About sugar and other sweeteners
See more information about sugars on
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Getting refined sugar
out of your diet
Refined sugar is probably the worst
"food" you can put into your body. The chemical reaction of sugar
in the body sometimes acts as a poison does (but technically it is not).
Studies show that sugar has a drug-like effect in the body
(but is technically not a drug).
However, sugar is an addictive food, and abruptly giving up sugar can sometimes bring on
For most people, weaning off sugar gradually
is the best way—and for some the only way—to kick the sugar habit.
Going cold turkey can make you feel like you're denying yourself and could
cause you to binge, sending you back to using refined sugars. The goal is long-term
change. Here is something I came up with, including some replacement ideas that
might help to get through each stage.
This is about cutting
refined sugars from
the diet. Do
not cut out fruit and vegetables and other good, wholesome
foods that have naturally-occurring sugars (foods which are necessary for good
body needs the nutrients found in these foods).
These are my suggestions. Do what works for you, in any order that works best for you,
and to whatever degree you desire to eliminate sugars.
Steps toward gradually
eliminating refined sugars and other refined foods.
1. Stop drinking sugar-sweetened
sodas and soft drinks.
club soda, tea, herbal tea, chai tea, lemonade, limeade—preferably unsweetened.
this point, you can temporarily switch to using diet sodas to help in the
transition, and eliminate these in Step 7. However, it's best to eliminate them
now, because research has shown that the use of diet drinks leads to weight
2. Start reducing the
amount of sugar you use in coffee and tea, until they
taste good with none. Also, switch to decaf or limit caffeine to 2 cups
none—learn to like these unsweetened. However, you can switch to sugar
substitutes and natural sweeteners at this point. These can be eliminated, if
desired, in Step 7.
Cereals—Start reducing the
amount of sugar you use in hot cereals until they taste good with
none. Eliminate cold cereals that have added sugars.
none—learn to like these unsweetened. Read labels, and only buy cereals without
added sugars. However, you can switch to
sugar substitutes at this point, and eliminate them in Step 7, if desired. For
some natural sweetness in cereal, eat some fruit with it.
4. Eliminate desserts
and snacks made with refined sugars. This would include candy, cookies,
cakes, pies, doughnuts, ice cream, etc.
Replacements: Your best
dessert is fruit. However, you could also eat home-made or purchased desserts
made with sugar substitutes (such as puddings and no-sugar-added ice cream). You
can eliminate these,
if desired, in Step 7.
5. Eliminate other foods
that contain refined sugars that are sometimes called “hidden” sugars.
This includes breads, crackers, waffles, salad dressings, marinades, peanut butter, pasta
sauce, salsa, frozen foods, and many others. To an extreme, this would also include spice
mixes. Read labels of everything you buy. Avoid any product that lists sugar,
corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and any other refined sugars in the
ingredients list. Natural sugars are okay.
Replacements: You can
buy sugar-free versions of these products, or buy those made with natural
sweeteners, not refined sugars. You can eliminate natural sweeteners, if
desired, in Step 8.
Eliminate all other
refined and processed white foods such as white enriched flour, white pasta, and white rice.
These are refined, starchy
little or no fiber and are quickly converted to sugars during
the digestive process.
grain flours (whole wheat flour, buckwheat, spelt, soy, and others), brown rice,
100 percent whole wheat or other whole grain breads, whole wheat or other whole
grain pasta, and whole grain cereals, all without added, refined sugars. You might have
to do some searching to find appropriate breads. Read labels.
At this point, you've
eliminated refined sugars and refined grains. If this is your
goal, you've arrived. If not, continue with the next steps.
Although artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes do not raise blood sugar levels like refined sugars and grains, they are believed by many
harmful to your health. However, not everyone believes that all of them are
harmful. (See my Controversies
About Foods page.) Decide for yourself, and continue on to Step
7 if you want to eliminate these. If not, skip this step and go to Step 8.
7. Eliminate or reduce
consumption of artificial sweeteners and/or sugar substitutes, including
diet sodas, gelatin-type products such as Jell-O, pudding mixes, etc. Read
labels carefully. There is
controversy about which of these sugars are safe and which are not. Research them, and
decide for yourself. See above link for help. As stated in Step 1, drinking diet
sodas actually leads to weight gain, probably because they stimulate your
appetite, so they would not be a wise choice even if the sugars were not harmful
in other ways.
sugar substitutes such as Stevia (a sweet herb), Erythritol, or Xylitol. Or natural, whole food sweeteners such as organic unsulphured
blackstrap molasses, raw unheated honey, and pure maple syrup. See the
for details and other suggestions.
8. Eliminate natural
sweeteners only if they cause a problem for you (such as high blood sugar,
low blood sugar, weight gain).
Replacements: None. Natural sweeteners are superior to all other sweeteners.
Naturally sweet foods and food sweeteners have
beneficial nutrients and have claims to healing properties. However, they are high in calories, so if you are trying to lose weight or if you have a
physical problem such as diabetes or hypoglycemia, you will want to use them in moderation,
if at all according to how they affect you. If these are not a
problem for you, continue to use them and go on to the next step, if desired.
will stop here—if not before.
However, if you have
diabetes or hypoglycemia, you might want to go on to the next step and reduce
consumption of the high-sugar fruits and starchy vegetables. Others should be able to enjoy them
and some people with diabetes or hypoglycemia can also enjoy them in
moderation. Do what works for you.
9. Eliminating or
reducing some of the high GI foods.
a. Eliminate or
reduce consumption of the high GI fruits (meaning those high in natural
to eat the lower GI fruits.
b. Eliminate or
reduce the consumption of starchy vegetables. This includes
potatoes, carrots, beets, pumpkin and other winter squashes, and corn (a grain
often used as a vegetable).
There are many Web sites and
books that have GI charts. If you compare some of them, you’ll see that they
vary with their numbers, sometimes by quite a bit, so keep that in mind when
looking for the GI of a specific food. Also, if you eat a high GI food along with low
GI foods, it will reduce the glycemic load (GL) of the meal or snack, which is really
what counts, so you can still enjoy these wholesome, healthy foods.
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