My sister just challenged me to go 5 days without sugar. As I’ve been on a sugar binge for 2 days I am readily accepting this challenge. So now what do I eat? Sugar is a sneaky bastard and it hides in everything, even bread. Knowing that, as soon as she brought this challenge up I knew I wanted to do it. I just wasn’t sure where to start.
A little fun fact, the average person consumes nearly a half of pound of sugar a day. Yikes! No wonder obesity is so widespread.
In looking up tips to do a 5 day sugar free diet I’m adding what I find below.
Tip 1: Remove sugar and foods containing sugar from your home. If you have a spouse or a child that would rebel should you do this an alternative would be to separate your foods. I have a cabinet for my food at home so that as long as I don’t open “their cabinets” I’m not tempted. It will be much easier to resist temptation if we cannot see temptation!
Tip 2: Eat fruit when you crave sugar. Fruit contains a natural type of sugar (fructose). It is still sugar but it is better for the body than refined sugar. If you’re doing Weight Watchers then you know fruits and veggies count for ZERO points. Therefore, fruit is a great alternative for a go-to food when replacing your usual sweets.
Tip 3: When in doubt, choose vegetables. Great veggie options are celery, spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, and cucumbers. Stay away from starchy veggies like corn, squash, carrots (OK in moderation), and potatoes.
Tip 4: Stay away from obvious sugars. In other words, stay away from anything that has white sugar in it. Processed foods such as cake, cookies, poptarts, corn syrup, sweeteners, etc.
** As an added note on sweeteners, the FDA permits sweeteners by the name of aspartame and sucralose but there have been concerns about these linking to cancer, headaches, insomnia, and depression. Scary stuff.
Tip 5: Check nutrition labels and look for “sugar” in the ingredients list. Also check for other ways sugar can be listed, such as malt, fructose, corn syrup, lactose, maltose, mannitol, maple syrup, molasses, sorbitol, sorghum, sucrose, and turbinado. See what I mean about sugar being sneaky!! I’ve never even heard of half of these terms. Also know that most no-fat and low-fat items are loaded with sugar. Do not assume that “health food” is healthy just because it’s labeled that way.
Tip 6: Prepare your own food. You can choose what you eat and prepare in a way that ensures it is as healthy as possible. The problem with processed food is that they contain preservatives and a lot of sugar to prolong shelf life. Buying fresh ingredients is a healthier choice than buying food in a box or can. Then you control the amount of sugar you use.
Tip 7: Watch what you drink not just what you eat. What may sound like a healthy choice (ie apple juice) is loaded with sugar. Most know to avoid soft drinks, but in doing so you may switch to diet. Diet is full of artificial sweeteners. Stay away from regular and diet soda.
A list of foods that contain sugar:
- Any bread with white flour in it
- Pasta – unless it is whole grain
- White rice
- White flour (cake, cookies, crackers, pretzels, doughnuts, bagels, muffins)
- Potatoes and potato chips
- Corn and corn chips
- Sugar (duh) and products with added sugar, like canned fruits in syrup
- Jams and jellies containing added sugar
- Ripe bananas, but green are OK
- Salad dressings
- Sauces w/added sugar such as Teriyaki sauce
- Fruit drinks containing added sugar
- Sugar-sweetened soft drinks (also stay away from diet because of artificial sweeteners)
Ok now what can we eat?
- Vegetables and fruit – note as mentioned above to stay with non-starchy veggies such as spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, muschrooms, peppers, cucumbers, celery are all natural and contain no added sugar. Stay away from corn and potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a healthier option.
- Beans and seeds
- Whole grains, such as brown rice and oatmeal
- Whole grain flour
- Products made with 100% whole grain (wheat flour is NOT a whole grain it has to say WHOLE wheat)
- Lean meats (chicken, turkey, beef sirloin, bison, and fish) – eat in limited quantity
- Fish and seafood (not breaded)
- Nuts and nut butters – nuts also help manager hunger and help the body absorb nutrients
- Flax seeds
- Olive and canola oils
- Low fat milk and other dairy products with no added sugar
I think the main thing I learned in reading articles about sugar is to just pay attention and check the labels. I can list food all day that we should or should not eat but who can remember that? So just do what you can by paying attention to nutrition labels. In the health books I’ve read, most say that if there are more than 5 things listed as extra ingredients in a food it’s best to stay away from it. The more ingredients the more processed the food is. I did a previous blog about nutrition guides and what some of these terms mean. You can check it out here.
When I was pregnant with my daughter my doctor put me on a diabetic diet. I was very close to being diagnosed with preeclampsia and the diabetic diet was to help ward that off as much as possible. Even being pregnant I lost over 20 pounds within weeks of being on this diet. My regret was not continuing with it after I had my daughter. I think these steps are doable though. I’ve read to stay under 25 grams of sugar a day.
I recommend My Fitness Pal to anybody wanting to try this sugar free diet. My Fitness Pal breaks down your nutrient details so if you are consuming sugar and aren’t aware of it, this program will show you how much sugar is in the foods you eat.