When weaning your body off a highly addictive substance such as sugar, it’s important to do so carefully and mindfully. Replacing foods that contain refined sugars with lower amounts of natural sugars is a good way to slowly acclimate and avoid withdrawal symptoms (such as brain fog, jitters, or severe cravings).
Another way to stabilize those big blood sugar spikes is to eat plenty of whole foods that are rich in protein, healthy fats, and fiber. This will help to balance out your body’s natural functions, mood and energy levels, and get you on the right track to a healthier and happier life.
High Fiber Fruits and Vegetables* to Eat on a Low-Sugar Diet
Purchase produce that is in season whenever possible, and as local to your area as you can find. Shop at your local farmers market or talk to the employee or manager that works in the produce department of your grocery store about what is fresh and tasty this time of year.
- Berries (blackberries, cranberries**, blueberries, cherries, raspberries)
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower)
- Leafy greens (kale, spinach, swiss chard)
- Squashes (butternut, zucchini, summer, and spaghetti)
- Sweet potatoes
*Let’s be honest: eating any kind of fresh vegetable is a great addition to any diet. Eat as many different varieties as you’d like!
**Avoid dried cranberries or raisins, as they are higher in sugar content. They also have all the water removed which negates the hydrating quality of eating fresh fruits and vegetables.
Fruit juices should not be considered a part of a low-sugar diet. Instead, use True Citrus products to add sweetness to your seltzer or filtered water.
Herbs and Spices for a Low-Sugar Diet
Fresh herbs are a wonderful way to add bright flavor (and color) to your meals. Store herbs properly to make them last as long as possible, and enjoy them all throughout your week!
Spices also add a zing and natural sweetness to foods. Sprinkle different combinations on rolled oats or cooked quinoa in the morning, on unsweetened nut butters for a snack, or blend them into a smoothie.
- Chili powder
- Ground (or fresh) ginger
Healthy Whole Grains for a Low-Sugar Diet
Although people have made carbohydrates the enemy for a long time (as well as fat), they aren’t as bad as you may think especially when consumed in moderation. Choose whole grains such as those listed below, as opposed to processed grains like breads and pastas. As a rule make your plate full of mostly vegetables first, then add smaller amounts of proteins and grains.
- Brown rice
- Rolled oats
High-Protein Foods for a Low-Sugar Diet
Remember to choose grass-fed and/or organic meats whenever possible. If purchasing pre-cooked meats to save time be sure any added sauce doesn’t contain sugar.
- Beans (garbanzo, navy, black, pinto)
- Eggs (chicken, duck)
- Fish (salmon, tuna, shrimp)
- Chicken (wings, thighs, breast)
Healthy High-Fat Foods for a Low-Sugar Diet
Nuts and seeds make for a wonderful sugar-free snack on the go. Carry a small baggie with you at all times in case you get a craving while you’re out and about!
Be sure to purchase unsalted and unsweetened versions of these foods. Roasted versions are just fine, and totally delicious!
- Nuts (almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios, walnuts)
- Nut butters (sugar-free)
- Oils (coconut oil, olive oil, grass-fed butter, ghee)
- Seeds (chia, flaxseeds, hemp, sunflower, pumpkin)
A note on dairy products: the sugar naturally found in milk (lactose) can be difficult for many people to digest. When removing refined sugars from your diet, you may also benefit from removing dairy for a little while to see how you feel. Also remember that many fruit or vanilla flavored yogurts can contain as much added sugar as a can of soda! If you already use dairy substitutes such as almond or coconut milk, remember to read labels to avoid sneaky added sugars.
Talk to your nutritionist, dietitian, or primary care doctor for the best health recommendations specific to you and your lifestyle. They can help you make the best plan for a successful low-sugar diet.
[Credit: Sharp, Abbey. “What Are the Best Foods for a Low Sugar Diet?” Greatist.]