fruits with natural sugars

While there are all kinds of diet plans made to lose weight and live a healthier life, a sugar-free diet could be the one diet that is both scientifically and practically most effective at doing this. Unlike the keto diet or paleo diet, a sugar-free diet isn’t about eliminating grains or counting carbohydrates. Instead, it’s about eliminating processed foods and foods with added sugars.

What Is a Sugar-Free Diet?

There is no single plan or method for a sugar-free diet. Instead, some individuals choose to remove all added sugars from their diet, such as soda, snack bars, dessert, candy, etc., while others choose to remove sugar in all its forms, including natural sugars from fruit and high-carbohydrate foods.

Overall, a sugar-free diet is a commitment to avoiding added sugars and consuming fewer sugars as a whole.

Sugar-Free Diet Foods to Avoid

While a sugar-free diet can be carried out a number of ways, there are typically some foods that you’ll find most versions of this diet suggest avoiding. These foods include:

  • Sugar granules (white, brown, confectioners, turbinado)
  • Refined flours (white flour, white bread)
  • Dessert foods (cake, cookies, brownies, ice cream, etc.)
  • Marinades, dressings, condiments with sugar
  • Dried fruit
  • Sweetened beverages (soda, juice, alcoholic beverages)
  • Artificial sweeteners (Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, etc.)

Some foods that contain natural sugars tend to be limited on a sugar-free diet when they’re not completely avoided. These foods include things like:

  • White potatoes
  • High glycemic fruits (mangoes, cherries, grapes, pineapple, prunes, bananas, watermelon)
  • Stevia
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Milk

Benefits of a Sugar- Free Diet

Some people jump to the assumption that sugar itself is harmful, which is not the case. In fact, our body breaks down many foods into sugars, which it later converts into energy for the body. The problem arises when sugar consumption is in excess and the liver becomes overwhelmed, unable to store this sugar for energy conversion.

That excess sugar ends up floating around in the bloodstream, affecting our blood sugar levels and organs. A sugar-free diet can prevent many of the diseases resulting from too much sugar in the body.

By eliminating or reducing your daily sugar intake, you can reap the following benefits:

  • Weight loss and reduced risk of obesity
  • Reduced risk of diabetes
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Less inflammation or reduced risk of inflammation
  • Lowered cholesterol levels
  • Lowered blood pressure levels
  • Reduced risk of cancer
  • Reduced risk of fatty liver disease
  • More stable mood

How to Start a Sugar-Free Diet

Anyone who has ever tried to start a sugar-free diet will tell you that it comes with its challenges. Even if you don’t have much of a sweet tooth, you’ll probably be surprised to learn just how many hidden sugars there are in the foods we eat.

Depending on what your diet already looks like, starting a sugar-free diet may be incredibly challenging, or it may simply involve making a few slight changes. Here are some tips and ideas you can use to help you start a sugar-free diet, regardless of what your diet currently looks like.

Start Slow

It can be really hard to go cold turkey when it comes to “quitting” sugar. Instead of completely eliminating all desserts and sweets from your diet, why not take baby steps, like reducing your afternoon candy bar habit to a small piece of dark chocolate. If you enjoy two packets of sugar in your coffee, try adding just one packet to begin with. Make incremental changes to reduce your daily sugar intake rather than abruptly eliminate it.

Get Rid of Major Offenders

You might not be able to part with your blueberry bagel for breakfast, which is fine for now. Instead, work on eliminating foods that are major offenders and easier to knock out, such as cookies and cake. These are surplus items in your diet that usually don’t make up a meal entrée and can be reserved for special occasions.

Start Reading Labels and Learn About Hidden Sugars

This is typically the point where people on a sugar-free diet find themselves most surprised. If you never look at food labels, then you’re in for a shock. You’ll be surprised to find that many “healthy” foods contain loads of sugar, including foods like flavored yogurt, granola bars, and smoothies. When you’re reading the label, don’t just look for sugar on the ingredient list; look for synonymous terms like fructose, glucose, sucrose, maltose, and other names ending in -ose.

Choose the Unsweetened Version

As mentioned, certain foods don’t have to be completely avoided. For instance, you can still enjoy plain yogurt from time-to-time. Choose a low-sugar, unsweetened yogurt and add a few fresh berries to it, instead. Or, you can make your own yogurt at home for an even healthier version. The point is that whether you’re buying yogurt or a carton of almond milk, go for the unsweetened version to reduce the amount of sugar you’ll be consuming.

Maintaining a Sugar-Free Diet

Sometimes going cold turkey on a sugar-free diet might seem like the option for you, and you may even go all out and choose to eliminate any and all sugar from your diet. Just beware that going on a sugar-free diet is more about making a lifestyle change than quickly shedding some pounds.

Make healthy, yet manageable choices that you can implement and maintain for years down the road. You will notice that as you slowly reduce your sugar intake, your taste buds will adapt and change, causing you to crave fewer and fewer sweets.

Quick FAQ

What does a sugar-free diet mean?

A sugar-free diet doesn’t always mean you are maintaining a diet completely void of sugar. Instead, it typically means you’re on a diet free of added sugars and maintaining limited consumption of high-carbohydrate foods.

How to go on a sugar-free diet?

Going on a sugar-free diet starts with small, incremental steps to reduce your daily intake of sugar. Start paying attention to food labels on the products you buy and avoid foods that contain a high content of sugar or added sugars. In most cases, it’s best to choose unsweetened products and avoid low-fat choices that use sugar as a substitute for the fat.

How to eat a sugar-free diet?

There are many ways you can approach a sugar-free diet. You can choose to completely eliminate sugar, or you can choose to concentrate your diet on low-carb foods and vegetables with limited consumption of natural sugars and high-carbohydrate foods.

Why go on a sugar-free diet?

While sugar itself is not harmful, too much sugar can overwhelm the body and increase your risk of various diseases. Going on a sugar-free diet can protect you from or reduce the risk of these diseases, in addition to helping you lose weight.

How to live on a sugar-free diet?

While going sugar-free may seem intimidating, you can successfully maintain a healthy diet void of added sugars by making small changes over time. Your taste buds and body will adapt to the reduced sugar consumption and your cravings for sweets will reduce. Not only that, but you’ll begin cooking and eating different whole foods that you’ll grow to love and learn to become creative with, making a sugar-free diet become much easier to live on.

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Born and raised in Southern California, Beeta has embraced a healthy lifestyle focused on farm-to-table cooking, natural products, and wellness routines. When she's not writing up recipes or discussing the latest natural living trends, Beeta enjoys spending time trying new restaurants, traveling with family and friends, and relaxing at home with her furry companion.