Sugar-Free Diet: Tips For A Life Without Sugar

Lent between Carnival and Easter is ideal for starting a sugar-free diet. But otherwise, a life without sugar is a good idea – anytime. We’ll tell you how it works to live sugar-free.

We Germans consume too much sugar – far too much. On average a good 16 teaspoons a day. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a maximum of six teaspoons – the normal consumer has already cracked that with two 0.2 liter glasses of cola and even with just one glass of apple juice. The WHO recommendation is derived from the fact that so-called free sugars – which, in addition to table sugar, also include the sugar from fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates – should not account for more than five percent of the daily calorie intake.

Sugar free, I’m in!

Theoretically, we all know it: sugar is not good for us. However, the love of sweets is deeply rooted in us: our ancestors already knew that sweet-tasting foods such as ripe fruit were safe to eat. Today, this craving for sweets is our downfall: sugar is no longer a rare luxury that provides us with valuable energy, but a danger to our health. Sugar doesn’t make you happy either, the famous “sugar rush” has turned out to be a myth.

Almost all industrially produced foods contain sugar. If you consume too much of it, you run the risk of getting sick. High sugar consumption carries an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, arthrosis and cancer.

Switching to a sugar-free diet is not easy. But those who do without sugar are demonstrably healthier. A complete sugar strike does not have to be the goal, even a reduction makes sense. Here you will find tips for a low-sugar diet.

Recognizing Sugar: Supermarket Checklist

If you want to do without sugar, you have to look carefully when shopping. Because sugar is often hidden in the list of ingredients under different names, behind which one would not suspect anything sweet at first glance. The basic rule is: stay away from anything ending in -ose.

Behind these ingredients is sugar:

  • Dextrins (maltodextrin)
  • Fructose, fruit puree, fruit extract
  • honey
  • Ingredients ending in -ose (glucose, sucrose, dextrose, lactose, etc.)
  • Malts (barley malt, malt extract etc.)
  • Dairy products (sweet whey powder, skimmed milk powder)
  • Syrups (glucose syrup, caramel syrup, agave syrup etc.)

Important to know: The higher an ingredient is mentioned on the list of ingredients, the more of it is contained in the product.

This is how a sugar-free life works

If you want to switch to a sugar-free diet, you must avoid the following foods. Relatively obvious are:

  • Ice
  • fruit syrup
  • Cake
  • chocolate
  • Sweets

You have to be more careful with these products:

  • almost all ready meals, salads, dressings etc.
  • fruit juices
  • fruit yoghurts
  • Sweetened drinks (cola, soda, etc.)
  • honey
  • jams

However, these foods do not contain free sugar:

  • eggs
  • Fish & Meat
  • vegetables
  • unsweetened drinks
  • legumes
  • Dairy products with no added sugar (cheese, plain yoghurt, etc.)
  • fruit (fresh)
  • nuts, seeds
  • Oils and fats

Sugar-free: Fruit contains sugar, but it is allowed

Foods that naturally contain sugar are allowed in a sugar-free diet: Although fruit and vegetables contain fructose, they also contain lots of vitamins, minerals and fiber.

If you still prefer to eat fruit with less natural sugar: berries, watermelons and all citrus fruits contain significantly less sugar than bananas, apples or cherries, for example.

The starch in cereals and the lactose (milk sugar) in dairy products are also natural – and therefore unproblematic.

What does “living sugar-free” actually mean?

There are different definitions for a sugar-free diet. While some avoid industrial sugar when living sugar-free, others omit any kind of sweetener. For many, dried fruit is allowed in a sugar-free diet, others are stricter – after all, dried fruit naturally contains sugar. Everyone can decide for themselves where to draw the line when it comes to sugar-free nutrition.

Tips for a sugar-free diet

Clear out your fridge and supplies to start the sugar-free diet. Either use up sugary foods before starting your new diet – or give them away to friends, acquaintances, and neighbors.
Cook as much as possible yourself, this makes a sugar-free diet much easier.
Conversely, avoid ready meals and fast food.
Drink plenty of mineral water, unsweetened coffee, or tea.

Healthy snacks such as nuts, coconut chips, or a piece of cheese help if you get hungry between meals.
If you don’t want to do without sweetness, you can use calorie-free sugar substitutes such as erythritol and stevia. On the other hand, you should stay away from sweeteners such as aspartame and sorbitol: these substitutes are suspected of being carcinogenic (source). Also read our guide to sweeteners.
It is quite possible that the changeover leads to mood swings, headaches, tiredness and cravings in the first week or two.

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