Many adults consume more sugar in their diet than necessary. Reducing added sugar intake is a great idea for most people, particularly if weight loss is a goal. If you’ve tried to reduce your sugar intake, I would encourage you to take it a step further and eliminate sugar from your diet entirely — particularly refined sugar.
As people continue to look for effective ways to live a more healthful life and/or lose weight, the no-sugar mindset has gained popularity over the years. Why? Because beyond empty calories, excessive sugar consumption has been linked to several harmful health conditions, including:
- obesity and metabolic syndrome
- heart disease
- type 2 diabetes
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- chronic inflammation
- non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- dental plaque and cavities
The reduction of sugar in your diet can help you reduce your risk of developing these conditions. An added bonus is that when you start replacing sugar with healthier options, you will most likely notice some weight loss. This is what happens when you eliminate sugar and avoid empty calories. Okay, let’s get into it a bit here!
Here are eight simple tips you can use to help eliminate sugar from your diet:
1. Take it slow
One of the most important things to remember when changing your diet is to do so gradually. Going from a diet full of sugar to one without should be a slow process. It may help to start with the elimination of the most obvious sources of sugar. (Read: Empty those cupboards!) Try to avoid baked goods such as cakes, muffins, and brownies. Removing candy and sugary beverages is also excellent progress.
Another way is to reduce the amount of sugar and cream you add to your coffee or tea, and work up to using none at all. Building up to a no-sugar diet can help you retrain your palate, meaning that you are less likely to crave the missing sugar.
2. Read product labels
Once you’ve managed to cut out the most obvious sugars, the next thing to do is turn your attention to other products that contain sugar. Reading product labels can help you identify the different types to avoid. This is because sugars hide in many foods that contain syrups and concentrates. What helps them hide is that there are at least 61(!) different names and aliases for sugar on food labels. (Yes, sugar is like a spy — so sneaky!) The most common aliases include:
- cane sugar
- brown sugar
- corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup
- evaporated cane juice
- invert sugar
- beet sugar
- barley malt
- coconut sugar
- maple syrup
- agave syrup
- rice syrup
- apple or grape juice concentrate
- panela or piloncillo
Also, be aware of any item on an ingredients list that ends with “-ose”. Those are also types of sugar. Examples of these ingredients include:
It’s a lot, I know. This isn’t supposed to take all the fun out of your life — just make you more aware. As I said, sugar is sneaky!
Common products such as salad dressing, condiments, pasta sauce, breakfast cereals, milk, and granola bars often have sugar in their ingredients list. Try to choose ones that have less sugar in them.
3. Avoid simple carbohydrates
Simple carbs include white flour, white pasta, and white rice. The body quickly breaks down the carbohydrates in these foods into sugar. This process causes a spike in blood sugar levels. You can usually replace simple carbs with wholegrain options — which, in my opinion, actually taste better.
4. Say NO to artificial sugars
Artificial sugars are a subject of controversy in the diet industry. They are much sweeter than sugar but contain fewer or no calories. However, eating artificial sugars can trick the body into thinking that it is actually eating sugar. This can intensify a person’s sugar cravings, making it more difficult for them to stick to a no-sugar diet.
For this reason, try avoid artificial sugars such as:
- Sweet’N Low
People can also look for the chemical names of these sweeteners on ingredient lists, especially in anything marketed as low sugar, low calorie, or diet food. Chemical names include:
- acesulfame K or acesulfame potassium
5. Don’t drink sugar
Sugar may be easy to avoid in processed foods. However, sugar-sweetened drinks are among the highest added sugars in the diet. These include sodas, specialty coffees, sweetened teas, and fruit juices.
Try replacing these drinks with unsweetened herbal tea, coffee without sugar, sparkling mineral water, or just water. This way you can keep hydrated without increasing your sugar intake.
6. Focus on whole foods
Aimto eat whole foods as much as you can. Processed foods are more likely to contain refined ingredients or added sugars. Diets that focus on whole and complete foods include the following options:
- whole, unprocessed grains, and legumes
- lean meats, poultry, or tofu
- nuts and seeds
You may also choose to keep a small amount of dairy in your diet — such as plain yogurt, simple cheeses, and milk.
7. Plan your meals
Sticking to a diet without a plan is difficult. When you feel hungry, you might be more likely to reach for a sugary snack if there isn’t a nutritious or healthy alternative at hand.
I will get into this in more detail later, but I encourage you to schedule a day to do shopping and meal prep for your week. With healthy food ready to go, you’ll have less temptation to reach for a candy bar or soda.
8. Spice it up
I have suggested this before and will suggest it again. The palate often misses sugar because it has no other flavours to replace it. However, you can easily add sweet-tasting herbs and spices to replace sugars in your cooking and meals. Common replacements include cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and vanilla. All are flavoursome additions to coffee, oatmeal, or yogurt.
I hope these tips to eliminate sugar from your diet are helpful for you. If you need some recipe inspiration, I’m always adding new ones here and on Instagram. As always, I am here to support you, so please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.