To Dessert or Not to Dessert?

Hey Folks! We're excited to welcome back Certified 21DSD Coach Natalie Washabaugh. Natalie's article is part of a series contributed by our Certified 21DSD Coaches. Enjoy! – Diane and Team


The topic of treats can cause deep emotional strife for some people. You may be one of those people; I know I was! If you are following The 21-Day Sugar Detox Community Facebook page you are probably aware of this. It is important to understand where Diane and the Facebook page moderators are coming from when they say a treat recipe is not compliant, even though the ingredients used to create the treat are all on the Yes list.

Treats can be a very tricky thing to navigate on your 21-Day Sugar Detox.

It is crucial to assess your own emotional, mental and physical connections to the concept of dessert before you dive into that section of the 21DSD guidebook and cookbook.

Prior to your detox, take note of your emotional reactions to the guidelines of the program and each food on the No list. These reactions say a lot more about the current state of your health and your emotional connections to food, and less about the actual detox.  I often hear clients say, “I could never live without _______.”  Yes, in fact, you can live without sugar-laden coffee creamer, highly processed snacks, frosted cake, cookies, popcorn, sugar-free alternatives and (enter your own vice here). The next 21 days will prove this to you!  You will survive, I promise!

There are multiple reasons why people turn to treats:

  • For some people, dessert is always an after meal event. Your meals are laden with highly processed, nutrient-less carbohydrates that quickly raise your blood sugar. Insulin kicks in to bring your blood sugar down and often times takes you to a level too low.  That is when the cravings for treats kick in.
  • Maybe you grew up in a home where food was used as a reward. An accomplishment of any kind can trigger that desire to treat yourself, without realizing the detriment to your health.
  • You could be one of many that turn to food for comfort. Seeking relief from anxiety, stress, fear and failure in the arms of ice cream or chips. These comfort foods have always been there for you in your time of need, making you feel just a bit better in the moment. Perhaps you don't even realize how bad they leave you feeling in the end.

It is important to realize the triggers behind the treat in order to combat them.

As a 21DSD coach, I always recommend my clients avoid treats until at least week 3 of the detox.  I would prefer they avoid them altogether, but I understand that we are all different and our mental and emotional experiences with food are varied.

I recommend avoiding treats for two reasons:

  • One, continuing the habit of a treat after a meal or when a craving kicks in is continuing to reinforce habits this program is designed to break.
  • Two, those Not-Sweet Treats will taste a whole lot better once you have reset your palate. Trust me on this one, I never knew I liked dark chocolate until Day 22 of my very first 21DSD!

Knowing yourself, your current habits and your tendencies towards treats will help you successfully navigate your 21DSD.  I ask clients to take the Abstainer vs Moderator quiz by Gretchen Rubin to help them better understand how they face temptation.  Take the quick quiz and find out if you are an abstainer or moderator, then decide to dessert or not to dessert on your 21DSD.


Natalie Washabaugh M.A. is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) and a 21-Day Sugar Detox Coach focusing on fat loss, blood sugar regulation, body image issues and healing relationships with food, all issues she has personally struggled with as a Type 1 diabetic of 30 years. She loves educating clients on simple mindset shifts, nutrition myths and movement, and providing them the tools necessary to nourish themselves mind, body and soul. She is also a certified American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter who strives to bring health and wellness directly to the Deaf community. She enjoys lifting heavy, San Diego sunsets and walking her two puggles, Max and Rambo, on the sandy shores. You can find her blogging sarcastically on her website, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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