How to Remove Sugar From Your Diet

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Sugary dessert.
Sugary dessert. (Image: (c) MorgueFile)

Whether you want to cut back on sugar or eliminate everything sugary from your diet, there are steps you can take to ensure success. Sugar is found in some obvious sources like ice cream and candy, but there are also hidden sources where sugar lurks. Remove sugar from your diet by reading labels obsessively, retraining the way you think about food, and distracting yourself when a sugar fix is calling.

Things You'll Need

  • A notebook for keeping a food diary and/or meal plans
  • Fresh vegetables, meats and other healthy low-sugar foods
  • Low-sugar or sugar-free cookbooks or recipe websites

Look over the labels on your food. Sugar by any other name is still sugar. Search for ingredients ending in "ose," such as fructose (fruit sugar), sucrose (table sugar), maltose (malted sugar, such as in beer), galactose, and even lactose (milk sugar). In the latter case, milk can have 14 g of sugar in an 8 oz. glass. Many fat-free or low-fat foods compensate for their lack of fat (which our taste buds recognize) with extra sugar. Decide how much sugar you want to consume in a day and then plan your meals accordingly.

Discover sugar in all its hidden forms. A chocolate bar may be an obvious place where sugar features itself, but other foods are sneaky, cosseting sugar secretly. If you are eliminating all sugar from your diet, don't forget "the other white stuff." White potato starch is quickly converted to sugar in your body, as is white flour, white pasta, and white rice. Fruit is a healthy source of vitamins and, according to some studies like one from researchers in Canada, may offer protections against some types of cancer. However, if you need to eliminate all sugar from your diet, fruits and fruit juices may need to go.

Toss temptations or, even better, donate them to a local food pantry. If you need to remove all sugar from your diet, but know you can't live without marshmallows or orange juice, make them scarce.

Retrain the way you think about what you eat. Many people celebrate special occasions with a rich, sweet dessert. Enjoy fruit instead, focusing on food as a body-nourishing tool to be used for health rather than a self-satisfying obsession to be consumed. If you're eliminating all sugar, reward yourself with a new activity, hobby, outfit or short trip. Make sugar less of a priority and bettering your health a prominent goal.

Distract yourself in the inevitable moments of weakness. If you are wondering, "Why am I doing this anymore?" or "Is a handful of cookies really going to hurt?" leave for a walk, call a friend, mow the yard, catch up on e-mail, do research on the negative effects of our modern diet, or even start an online group for people trying to live healthfully.

Supply your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs. Purchase fresh vegetables, meats and whole grains. Decide where and how you are going to supply what your body needs. Take a multivitamin, especially if you are eliminating all foods with any sugar in them, but understand that a multivitamin cannot make up for a poor diet.

Tips & Warnings

  • Purchase a good low-sugar or sugar-free cookbook, or browse some of the low-sugar-cooking websites. There are hundreds.
  • Don't cut back on sugar, especially if you are removing all sources like fruit or milk, unless you are working with a doctor and have a careful plan to fill the vitamin void. Potassium is one vitamin you need to find a way to supply. It is found in its largest amounts in relatively sweet foods like bananas, potatoes, milk and cantaloupe, and is difficult to get enough by multivitamin. Milk supplies much-needed calcium, vitamin D, potassium and other vitamins.

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