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Did you know that the average American eats nearly three times the recommended daily amount of sugar? With so many sugar-laden products on the market, not to mention sugary snacks, coffee beverages, juices, and cocktails available everywhere, it’s no surprise that so many of us have developed a bit of a sweet tooth. Thankfully, a diet rich in wholesome foods and packed with nutrients can help you break a sugar addiction and may even boost your overall health. With just a few helpful tips and recipes, you can make a major dent in your daily sugar intake without feeling totally deprived. Here are some of our favorite sugar-free tricks, nourishing brands to stock up on, and helpful links for enjoying a sugar-free lifestyle.
What Is Sugar-Free?
Eating a sugar-free diet is just that: Avoiding foods that are high in sugar. This list of high-sugar foods can include everything from products with added refined sugar or sweeteners to foods that naturally have a high glycemic index like many fruits (including bananas, mangos, and dried fruit). And because sugar is also present in a variety of condiments, beverages, and refined flour foods (including some breads), sticking to a sugar-free diet can be a little tricky. When eating sugar-free, you’ll want to stick to whole grains, lean proteins, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes, and low-glycemic fruits like blueberries, raspberries, coconut, strawberries, and grapefruit.
Benefits of Eating Sugar-Free
A diet low in sugar won’t just help you maintain a healthy weight. A high sugar intake has been linked to obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, so decreasing consumption of it can majorly boost your overall health. We also deplete our bodies of important nutrients when we ask them to metabolize sugar regularly. Also, many high-sugar foods tend to contain less of the macronutrients we need for daily nourishment. By avoiding excess sugar, we’re more likely to boost our daily nutrient intake, which in turn can help keep hunger in check throughout the day.
Tips for Eating Sugar-Free
Eliminating sugar from your diet entirely might be difficult, but you can decrease your overall intake with these helpful tips:
- To start, decrease your sugar consumption slowly by eliminating sweets, avoiding refined sugar, and steering clear of sugary beverages.
- Read labels carefully to ensure foods don’t also contain an alternative name for sugar like corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, or anything with the term “fructose."
- Stick to whole foods like grains, meats, veggies, and legumes.
- Plan your meals ahead of time as much as possible to avoid temptation.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners (like aspartame and Splenda) whenever possible as they can increase sugar cravings.
- Try alternative flavor boosters like cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla in your coffee, smoothies, or oatmeal when you’re craving a sweet treat.
Top Sugar-Free Brands
Give your pantry a sugar-free clean sweep with these no sugar must-haves.
This company got its start in 1988 and is considered the cream of the crop when it comes to organic milk products. Organic Valley Farms has since grown to offer an extensive product line without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers.
Skip the sugar in favor of this golden flavor booster. It’s rich, buttery, wonderfully smooth, and made using the time-honored Indian method of ghee-making in which the milk solids separate from the butterfat.
Created by Mark Sisson, one of the founders of the Paleo movement, this collection of marinades, condiments, dressings, and protein powders is made with whole, nourishing ingredients rather than added preservatives or sugar.
Want to spread on the superfoods without the added sugar? This zesty mayo, made with avocado oil, has a kick thanks to lime juice and smoky chipotle to jazz up any sandwich, salad, or dip.
Craving a little chocolate break? This brand offers all the pleasures of the decadent treat but none of the added sugar. That’s all thanks to founder Cynthia Tice, a self-confessed chocoholic who realized she could still enjoy her favorite indulgence using stevia sweetener instead of refined sugar.
This gluten-free, fair trade certified, non-GMO dark chocolate bar skips the added sugar in favor of plant-based stevia and natural vanilla, which cuts calories by about 25 percent without sacrificing sweetness.
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Keep your sugar cravings at bay with these helpful links.
Members of our Thrive Market team cut sugar from their diets for two whole weeks. Read one member’s daily journal to find out if going sugar-free actually cut cravings—or just made her especially cranky.
We’ve reinvented a classic cookie without including refined sugar. Instead, these jam-filled morsels come together with raw honey, coconut oil, rolled oats, and almonds for a sweet but not-too-sugary treat.
If limiting refined sugar is your top priority, you’ll want to stock up on these alternative, nature-based sweeteners. From coconut nectar to honey and maple syrup, we cover everything you need to soothe your sweet tooth.