Learn how to follow a no sugar diet, with information about how going sugar-free can benefit your health. This post also includes a no sugar meal plan, including snack ideas. 

getting started with a no sugar diet graphic

If you’re worried about what you can eat when on a sugar free diet, don’t worry! I’ll share tips and meal ideas on a no sugar diet. First, let’s talk about why sugar is a problem.

Sugar consumption is at an all-time high. The average American consumes at least 17 teaspoons of sugar a day, when the recommended amount is ideally less than 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men.

If you’re following a standard American diet, chances are that you’ll find sugar in nearly everything you eat. Sugar is sneaky, making its way into even savory foods–you likely have no idea how much you’re actually consuming.

This is particularly true of processed foods, which often make up the majority of some Americans’ diets. Roughly 39% of Americans are obese, and there’s evidence that sugar is a major culprit.

two spoons on a counter with white sugar and brown sugar

Overview

If you’re concerned about what you can eat on a no sugar diet, then rest assured that there are tons of choices. In fact, if you decided to avoid processed foods and just ate whole foods, then you would naturally be close to an anti-inflammatory diet that is very low in added sugars.

You can check out my clean eating food list for a list of foods that I consider to be part of a real food approach. You might also like my post about how to eat clean without starving yourself.

Also, if you’re going sugar-free, you might want to check out my tips for going sugar-free without going crazy.

buffet of healthy food ingredients

Breakfast Ideas

If you’re going sugar free, a savory breakfast will be your friend! You’ll help reduce sugar cravings by signaling to your brain first thing that sugar is not available. Shoot for at least 25 grams of protein to help keep blood sugar stable. If you need some sweetness for your coffee, then check out my article with the best sugar substitutes

No sugar breakfast ideas include:

  • Egg muffins made with hams, sausage or bacon,
  • Green smoothie made with collagen protein and berries,
  • Leftovers from dinner the day before, or
  • Chia pudding sweetened with fresh berries and monk fruit sweetener.

chia pudding breakfast

Lunch Ideas

Lunch is a good time to get some antioxidants from fruit, starchy veggies, or greens. Paired with plenty of protein and fat, any natural sugars or carbohydrates you consume at lunch will be used as energy throughout your afternoon rather than stored as fat.

No sugar lunch ideas include:

  • Power bowl with a whole grain, legume, baked fish or roast chicken, and avocado,
  • Salad topped with a hamburger patty or sliced sausage and tons of raw shredded veggies, or
  • Hot soup with veggies, lean protein, beans, and a dollop of coconut yogurt (check out my low-carb Instant Pot Vegetable Beef Stew).

meal prep lunch

Dinner Ideas

If you went without sugar all day, feel free to pair your dinner with a piece of fruit or a healthy baked treat for dessert. Some people also enjoy a piece of dark chocolate as a healthy after-dinner treat.

No sugar dinner ideas include:

salmon dinner with greens

Meal Plan

This No Sugar Diet Meal Plan is meant to serve as an example of what it’s like to eat for seven days with no added sugars. So, while you might be giving up added sugars like honey, cane sugar, and maple syrup, you can still get added sweetness from natural sugars in fruit and sweet potatoes.

You can also use sugar substitutes if that works for your health. 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday 

Friday 

Saturday 

Sunday

Sugar Free Snacks

Other simple snacks with no added sugars include:

  • Hard-boiled eggs,
  • Baby carrots with hummus,
  • Greek yogurt with berries,
  • Handful of almonds or other nuts or seeds,
  • Apple and nut butter (check the label to make sure there are no sugars in the ingredients),
  • and leftovers from breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Other Resources

Sugar-Free Foods to Stock Your Pantry

Problems with Sugar

Sugar harms our health by sabotaging weight management, increasing inflammation, and leading to addiction.

1. Overweight & Obesity

When you consume sugar, whether natural or refined, your body has to go through a variety of metabolic processes. First, your blood sugar levels raise. Your pancreas gets the signal to produce insulin, whose job it is to send the sugar to your cells for use or to be stored as fat.

The issue with sugar and weight management primarily comes when we consume more sugar than needed for cellular function. Insulin will move the excess sugar to be stored as fat for a rainy day (or, at least one when there’s no food available!)

In addition, the constant stress of insulin secretion in response to blood sugar swings from simple sugars plays a key factor in the body’s ability to maintain a healthy weight. When you’re stressed, your body naturally feels unsafe and is more likely to store food as fat in the event that you need glycogen to fuel your muscles (if you’re running from a tiger) or if a famine is on the horizon (if there’s not enough food to sustain health).

2. Inflammation

The dramatic blood sugar spike and drop from consuming sugar can trigger your body’s stress response, which includes an inflammatory response. If your blood sugar is constantly spiking and crashing, you’re experiencing inflammation each time.

Living in a constant state of inflammation can cause a multitude of issues like autoimmune diseases, Type 2 diabetes, and mood disorders. A low diet low in sugars and therefore lower in inflammation is the best PCOS diet and is also good for keeping hormones in balance.

3. Addiction

Most of us try very hard to steer clear of harmful addictive drugs. We know they’re bad for us and that they hijack the body to make us crave them. But if you’re not considering sugar to be one of these addictive drugs–think again!

Sugar and sweeteners have a hyperpalatable taste that trigger your brain’s reward center, eventually rewiring your brain to seek out these substances to continue reaping the dopamine rush. So, make no mistake, sugar can be highly addictive. If you think you are addicted to sugar, then you should read my article about how to beat sugar addiction.

FAQs

What is the difference between sugar-free and no added sugar?

Being sugar free can mean different things to different people. For some, it may mean no processed sugar, but natural sugar is allowed. For others, it may mean cutting processed sugar and limiting natural sugars as well. And for a few, it may mean no processed sugar, no natural sugar, and no natural sweeteners either (i.e., stevia, monkfruit, yacon syrup). Read more about doing a sugar detox if you want to go cold turkey.

For this article, we’ll go with the moderate approach of cutting processed sugar and limiting natural sugars as well. This means limiting fruit to several servings a day or less, and reserving natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar to special occasions. Read more about deciding if a low sugar diet is right for you.

What is the best way to cut sugar out of your diet?

Keep in mind that sugar is an addictive substance, so you could be breaking an addiction. Don’t get too hard on yourself if you fall back into old habits. With patience and consistency, you can stop sugar cravings.

Try one of these strategies based on the Abstainer vs. Moderator theory, and know that you can always switch if you’re not seeing results:

  • Moderate: Limit all sugars (natural and processed), but allow healthy treats and indulgences. This approach will look different for every Moderator. As a Moderator, you enjoy having sugar in your diet, and it doesn’t make you crave or obsess over it like you would if you cut it completely. Allow yourself to eat fruit, use honey or maple syrup to sweeten healthy treats, and use stevia or monk fruit. See my list of the safe sweeteners
  • Abstain: Completely eliminate all sugars (fruit, coconut sugar, sweet veggies) and sugar-free sweeteners (stevia, monkfruit, etc.) An Abstainer may even take it a step further by cutting out hyperpalatable foods or things with a ‘sweet’ taste such as nut butters, coconut, or vanilla. Abstainers know that if they allow anything sweet, the cravings will just continue. Indulge yourself with fat and 100% dark chocolate, but be careful not to label it as a reward. Check out my sugar detox plan.

Can you eat potatoes while you’re avoiding sugar?

Whether or not you should eat potatoes on a sugar-free diet depends on your reason for the diet. If you are looking to retrain your tastebuds and simply ensure a longer, healthier life, then potatoes are a nutrient-dense food to enjoy.

However, if you’re going sugar-free to help balance blood sugar, be mindful of including potatoes too often. Potatoes are relatively high on the glycemic index, meaning that they cause a sharper rise in blood sugar. Someone looking to keep blood sugar stable should focus on protein, fat, and non-starchy veggies.

Can you lose weight on a no-sugar diet?

A sugar-free diet can certainly help you lose excess weight. As described earlier in this blog post, sugar is either used by cells for energy or is stored as fat. Going sugar-free allows your body to use all the sugar it’s given (from starchy veggies or fruit) and minimize the likelihood of any being stored as fat. Moreover, you can lose inflammation weight by reducing your sugar intake.

For more support on going sugar-free, you are invited to join my Sugar Free Challenge!

Note: this post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations related to your individual situation.

Join my Monthly Sugar Free Challenge or check out my other Sugar Free Articles & Recipes!

If you like this post, consider following me on social media so we can stay connected. I’m on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube!