestive heart failure that was looming over me, I also realized that sugar had never asked to be in control of me. I had elevated it to the master of my life.

I had done this by my own willful choices. I had to understand why I had allowed this to happen. One thing I realized was that Grandma, love and the foods she made for me as I was growing up had become enmeshed. It was like they were one entity instead of separate.

At that moment, one of my biggest holdbacks to giving up sugar was abandoning all the family recipes Grandma had taught me to cook. I remember wonderful family get-togethers which seemed even better because of the food. It seemed to me that my focus was on the food.

In reality, that wasn’t true. Sure I loved the food, but I also loved just spending time with Grandma, sitting out under the shade tree at the end of the day waving at the folks passing by on the road in front of their house, sitting beside her in the little country Baptist church and listening to her sing in her low alto voice.

Or going to town with her or club meeting and hearing her chat with all her friends, listening to her read me Henny Penny for the millioneth time because it was my favorite, sitting in the recliner with her and feeling her soft body snuggled up next to me, listening to her and Papaw pray together at nigh, and then feel her hand reach down to the pallet beside her bed and hold my hand until I fell asleep. Such wonderful memories had more to do with her presence which was larger than life to me.

What Would Grandma Think?

Then, my mentor asked me, “What your grandma think of you losing weight?” I had gotten to a plateau on my weight loss journey, even though I had lost at least 200 pounds by that time.

I said, “Oh she would be so happy for me. She always wanted me to lose weight. When I would come into her house she would say, ‘Oh Honey you’d be so pretty if you’d just lose some weight.’ Then 10 minutes later she’d say, ‘I baked oatmeal cookies. Have as many as you want.’”

In that moment, I realized Grandma had no idea of the correlation of those two things. If she had, If I had told her that I couldn’t eat sugar she would have totally understood. My grandfather was a diabetic. She understood the issues and cooked sugar-free for him. I just loved the foods she cooked with sugar so much that I had not separated her from those foods I loved.

My grandma is gone now and Instead of food being our family legacy, we focus on connection. We still eat together. There’s nothing wrong with eating together. It can be a great time if we don’t focus on the food and instead focus on each other.

I Fired Sugar

I fired sugar as my controller. This is hard to do when you’ve become enmeshed with it to point of co-dependency. It felt like sugar had become a part of me. I didn’t know who or what I would be without it. But one thing I knew, I would be alive.

I had willingly opened the door to sugar. I saw it as a good thing that could fix my issues. By beginning to see it like a friend, I personified it to where I allowed it to become my master.

1 Corinthians 6:12 NASB says, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.”

The problem was I had allowed sugar that foothold and as such it became a stronghold and then, a full-blown addiction.

I had to see sugar for what it was. It was not that innocent little sweet thing that everyone says, “Oh a little won’t hurt.” To me it was a substance as harmful as drugs or alcohol. The same is true of many. It may even be true of you.

Your Relationship With Sugar

I can’t end this post without asking you this question. What is your relationship with sugar?

  1. Do you have a casual flirtation, an occasional date.
  2. Do you have one of those once a week dates?
  3. Is yours more like a date that goes too far way too often?
  4. Is it an every night affair?
  5. Or maybe you have a co-dependent relationship where you can’t live without it and think you’ll die if you have to give it up.

The level of your indulgence will speak loudly to what you need to do whether you have gained a tremendous amount of weight or not. Sugar will eventually lead to you gaining weight, which will lead to many diseases, not the least of which are cancer and heart disease.

After losing over 250 pounds by giving up the white stuff, I share how to break the chains of sugar’s hold in my free course, KickSugar. It’s available HERE. Also feel free to listen to my podcast on this same subject HERE.

Getting rid of sugar is not a quick fix. Be gentle with yourself especially if you are in the co-dependent category. However, if you know you have a problem of any degree with sugar, don’t wait. Now is the time to address it.

Don’t forget to share with me what your level of relationship is with sugar and then, please let me know how I can help you.




Teresa Shields Parker
Teresa Shields Parker is a Christian weight loss author, coach and speaker, who has lost more than 250 pounds. Her book, "Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor", is the number 1 Christian Weight Loss Memoir on Amazon. Her other books include: "Sweet Journey to Transformation: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Live Healthy", "Sweet Freedom: Losing Weight and Keeping It Off With God's Help", "Sweet Change: True Stories of Transformation" and "Sweet Hunger: Developing an Appetite for God".

She also offers Overcomers Christian Weight Loss Academy and VIP one-on-one coaching program, both available under the weight loss tab. To book Teresa for your next event, check the Speaking tab on her website. Also check out her blog and Sweet Grace for Your Journey podcast under the tabs by those names.