If you’re considering going on a low sugar diet, either for medical purposes or for weight loss purposes, good for you! A low sugar diet can be a great way to get rid of junk food cravings, prevent or treat diabetes, even out your blood sugar and even relieve acne and depression. The key to implementing a low sugar diet is doing it in a healthy way versus taking a more extreme approach. You should first know that low sugar doesn’t mean no sugar. There are foods that naturally contain sugars that raise blood sugar, while others can help sustain blood sugar, preventing that crash we often suffer from sugary foods. Read these critical tips to learn more about foods you should eat and avoid on a low sugar diet, along with lifestyle changes you should make for the most effectiveness.
1. Have Honest Motivation
Quitting sugar is not easy on a low sugar diet, so you need to be honestly committed to doing this. Sugar sends immediate sensations of happiness throughout the body, yet it is short lived and sends us craving more and more sugar. Dopamine, which is a chemical released into the blood when you eat sugar, sends opiate like signals to our brains that tell us we are calm, happy, and that we need more to keep this so-called “high” we get from sugar, much like a drug does. When going on a low sugar diet, know that it will be hard at first. When implementing a low sugar diet, you need to have honest motivation and take action to avoid getting too hungry or stressed, which can lead to you craving sugar again.Trust me, health feels better than living addicted to sugar tastes!
2. Ditch the Soda
Soda should be the first thing you get rid of on a low sugar diet, even the diet sodas. One regular soda has more sugar than three people should consume in a day! When it comes to diet soda, the artificial sweeteners found in diet sodas send messages to the brain that it is getting sugar, yet the body knows differently. When your glucose isn’t raised even though your taste buds think you’re eating something sweet from artificial sugars, it can lead you to crave more and more, just like you would sugar. Sodas of all kinds also cause teeth enamel erosion, just like sugar does.
3. Avoid the Processed Stuff
Even processed foods that are labeled sugar free should be avoided as much as possible because they are highly processed, like foods that are high in artificial sweeteners and just as refined as foods high in sugars are. Try to stick with more natural foods, which tell your body you’re full sooner and more effectively for longer, since they actually nourish your body and tell it that you no longer need more food to sustain it.
4. Be a Smart Social Diner
You need to also be smart when you eat out at dinner on a low sugar diet. Restaurants can be seriously sneaky sources of sugar, even in dishes that seem like they don’t have any sugar. For example, many places that offer grilled foods marinate the meat or serve the meat with a high sugar basting sauce, or implement it when cooking. Sugar is also found in most dressings, so choose an oil and vinegar based dressing for the safest option. Stick with veggies as a side or plain whole grains like brown rice, but avoid white rice, which is very starchy and can cause blood sugar issues just like sugar. White rice is also void of nutrients, making it pointless to eat. You'll also want to avoid bread as much as possible, since it can lead you to crave sugar as well, by raising the glycemic index. Ask that your meats and veggies be served without sauces and you’ll be good to go! Salads are great as long as you avoid sugary toppings like candied nuts and dried fruits, and stick to oil and vinegar based dressings.
5. Don’t Cut All Sugars
One of the most important tips for performing a low sugar diet is to keep in foods that are low in natural sugars. Enjoy all vegetables except white potatoes, which turn directly to sugar in the body, along with keeping low sugar fruits like berries in the diet, and citrus like grapefruit, lemons and limes. You’ll also want to include plain, unsweetened yogurt into the diet if you tolerate dairy. Do not buy flavored yogurts, which all have added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Stick to plain varieties which contain only natural sugars found in milk, which are often consumed by the healthy bacteria in yogurt, reducing the sugar content. You should also keep gluten-free whole grains in the diet, such as gluten-free oats, quinoa and brown rice, which have essential minerals and vitamins. Gluten-containing grains may not be problematic for individuals who tolerate gluten, but gluten has been proven to have the same direct opiate effect on the brain as sugar, which can lead you to want more and possibly cause you to crave sugar worse.
6. Stick with Protein and Veggies
For the most part, don’t try and make your diet complicated by trying to find low sugar processed foods or eating too many carbohydrates overall. Sticking to protein and veggies is one way to effectively win at a low sugar diet since protein satiates you and sustains your blood sugar levels, and veggies nourish you and let your body know it is satisfied.
7. Avoid Too Many Condiments
Dressings, sauces and dips can be sources of sugar, so be sure to stick with herbs and spices to flavor your foods, along with lemon juice, which offers a nice touch of flavor and has no sugar. Plain mustard (not honey mustard) and apple cider vinegar are actually condiments that you should keep, since both have been proven to curb a sweet tooth, aid in digestion, and are free of sugar.
8. Eat Regularly
Eating a low sugar diet does not mean starving yourself. In fact, the opposite is true! You should be eating every 3 hours on a low sugar diet, since not eating regularly can cause blood sugar levels to drop too fast, and cause you to crave sugar to make them rise again. Eat three meals a day and two snacks. When choosing snacks, choose chopped veggies and unsalted nuts or plain Greek yogurt. You can add sugar-free toppings like unsweetened cocoa powder, flax seeds, chia seeds, cinnamon and even shredded coconut or plain nuts to yogurt to make it more satisfying. I also like stevia, which is an all natural sweetener that has no effect on blood sugar levels.
9. Eat a Little Fat
Don’t try to eat a low sugar diet and low fat diet at the same time. You’ll feel deprived and void of energy if you don’t eat at least a little fat. This should look something like 1-2 tbsp. olive oil, coconut oil or flax oil per day, along with choosing healthy foods rich in monounsaturated fats such as plain dry roasted or preferably raw, unsalted nuts or having a quarter of an avocado per day. One egg per day is also a great recommendation, or seeds such as flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds. One quarter cup of raw trail mix is also fine, but leave out the dried fruit and substitute unsweetened shredded coconut instead. Keep meals simple to protein and veggies and you’ll be well on your way to getting in enough fat, protein and carbs from veggies and low sugar foods. This nice balance will keep you satisfied and well fed.
Going on a healthy low sugar diet was the best thing I ever did, and people often find they have so much energy, focus and less obsession with food when they eat a mostly low sugar diet. Have you ever eaten a healthy low sugar diet?