A sugar free diet - the lowdown

Research suggests that the average adult eats too much sugar, so reducing the amount of sugar in your diet may not be a bad idea. 

The decision to go ‘sugar-free’ has become a fashionable statement of late. Removing sugar from the diet has been presented as an effective way to stay healthy or lose weight. However, not everyone is convinced that a completely sugar-free diet is the best approach. Let’s consider this idea further.

Whether you’re looking to completely remove sugar or simply reduce your intake, we’re going to take a look at 8 tips that might help you decide whether this method is right for you…

1.Do it gradually 

If you’re serious about removing sugar out of your diet, it is important that this is done gradually. They say slow and steady wins the race, so if you’re looking to change habits of a lifetime, a slow approach will increase the chances of being able to stick to your goal. You could perhaps start by cutting out the obvious culprits, for example, cakes and biscuits. You should begin to swap sugary drinks for water and it’s a good idea to reduce the amount of sugar that you add to tea and coffee.

2. Read the back of packaging 

Once you’ve mastered the art of removing easily identifiable sugars from your diet, it’s time to consider more complex matters. You should start reading the labels on food packaging to begin to identify the different types of sugar you are consuming. There’s a whole host of different names for sugar (at least 61), meaning sometimes it is not as simple as it seems to know where sugar is hiding. Sugar is found in all sorts of sauces and concentrates. The most common sugars include: cane sugar or brown sugar, corn syrup (high fructose), beet sugar, coconut sugar, agave syrup, apple or grape juice concentrate, honey or panela (unrefined whole cane sugar). You’ll also find a variety of words on food packaging ending in ‘ose’ - these are all types of sugar, for example, sucrose, glucose, dextrose, fructose or lactose. Take a closer look at what you’re eating, as you may surprised to find salad dressings and condiments, pasta sauce, breakfast cereals, milk and cereal bars often contain high levels of sugar in their ingredient list.

3. Stop eating simple carbohydrates 

Lots of sugar-free diets also suggest to swap simple carbohydrates for whole grain options. SImple carbohydrates include white flour, white pasta and white rice. The structure of these food types means that once consumed the carbohydrates quickly break down into sugars in the body, which can lead to increased blood sugar levels.

4. Remove artificial sugars 

Artificial sweeteners may not contain many calories, but they actually taste much sweeter than natural sugars. Eating or drinking artificial sugars can trick the body into thinking that it is actually eating sugar. The appearance of ‘sugar’ can lead to increased sugar cravings, meaning that having artificial sugar as a substitute in your diet, may make it even more difficult to follow a sugar free diet. Avoid Splenda, Stevia and other types of sweeteners. If you’re looking for the presence of artificial sugars, you’re likely to find the following on ingredient labels: aspartame, sucralose or saccharin.

5.Don’t drink sugar 

It might be quite simple to avoid sugar in processed foods, but some of the highest levels of sugars come from sugary drinks, such as fizzy pop, sweetened teas and fruit juices. Replacing these sugary drinks with unsweetened options could significantly reduce your sugar intake. Good options to help keep you hydrated and healthy include, unsweetened tea or coffee, sparkling mineral or (the cheapest option) simply water.

6.Focus on whole foods 

Processed foods are more likely to contain refined or added sugars. If you’re looking to reduce your sugar intake by choosing whole foods such as: vegetables, fruits, lean meats, poultry or tofu, fish, whole, unprocessed grains and legumes, and nuts and seeds.

7.Plan your meals 

following a sugar-free diet without a plan can be difficult. When you’re hungry, you’re much more likely to head to the fridge or biscuit tin for an unhealthy snack, if you do not already have anything healthy pre-prepared and to hand. 

8.Season your meals 

The reason that the palate tends to miss sugar, is because it gives food an interesting flavour (like salt also does). To prevent the palate becoming bored, there’s lots of sweet-tasting herbs and spices that can be easily added to foods to keep them interesting and flavourful, without the added sugar. You could add cinnamon to your porridge, experiment with nutmeg, cardamom, vanilla - adding them to coffee or sprinkling them on cereal or yoghurt. 

9.Natural sugars

Before starting a sugar-free diet, you should think about whether you are looking to eliminate all types of sugar, including natural sugars. Natural sugars can be found in fruits and some dairy products. While some sugar-free diets say fruit should be eliminated, this is not a good idea. Fruit contains lots of important nutrients, antioxidants, and other healthy compounds that outweigh their sugar contents. It is of course better to consume fruit in its natural form, rather than processed in fruit juices. We’d say fruit is an important part of a healthy diet, just remember - like most things, fruit is best consumed in moderation. 



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