The Sugar-free Diet: Foods, Menus, FAQs, and Recipes

Sugar-free diet

Everything you need to know about the sugar-free diet plan including foods, to eat, menus, FAQs, shopping lists, and more.

The sugar-free diet can be considered as less of a diet and more of a lifestyle. For those who follow this diet, some may choose to limit sugar completely and others may just be cautious about how much sugar they are consuming per day. Either way and depending on your health concerns it is good for you to understand how much sugar you are consuming.

Sugar is sugar no matter if it comes from fruit or a bag of candy, your body responds to it the same way. If you consume too much sugar your body can go into overdrive. Eating too much sugar makes it nearly impossible for insulin to keep your blood sugar in a normal range, and that wreaks havoc on the body. However, it must be noted that having sugar is not terrible for you, you actually need some sugar because that is what gives your body energy, but it’s a huge health benefit to limit your sugar intake.

What is the Sugar-free Diet Plan?

The sugar-free diet or sugar-free lifestyle is understanding the sugars you are consuming and removing or limiting unnecessary sugars in your daily intake. The average person consumes 22 spoons of sugar per day and that is not including the sugars that you get from eating things like fruit, dairy, and even grains. Consuming high amounts of sugars can lead to quite a few concerning health issues such as;

  • heart disease
  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • Inflammation throughout the body

Just by simply reducing your sugar intake, you can greatly reduce these health concerns, and help you to lose weight. The best way to start this sugar-free diet or lifestyle is by starting with cutting out the unnecessary extra sugars from your diet like sodas, sugary drinks, candies, pastries, etc. Maybe call this the no-junk diet.

Quick Reference Guide

Here’s a quick reference guide so you can see where the most sugars in your diet come from.

  1. Junk foods or foods with extra added sugars such as sodas, sugary drinks, candy, pastries, ice cream, etc
  2. Refined grains such as white bread, bagels, white rice, pasta, cookies, and other baked goods.
  3. Starches like oats, whole grain bread, brown rice, and quinoa.
  4. Fruits, fruits can surprisingly be high in sugar. Apples, bananas, berries, peaches, pears, and tropical fruits like pineapples have the highest amount of sugar.
  5. Starchy vegetables. potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, beets, and squash have a high amount of sugar.
  6. Green vegetables: Asparagus, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, lettuce, and spinach.

Start your sugar-free diet with your no-junk diet and make better choices when eating foods. For example, instead of eating candy, eat some delicious strawberries for dessert. Although strawberries have sugar is not the same as consuming a processed food.

In the afternoons instead of reaching for another soda instead drink some water with lemon or have a cup of herbal tea. Balance your meals with non-starchy vegetables and lean proteins that will keep you fuller longer so you don’t have to fill on up sugary filler foods.

Substitute out your white breads and pastas for whole grains. If you are craving a burger for dinner, have your burger wrapped in lettuce instead.

If you are used to having ice cream for dessert make a switch to some greek yogurt and add some berries and a little honey. You will soon learn to make better decisions and the sugar-free diet will become more natural to you. Also, you will notice that once you start cutting out those unnecessary extra sugars, you will also start to lose weight.

How to Start a Sugar-free Diet or Lifestyle

Cutting sugar from your diet might seem a little overwhelming and just reading the paragraph above might seem like you are cutting out a lot of your favorite foods but you can just start small and go from there. You might be surprised but your body will quickly adjust and you won’t crave those high, sugary foods anymore. Here are some tips on how to have a more healthy and sugar-free lifestyle.

  1. Start with the small things. Add less sugar to your coffee, or use a sweetened creamer only. Switch from white bread to whole white bread.
  2. No sugar breakfast items. Don’t start your day with a bunch of sugar. Skip the muffins, pastries, etc. Instead, have some greek yogurt with berries. Do the same with dessert in the evenings.
  3. Start reading labels at the grocery store. Stay away from canned items and buy fresh foods instead.
  4. Look out for hidden sugars on labels. Anything ending in -ose is usually a type of sugar. Molasses, agave, syrups like corn and rice, and juice from concentrate are all types of sugars.
  5. Stay away from artificial sweeteners, including sugar replacements, and anything with low-sugars, low-calorie. If you need to add sugar try raw sugar instead for something like when you are baking.
  6. Skip the sugary drinks. They are full of extra calories and lots of added sugars.
  7. Choose unsweetened versions of things. An example of this would be unsweetened almond milk.
  8. Use spices in cooking instead of sugar. Things like cinnamon and vanilla extract.
  9. Skips the fruits and vegetables high in sugars. Make sure you are using a vitamin supplement so you are still getting enough vitamin C, and other nutrients found in these foods.

Foods to Eat on the Sugar-free Diet

Here’s a list of foods that are low in sugars, and are approved for a sugar-free diet lifestyle.

Proteins

  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Fish
  • Pork
  • Turkey
  • Seafood

Dairy

  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Greek yogurt
  • Low-fat milk

Vegetables

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Brocolli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce
  • Greens
  • Green peas
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Peppers
  • Snow peas
  • Sweat potatoes (good substitute with less sugar than regular potatoes)
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

Fruits

  • Avocado (yes, it’s actually a fruit)
  • Blackberries
  • Cantalope
  • Coconut
  • Lemons (great to add a little lemon squeezed in your cold or hot water)
  • Limes
  • Olives (yes, they are actually a fruit)
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes (yes, they are actually fruit)
  • Watermelon
  • * If you are staying away from all sugars or strictly limiting sugars then you should limit your fruit intake or don’t eat fruits.

Fats, Nuts, Other

  • Extra virgin olive oil (the healthier the better)
  • Almonds
  • Capers
  • Cashews
  • Hazelnut
  • Hummus
  • Peanuts
  • Pistachios
  • Pine nuts
  • Red wine
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts

Foods Not to Eat

  • Processed foods like candies, pastries, cakes, cookies, etc
  • Foods high in starches like white breads, pastas, bagels, etc
  • No foods with artificial sweeteners
  • Foods that are labeled with anything ending in -ose, it’s usually a type of sugar.

Download our free checklists with all the approved sugar-free diet foods (and what you should avoid.)

What to Drink on the Sugar-free Diet

  • Alcohol (vodka, gin, tequila, rum, and whiskey)
  • Coffee
  • Herbal teas
  • Sparkling water
  • Unsweetened teas
  • Water (lots of water)
  • White and red wine (check labels for sugars, organic is the best)

What Not to Drink

  • Cocktails that are high in sugars
  • Juices
  • Sodas
  • Drinks high in sugars

The Sugar-free Diet: Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Nutritionally balanced
  • Naturally lose weight
  • Not as restrictive as other diets and can be relativity easy to follow
  • Great controls your sugar intake

Cons

  • Figuring how all the different sugars in products can be confusing
  • Some might find the extreme sugar-free diet too restricting

The Sugar-Free Diet Menu Sample Menu (One Week)

Here’s an example of a simple first-week sugar-free plan menu. So if this doesn’t seem to motivate you, there are many great recipes available. Check Pinterest for a huge variety of hundreds of different recipes and ideas. This menu is a really simple one just to get you started. 

Monday

  • Breakfast: poached eggs with spinach
  • Lunch: chicken breast and green beans 
  • Dinner: whole-grain pizza flatbread with tomatoes, grilled vegetables, and low-fat cheese as toppings

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: whole-wheat toast with all-natural peanut butter
  • Lunch: tuna salad and an avocado
  • Dinner: salmon and a side of asparagus

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: a cup of greek yogurt with some berries and add a little cinnamon
  • Lunch: whole-grain sandwich with grilled vegetables, such as eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, and onion
  • Dinner: stir-fry, your choice of meat, with a mix of vegetables

Thursday

  • Breakfast: scrambled eggs with veggies 
  • Lunch: a salad with lots of veggies and use oil and vinegar as dressing
  • Dinner: whole -wheat pasta with shrimp

Friday 

  • Breakfast: a cup of greek yogurt with some berries and add a little cinnamon
  • Lunch: tuna salad and an avocado 
  • Dinner: fish, couscous, and roasted vegetables

Saturday

  • Breakfast: eggs and bacon
  • Lunch: avocado on whole-wheat toast
  • Dinner: steak with fresh vegetables

Sunday

  • Breakfast: an omelet with fresh vegetables 
  • Lunch: tuna salad
  • Dinner: salmon and grilled vegetables 

Summary 

Thank you for reading our guide on the sugar-free diet. Please feel free to download and use our free embedded checklists. This will be helpful when creating your menus and making your grocery shopping list.