My sister brilliantly suggested that I outline what I eat on this refined-sugar-free and processed-carb-free
Because there are many foods you CAN’T have when quitting sugar, it would appear that you’re doomed to starve when you choose to pursue a sugar-free life.
But this is simply not true.
As I mentioned in my part 3 sugar detox post, I have yet to go hungry since I began this sugar “detox.” That’s because I am eating BIG quantities of my approved sugar-detox foods. Including lots of nuts.
There are a lot of foods I’ve had to eliminate from my diet, though. Even foods you wouldn’t think of as high-sugar foods.
For example, I don’t eat lots of bread, crackers, and tortilla chips anymore. Why? Because those processed carbohydrates break down into sugars in my body, just like lollipops do.
We get the same instant energy boost and immediate crash from eating processed carbs as we do from eating Laffy Taffy. Isn’t that crazy?
In order to kick your sugar addiction, you have to quit all foods that metabolize like sugar. Foods that metabolize like sugar are fueling your sugar addiction.
You can tell, because it’s just as difficult to give up Pringles as it is Reese’s Pieces.
Chips, cookies, and candy all have the same drug-like effect on my body and on your body.
And I want to be drug-free!
So, here’s an outline of what I eat every day, now that I’m sugar-free:
Every morning, I start with unsweetened (but definitely cinnamon-spiced) oatmeal or an egg.
For lunch, I have a salad with spinach/kale/arugula/lettuce as the base. To that, I add tomatoes/mushrooms/Brussels sprouts/asparagus/banana peppers and a protein. Proteins: canned chicken, steamed edamame, tuna, and/or taco meat.
After lunch, I have snacks of veggies (celery, cucumber, bell peppers) and/or nuts (almonds).
When I get home, I make another salad for dinner, but I change up the lettuce/leaf base and the protein and the veggie additions. Lately, banana peppers are a must for all salads, though.
After dinner, I have a fruit. Or two. Some days I don’t have fruit.
After that, I have more nuts, if I want. As many as I want! I never worry about eating too many because the thing about nuts is that you get sick of them eventually. Because what you really want is a chip or pretzel, and nuts are NOT pretzels.
So, I eat those nuts until I am full. And then I stop and tell myself enough food and I just go to sleep if being awake without food is too hard.
Remember? Just go to bed!
Keep in mind, my salads are big. Much bigger than they were when I portioned them for 21 Day Fix.
You can see that the foods I primarily subsist on in my sugar-free life are vegetables, nuts, fruits, and meat.
Those are foods that I enjoy, are low in sugar, and keep me happy. Happy = not feeling deprived.
Here’s a list of all of the things I eat while on this sugar-free diet:
- taco meat
- butter lettuce
- romaine lettuce
- Brussels sprouts
- green beans
- green, red, yellow, and orange bell pepper
- banana peppers
- hulled sunflower seeds
- Ezekiel 4:9 English muffins
- whole grain tortillas
- organic whole grain bread
- popcorn (popped in coconut oil)
- coconut oil
- olive oil
Here is a nice table showing the carb totals in various nuts and seeds, if you’re looking to eat low-carb nuts (like me). I used this table to confirm that I can have walnuts and pecans, because those are low-carb nuts.
Remember to keep your fruit portions to NORMAL 1-cup servings (two servings per day). Fruit DOES have sugar in it, but it has other good stuff, too, which is why it’s okay to eat on a sugar-free diet.
But don’t go overboard.
Here are all the things I have NOT been eating on this sugar-free diet:
- sriracha (I know, I know, I am OBSESSED with this stuff, but there’s sugar in it!)
- ice cream (except for that cheat day)
- processed breads (pancake mix, breads, bagels, pizza)
- crackers, chips, pretzels (processed carb snacks)
- cheese, milk, Greek yogurt (I’ll introduce these eventually, but I’m also not a huge fan of dairy)
- brownies, cookies, anything that I didn’t bake with my own natural-sugar ingredients
- potatoes (sweet potatoes will be reincorporated into my diet soon)
- beans, chickpeas, lentils (eventually these will be reintroduced, too)
I explain why I’m avoiding these foods in my How to Quit Sugar Part 1 and Part 2 posts. I avoid some because they’re carb-heavy, and I avoid others because they’re starch-heavy. Hint: starch breaks down just like processed carbs and sugar in the body (it metabolizes into sugars).
All sugar detoxing journeys are different. Some people omit fruit, and others embrace potatoes. It’s up to you how far you want to take it.
For me, I’m wholly obsessed and addicted to ANYTHING that metabolizes into sugars in my body, so I am striving to omit/restrict my intake of sugar, processed carbs, and starches. Eventually I will reintroduce starches (minimally) and whole grains. I omitted both at first because I wanted to jolt my digestive system out of the steady metabolized sugars stream I’d been feeding it.
Regardless of how many foods you want to cut out of your diet on your sugar-free journey, it’s EXTREMELY important to read the ingredients list on your food labels.
Because you might think something is sugar-free and then find out that the ingredients tell a different story. And the whole point of quitting sugar is to cut out foods that have it, so make sure you are reading your food labels and scrutinizing for added sugar!
Here’s a list of 56 different names for “sugar” on your food label. Yup! 56! Crafty food industry we have, hiding sugar behind terms that we either don’t understand or assume to be healthy.
Label Reading Example: I wanted to make some turkey bacon the other night for dinner. When I checked out the ingredients list, I realized that sugar was the second ingredient listed! Sugar was listed BEFORE salt. Which means that turkey bacon has MORE sugar than salt in it. How weird is that?
I was so frustrated that I told my mom I was just going to eat my low-sugar monster cookie dough for dinner, instead.
She wisely suggested that if I was going to do that, I might as well cook up the turkey bacon and eat that.
So I did.
…but you’re supposed to be quitting sugar? you ask.
Well, we’re running low on proteins around my house. Don’t worry, I’ll go to the store soon. The turkey bacon is temporary. I will not eat it again.
I ate it because my mind was telling me to choose between turkey bacon or cookie dough for dinner, and I figured I’d get more protein from the bacon. Remember: I’m still a sugar-free fledgling. I’ll fall off the sugar-free branch occasionally, but I fluff myself up and jump right back on.
The takeaway from this example = I KNEW the turkey bacon had sugar in it because I read the label. Make sure you’re doing the same. You don’t want to be fooled by unwittingly eating sugar-laden foods and ruining all of your sugar-free progress.
Another sugar detoxing note: When you’re first detoxing from sugar, it’s important to eat however much you want of the approved foods list. Because this will allow you to KEEP AWAY FROM SUGAR. As you become less of a sugar-crazed tiger, your appetite for food will slowly diminish to normal size. Don’t worry about eating tons of almonds at first. I certainly didn’t, and I still lost 8 lbs.!
Your appetite returns to normal eventually because, without sugar, your hunger receptors return to normal. Refined sugar messes with our hunger receptors by inciting cravings when we aren’t hungry and telling us we are STILL hungry when we are NOT.
Sugar begets sugar. The more you eat, the more you want. That’s how sugar works!
Remove toxic sugar from the equation, and you can finally feel your body’s nutritional needs. Instead of being clouded in the brain by cotton candy cravings 24/7, you’ll think LESS about food and MORE about other things. And you’ll feel clearer. I described the feeling like waking up every day and having another layer of film removed from my brain. I felt lighter, more focused, calmer, and clearer as the days progressed.
I’ll never go back.
A sugar-free life is the sweetest form of freedom.