(Please note that this is an account of a personal experience and not an endorsement or recommendation of any sort. This should not be mistaken for health care advice. And I urge everyone reading this to consult their physician or registered dietitian for nutritional advice because I am neither.)
Many in my self-love challenge community know that this year my self-love practice is focused on my physical health. I want to be healthier in general and lose a considerable amount of weight in particular.
In January and February, I focused on being more active and going to the gym.
While I knew I needed to radically change the food I put in my mouth, to some degree I felt really stuck and overwhelmed. I would make a commitment to myself to eat better and then it seemed as if my self-control would betray me almost without fail.
And I would feel really awful afterwards. And every day was a struggle– knowing I should do better, but not knowing how to make it happen.
Then I heard a neuro-psychologist talk about the addictive properties of certain foods, namely flour and sugar and the way they affect the brain. She argues that certain people are more susceptible to the addictive nature of these foods than others.
And the solution to this is total abstinence from flour and sugar.
For those in the back, I’ll say it again: She advised a lifestyle change in which people don’t eat any foods that contain processed refined sugar or flour of any kind because it’s the flour and the sugar that addict people and trick the brain into thinking that you need more and more. Some experts have even gone so far as to label sugar and flour to be drugs, or even worse, toxic poisons.
This completely changed the way I thought about food.
Now it’s not like I thought pop-tarts, cakes, cookies, brownies, pancakes, or doughnuts were good for me. I mean, I wasn’t delusional.
But I didn’t quite know how eating those types of sugary, doughy “foods” leave my brain craving more and more until I felt powerless to control the cravings.
In other words, the more of those things I ate, the more I craved those things.
The solution it seemed was to completely eliminate all of those things from my diet.
Now, I cannot express to you just what a big deal this decision was for me. I mean, virtually ALL of my favorite foods had flour or sugar in them– preferably both. And it took me a couple of days to process this information. But I eventually knew I had to at least try it.
The first thing I did was make a list of all foods I wouldn’t be able to eat, if I were to adopt this lifestyle. Including all the foods I listed above, I’d also have to eliminate- cornbread, crackers, noodles, sweet potato pie, bread of any kind, syrup of any kind, honey, virtually any kind of box cereal, any kind of boxed food in the grocery store, many salad dressings and many many more things. So really quickly, I knew that I would be cooking almost every meal I put in my mouth. Manufacturers put sugar or some type of “syrup” in dang near everything.
The second thing I did was start to compile interesting recipes that did not include flour or sugar, so that I didn’t wind up eating the same thing over and over. (If you follow me on Pinterest, sorry for the recent overload of butternut squash recipes.)
- No Sugar No Flour Diet Food List
- JOIN Our Clean Eating Challenge
- No-Wheat Diet: Everything You Need to Know
- What Is a No-Wheat Diet?
- Other Names for Wheat
- Why Would You Want to Stop Eating Wheat?
- What’s in Wheat?
- The Advantages of a No-Wheat Diet
- The Disadvantages of a No-Wheat Diet
- What About a Grain-Free Diet?
- Are We Eating Too Much Wheat?
- The Bottom Line
- No-Sugar Diet – The Only Diet Plan You Need & How to Do It Successfully
- What is a No-Sugar Diet?
- Know the Different Types of Sugar
- Why Is Sugar Bad for You?
- How to Make a No-Sugar Diet Work
- The Road Ahead
- 22 Teaspoons of Sugar a Day
- What to know about no-sugar diets
- A Not-So-Sweet Story
- Why I Went 8 Weeks with No Sugar
- Week 1, feeling
- Week 2, feeling
- Week 3, feeling
- Week 4, feeling
- Week 5, feeling
- Week 6, feeling
- Week 7, feeling
- Week 8, I Made It! Feeling
- 5 Lessons Learned from Going Sugar-Free for 10 Days
- 1. What is It?
- 2. How Does It Work
- 3. How to Stick to The Plan
- 4. Pros and Cons of the Diet
- 5. Menu Plan
What I Ate
Since March 1, 2016, I have not had any flour or refined sugar.
I found a no flour, no sugar food plan that dictated 3-4 meals a day with no snacking in between, broken down as follows:
Breakfast: one serving of grain/or starchy vegetable, one serving of fruit, one serving of dairy, and one serving of meat or protein
Lunch: one serving of protein/or meat, one cup cooked veggies, one cup fresh veggies
Dinner: one serving of protein/or meat, one cup cooked veggies, one cup fresh veggies and one serving of a grain/or starchy vegetable
Snack (optional): one serving of dairy or meat/protein with with one serving of fruit
So here’s what my food has looked like for the past 30 days:
My usual breakfast is one cup of skim milk, 1/2 cup plain oatmeal (not the sugary instant kind), 1/2 tbsp of peanut butter, a banana, and a few chopped walnuts. But sometimes, I’ll have scrambled eggs and potatoes with yogurt and a piece of fruit.
Honestly, the first day that I had this breakfast I really missed the sugary oatmeal, so I was not in love with it. But funny enough as the weeks have gone by, my bowl of oatmeal is my favorite meal of the day.
On days that I have a lot of writing to get done I will have a cup of coffee right after breakfast or lunch as well. Since I can no longer have sugar and limit my dairy to 1-2 servings a day, I lighten my coffee with a bit of coconut milk and a sprinkle of cinnamon. It gives the coffee a creamy texture, and a nutty flavor and it is very very good.
Four hours after breakfast, I have my lunch.
Lunch example–One cup cooked string beans, One cup fresh mixed veggies, 4 oz of roasted salmon
Honestly, I’m still getting used to a meal with no starch or grain. This is my least favorite meal of the day because of that.
I have dinner five hours after lunch and one some days I REALLY feel the absence of a grain/starch.
Dinner Example–One cup of steamed cabbage and carrots, one cup of roasted winter veggies, one cup of fresh kale and red onion, and 4oz of tilapia
Dinner is usually very filling and satisfying.
Four hours after dinner, I usually have a snack because I don’t like to go to bed with an empty stomach and depending on when I had dinner on some days, it has been as much as 6 or 7 hours.
Half a cup of cottage cheese and half a cup of unsweetened apple sauce
Getting though the first 7 days was very difficult. I’m not even gonna lie. It took a whole lot of effort to eat on a particular schedule and to plan out my meals in advance simply because I wasn’t used to eat. Further I was not at all used to not snacking between meals. But by day 3, this part got easier. I just fell into a routine.
By about day 4, I started to have really intense cravings for certain sugary and doughy foods. It was kind of ridiculous, honestly. And I had a headache for like 48 hours straight. I was irritable and began to notice how advertisements for these foods were EVERYWHERE.
Almost immediately after cutting out the sugar and flour, my body started to feel better. I was able to move more. I woke up each day feeling a bit lighter. Honestly. I didn’t realize just how bloated I had been.
By day 14, I had noticeably more energy.
My vegetable variety has increased a great deal. In the past 30 days, I’ve had avocado, cabbage, carrots, brussel sprouts, broccoli, spinach, kale, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, red peppers, yellow peppers, habenero peppers, string beans, squash, white potatoes, cucumbers, red beans, and romaine lettuce. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten that many different vegetables in such a short period before. I don’t know why, but that felt like a big accomplishment. LOL.
And I lost 10 pounds.
So I’m planning to continue. I’m going to take it one day at a time and continue to monitor how I feel. I’m hopeful.
I’ll keep you updated!
No Sugar No Flour Diet Food List
Dr. Peter Gott’s No Flour, No Sugar Diet book adheres to a couple of the main principles of clean eating: To eliminate or greatly reduce the amount of food in your diet containing refined white flour and added sugar. Without doing anything else, his theory is that your caloric intake will be greatly reduced causing you to shed pounds. It’s especially effective if you find you’re eating a lot of processed foods or sweets. Plus, since refined flours and sugars also tend to trigger cravings sticking to your diet might be easier when you eliminate them.
While I’m not so sure that eating this way 100% of the time is realistic, simply following the 80/20 rule and doing so 80% of the time will greatly improve the quality of foods you eat. I, for one am ready to Start The Fat Decimator System – Review 2018 and tell you all about it. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty!
- Non-Starchy Vegetables and Fruit (green salad, raw or steamed carrots, celery stalks, steamed or sautéed zucchini, strawberries, cantaloupe, watermelon, blueberries and tomato, etc.)
- Whole Grains and Starches ( brown or wild rice, oats, barley, quinoa, corn and potatoes)
- Legumes (beans, seeds and pea, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, soybeans, almonds, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, peanuts and nut butters)
- Meat and Dairy (fish, poultry, lean pork, lean ground beef, eggs, low-fat yogurt, low-fat milk, low-fat cheese and eggs)
- Fats and healthy oils (olive oil, sunflower oil, nut oils, avocados and avocado oil and coconut oil. Butter is also acceptable, in moderation)
JOIN Our Clean Eating Challenge
My only requirement for joining the 7-Day Clean Eating Challenge that you join me on the Beach Body site that’s hosting the challenge. You can sign up for a FREE Team Beachbody Membership by clicking on my . Once you’ve done this, please let me know by commenting below or posting on our Facebook Page and I’ll add you to our group. Be sure to sign up for our Daily Dose of Motivation emails to get updates on clean eating and recipes you can use at home. Looking forward to having you with us!
No-Wheat Diet: Everything You Need to Know
Is bread dead? Gluten-free and low-carb diets are now mainstream, but now there’s another diet to add to the list: the no-wheat diet.
Devotees of this diet cut out bread, crackers, and pasta to control their appetite, support gut health, and lose weight; some swear off grains entirely.
What is a no-wheat diet — and does it work? Do we really need to put grains on the chopping block and stop eating wheat?
Wheat has become a food “that everyone loves to hate,” says Paige Benté, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D. Indeed, our collective wheat consumption started dropping significantly in 2000, according to the USDA, after three decades of increased per-capita consumption.
The cause for both the rise and fall: The ever-changing trends of what is considered “healthy eating.”
In the ’70s, we started embracing carbs — and wheat — as we ate fewer animal products. But by the ’00s, the low(er)-carb movement had us breaking up with bread.
By 2011, we were eating nearly 10 percent less than in 2000 (about 5.75 ounces daily).
What Is a No-Wheat Diet?
You may already know some diets that eschew wheat and grains, such as the Paleo, Atkins, and ketogenic diets.
A wheat-free diet may not resemble those plans. It may exclude wheat, but not rye and barley, which contain gluten. And it may or may not be a weight-loss diet — it’s simply a diet that excludes all wheat and wheat products.
Other Names for Wheat
Wheat, like sugar, goes by many names. When you’re trying to avoid wheat, look for these words, too:
- Flour (all-purpose, bread, cake, durum, enriched, pastry, stone-ground, whole wheat)
- Hydrolyzed wheat protein
- Seitan (vital wheat gluten)
- Sprouted wheat
- Starch (including gelatinized starch, modified starch, modified food starch, and vegetable starch)
- Wheat (including bran, germ, and malt)
- Wheat berries
And wheat can be hiding in surprising foods like:
- Ice cream
- Oats and oatmeal
- Processed meats
- Rice cakes
- Salad dressings
- Soy sauce
Why Would You Want to Stop Eating Wheat?
Swapping white bread for whole-wheat bread is a tried-and-true healthy eating tip, so why wouldn’t someone want to eat whole-wheat bread — and why would you want to stop eating wheat entirely?
Those who follow a no-wheat diet generally fall into three camps, says Benté. As with any diet, the motivation may be related to weight, health, or personal preference.
First, there are people who have an actual wheat allergy. Wheat is one of the eight major allergens that must be listed on food labels, but it is most common in children and usually outgrown by age 3.
Then there are the three million people who have celiac disease. When they consume gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and foods like soy sauce, salad dressings, beer, and more), it sparks an immune-system response that can damage the small intestine and interfere with nutrient absorption. Since gluten is a part of wheat, a gluten-free diet is also a no-wheat diet.
The final group is composed of people who simply choose not to eat wheat. Is this interpretation of a wheat-free diet a trendy way to cut carbs? “Pretty much,” says Benté.
Monica Auslander, M.S., R.D.N., and founder of Essence Nutrition in Miami agrees — and cautions against cutting out wheat just because it’s trendy, as that can backfire.
You “often end up eating less fiber, more carbohydrates, more refined carbohydrates, more sugar, and gaining weight,” she says.
Auslander adds a fourth group to the no-wheat camp: “Some people just feel better overall when they eliminate wheat,” she says. “The ‘why’ may not be as important here — if you can eliminate wheat and maintain a healthy, balanced diet, I wouldn’t resist.”
In 2013, the Journal of the American College of Nutrition published a review of individuals with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Researchers found that eliminating gluten (and thereby wheat), helped both the gastrointestinal system and other areas of health for these people.
What’s in Wheat?
This protein is off-limits to those with celiac disease. Otherwise, Benté says “there’s nothing wrong with gluten.” (Learn more about this protein, the gluten-free diet, and whether it’s right for you.)
This is a polymer of fructose (sugar) molecules that can cause digestive issues in some people.
It’s considered off-limits in low FODMAP (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols) diets. (A FODMAP diet is a very specific elimination diet that wouldn’t apply to most people.)
Wheat contains fructan, but Benté says that “many foods have one of the FODMAP components in them.”
Phytic Acid and Phytates
Phytic acid and phytates, which are found in seeds, legumes, grains, and nuts, are sometimes called “anti-nutrients,” since they can inhibit the absorption of other nutrients.
However, research shows that phytic acid may have antioxidant-like properties, and you can negate that anti-nutrient quality by adding garlic or onions. “In healthy amounts, they are not bad for you,” says Benté.
Here are some potential advantages and disadvantages of giving up wheat:
The Advantages of a No-Wheat Diet
You may eat more whole grains and fewer processed foods
You’ve seen all the places wheat can hide — it’s mostly processed foods. So if you’re replacing wheat products like frozen pizza with steamed quinoa and grilled chicken breasts, that’s healthier, says Benté.
You probably read labels more closely
Since wheat can hide in prepared foods, you’ll need to have an eagle eye to keep it out of your diet. This might draw your attention to other areas of the ingredients list, like salt, sugar, and trans fats.
You may lose weight
What do you eat on a wheat-free diet to lose weight? It’s similar to any healthy eating plan, says Auslander.
When you cut wheat, “you need to rely on more proteins, vegetables, legumes, and more nutritious sources of carbohydrates,” she says. “So many people lose weight just by virtue of eliminating the calories and carbohydrates from all the bread and breaded products they consume.”
The Disadvantages of a No-Wheat Diet
You may find it challenging
“It can make your life a lot harder,” says Benté, since wheat is the third-biggest crop in the U.S. and permeates our supermarkets and restaurants.
Cutting out wheat (aside from health reasons), she says, is “not dangerous, it’s not unhealthy, it’s fine” — but it may complicate your shopping, dining out, and cooking habits.
You may eat less fiber — and more refined carbs
Whole wheat is a major source of fiber for many people, says Auslander, and fiber can help with satiety and regularity, too.
Since the gluten in wheat has a binding effect in foods like bread, many gluten-free counterparts rely on gums and sticky starches (aka simple carbs) that lack fiber, a key nutrient we’re often skimping on. “Gluten-free bread still has calories and carbohydrates,” she says. “Gluten-free cookies still have sugar.”
You may find your diet is not really healthier
Growth of the gluten-free market may be slowing, but it’s still nearly a $2 billion industry. That means that you can find a gluten-free or wheat-free version of just about every junk food imaginable.
Benté says if you’re swapping a frozen pizza with a wheat flour crust for another frozen pizza with a wheat-free crust, “in my opinion, you’ve done nothing to improve your diet.”
What About a Grain-Free Diet?
You may hear about diets that are against all grains as a way to cut carbs and — as proponents say — keep appetite and energy levels steady.
But are these grain-free diets good for you? “Not at all,” says Auslander. When you cut out grains, “you cut out nutrients — fiber, B vitamins, potassium, trace minerals.”
She adds that you might also overeat other food groups or macronutrients as a result. As for the energy and appetite benefits of such diets, Benté says cutting out grains is going to extremes.
Eating high-carb meals will affect energy and appetite — the ebbs and flows are normal. But “we need the energy that comes from those carbohydrates,” says Benté, adding that you can eat balanced meals — such as a serving of oatmeal, two scrambled eggs, and a piece of fruit or maybe some vegetables at breakfast — instead of cutting out whole food groups.
“I think people are constantly looking for these quick fixes, these easy ways to cut calories,” she says.
Are We Eating Too Much Wheat?
Benté and Auslander agree that we eat too much wheat. Grains tend to be cheaper than proteins and produce, so we load up.
Instead, Auslander says wheat should be a supporting actor — not the star. We’re not overdoing it on wheatgrass or wheat berries, says Benté. We eat too much junk where wheat is a filler.
The Bottom Line
While wheat is off-limits to those with celiac disease and allergies, for everyone else, going wheat-free is a personal choice that may help you reduce the amount of processed food you eat.
To maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet, be sure to eat a variety of whole grains — and that may include wheat.
No-Sugar Diet – The Only Diet Plan You Need & How to Do It Successfully
Sugar is the most pervasive food additive that has ever existed. It’s in everything, from your morning oatmeal to your after-dinner treat. It’s there because it makes those foods taste better. But sugar is no innocent taste bud enticer. It can harm your health, affect your mood, and potentially cause you to gain weight.
What is a No-Sugar Diet?
A no sugar diet, also referred to as a sugar-free diet, gets at the root of the problem. With a no sugar diet, all sources of added sugar are removed from your diet. This includes the obvious ones such as the tablespoons of white granules that you heap into your wake-up coffee and the masses of sugar that makes ice cream so delicious. But it also takes on the hidden sugars that are prevalent in many processed foods.
For some people, a sugar-free diet includes cutting out foods that contain natural sugars, such as fruits and grains. But this is more related to a complete sugar detox and isn’t necessarily a fit for every person interested in cutting back on sugar. The degree to which a person cuts out sugars is similar to the various options for a person who decides to become a vegetarian. Depending on their preferences he or she may go vegan, lacto, ovo, or a number of different variants. Choosing one over the other doesn’t make a person any less of a vegetarian, they simply exist at different points along a spectrum. So, too, with a no-sugar diet.
Whether you decide to eliminate added processed sugar sources or go a step further and remove natural sugars as well is a personal decision. Like any decision, however, it should be based on accurate knowledge. To help you make an informed decision about which type of no-sugar diet is best for you, let’s delve into some sugar basics.
Know the Different Types of Sugar
For our ancestors, sugar came in one form; it occurred naturally in such foods as fruit, vegetables, and honey. These foods were both nutrient-dense and limited in their availability by season and geography. The result was that people back then didn’t consume very many sugars throughout the course of their day. Today the situation is radically different. People are gorging themselves on sugar, with dire consequences. Why the difference? Because we have created a whole new type of sugar, one that we’ll refer to as refined sugar.
Natural versus Refined
So, what’s the difference between natural and refined sugar? At the simplest level, sugar is sugar. Sugar molecules are basically the same whether they come from a banana or a cupcake. Refined sugar has been extracted from plants – mainly sugar cane and sugar beets – and processed prior to being added to food products in order to improve their taste. Natural sugars are those that occur in whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. While the sugars in these foods are no different from those in processed foods, the other nutrients in whole foods – vitamins, minerals, and fiber – are much better for you. In addition to providing the fuel that your body needs to function well, these nutrients also slow down the digestion of glucose, which is what sugar is broken down into when it enters the body. This helps to prevent the insulin spikes which occur when you eat a lot of sugar.
Different Types of Sugar
All sugars are forms of carbohydrate. There are two basic categories of carbs; digestible and indigestible. They are also sometimes referred to as available and unavailable. Unavailable carbs pass directly through the body unchanged. We used to call this roughage, but now it is better known as fiber. Available carbs are made up of sugars and starches. Both of them have basic units called monosaccharides, which are sugars made up of a single unit. The most common monosaccharides are glucose, fructose, and galactose.
Glucose is the first product of photosynthesis in plants and is the main source of energy for plants and animals. Fructose, together with some glucose and sucrose, is found in fruits. Galactose occurs only in the animal kingdom, as part of milk sugar, which is called lactose. Starch, which occurs as a store of energy in plants, consists of a large number of glucose units joined together. Starchy carbs are in such foods as potatoes, yams, and grains like rice. The type of sugar that is extracted from plants and then refined to be used in processed foods is called sucrose.
When deciding whether or not to consume a form of carbohydrate, there is one simple question you should ask yourself . . . Did this food come out of the ground or off the tree or plant this way? If the answer to that question is yes, then you are looking at a natural, unrefined food. If not, there is a good chance that it has added sugar. To find out, go to the ingredient list on the packaging. If you see sugar or sucrose or any other form of sugar listed there, put the product back on the shelf.
21 Ways to say ‘Sugar’
If you see any of these names on ingredient lists, read it as sugar and be wary:
|Agave Nectar||Barley Malt Syrup||Beet Sugar|
|Brown Rice Syrup||Corn Sweetwater||Corn Syrup|
|Maltodextrin||Maple Syrup||Invert sugar|
|Palm Sugar||Rice Syrup||Molasses|
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
High fructose corn syrup is one of the most common forms of sugar. The average American consumes about 35 pounds of it each year. In high fructose corn syrup, fructose and glucose are not chemically attached. The fructose is immediately delivered to your liver. It turns on a fat production mechanism that can lead to fatty liver. It’s also linked to the same negative health effects as all forms of sugar such as heart disease, cancer, dementia, and diabetes. There can also be chemical contaminants in high fructose corn syrup, including mercury. High fructose corn syrup is commonly made using mercury cell chlor-alkali products, which can leave residual mercury in it. With the average person consuming some 20 teaspoons a day of high fructose corn syrup, this can lead to a dangerous build-up of mercury in your system. High fructose corn syrup is a signal that the food that contains it is low quality and ultra-processed. You need to go into your kitchen and identify the foods that contain HFCS. Collect them all up in your arms and drop them into the garbage bin.
Why Is Sugar Bad for You?
There is no human nutritional need that is met by sugar. It is not a food group or really even food at all. Sugar is a chemical (sucrose) that has been extracted from plants and it contains absolutely no nutritional value. That is why the calories that you get from sugar are referred to as “empty calories”. The only thing that sugar has going for it is that it makes your food taste better. That’s it! But that enhanced flavor comes at a massive cost. Let’s consider what refined sugar actually does to your body.
What Sugar is Really Doing to Your Body
Why is sugar bad for you? The possible effects of putting too much sugar into your body include:
- Chronic inflammation
- Premature aging
- Formation of free radicals
- Higher LDL cholesterol
- Hair loss
- Tooth decay
- Acne and skin irritations
- Cardiovascular disease
Every single one of the tens of thousands of taste buds in your mouth has special sweetness receptors. Each of them is also connected to the brain’s pleasure center. In effect, they receive a reward for satisfying the body’s sugar fix. But the craving isn’t just in your taste buds. Recent research has discovered that sugar taste receptors are also located in the stomach, esophagus and even the pancreas. All of them are linked to your appetite. When it comes to addiction, cocaine’s got nothing on sugar. Here’s what Dr. Pamela Peeke, author of The Hunger Fix, has to say about it: “Animal studies have shown that refined sugar is more addictive than cocaine, heroin, or morphine. An animal will choose an Oreo over morphine. Why? This cookie has the perfect combination of sugar and fat to hijack the brain’s reward center.” For more than 80 years now, food manufacturers have been well aware of human sugar addiction. They use this knowledge to increase their profit margins in countless ways. As a result, sugar is in everything. Recognizing this and going on a zero sugar diet will revolutionize your health.
Sugar’s Effect on Insulin Levels
So what does your body do with all that sugar you’re consuming? Here’s one way to think about it: Imagine the cells in your body as tiny cars. They all need gasoline to work. To provide that fuel, sugar has to get inside the tank of all those cells, and it does that through the use of insulin. When you eat something with sugar in it, the sugar moves into your bloodstream. When there’s sugar in the blood, the pancreas secretes insulin. Now there is both insulin and sugar in the blood. The insulin travels through the bloodstream and binds to insulin receptors on the outside of each cell. This then sends a signal to the inside of the cell to open up a sugar door to allow the fuel that is the sugar into the cell. However, in order for the signal to get from the insulin receptors on the outside of the cell to the inside where the door is opened to let the sugar in, certain key minerals and other nutrients need to be present within the cell. If they are not there, the door will remain closed. So what happens to all the sugar? It piles up in the blood. As a response to this, the body makes more insulin. This is called Insulin Resistance Syndrome. It is also known as Syndrome X and Metabolic Syndrome. When insulin piles up in the bloodstream in huge amounts, by sheer volumetric pressure, it punches holes in the cell wall and the cell dies. So, if you’ve ever wondered why people with diabetes get gangrene and lose their toes, fingers, and limbs, now you know! Insulin also stimulates the release of a fat-storing enzyme known as LPL. LPL takes the excess blood sugar and turns it into stored body fat.
How to Make a No-Sugar Diet Work
Now that we ’ve established that sugar is not only in nearly everything in the supermarket but also extremely addictive, it may seem like going on a no-sugar diet would be almost impossible. In this section, we provide you with a path to going sugar-free that, while not easy, is definitely achievable.
1. Become a Label Reader
Going sugar-free requires you to be a detective of sorts. That’s because manufacturers have hidden sugars in many foods that we wouldn’t normally associate with being sweet. Fortunately, the law requires that they disclose what they are putting into the foods they dish up to us. So, the first step to success on a sugar-free diet is to learn to read labels. As you embark upon your sugar-free diet-journey, you may choose to eliminate all foods that contain sugar in any quantity. Or you may choose to limit yourself to foods with less than 5 grams of sugar per 100 grams. This will wipe out 90% of all processed foods. Many people find it easier to visualize amounts of sugar in teaspoons. In order to calculate the sugar content in teaspoons, divide the sugar content by 4. So, 4 grams of sugar is roughly equivalent to one teaspoon. When you are reading an ingredient list, remember that the nearer an item is to the top of the list, the more of it there is in the product.
2. Identify Common Culprits
There are a number of everyday kitchen staples that we often don’t associate with having sugar that you need to know and avoid in order to succeed on a no-sugar diet. They contain what are called hidden sugars. For a list of examples, take a look at our article on how much sugar is in the foods we eat every day.
That loaf of bread that looks so appetizing is, in fact, a gooey, indigestible and incomplete protein, a few multivitamins, and a whole lot of sugar. White bread, in particular, is problematic for the body. It’s empty calories— bleached flour that has all the nutrients stripped out of it. That’s why most health-conscious people tend to go with whole-wheat bread. Recently, sprouted grain bread, not made with flour, has also become popular. Sprouted grain bread contains real, living grains with all the nutrients and fiber retained.
We associate rice with healthy food, in part because it’s a staple of the Asian diet. Yet, recent research indicates that white rice may be linked to type 2 diabetes. Harvard researchers found that people who eat white rice are 1 ½ times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who eat minimal amounts. One study published in the British Medical Journal found that the risk of diabetes increased 10% for every extra bowl of white rice consumed. The problem with white rice is that it is high on the glycemic index. If you have diabetes, it will cause your blood sugar levels to spike. According to the head researcher of the Harvard School of Public Health Department of Nutrition, Emily Hu, “People should try to make a switch from eating refined carbs like white rice and white bread to eating more whole grains.”
3. Restock your Refrigerator
What’s in your fridge is going to make or break your sugar-free diet. The shelves in your fridge should contain the following items: Water Unsweetened iced tea Fruits and veggies Dairy (milk, cheese, and plain yogurt) Eggs Peanut butter (all natural) Lean cuts of beef, skinless chicken, turkey, and pork
4. Eat More Fat and Protein
As sugar is often found in foods containing a lot of carbohydrates, when you go on a low-sugar diet, you will likely be consuming fewer carbs. While you’ll want to make sure to still eat healthy carbs like whole grains and vegetables, you’ll also want to make sure you consume healthy fats and proteins, which will help you feel satiated. Unlike fructose, proteins and fats contain hormones that tell the brain to switch off the appetite when we are full. They are both nutrient-dense foods that slow the emptying of the stomach and balance blood sugar. A large intake of protein decreases the hormone ghrelin, which leads to a lower desire for sweets. Protein also seems to stimulate fat metabolism. Any foods that are eaten along with protein will have a lowered glycemic index value, leading to a decreased insulin response. This is great if you are concerned about your weight because spikes in insulin levels promote fat storage.
Eating a high-quality protein at every meal is a key to success on a no-sugar diet. The best sources of protein are from fish, poultry, legumes, and nuts. Fat is also great for keeping blood sugar under control. That’s because it releases a hormone called CCK (cholecystokinin), a digestive hormone that slows down the emptying of the stomach and therefore, in turn, slows down the rate at which carbs get to the small intestine. Fat also fuels the metabolism and is essential to the absorption of essential vitamins A, E, D and K. Of course, success on a sugar-free diet requires that you eat the right kinds of fats. Monounsaturated fats, found in olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, and sesame oil are good choices. You’ll also find monounsaturated fats in avocados, sunflower seeds, and many nuts. Polyunsaturated fats are also smart options. There are two categories of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. Fish like salmon and mackerel are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids; so are nuts and seeds like walnuts and flaxseeds. You’ll find omega-6 fatty acids in safflower, soybean, and sunflower oils.
5. Say No to Liquid Sugar
Drinking your sugar is even worse for you than eating it. That’s because refined sugar in liquid form provides very little satiety. All they do is add extra calories to your system. As you are probably aware, sodas contain a huge amount of sugar. However, fruit drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks are also full of sugar. To keep things simple on your sugar-free diet, you should avoid all of these drinks. What about diet sodas? Many people think diet sodas are an acceptable alternative to regular sodas. However, researchers at Purdue University have found that consuming diet sodas can contribute to weight gain. The researchers aren’t quite sure why but suspect that it may be psychological. When a person chooses a diet soda, the researchers speculate, they may reason that since they are not having a regular soda, they can get away with eating a cheeseburger instead of a salad. Another theory is that the artificial sweeteners in diet sodas trick the brain into thinking that you have just consumed a large dose of calories. When those calories don’t appear as promised, the body starts to crave them, which leads to an increased appetite. The bottom line here is that success on a sugar-free diet requires that you ditch the liquid sugar habit and drink more water. Aim for to 8-10 glasses per day and drink a full glass before every meal.
6. Breakfast Cereal Makeover
Many people are shocked to discover how much sugar is in so-called “healthy” breakfast cereals. To pick on just one example, Kellogg’s All-Bran Regular contains 16 grams of sugar for every 100 grams of cereal. That is more than three times the 5-gram limit we suggested earlier! This doesn’t mean that going sugar-free requires that you avoid cereal altogether. You just have to make smarter choices. Your best option is to make your own muesli at home, as the store-bought variety often contains too much sugar. Simply mix together oat flakes, rye flakes, buckwheat flakes, nuts, seeds, and other wholesome ingredients. You can eat the homemade muesli with milk or yogurt that contains less than 5 grams of sugar per 100-gram serving.
7. Stop it at the Source
If you were determined to quit smoking, you’d probably make a pact with yourself to stop buying cigarettes. The same thing goes with adopting a no-sugar diet. You need to stop buying products containing a lot of sugar at the supermarket. Here are four strategies to help you achieve this: Never shop when you are hungry. Have a shopping list prepared. Stick to the perimeter of the store, where the produce and refrigerated foods are, only picking up the low-sugar items that are on your list. When you see a sugar-laden food that looks appealing, repeat the mantra, “That doesn’t apply to me.”
8. Focus on Fiber
Fiber is a key ally in your quest to quit sugar. Researchers believe that fiber may play an important role in controlling blood sugar levels because it forms a thick gel in the intestine that helps slow digestion and glucose absorption. This results in lower blood sugar and insulin levels. Some foods with a lot of fiber include oranges, grapefruits, prunes, papaya, zucchini, oatmeal, peas, and strawberries. Ideally, you should include five servings of vegetables and 2-3 servings of whole fruit every day while on a sugar-free diet. That may sound like a lot, but it simply requires having a piece of fruit with breakfast, a nice salad with lunch, and a couple of vegetables for dinner with fruit for dessert. Of course, if you are going completely sugar-free for a period of time, including avoiding natural sugars, you will want to get your fiber from vegetables, nuts, and quinoa instead of fruit.
9. Eat Early and Often
If you are one of those people who has gotten into the habit of missing breakfast, skimping on lunch, and then downing a massive dinner followed by nighttime snacking, you are sending your blood sugar on a wild roller coaster ride. The lack of food throughout the day will cause your blood sugar levels to take a dive, only to go through the roof with your evening feasting. That is a fast track to obesity. The far smarter way to go is to eat smaller meals more frequently. If you are consuming 1800 calories over the course of your day, 6 meals of 300 calories each spaced three hours apart, will help to keep your blood sugar levels in check as a result of what is called the next meal effect; with another small meal coming up, the less your glucose levels will rise, keeping your insulin levels lower throughout the day.
10. Resist Partner Pressure
Ideally, your partner will be eating the same no-sugar diet as you, but there are no guarantees. Here are four strategies to prevent your partner from, even inadvertently, sabotaging your sugar-free ambitions: 1. If your partner comes home at night with junk food, ask him or her to keep it out of your sight. Then go over the take-out menu and circle the healthy options for the next time. 2. Take your partner to the supermarket with you, so that when he or she goes alone, it’s clear where to find the low-sugar options. 3. Control your serving sizes at meals by using a salad plate for yourself, even if your partner uses a dinner plate. 4. Challenge your partner to a no-sugar diet duel. Who can get in 25 grams of fiber every day for a week or keep their added sugar intake at zero for five days in a row? The loser has to do the dishes for a month!
The Road Ahead
Having completed the 30-Day No Sugar Diet meal plan, you will have adopted a number of new healthy eating habits. By having educated yourself on how to stop eating sugar and taking action, you likely will have experienced some amazing changes. You might have lost weight, lowered your blood pressure, achieved clearer skin, and found yourself with a lot more natural energy.
From now on you will no longer need to follow a meal plan. Just continue to focus on eating vegetables, high-quality proteins, and healthy fats. Your sugar-free future awaits – it’s time to embrace it!
22 Teaspoons of Sugar a Day
The white food many of us would find hardest to give up is sugar. On average, Americans eat and drink the equivalent of 22 teaspoons of sugar each day, mostly from soft drinks and candy, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). That’s as much sugar as in two cans of soda plus a candy bar (roughly 355 calories). Over time, those extra calories add up, causing weight gain and displacing other important nutrients from the diet.
Sugar, in whatever form, provides few nutrients other than calories. Some experts think eating sugar helps lead to cravings for more sweets – and, of course, it can lead to cavities. More significantly, the AHA has raised concerns about sugar’s role in obesity, diabetes, and ultimately heart health.
While few of us are willing to give up sugar entirely, if you did, your health certainly wouldn’t suffer — and you’d probably be a little thinner.
So how do you keep from overdoing the white foods or “bad carbs” in your diet?
Use the Nutrition Facts panel on food labels to find out the total carbohydrate, fiber, and sugar content of food products. Also, read the list of ingredients; look for breads, pasta, and other carbohydrate foods that list whole grains as their first ingredient.
To keep sugar in check, the AHA suggests limiting added sugar to 100 calories a day for women and 150 for men. And make your sweet calories work for you by choosing foods that also offer some nutritional goodness, like yogurts or whole-grain cereals.
If you don’t put much thought into what you eat…think again. You are what you eat is no lie.
You should know that 80% of your fitness results can be attributed to your eating habits.
We are in such a hurry to eat sometimes that we just don’t pay attention to what we are ingesting. And this is what we can tie to excess body fat and poor nutrition. What is the best for you to eat is confusing. There‘s all sorts of misinformation out there from the media and from food manufacturers. Food companies use lots of unhealthful and dodgy ingredients to extend shelf life, add gaudy colors, and make us crave their products. Avoiding these ingredients helps you to improve the quality of what you put into your body.
Read labels to know what you’re putting in your body.
There are ingredients that you want to avoid. Seeing these listed on a food label or recognizing that it is manufactured into a product should automatically signal to you that you don’t want it. White Flour & White Sugar are part of this group.
White Flour & White Sugar – the main ingredients of most breads and pastries.
Refined flours and sugars are the main ingredients of most breads and pastries. The standard American diet has changed tremendously over the past decades to include more processed foods heavy in refined flours and sugars. Since the 1970s, Americans have been eating fewer fats and more carbohydrates. The Nutrition & Metabolism Society, an independent non-profit health organization, believes carbohydrates from processed foods are responsible for the increased obesity rates. Avoiding processed foods, which often contain white flour, refined sugars or both, will help in achieving healthier weight levels and preventing diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Some foods that commonly contain significant amounts of one or both of these ingredients (as well as others on this list):
Most breads are made, either entirely or at least partly, with white flour. As listed in the ingredients, white flour, wheat flour and enriched flour all are synonyms for refined flour. Even breads that are labelled as being “whole wheat” or “whole grain” can contain a significant portion of white flour. Read the ingredient list and look for breads containing only “whole wheat” flour to decrease the amount of refined carbohydrates in your diet.
Breakfast cereals can be more like breakfast candies than anything else. Loaded with white flour, most often from wheat, corn or rice, and refined sugars, such as high-fructose corn syrup, most breakfast cereals are not a good way to start the day. If you have diabetes or blood sugar issues, your blood sugar levels may rise to dangerously high levels after your meal and then crash within a few hours. Oat-based cereals are generally made from the whole grain, which makes them a better option unless they also contain refined sugars. Read the ingredient list carefully or opt for plain oatmeal or steel-cut oats for a healthier, low-glycemic breakfast option.
The main ingredients found in baked goods are white flour and refined sugars. On top of being packed with refined carbohydrates, these processed treats often contain trans fat from shortening or hydrogenated oils, making them a very unhealthy combo that can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Avoid donuts, cakes, commercial muffins, cookies, scones, pies and other pastries. To satisfy your sweet tooth, have a few pieces of dark chocolate or a fruit, or make your own healthier version of your favorite baked goods using less-refined sugars such as maple syrup or honey, and high-fiber, unrefined flours.
-Pasta and Pizza
Whether you usually get Italian food when eating out or prepare it yourself at home, both pasta and pizza contain a significant amount of processed ingredients. The dough of the pizza and the pasta itself are almost always made of white wheat flour. Even if you get a whole grain pizza or pasta, it won’t be made from 100 percent whole grain flour, but rather from a mixture or white flour and whole grain flour. Pizza sauce and tomato-based pasta sauce also contain refined sugars, often in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose or glucose. Try to make your pizza and pasta from scratch to avoid these refined carbohydrates or get Italian antipastos instead.
White flour comes from natural whole wheat that has been stripped of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. This results in a nutritionally void product that is packed with calories that release quickly into your system, creating a spike in blood sugar. As you know, this promotes fat storage and leads to hysterical hunger and cravings. You don’t need that. Use whole wheat products instead.
White sugar comes from the juice of a sugar cane plant that has undergone an intensive refining process. In this process all of the enzymes, fiber, vitamins and minerals are destroyed, rendering it nutritionally void. White sugar is also extremely high in calories, which your body loves to store away in fat cells.
Refined sugar has been linked to a weakened immune system, hyperactivity, ADD, mental and emotional disorders, dental cavities, hypoglycemia, enlargement of the liver and kidneys, and an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. All that and it leads to weight gain.
Once you cut these items such as this out of your diet, you’ll be pleased with the results. You will see excess weight loss, higher energy levels and you will just generally feel better.
Another way to think about purifying your diet is by focusing on eating “real food”. These food items include lean meats, vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts and seeds. Interestingly enough, real food items are generally found around the perimeter of your supermarket.
What to know about no-sugar diets
Here are eight simple tips a person can use to help cut sugar from their diet:
1. Take it slow
One of the most important things to remember when changing the diet is to do so gradually. Going from a diet full of sugar to one without any should be a slow process.
It may help to start by eliminating the most obvious sources of sugar. People can easily avoid baked goods such as cakes, muffins, and brownies. Removing candy and sugary beverages is also an excellent place to start.
A person can also try reducing the amount of sugar and cream they add to their coffee or tea, working up to using none at all. Building up to a no-sugar diet can help a person retrain the palate, meaning that they are less likely to crave the missing sugar.
2. Read product labels
Once a person has managed to cut out the most obvious sugar from their diet, they can turn their attention to other products that contain sugar. Reading product labels can help them identify types of sugars to avoid.
Sugar has many names and is in many different syrups and concentrates. There are at least 61 different names for sugar on food labels. The most common ones 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
People should also be aware that any item on an ingredients list ending “-ose” is also a type of sugar. Examples of these ingredients include:
Sugars hide in many different supermarket foods. Reading the label is a must for people who want to follow a no-sugar diet.
Products such as salad dressing and condiments, pasta sauce, breakfast cereals, milk, and granola bars often have sugar in their ingredients list.
3. Avoid simple carbohydrates
Many no-sugar diets also recommend that people 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.
A person can usually replace simple carbs with whole grain options.
4. Avoid artificial sugars
Artificial sugars are a subject of controversy in the diet industry. They are much sweeter than sugar but contain few 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, a person following a no-sugar diet should avoid artificial sugars such as:
- Sweet’N Low
People can also look for the chemical names of these sweeteners on ingredients lists, especially in anything marketed as low sugar, low calorie, or diet food.
Chemical names include:
- acesulfame K or acesulfame potassium
5. Do not drink sugar
Sugar may be easy to avoid in processed foods. However, sugar sweetened drinks are among the most significant sources of added sugars in the diet. These include soda, specialty coffee, sweetened teas, and fruit juices.
Replacing these drinks with unsweetened herbal tea, coffee without sugar, sparkling mineral water, or just water can help a person stay hydrated without increasing their sugar intake.
6. Focus on whole foods
A person following a no-sugar diet should also aim to eat whole foods. Processed foods are more likely to contain refined ingredients or added sugars.
Diets that focus on whole and complete foods include the following options:
- lean meats, poultry, or tofu
- whole, unprocessed grains, and legumes
- nuts and seeds
Some people might choose to keep a small amount of dairy in their diet, such as plain yogurt, simple cheeses, and milk.
7. Plan meals
Sticking to a diet with no plan is difficult. When a person feels hungry, they may be more likely to reach for a sugary snack if they do not have nutritious meals and healthful alternatives to hand.
Many people take a day to do both their shopping and meal preparation for the entire week. With healthful food ready to go, they have less temptation to reach for a candy bar or soda.
8. Spice it up
The palate often misses sugar because it has no other flavors to replace it. However, people can easily add many sweet tasting herbs and spices to foods and drinks to replace sugar.
Common replacements include cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and vanilla. These can be a flavorsome addition to coffee, oatmeal, or yogurt.
Sugar, the versatile ingredient that we hate to love, might be one of the reasons why you feel so tired today. You can blame sugar for a whole slew of things: breaking out, that never-ending migraine or even for gaining a few unwanted pounds. So does that mean you should go ahead and cut it out from your diet completely?
Avoiding sugar takes commitment and a ton of willpower, and it certainly isn’t for everyone. But if you’re convinced that the no-sugar diet is the best option for you (and please do talk to a dietitian or doctor beforehand), odds are, you’ll see some great results.
To help you out, two Bell Media employees who cut out sugar from their diets explained what made them try it, and what you need to know before giving it a whirl.
What did your diet include and exclude?
Person 1: My diet, which I based on a strict candida diet, for the first three months was particularly stringent. It included a lot of vegetables… seeds, nuts, eggs, meat and fish. I started making my own bread, pizza crust and pancakes with almond flour and coconut flour. It’s hard to find things without sugar, so you end up making your own a lot.
It excluded pretty well everything else. No fruit, juices, dairy, carbs or starchy veg (so no potatoes, sweet potatoes, no sweet veg like peas or red peppers). I avoided all processed food as most have sugar, made all my own sauces and dressings. No alcohol.
Person 2: I probably should start with the fact that I switched to the Keto diet, which cuts all sugar. The diet focuses on mainly fat as your primary energy source with protein in second and carbs at the most minimal of levels (20 grams per day — for context, an apple has about 15 grams of carbs). My diet basically includes all sources of healthy fats as well as vegetables (with a focus on vegetables that grow above ground, as most underground vegetables are starchy). All foods are not processed (a.k.a. no pre-packaged foods; just fresh).
I exclude basically anything that turns into glucose in my body, which includes sugar (raw or candy), carbs (wheat or beer), starches (potatoes and beans) and fructose (fruit – yes fruit!).
Why did you decide to try it out?
Person 1: I get a lot of migraines, endless sinus and face pain. Doctors — and I’ve been to many — have been no help, and drugs have been okay, but not entirely effective for my head. I also have a history of sore throats. I read that sinus pain and throat issues can be a result of a fungal infection, on sugar. I didn’t feel like I had anything to lose by changing my diet, and I knew it would up my vegetable intake, so I figured I’d try it.
Person 2: To lose weight, gain muscle at the gym overall health.
What physical and mental changes did you see once you started?
Person 1: I quickly felt generally healthier. Within a few weeks, my sinus pain was reduced, and my migraines were basically gone. From three to ten a month to none. On days when I really stepped it up with the vegetables, I felt more energized. I lost a lot of weight pretty quickly. In the first two months, I lost about 20 pounds, going from 127 to 107 (I don’t do any exercise, so this was all diet-based). I thought that was too much, so I upped the amount of nuts and avocados I was eating. At this point, four months after changing my diet, I’m sitting around 117.
Person 2: Within the first five days, I did have some general flu-like symptoms as my body adjusted to not consuming sugar and carbs — mind fog, headaches, generally feeling weak and not myself. However, after about the forth day, all of my flu-like symptoms disappeared and I had great energy levels. I also noticed I got a great night’s sleep for the first time in a while.
Going forward though, I did notice that when you eat a primarily fat diet, portion control is a lot easier. I started out using Myfitness Pal to track my calories and , but quickly realized that when you eat stuff like meats cheese, your brain knows when to stop. You feel full really quick; in fact, I had to force eating snacks like nuts into my day, because I quickly realized I wasn’t getting the proper calories (according to my food tracker) by just eating until I was full.
How long did it take for these changes to kick in?
Person 1: A few weeks.
Person 2: Five days with the worst of the symptoms being around the third day. After five days, changes in my sleep were phenomenal and probably the first thing that made me want to commit to the diet. I was sleeping eight hours uninterrupted and feeling way more energetic in the morning.
Did you struggle to stick to the diet at any point? If so, what did you find challenging about it?
Person 1: Not so much in the first eight weeks when I wanted to be very, very strict and really cut out all sugars entirely. As long as I was committed to being strict, it was easy. In the third month though, I got a bit cheaty, had some cheese, started having some wine on Fridays. I like wine, so that was a bit of a challenge. Now I have wine pretty well every Friday.
The huge challenge, especially if you work all day, is having to make everything from scratch. There are no ready-made go-tos.
Person 2: Honestly, the worst struggles are always in social situations with friends (even to this date). When pizza is ordered while at someone’s house and you politely refuse a slice, the ensuing conversation about why is always the worst. Most people will think its just some fad, and make comments about how carbs aren’t bad for you and its just calories in and out that matters, so they consider everything you’re doing quite silly.
There were days I’d come home from work and literally snack on raw vegetables as a meal with some ranch or Caesar dressing on the side. This is because I didn’t have the time to cook up a full, healthy meal or maybe didn’t prepare properly. Within the first month, this changed as I started to buy raw ingredients in bulk to save money and started cooking my meals for the week. Now my Sundays are almost ritualistic, in that I spend the evenings preparing meals for the week and spend the week perusing new meal ideas for Sunday.
What would you do differently if you could go back in time and try it again?
Person 1: I’m still doing it. It would be nice to take a cooking course, maybe, to arm myself with lots of recipes. I wouldn’t have started cheating. For me, keeping it strict makes it easier. The three times now that I’ve cheated, I ended up with debilitating headaches. Surprisingly not from the wine! More from peas and beans, which makes me think I might have a problem with those. That’s another good thing about doing this — if you’re trying to find out if any foods cause or exacerbate problems for you, it’s pretty easy to narrow it down.
Person 2: I would probably put some more initial planning into my meal options and preparing them. When you hit the point that you’re basically eating raw vegetables as a meal, it’s easy to just quit and order a pizza. I’m glad I didn’t do that personally, but I definitely had a lack of foresight going into this.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about this diet before trying it out?
Person 1: Talk to a nutritionist first. I didn’t talk to a doctor about changing my diet and maybe it could have negative effects.
I was never hungry, and I know I’m eating a much healthier diet. As long as you plan and keep a well-stocked fridge, it’s a satisfying diet.
Person 2: I really think it’s incredible and don’t actually consider it to be a diet anymore. Its a way of life, well, my life, and kinda consider it the normal way of eating for humans.
Not having any cheat foods that throw you off your diet in the house is critical if you’re the type of person that can easily give in to temptation.
We’ve all heard about sugar cravings and withdrawals, but I wanted to see what would really happen when I had no sugar for eight full weeks. Does living without sugar live up to its promise of more energy and a smaller waist size? You can see our 30 day elimination results here or read on to see what eight whole weeks of going without sugar yielded for me. Let’s find out!
A Not-So-Sweet Story
Is sugar really so bad for you in the first place? Here’s what we know. In 1972, a British scientist named John Yudkin wrote, “If only a small fraction of what we know about the effects of sugar were to be revealed in relation to any other material used as a food additive, that material would promptly be banned.”
Since then, the food industry has made it a point to limit added sugar, focus on real foods (i.e. food in its most natural state), and address the growing obesity rate in the US and around the world.
If only. The truth is that since then, the sugar industry has only grown, capitalizing on the sweet tooths of children and busy parents with the convenience of sugary cereals, snacks, and desserts. And that growing obesity rate, which was 15% of Americans in 1980, turned into 35% by 2000.
While the consumption of sugar is of course not solely to blame, Yudkin observed that sugar, which is processed in the liver where it then turns to fat, is “a pure carbohydrate, with all fibre and nutrition stripped out.” It was sugar, he found, that had a greater link to the growing rate of heart disease.
It’s not just the consumption of sugar that has become alarming, but that sugar is now so pervasive in our food culture that limiting it or cutting it out completely can feel overwhelming. That’s why I went eight weeks without sugar to see if all its promises and challenges were true. Here’s what I found!
Why I Went 8 Weeks with No Sugar
For some background, my name is Athena and I’m the head of education for HUM. I have a passion for beauty as well as a certification in nutrition from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. I’d heard about Sarah Wilson’s 8 Week I Quit Sugar program back when I was in nutrition school living in Australia, but was never able to fully commit to the program.
Then on the first day of spring this year, I decided I really wanted to clean up my diet and get more energy, so I took the plunge! I chose the I Quit Sugar program because I really believe in her philosophy. It’s not about cutting calories—which never works for me because I feel deprived and rebel—but about adding more nutritious foods. She makes the distinction that fructose is what we want to avoid in sugar, as fructose is what makes us eat more, converts into fat, and makes us sick. She also allows for certain types of red wine and coffee, so you can still enjoy the things you really love!
My goals for going eight weeks with no sugar were to have more energy, lose inches around my waist, feel lighter, and most importantly attain a healthier lifestyle full of whole, nutritious foods.
Week 1, feeling
For this week, I was supposed to limit my intake of sugary drinks, desserts, high fructose fruits, and chocolate. Luckily, this wasn’t that hard for me since I already don’t like sugary drinks or eat too much dessert. I do love fruit, however, so I’m happy that the first week was just a transitional period to slowly reduce sugar. It’s a much easier way to transition so I can mentally prepare!
It’s not part of the program, but I also decided to give up coffee for the first week to help detox. It was hard at first, but I began having hot water with lemon in the mornings to replace my coffee, and it actually made me feel a lot better!
My week 1 results:
I didn’t notice too much of a difference in my skin or weight. However, I did feel clearer in my thinking, a little more energized, and less anxious.
My favorite recipe this week:
Cauliflower rice with coconut oil, salt, pepper, cayenne. Delicious!
Week 2, feeling
This week was the one I was most afraid of— the first week I had to give up all sugar, including fruit, so the body can recalibrate itself. I learned that the body cannot tell what it actually wants with sugar in the way. As Sarah Wilson states in the program, “Whenever sugar is in the system, this is impossible to know as we are responding to cravings, highs and lows, and not true hunger and need. It takes about two months to find your blank slate. After that, it’s over to you.”
I also realized that you have to be super careful about added sugar when eating out at restaurants. I went out to a Thai restaurant in Malibu and asked for a green curry, but had to have them remove the sugar because they add so much for flavoring!
My week 2 results:
Skin has cleared a little. I’m very aware and sensitive of added or artificial sugars in all foods.
My favorite recipes this week:
Organic eggs with grass-fed butter, avocado, spinach, and bacon. The trick is to add more healthy oils, fats, and protein to satiate my sweet tooth.
Tip of the week:
Watch documentaries and read articles on why sugar is bad. It’ll totally get you motivated! My favorites are the documentaries Fed Up and The Secrets of Sugar.
Week 3, feeling
This week, I finally started to get used to not having fruits. I don’t like the taste of coffee as much, and I can tell if something has even the slightest bit of sugar or artificial sweetener.
I’m starting to crave chocolate and sweets, especially when I’m tired. When this happens, I force myself to eat real food. I’ve found that maybe I wasn’t actually craving sweets, but was just tired or bored. The trick is to have healthy foods chopped, washed, and ready to grab for a quick fix!
My week 3 results:
I lost about three pounds this week. My stomach feels more toned and slim.
I’m also saving money on coffee and by not eating out as much. I’ve been cooking way more. I feel better, save money on eating out, and crave less junk food!
My favorite recipes this week
Lamb with vegetables, broccoli salad, and chicken with celery puree.
Meet the nine C’s! These are nine snacking alternatives to sugary treats: chia seeds, cacao, chai tea, coconut oil, coconut water, coffee, cheese, chicken, cinnamon. These have helped a lot!
Week 4, feeling
I’m starting to get used to everything and have fewer cravings for sugar, caffeine, and even alcohol. My body is changing even more and so are my taste buds, so it’s very interesting to observe. I’ve substituted Greek yogurt (full fat of course!) for ice cream and other sweets. It really does the trick when I’m longing for something naughty. I add in some chia seeds and it’s amazing.
My week 4 results:
I had more energy, slept better, and felt more hydrated.
Tip of the Week:
I’ve been crowding out and staying busy when a craving kicks in by running errands or taking a hot bath to get my mind off of it!
Week 5, feeling
This week was so much easier! I’m totally used to no sugar now, and actually prefer it. I have my recipes and go-to foods and snacks down to the T now. I’m beginning to actually enjoy it. I’m nervous to go back to sugar because I don’t want to open that door back up. I have to be careful when I can start letting it back in.
My week 5 results:
I feel like I lost five pounds in my stomach area and feel lighter and more clear minded.
My breakfast: green powder mixed with water, plus this brekkie below:
I’ve been making my lunch every day and eating at home almost every night. I think this is the key to staying healthy and eating only pure, real foods. Instead of meeting friends for dinner or lunch, I can meet them for coffee, tea, a glass of wine, or a walk or bike ride. It’s making me get more creative!
Week 6, feeling
At this stage, we’re able to incorporate about one serving a day of certain fruits (like raspberries, kiwi, and blueberries) and low amounts of sugar back into our diet. This week went pretty well overall, but I was getting some cravings toward the end. I noticed that once I opened the lid to allowing some sugar in with a few fruits, I wanted more. Sugar is so addicting once you open the taste for it again; your brain releases different hormones and the cravings kick in.
My week 6 results:
I have cravings for gluten-free cakes and organic ice cream. I used to think of them as healthy, but they’re actually loaded with sugar. I have to be careful with foods that claim to be natural or healthy, and always read the labels.
This week I started my day with Raw Beauty green superfood powder in water to alkalize my body before I eat anything. It’s been amazing; I feel more energized and crave less sugar. Plus my digestion has been working really well!
Week 7, feeling
I feel like my habits have pretty much changed. It’s amazing that after a few weeks you can change a habit. I wake up craving the superfood nutrients from my green powder; my body loves them. Actually, the thought of coffee isn’t appetizing to me at all first thing in the morning because my body doesn’t feel like it provides me with any vital nutrients.
My week 7 results:
I feel much more hopeful for many other things I want to change knowing it only takes a few weeks of awkward adjustments. I’m now totally craving my green juice in the morning and not coffee at all which I NEVER thought would happen! It’s the best thing ever.
One other thing to mention about this week was it was Cinco De Mayo, and I love margaritas! I ended up making a healthy version with the fruits I was allowed: a bit of tequila, fresh grapefruit, lime, coconut aminos, and sparkling water.
Good news when it comes to alcohol! Sarah says, “Wine, beer, and pure spirits contain minimal fructose because the fructose in the fruit used to make the spirit is what converts to alcohol.” So luckily this week I could add in the small amounts of sugar in these fruits and tequila to make my healthy margarita!
Week 8, I Made It! Feeling
I made it! I can’t believe I did it! I survived the eight weeks and I feel awesome. I took away a lot of gems and lessons that I’ll definitely continue to use.
My Results from 8 Weeks without Sugar
1. My digestion has totally improved, and I feel much more balanced and healthy.
2. I’m way less bloated.
3. I lost 5 pounds.
4. I have more energy in the morning.
5. I’m in a better mood.
6. I’m able to think more clearly.
7. I have less anxiety.
8. I’ve learned about my taste buds and what I actually crave and want!
New Healthy Habits I’ll Continue…
1. Continue to drink my Raw Beauty green superfood powder mixed in 12 oz. of cold water first thing every morning.
2. Substitute dessert for fresh berries, a glass of wine, or little bit of grass-fed cheese with nuts.
3. Treat myself with full-fat Greek yogurt with chia seeds—and sometimes raspberries if I want a touch of sweetness—instead of ice cream.
4. Snack on homemade “nut bark” instead of chocolate: almond butter mixed with coconut oil, cacao nibs, and coconut chips. Lay it flat on aluminum to freeze, then break up so it is like a chocolate almond coconut bark.
5. Opt for gluten-free whenever I can.
6. Always choose grass-fed and organic meats and dairy.
7. Cook more meals at home and take lunches to work to save money. Plus, it’s therapeutic. It’s not as hard as I thought! It only takes a bit of planning and dedicating time for yourself which is harder thAn you think. Make it fun, play some music, and enjoy a glass of vino or lemon water while you do it!
8. Choose red wine instead of sugary mixed drinks. (Good news! Red wine contains minimal fructose; the fructose in grapes is what ferments to become alcohol.)
9. Have some type of green in every meal—breakfast, lunch and dinner!
10. Make water interesting with lemon, cucumber, or berries and ice so I drink more water and less coffee.
11. It was also great having a buddy to do this with. We gave each other ideas, motivation, and encouragement, so it’s a great tip to take forward anytime I want to change my habits!
Although it was difficult at first to let go of the cravings, I think it was SO worth it to get back in touch with my taste buds and see what my body actually wants. I feel much more in control of my food choices and what I put into my body. That’s what I really wanted to get out of this experience. I’m also much more aware of which foods contain sugar. I look forward to continue learning what my body actually wants so I can feel happy and full of vitality, life force, and natural energy!
5 Lessons Learned from Going Sugar-Free for 10 Days
The World Health Organization recommends that we consume less than 25 grams of added sugar per day, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) just updated their dietary guidelines to recommend people consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars. Do you know how much added sugar the average American-myself included-actually consumes daily? Eighty-three grams, more than triple what our most esteemed health orgs suggest. Yikes.
As if weight gain and cavities weren’t enough, high sugar intake has also been linked to diabetes, heart disease, and breast cancer-it’s enough to scare anyone into taking a closer look at their diet. I consider myself a healthy eater. I know to add protein or fiber to every meal, avoid processed foods, and eat my fruits and veggies. I don’t have a candy or two-a-day soda addiction to kick to the curb, but a big part of my diet is flavored yogurts, pre-made sauces and dressings, and grains. Spoiler alert: Those all contain sugar. So after reading about the USDA’s new rules, I decided to challenge myself to go 10 days without sugar-including limiting my intake of honey, pure maple syrup, and other natural sweeteners. (Check out these 8 Healthy Foods with Crazy-High Sugar Counts.)
But before I gave up the sweet stuff, I questioned what it would do to my body-would I crave it more than usual? Is there such a thing as a sugar detox? “There are many theories on sugar and addiction, but I don’t think there’s any concrete evidence proving that a person can be addicted to sugar,” says Marie Spano, R.D. and sports nutritionist for the Atlanta Hawks. She thinks the habitual intake and oh-so-good taste are actually what make it difficult to kick a sugar habit (see: The Science Behind Your Sweet Tooth). No one said this was going to be easy!
Lesson #1: Breakfast Without Sugar Is the Most Challenging Meal
My first attempt to eliminate sugar, breakfast, proved to be harder than I anticipated. My go-tos: yogurt with granola, avocado toast, or cereal all contained sugar. Luckily, I drink my coffee black, so I didn’t have to alter my morning infusion of caffeine too-that would have been unbearable. I knew bagel day at the weekly office meeting-which fell on day eight- would be a big test. Bagels have both sugar and gluten, and in my mind, there is no acceptable substitute. Resisting this temptation was the toughest ordeal of the two weeks, but I held strong.
Sugar-free breakfast was an eye-opening experience. Before I even left my apartment, I was consuming more sugar than I even realized. (Do you know how much sugar you’re consuming? These healthy bloggers thought they did.) Gluten-free oatmeal made with unsweetened almond milk, cinnamon, and apple slices became my challenge breakfast of choice-by the end, I didn’t even miss adding brown sugar! The challenge forced me to pre-plan to avoid a breakfast of convenience, but I ended up finding one that tastes good and is good for me. Another bonus: It kept me full until lunch, yet I didn’t feel bloated like, ahem, a bagel tends to do.
Lesson #2: Meal Planning Is the Key to Any Successful Diet
Almost every Sunday, I meal plan and grocery shop for the week. The importance of this routine was never more apparent than during this challenge. Even when I was tired, lazy, running late, I was able to stick with the challenge because of my prep work. (We’ve got 10 No-Sweat Meal Prep Tricks from Pros.) I also ended up eating a ton more vegetable servings. Rather than starting with a grain, I planned meals around vegetables, then added in protein and healthy fats. My spiralizer got a lot of use!
But not eating many carbs throughout the challenge made me very tired every afternoon. I’m a solid five-days-a-week exerciser-usually a mix of running and bodyweight exercises. I’m not a morning person, so I typically work out when I get home from work. During these 10 days, though, I could barely keep my eyes open long enough to make dinner and shower. My reps took more effort and my runs felt harder than usual. The dietary changes I made for the challenge may have cut my carbohydrate or caloric intake too low, explained Spano. To prevent this, “replace sugar-containing foods with naturally sweet foods and increase total carbohydrates from starches and grains,” she suggests.
Lesson #3: Moderation Is Better Than Elimination
All wine has sugar. This fact was researched in-depth on day seven, when I was having a rough day and desperately wanted to go home to a glass of red. I did learn that while hard alcohols-gin, vodka, whiskey, and rum-don’t have added sugar, mixers are loaded with the sweet stuff. I always thought gin and tonics were a healthy option, but it turns out, 12 ounces of tonic water could have 32 grams of sugar-more than the daily recommended amount for adults. I did drink during the challenge, but opted for liquor on the rocks or mixed with club soda (which is sugar-free). I’ll admit, gin and club soda isn’t as good as a gin and tonic, so I’m making the switch back. The occasional glass of wine, cupcake, or piece of chocolate is worth the added sugar to me. However, I will keep my consumption to a minimum-I’ll just savor it that much more now. (Can You Drink Alcohol and Still Lose Weight?)
Lesson #4: Sugar Is Added to Everything
Over the 10 days, I became very comfortable with a nutrition label and the numerous different terms for hidden sugar. Every single meal, snack, and drink had to be carefully vetted to ensure it met the requirements. The amount of sugar in sauces and dressings surprised me. I bring salads to work almost every day for lunch, and two tablespoons of dressing alone could have 15 grams of sugar. Makes you think twice about adding a little extra! (Should Added Sugar Appear On Food Labels?) But I was pleasantly surprised to learn prepared hummus doesn’t contain added sugar, and when mixed with plain Greek yogurt, it’s a great substitute for dressing.
I did avoid takeout and restaurants for the 10 days, because it’s nearly impossible to know if sugar is added to dishes. This time period included Winter Storm Jonas, so if that doesn’t show dedication, nothing will. But I’ll fully admit this isn’t a sustainable goal-10 days was definitely my max. I missed Indian takeout! To avoid added sugar when eating out, “be very careful about sauces and dressings, including anything ketchup or BBQ based,” advises Spano. She suggests asking for sauces and dressing to be served on the side so you control the amount. And choose oil and vinegar for salads instead of heavy sauces to avoid even more sugar.
Lesson #5: Eliminating Sugar is Not a Weight Loss Miracle
While the number on the scale didn’t change after 10 days, the decrease in carbs did make my stomach appear flatter and more toned. My roommates even commented that I looked like I lost weight. This phenomenon had more to do with fewer carbs and calories (see Lesson #2) than my lack of sugar.
“Many foods that contain sugar can cause bloating, including carbonated beverages, chewing gum, and candy-they all increase the amount of air we consume,” explains Spano. My toned stomach was probably a circumstance of the challenge, but not a direct result of less sugar. Either way, I’ll celebrate small victories.
Cutting out sugar completely isn’t a realistic permanent lifestyle change, but this challenge did reaffirm my goal to eat clean, nutrient-dense foods all year long-with the occasional splurge. Spano suggests cutting down on your sugar intake on a permanent basis by “consuming fewer sauces with added sugar, looking for cereals that are low in sugar and high in fiber, and cutting down your consumption of candy, cookies, and other sweets.” Easy enough! Now if you’ll excuse me, a glass of wine is calling my name.
- By Shannon Bauer
You must have heard millions of times, how you need to lower the sugar in your diet if you want to lose weight. Are you ready to be introduced to a new diet plan that might juts wipe all those extra pounds off? Check out the amazing “No Flour No Sugar” diet plan.
If you’re already familiar with my articles, you are expecting the next sentence – DO NOT under any circumstances start any diet without previously consulting your doctor. Only after you’ve done that, you can engage yourself in this diet plan. For starters, get familiar with it.
1. What is It?
The “No Flour No Sugar” diet plan was invented by Peter H. Gott, MD. The diet is pretty much what the name suggests – you are not allowed to eat anything that contains added sugar, or anything that contains flour.
What differs from the quite controversial Atkinson’s diet, is, that you are allowed to have natural sugar. This means that you can eat fruits and vegetables. You are not allowed to have cookies, cakes, any type of sweets, sodas, bread, pasta or basically anything that contains either flour or added sugar.
2. How Does It Work
This diet works by removing all those “empty calories” from your system. Foods that contain added sugar and flour, such as pizza or doughnuts, for example, are in fact very rich in calories, but low in energy. So, what happens when you eat them? Simply, you get hungry again.
The final result of eating food with “empty calories” is a lot of extra weight. This happens, because this food is quite low in nutrients you need. For example, you’ll get the same amount of calories from a bowl of muesli for breakfast, as well as from a small doughnut. However, you’ll digest the small amounts of nutrients from that doughnut a lot faster, and become hungry again, and you’ll still have all the calories you initially got. Only now, you’ll need to add some more.
This diet solves exactly this problem. The food you’re allowed to eat doesn’t contain “empty calories” and you’ll only get pure energy from it. That way, you will be able to reduce the sheer amount of food you eat, while at the same time you will get the energy you need.
3. How to Stick to The Plan
It is not really that hard as you may think. If you’re already looking after your weight, and trying to eat healthy, you might just need a couple of extra modifications and that’s it.
You are allowed to eat all types of meat. It doesn’t even have to be too lean. Of course, it is better if it is lean, but a little fat will do you no harm. You are also allowed to eat eggs, fruits, vegetables, milk and dairy products and whole grain cereals. However, whole grain bread is still out of the question.
The easiest way to stick to the “No Flour No Sugar” diet plan is to be creative. For example, if you’re really craving for lasagnas – go ahead and make them. Instead of noodles, use sliced zucchini or eggplant. Make your own tomato sauce or buy one, you’re sure is absolutely sugar free.
Read every label carefully. You might be surprised to see that almost everything you buy contains added sugar – even packed vegetables. Buy organic food and try to cook as much as you can, for yourself. That way, you’ll always know what’s inside your food. Oh yeah, and forget about buying juices, even those that claim to be without sugar. Freshly squeeze your own juice at home.
4. Pros and Cons of the Diet
The biggest pro, of the “No Flour No Sugar” diet plan, is that this is something that will actually help you lose weight. Plus, the fact that you are still allowed to eat variety of foods, will make it a bit easier for you. You will also have a chance to detox your body, and to release it from all the bad food you eat every day.
When it comes to cons, the fact that you may lack energy, and strength, might be the one. Your body functions on sugar, so lowering the amount of it will be a bit tough. You may feel a bit tired, but still, you are not completely excluding sugar from your diet, so just grab a nice big peach, and all will be peachy again.
5. Menu Plan
The possibilities of things you could eat are quite big here, in comparison to some other diet plans. Here are some hints for the food you could prepare and eat.
- spinach omelet with fresh cucumber salad
- mushroom omelet with fresh tomato salad, and fresh unsweetened yogurt
- no sugar added, whole grain cereal with skim milk
- grilled chicken breasts with a small bowl of Greek salad
- grilled salmon with a small bowl of potato salad
- pork chops with corn on a cob
- chicken curry with yogurt sauce
- zucchini or zucchini
- meatballs in tomato sauce with polenta
- fresh fruit
- fresh vegetables
- small amounts of nuts