If you have a sweet tooth, going sugar-free isn’t a piece of cake. But, it’s not just the sweet foods you need to avoid, if you’re planning to cut down added sugar from your diet! Refined sugar is a major ingredient in not only cakes, pies, and candies but also in baked goods, soft drinks, and packaged foods and juices. And if this sounds like the food you eat on a daily basis, it’s time to step back and understand what all that sugar is doing to your body!
Added sugar makes up over 10% of the calories that an average American consumes every day. And unlike other high-calorie foods that also contain essential nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals, added sugar is just “empty calories.” Also, if you need more reason to slash added sugar from your diet, the American Heart Association states that it can significantly increase your risk of death from heart disease.1 2 However, cutting down on this sweet poison isn’t easy – it requires planning, and honestly, a great amount of willpower! To help you go sugar-free, here’s an effective 6-day diet plan.
1. Monday: No Cookies And Cakes
This one’s simple and obvious. On the first day of the week, avoid all “sugary” foods. This means no cookies, cakes, candies, or even granola bars! If you absolutely can’t let go of your cookie jar, make a fresh batch of cookies – but replace the sugar with honey. Raw honey contains important enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Also, it’s sweeter than sugar and is sure to satiate your taste buds.
2. Tuesday: No Extra Sugar
Bid farewell to all the sugar (including artificial sugar) packets stacked in your kitchen cabinet – you won’t be needing them. On Tuesday, make sure you don’t manually add sugar to any of your food. Instead, opt for coconut sugar. Unlike refined sugar, it also contains healthy amounts of minerals. So, when you reach out to brew a cup of coffee in the morning, add a spoon of coconut sugar instead of your regular sugar. It will also give your coffee a distinct, exotic flavor!
3. Wednesday: No Wheat Flour
Like we said earlier, it’s not just the obvious foods like candy that contain added sugar. Wheat flour, white rice, and white bread are also full of these empty calories. If you’re preparing some pizza or even a sandwich, make sure that the base is wholegrain. Avoid the tricky “multigrain” bread or wheat. Instead, go for wholegrain wheat, Ezekiel bread, brown rice, and quinoa.
4. Thursday: No Aerated Drinks
Time to let go of soda (and any alcoholic beverage), folks! They are high in calories but don’t give you the fullness that other solid foods with the same calorie count would. So, you end up consuming more calories without compensating for it by eating low-cal food. Even fruit juices contain added sugar, making them as unhealthy as a soft drink. In fact, sugary drinks are one of the major contributors to the global obesity pandemic.3 If you’re craving a drink, sip on some mint lemon tea and you’ll probably never want to turn back to aerated drinks again!
5. Friday: No Packaged Foods
Hit up the kitchen and cook your food from the scratch, instead of depending of packaged foods. According to studies, a whopping two-thirds of all packaged foods contain added sugar!4 So, instead of picking up mayonnaise, go for the equally mouth-watering hummus! And replace your favorite instant ramen with some good home-made noodles!
6. Saturday: No Fruit-Overdose
While the sugar present in fruits is natural and safe, there is such a thing as “too many fruits.” If you consume more than the required amount of fructose (fruit sugar) in a day, the excess sugar is just stored as fat within your body. Anything more than 2 cups of fruits a day is considered “too much.” So, eat some boiled vegetables instead of the excessive amount of fruits. Or balance high-sugar fruits like dates and grapes with their low-sugar counterparts like avocados and berries.
This diet will kick-start your sugar-free journey, but there’s no use if you go right back to eating pizza as soon as the 6th day ends. Instead, watch what you eat. Of course, you can’t go entirely sugar-free, so try making tiny dietary changes to gradually reduce your sugar intake. Once you find suitable alternatives to sugar (like honey, maple syrup, or date sugar), it becomes easier to avoid eating foods with added sugar. Also, remember to check the labels before buying any packaged food, and avoid the ones that are high in sugar. Anything over 22.5g of sugar per 100g of the packaged food is not recommended. Additionally, don’t add too much sugar into your food. For every 100g of calories a day, women should consume no more than 6 tablespoons of sugar should be consumed. Men, meanwhile, should consume less than 9 tablespoons of sugar for every 150g of calories.5
|↑1||Added Sugars Add to Your Risk of Dying from Heart Disease. American Heart Association.|
|↑2||Eating too much added sugar increases the risk of dying with heart disease. Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School.|
|↑3||Sugary drinks. Harvard T. H. Chan. School Of Public Health.|
|↑4||Acton, Rachel B., Lana Vanderlee, Erin P. Hobin, and David Hammond. “Added sugar in the packaged foods and beverages available at a major Canadian retailer in 2015: a descriptive analysis.” CMAJ open 5, no. 1 (2017): E1.|
|↑5||Added Sugars Add to Your Risk of Dying from Heart Disease. American Heart Association.|