The holiday food pyramid usually involves a less-than-healthy dose of cookies, candies, cakes, and desserts of all kinds. By the time winter is over, you probably feel like you’ve had enough sugar to last you a whole year – and you probably have! With that in mind; have you considered a sugar-free diet?
Cutting sugar can seem tough at the start, but there are so many benefits of not eating sugar. Is it time for you to give a no sugar diet a try?
Well, with some easy-to-execute substitutes and a commitment to healthy eating, a sugar-free diet is within reach.
Sugar Consumption: Where Do You Rank?
According to a study that followed the sugar consumption of American children and adults from 1977-2012, our sugar consumption has increased dramatically over the years. They’re now much higher than the recommended daily intake.1
Nowadays, the average adult consumes a whopping 77 grams of sugar per day.
The American Heart Association suggests that a safe level of sugar is 25 grams for women and 37 grams for men per day.2
So – what does that mean for your diet? To put this into perspective, a single can of coke contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar, which is around 39 grams (well over the recommended daily intake).3
If you’re serious about your health, a sugar-free diet is worth considering.
Different Names for Sugar
In order to be successful with a no sugar diet, you first have to know what you’re looking to avoid. Sugar is sugar – easy, right? Wrong! Sugar can be listed in ingredients by many names and in many forms.
Sometimes, sugar will appear on labels multiple times under different names. Sugar can be listed simply as “sugar,” but it can also be hidden under these names:
- High-Fructose Corn Syrup
- Agave Nectar
- Cane Juice
- Cane Sugar
- Brown Rice Syrup
With a no sugar diet, it’s important to read labels very, very carefully.
Is Sugar Ruining Your Life?
You may think your reliance on sugar is minimal. After all, you only choose dessert occasionally, and you only sip a sweet beverage on a really hot day. Is it really that big of a deal to have a “sweet tooth?”
The short answer is yes. Some research points to eating large amounts of sugar or processed foods as full-blown sugar addiction, similar to a drug or nicotine addiction.5
Becoming reliant on sugar can lead to mood swings and cravings, as sugar affects the dopamine levels in your brain.
When you adapt your diet by choosing to go “no sugar,” (or by following a low sugar diet), you’re breaking your body of a majorly controlling substance – and boosting your health in a big way.
Read Your Labels
The first step (and, probably the easiest step) on the sugar-free diet is to simply read the labels when purchasing processed foods. Processed foods have sugars hidden in them as a means to give products a longer shelf-life, change the texture and flavor to be more appealing, and sometimes lower the cost of production.
While this might benefit your favorite breakfast cereal company — your favorite sausage brand, ‘healthy’ juice, or special kind of bread you love — these hidden sugars can be a detriment to your health.
But, by reading the labels before you make a purchase, you can make informed choices and swap out high-sugar items before they ever make it into your pantry.
Where to Start?
Choosing to eat a low sugar diet helps keep your blood sugar levels healthy, boost your heart health, and keep your teeth cavity-free.
Here’s the truth: A no sugar diet is virtually impossible because natural sugars are in vegetables, fruits, and grains.
So keep in mind: Natural sugars are okay. Instead, aim for cutting processed and added sugar as much as possible — but don’t beat yourself up if you “cheat” on your sugar-free diet every once in a while. Aim to lower processed sugar cravings slowly, and soon you will be only consuming naturally occurring sugars, rather than processed or added sugar.
Before you know it, a sugar-free diet can feel like your ‘everyday’ way of eating.6
Cook At Home
Processed foods can be the source of a lot of added sugar. So, a fairly obvious but often overlooked way to cut sugar is to eat at home! And cooking at home with fresh ingredients is the most certain way to monitor how much sugar is added to your food.
When planning your shopping list, remember to avoid pre-packaged sauces or spice mixes, too. Premixed spice packs usually have ‘hidden’ sugars as a preservative and flavor booster, and can be just as tasty when made at home and sugar is omitted.7
Healthy Choices: Not Just for Foods
A major step towards achieving a sugar-free diet is to eliminate the sugar in your drink choices. Often, this amount of sugar is perceived as minimal, but sugar adds up fast throughout the day when choosing sweet drinks.
If your goal is a no sugar diet or a low sugar diet, changing your beverage choices is one of the quickest ways to drastically reduce your daily sugar intake.
Here are a few changes, both big and small, that can help you cut calories and potentially help lower your risk for some serious health issues:8
1. Go for Full Fat Creamer
Drinking pure half-and-half is much better for a healthy diet than the fat-free version. Turns out, items that have a lower fat content may have more added sugar to compensate for flavor and texture, which won’t help your efforts one bit.9
2. Eat Your Fruits
Fruit juice often contains as much sugar as soft drinks (shocking, but true), so it’s best to skip the apple juice with brunch. Instead, eat the whole fruit choice as part of your meal.10
3. Replenish Carefully
Sports drinks and energy drinks can be sneaky, secret offenders when it comes to sabotaging a healthy diet. So, don’t let claims of ‘feeling good’ give you the idea that you aren’t consuming lots of sugar.
Switch to drinking water during workouts for a big gulp of good, healthier hydration.11
Choose For Chompers
If the physical benefits of not eating sugar aren’t appealing enough, consider this: A sugar-free diet may mean fewer trips to the dentist. Choosing to consume no sugar — or less sugar — can help improve the health of your teeth and mouth.
You see, plaque is formed along your gum line when there is a buildup of bacteria in your mouth. The growth of this bacteria is accelerated when you eat sugar, as the sugar sticks to the surface of your teeth, wearing away at the outer enamel layer.12
By changing your diet and eating no sugar, you can significantly lower the bacteria levels in your mouth.
A Lifelong Improvement
If you think a no sugar diet plan is a temporary fix, think again: Long term success for a healthy diet means maintaining good habits as a lifestyle, instead of just a short-term fix.
Once you make the choice to remove sugar from your diet, you will find a brisk walk and a healthy meal can easily replace an afternoon on your couch with a bowl of candy. In fact, a diet without sugar allows your body to maintain more sustained energy levels and higher memory and creativity functions.13,14
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