Eating Low Sugar

by HEAB on March 1, 2011

Yesterday I received the following email from reader Dena.

…I’ve been thinking for some time of cutting sugar out of my diet and reading your blog yesterday re-inspired me. I was wondering, however, if you might do a post about how to watch out for hidden sugars? You mention going easy on fruit, and I know to cut out obvious things like candy and honey, but can you offer advice on foods to avoid that the average person may not realize contain sugar?

For example, I snack on Larabars. Sugar isn’t listed as an ingredient so are those safe? Or my treat at night is a diet hot chocolate instant mix. 25 calories and sugar isn’t listed as an ingredient but surely there’s sugar in the cocoa? Whole grain cereals – are those okay? Just any general advice you may have.

Also, I’m vegetarian and use honey in a fair number of recipes. Is there any substitute you’d recommend or just suffer through and leave it out?

I often get asked about eating a no-sugar diet. I no longer eat this way, but I did when I losing weight. I never counted carbs, fats, proteins, etc. The only thing that really mattered to me was making sure whatever I was eating was low in sugar. Sugar is everywhere, and sugar is sugar. Agave nectar = sugar. Honey = sugar. Dates = sugar. Fructose = sugar. I’m not telling you to never eat any of these, but our bodies don’t really need sugar in any form. I’m not saying no carbs, I’m saying no sugar. I eat it now but still try to keep my intake low. However, if you’re trying to lose weight, cutting out all forms of sugar will really help you drop the pounds.

Sugar is hidden in so many foods, and you really have to learn the read the labels. It’s added to condiments – 2 TBSP of barbecue sauce can contain 8 grams of sugar or a about 2 tsp of sugar. That may not sound like a lot, but it can add up fast. Ketchup is another sweetened condiment. Sugar is often used in deli meats, cereals, and many other packaged foods. READ YOUR LABELS and try to focus on whole real food rather than food that comes in a package.

Personally, I feel better with carbs in my life. Some people can live without them. I can’t, but again, I try to choose low sugar carbs like vegetables and unsweetened whole grains. If you’re going to buy packaged cereal and you’re trying to lose weight, I would recommend keeping the sugars under 5 grams or so per serving. Better yet, buy unsweetened brown rice cereal or make your own low sugar granola.

Dena, Larabars are high in sugar, even if it does come from dried fruit. I really like Larabars, and I definitely think they’re a better choice than some funky protein bar filled with protein isolate, Sucralose, etc. Again though, if you’re trying to lose weight, I recommend making your own snack bars – or perhaps some avocado carob blobs. So yummy and 100% sugar free. The diet hot chocolate does contain minimal sugar from the milk powder, but I’m guessing it’s sweetened with either aspartame or sucralose (Splenda). How about some HEABified hot chocolate instead? I think a little honey or maple syrup every so often is fine, but again, all those drizzles here and there can really add up, and so make sure you’re not going overboard.

Another question I often get is how did I give up sugar. My response usually goes something like this…

As far as sugar goes, When I first started losing weight I began to eat fewer and fewer sweets and when the weight started falling off, I realized my body just can’t handle the stuff. So, I didn’t touch any sugar for about 3 years, but I still had β€œmy desserts”. My sweet loving taste buds learned to be perfectly satisfied with a big plain oven baked sweet potato or a bowl of late evening oatmeal with nut butter and a few chocolate chips. I also found ways to make many of my old favorite dishes much lower in sugar.

Basically, I’m a very stubborn person, and as soon as the weight starting coming off, that’s all the motivation I needed to give up sugar. Again, our bodies don’t need it, and I promise your cravings will lessen once you stop eating sugar. I would recommend watching your artificial sweetener intake as well. I try and avoid Splenda (it does slip into my diet on occasion), but I do use stevia. However, I try not to use it a lot because then I get into the habit of wanting to sweeten everything.

For some more low/no sugar recipes & ideas, please check some of my favorite bloggers:

Chocolate Covered Katie

Diet, Dessert and Dogs

A Spoonful of Sugar Free

And two new sugar free blogs that I already love:

Chili Flake

Miranda’s Untamed Kitchen

I leave you with my sugar free breakfast…


Rolled oats cooked in water and topped with unsweetened Baker’s chocolate and tahini. OBSESSED with this combo!


Sarah March 7, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Hey Heather, I’ve been curious for a while. You said that when you were losing weight you didn’t count your macronutrient/percentages/grams, but I do remember elsewhere that you said you kept to a certain general calorie range, and also something about how you now eat similarly to how you did when you were “dieting”, but that now you just get to eat a little more.

Aside from adding (occasional treats of) sugar back into your life, do you know if you eat more carbs or more fat now than you did when you were dieting?

HEAB March 7, 2011 at 9:44 pm

To stay at my pre-pregnancy weight (still not quite there yet), I ate anywhere between 1700 to 2000 calories a day. So, when I was losing weight, it was less than that. There were times when I restricted a bit too much, and so I know there were some days that were too low, and I would not recommend that as it can really mess with your metabolism. Peronally, I lose weight if I eat less than 1700 calories.

I am probably eating more carbs and fat now than I did, but that’s just b/c I’m eating more overall. I was a vegetarian during some of my weight loss years and ate a lot of grains and fat, but not much animal fat. Back then I ate a lot of almonds, olive oil, nut butter, etc., and now I eat more eggs, butter, meat, etc. So, that’s one thing that has changed, and I’m obviously eating more protein now, but the amount of carbs has stayed fairly constant.

Does that help? I feel like I’m rambling.

Monica March 3, 2011 at 9:42 pm

I have been having terrible sugar cravings lately at odd points in the day and your post is really starting to turn the wheels in my head. I have been eating way too much sugar lately and it has my brain kicked into the “more more more” mode – not good.

I am thinking that it might be time to start testing unsweetened items and recipes to start getting those cravings back under control.

Thanks for such a great post!

Meagan March 3, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Great post Heather, however, you didn’t mention how some things we eat convert DIRECTLY to SUGAR in our bodies once they are broken down and that should count as sugar too. Like potatoes = sugar, fruit = sugar… etc.

HEAB March 3, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Thanks Meagan. I’ve mentioned fruit before, and from I what I understand, fructose is metabolized in the liver, and our body reacts differently to it than the carbs from potatoes, brown rice, etc. For me personally, my body can handle whole grains, potatoes, etc. but not a lot of fruit/fructose.

And yes, I know our bodies convert all carbs to glucose, but I don’t necessarily consider a potato to be in the same category as a piece of candy.

Abbey March 3, 2011 at 12:56 pm

As a serious ketchup addict, I set out to correct my hidden sugar intake in this condiment. I favor either Trader Joe’s house brand or Annie’s. They have about 4g sugar per 1 T. Wow! I eat…..well, let’s just say a lot. I am a condiment queen and I love adding it on top of omelette’s, veggie burgers, and salmon burgers which I eat at least one of these three every day.

Muir Glen tomato puree, in a ginormous can, at Whole Foods. 3g sugar per 1/4 cup. Add some stevia before serving, AMAZING. I really mean it, it tastes better than my beloved ketchup because you actually taste so much more tomato!
Try it Heab-ers.

HEAB March 3, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Abbey, I have tried it – even love it without the stevia. I do the same with watered down tomato paste. Definitely an excellent sub for ketchup!

CH March 2, 2011 at 11:05 pm

I eat a low-ish sugar diet now and couldn’t be happier. I don’t intend to get rid of it entirely at all, but have eliminated so many sneaky sources — I now eat plain lowfat yogurt, have cut out protein bars, and make my own trail mixes using nuts, a tiny bit of fruit, etc.

I think the key to being happy with a lower sugar intake is to remember that you need to compensate with FAT and/or PROTEIN. You will be miserable if you have not sugar or fat or protein in your diet!

Dena Harris March 2, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Hi Heather,

I tried your breakfast this morning – rolled oats with water, tahini, and Bakers chocolate. I put in less chocolate than you and was AMAZED to find it was still too much for me. Whoo-hoo! =) The taste might take a little getting used to, but I liked it and was STUFFED for hours afterward. Tomorrow I tackle fried eggs and avocado. Sugar be gone!

Annie@stronghealthyfit March 2, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Fabulous post! I’m giving low-sugar a try right now myself, and have acquired a taste for unsweetened chocolate. All those recipes look delicious!

Lauren March 2, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Oh! And like others have probably said, starting the day with eggs and avocado (and some sea salt!) really starts you off on the right foot and eliminates any sugar cravings for the rest of the day! P.S. I would stay away from all artificial sweeteners as they cause sugar cravings and raise insulin and leptin. Good luck!

Lauren March 2, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Agreed! I would cut out the larabars for sho! You don’t realize how yucky they are making you feel until you get rid of them! And honestly, the more consistent you are with eating sugar-free, the less you want sugar. Seriously! If you get down to no-sugar (and less grains) then all your cravings will vanish! You may even feel a slight aversion to sweetness!

Chandra March 2, 2011 at 10:46 am

Great timing with this post. I got really lax over the winter and added a bunch of sugar back into my diet. I have just started back on the no sugar train. I still put maple syrup in my maple nut oaties πŸ˜‰ (these are a fave at our house) and I eat whole fruit and there are other things I know it occurs naturally in that I’m eating but it works for me. A little naturally occuring sugar is great. A lot of sugar no matter the form makes me feel icky. For the women who read this it also messes with your hormones. It greatly increases PMS mood swings. The worst for me is how tired it makes me. When I was sugar free (minus what God put in it) I felt so much better and I had no trouble sleeping and I had energy the next day.

I also like to start with a savory breakfast and it almost always contains two whole eggs…I don’t do any fruit until after 10am.

Sarah (The Rounded Teaspoon) March 2, 2011 at 10:43 am


Thank you for this wonderful post. I think I’m tricking myself into believing that there’s a huge difference between refined and “natural” sugars like maple syrup, honey,etc. I’m starting with baby steps, though, and eliminating refined sugars. I’ve found that when I run more, I really crave sugar. When I do yoga and other forms of exercise, I don’t even miss it. To kick the sugar, I’m switching back to a yoga-centric routine!

Thank you for this great post.

HEAB March 2, 2011 at 12:25 pm

You’re welcome. Yoga really helps with my sugar cravings as well. πŸ™‚

Emily March 2, 2011 at 10:39 am

This is such a great post! I’ve been trying to cut down on sugar lately and it inspired me to cut the 2 tsp of honey from my cold morning oats.

One thing I don’t think I can ever give up is fruit. I eat at least 2 servings a day.

Casey March 2, 2011 at 10:17 am

This will be such a helpful post for so many people. I definitely feel my best on a sugar free diet, even without fruit except for some berries here and there. Many of my clients who what to lose weight or feel more balanced say the same thing.
Whole grains definitely convert to sugar fairly quickly in the body but they don’t cause a problem for a lot of people if they aren’t eating sugar in other forms.
I too love a big sweet potato or pumpkin baked and then coated in stevia, a little coconut oil and pumpkin pie spice for dessert. Oh so good! I have that recipe on my blog too. Thanks for the great post Heather..
Hope you can enjoy the avocado carob blobs Dena.

Allison W. March 2, 2011 at 10:04 am

I try to limit my sugar intake to fruit. I notice that when I do a lot of cardio, I crave sugar/carbs. I definitely tend to lose a few lbs when I skip workouts for a few days. My appetite is so ravenous when I’m running a lot, but I need to work out for my mental health!

On another note… I wonder if the negative effects of natural sugars in fruit outweigh the positive effects of antioxidants and other nutrients.

HEAB March 2, 2011 at 12:28 pm

I’ve actually read that no, the antioxidants and fiber in fruit is not worth the damage that fructose can do, but I know there are different opinions out there on the topic. I don’t eat much fruit, but I love it sometimes, and it’s a much better choice than say a Twinkie. As far as the antioxidants go, I prefer to get mine from chocolate anyway. πŸ˜‰

skinnyrunner March 2, 2011 at 9:55 am

this post really got me thinking about my sugar consumption. i eat a lot of sugar and could def cut some, ok a lot, out. thanks for the thoughts and tips!

Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn March 2, 2011 at 9:45 am

What a coinkydink! Lately I have been feeling the urge to get rid of sugar in my diet (I never use real sugar, only stevia and fruit), and this addresses the issue perfectly! I completely agree, and I have even started having greens on the side of my breakfast instead of fruit. I feel TEN times better already!

Amy March 2, 2011 at 9:01 am

Great post, Heather. Though I am slender, I was tested and found to have insulin resistance. When eating sugar, particularly in the mornings or late at night, it sets up a pattern of cravings and a spiked appetite. If I eat a sugary snack before bed, I wake up with hunger that is insatiable. When eating it breakfast, the same seems to happen. I can get by if I pair it with a heavy protein + fat, but it is easier just to avoid. Since reducing my sugar intake for so long, when I do have an occasional cookie or treat it just tastes to sweet/rich/processed.
Would love to have you do a follow-up post on ways to use unsweetened cocoa powder and Baker’s chocolate…both are favorites of mine πŸ™‚

Melissa B. March 2, 2011 at 10:18 am

I am the EXACT same way, Amy! 73% cocoa chocolate is more than sweet enough for me know, and I cringe when I think about how much sugar I used to eat.

HEAB March 2, 2011 at 12:29 pm
Meg March 2, 2011 at 8:44 am

Thanks Heab! After writing you a few weeks ago, I discovered that putting sugar in my morning coffee makes me want to eat it all day long. Now my method is to avoid it in the am, and then later in the day I can have some without the sluggishness! So far it seems to help my energy levels and keep my overall intake lower…which was the goal!

Mark March 2, 2011 at 1:04 am

I love eating sweets but I must learn to be more healthier now. Your post is very useful for me…I agree with what JEN said, cutting the sugar from my diet is really hard especially when you have a sweet tooth. so, What is the good motivation for this?

Anyway, its a GREAT post… πŸ™‚

HEAB March 2, 2011 at 8:30 am

The way I feel when I don’t eat sugar motivates me to stay away from it. Even when I use a lot of stevia, I tend to feel gross, and I just don’t like it. Also, anytime I eat a lot of sugar, it goes straight to my belly, like almost immediately, and if my jeans start to feel snug, the first thing I always do is eliminate sugar. Again, my body can hardly handle any.

Stephen March 2, 2011 at 1:03 am

I love eating sweets but I must learn to be more healthier now. Your post is very useful for me…I agree with what JEN said, cutting the sugar from my diet is really hard especially when you have a sweet tooth. so, What is the good motivation for this?

Anyway, its a GREAT post…

Renee March 2, 2011 at 12:31 am

Hi Heather!
I am new to the blogging world, but I absolutely love your blog! I am going to be scanning back over it for tips and ideas to help me in my journey to lose weight, and become a healthy, happy, girl. Thankyou so much for sharing with us in so much depth! I cant wait to try your oats with Tahini, they look sooooo good! : )

xo Renee

Jen March 1, 2011 at 11:18 pm

I’m really trying to cut the sugar from my diet, but wow, it is hard! I can get away from the obvious ones (candy, fruit, condiments) but how do you rid of it completely? Eating out is really tough! Even if I get just grilled chicken they marinate it in a sauce which I’m sure has sugar.

How did you make sure to avoid it completely?

Renee March 2, 2011 at 1:10 am

Yes, I would like to know where to start too. I was just talking about a program in my blog, where you start your sugar elimination, by eating protein only for 3 days. 6 small protein meals for 3 days. I found it really hard, because i felt undernourished just eating meat! Can you recommend the best way to start, or any reference material I could look at? Thanks heaps xo Renee

HEAB March 2, 2011 at 8:43 am

I’ve tried the 6 small protein meals a day thing too and was miserable. I felt so deprived and as much as I love meat, I can’t eat it 24/7. Again, just b/c I watch my sugar intake doesn’t mean I stay away from carbs or sweet veggies. What works for me is satisfying my sweet tooth with low sugar options, like an oven baked sweet potato or a bowl of oatmeal with nut butter, unsweetened chocolate, etc. Some people have better luck going completely cold turkey, and after a while, maybe even a few weeks, the cravings will go away. That doesn’t work for me – nothing sweet and I go kind of crazy.

I will say that eating a more savory breakfast helps curb my sugar cravings as whenever I eat a breakfast higher in carbs (which I often do), I tend to crave sweets more throughout the day. Starting my day with some scrambled eggs or an omelet makes a difference, and I prefer fat over protein. Keeps me satiated longer. If I just do an egg white omelet with veggies or something, I’m starving 30 minutes later.

HEAB March 2, 2011 at 8:35 am

Never eat out. Hehe, just kidding, but yeah, it’s hard with restaurants. My advice is to ask a lot of questions, and don’t hesitate to put in special requests. I find that if I’m really polite to my server, then he/she will usually talk to the kitchen about accommodating my requests. There are always sugar free options available – you may just have to get a little creative.

Again, I don’t avoid it 100% anymore, but when I did, I didn’t really eat out that often. We still don’t, but when I do, I just stay away from any kind of sweet sauce and opt for meats cooked in butter or cream, or ask for any kind of sauce on the side.

robyn jones clark March 1, 2011 at 11:11 pm

this was an EXCELLENT post. πŸ™‚ since we last spoke, i’ve cut out the splenda as well. About the only time i was eating it was in drinking a diet rite orange soda… but i don’t need it. πŸ™‚

Kathleen @ KatsHealthCorner March 1, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Heather, I absolutely ADORE this post. I love you for this! I totally agree. Sugar is Sugar. Even though Dates are a fruit, they are still high in Sugar. Thank you for this! πŸ˜€

I love Stevia! πŸ˜€


Lorne March 1, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Heather, I love this post! Thanks for sharing Dena’s question with us. I too am on a mission to remove (refined)sugar from my diet and I’ve come a long way with the help of green smoothies, and blogs just like yours :0) I’ve noticed that on days where sugar features heavily in my diet I feel icky, sluggish and visit the loo more than is usual(sorry for TMI). It is easy to see from this pattern that sugar is not part of my need but purely a hideous addiction.

Hummus has become my snack replacement for sweet foods. Ok, so I’ve kinda swapped one addiction for another – oops. I looooooovvvveeee hummus.

Pure2raw Twins March 1, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Great tips and advice beautiful! I agree sugar is sugar and it is everywhere! Now Michelle and I tend to eat an overall low sugar diet with those rare occasion where we might have a high sugar day πŸ˜‰ it happens. But now we are realizing that we have Candida issues so we have to really take sugar out for awhile till our bodies get back to normal, is there a such thing as normal? haha
I know we are going to have some hard days but I think overall I will be very pleased with myself when I do it πŸ™‚

Heather @ kissmybroccoli March 1, 2011 at 10:24 pm

I really liked hearing your perspective on this Heather. I did a “sugar free week” last month and until then, I never realized how many hidden sugars there are in the foods I consume, ie: ketchup, soy sauce, dips. I rarely ever sweeten my foods and like you avoid Splenda, but occasionally use Stevia. I’ve noticed over the last 6 months or so, since taking note of the amount of sugar in my diet, that my sweet tooth has calmed down quite a bit. I love a sweet potato fresh out of the oven and I love dark chocolate (something I used to hate immensely)! Eating less sugar and appreciating the natural sugars in foods also helps me from feeling “bogged down” with the processed stuff!

PS, you really have me curious about that oat combo! Hmm, breakfast tomorrow perhaps?

Alyssa March 1, 2011 at 10:22 pm

I’m trying to weed out excess sugars from my diet…mostly the ones we find in beverages. Those certainly add up! I don’t worry about my fruit intake because it is moderate, but I try to not add sugar or salt to anything I make (to include jams, etc.)

Hannah March 1, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Fascinating! I’m very much *not* a low-sugar person πŸ˜› but at the same time I prefer my desserts and sweets to be not too sweet. I think this is why I love your blog so much! Funnily enough, I had a very similar breakfast to you this morning, although I used sunflower seed butter and Lindt 85% πŸ™‚

Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple March 1, 2011 at 9:55 pm

That oatmeal does look awesome! looove tahini

A Teenage Gourmet March 1, 2011 at 9:23 pm

I need tahini . . . STAT!

Christin@purplebirdblog March 1, 2011 at 9:11 pm

I am so drooling over your bowl of oats. Your blog has been such a huge influence on me over the last couple years, and I definitely evaluate my sugar intake a lot differently because of it. If someone would have ever told me in the past I would enjoy unsweetened chocolate I would have thought them bonkers πŸ™‚

Lea @ Healthy Coconut March 1, 2011 at 8:49 pm

I have the same experience with sugar, if I cut it out, I get really lean.

However, I am mindful of what I eat and that includes sugar. I still eat them regularly but I pay close attention to what happens after. The lesson I learned is that I’m better off without sugar but life isn’t as fun without them so I continue to eat them in moderation and I really make it count when I do eat a sugary dessert. Everything in moderation right?

It has been years since I ate sugar almost everyday, and I can really tell the difference of how my taste buds have changed. The restaurant desserts are always “too” sweet for me now, before I didn’t even noticed.

Thanks for this post Heather πŸ™‚

rebecca lustig March 1, 2011 at 6:47 pm

You raise such valid points– Sugar IS everywhere but it doesn’t mean we should deprive ourselves of our daily necessary intake of carbs

Caitlin (EatFeats) March 1, 2011 at 6:43 pm

I am a sugar fiend (and when I do cut it out, I end up craving tons of salt, weird), and sweet potatoes satisfy even my eternal sugar craving. So delicioussss.

This post is wonderful! From what I have read, sugar is totally unnecessary. Unfortunately, from what I have experienced, it is totally addictive. I used to feel like I needed a hit of the sweet stuff every couple of hours. Now that I have cut down (relative only to how much I used to eat), I feel much better. Much less like I am high off of ice cream and cookies.

Jessica@ Fruit and Veggie Tales March 1, 2011 at 6:43 pm

That oatmeal look amazing! Do you know if unsweetened bakers chocolate is made with milk? We are dairy free and my beloved dark chocolate was made on the same equipment as dairy products πŸ™ My son’t eczema flared up. Stink.

HEAB March 1, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Baker’s only has one ingredient: chocolate, but I’m not sure about any cross contamination as the company does make other products. Have you ever heard of this company: I found them online for you – maybe their chocolate chips would work? Sorry about the eczema. We’re dealing with it as well. πŸ™

Kate (What Kate is Cooking) March 1, 2011 at 5:15 pm

I eat a ton of sugar- I think I am addicted to it! I should really try to limit it. It’s nice to know there are recipes out there that can help me break my addiction πŸ™‚

Jillian Babbel March 1, 2011 at 5:14 pm

I’ve been doing low sugar/low carb since last summer and have lost over 50 lbs. It TOTALLY works!

Here are some of my favorite blogs that have AMAZING recipes for inspiration:

and my blog (Get Fit Sisters) has a bunch of recipe too:

Good luck!!!

Ricki March 1, 2011 at 5:00 pm

I am exactly the same way with sugar. When I cut it out (because of the anti-candida diet–so basically, forced into it), the weight did start to come off and I ended up more or less doing what you did. As long as I steer away from sugar (in any form except fruit–and that in moderation) I seem to be able to keep the weight off. Once I reintroduce it, there’s trouble! I am also hooked on unsweetened chocolate, though I can’t seem to tolerate the Baker’s on its own (it tastes far too bitter to me)–I use Cocoa Camino, but I don’t think you can get it in the States. And a little stevia in my chocolate doesn’t hurt, either. πŸ˜‰

HEAB March 1, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Oh my gosh, totally should have included you in my blog list in today’s post. How I could forget you – definitely one of my favorite no-sugar bloggers. Going back to add you now! πŸ™‚

Ricki March 1, 2011 at 6:25 pm

Heather, thank you so much! I’m honored that you feel that way (and hope you didn’t think I left a comment for that reason!). I feel the same way about HEAB–love reading your posts, love your food. πŸ˜€

HEAB March 1, 2011 at 8:42 pm

Oh gosh, not at all. Your recipes are fabulous, and I’m happy to spread the Diet, Dessert and Dogs love. πŸ™‚

Ricki March 2, 2011 at 9:21 am

Aw, many thanks! And back atcha πŸ˜€

Janine March 1, 2011 at 4:52 pm

I’m confused.. i’ve been using unsweetened carob a lot, but doesn’t it still have sugar?
Have you found carob that is completely sugar-free??? I must know!

HEAB March 1, 2011 at 5:11 pm

All carob contains some naturally occurring sugars, and the unsweetened carob chips contain sugars from the dairy they contain.

Heather March 1, 2011 at 4:36 pm

I actually just found sugar free ketchup at my co-op this morning. Was so excited! Made me think of you. πŸ™‚ While I know my sugar loving friends might not like its tartness, I think its taste is superior.

And stevia is absolutely addictive. For me, it’s more addictive than actual sugar! Especially the vanilla variety. πŸ˜›

HEAB March 1, 2011 at 5:26 pm

I really like unsweetened ketchup. Watered down tomato paste + stevia makes a good dipper or pizza sauce as well. πŸ™‚

Maryea @ Happy Healthy Mama March 1, 2011 at 4:28 pm

I love this post and totally agree with your stance on sugar. I have gone through sugar free periods and it is so true that the less sugar you eat the less you crave it.

Erika @ FoodFitnessFun March 1, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Great tips, Heather! Ever since going completely sugar-free for 2 days at the beginning of February I’ve been making an effort to eat less sugar. I feel so much more energized without it, plus my skin is clearer! πŸ˜›

Melissa B. March 1, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Great post, Heather! I have cut sugar down in my diet drastically over the past year. I used to have a zone protein bar for breakfast plus 3 small chocolate/almond candy bars. Then, ususally some more candy or cookies after dinner. Oh, and fruit was always my go to snack. I have completely cleaned up my diet, eat whole foods, tons of veggies, healthy fats, and occasionally a piece of 73% or higher chocolate. I feel SO much better- my digestion has improved, my cystic acne has reduced (I used to have at least a dozen huge zits at any given time, now only one occasionally). I also used to get the hypoglycemic jitters and heart palpitations- gone! It really is amazing how much it affects your body. Cheers to you!

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) March 1, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Wow Heather, this is a great post!

I am the opposite of you or most people with sugar, I think. I don’t know…I feel my body just really needs it. I add sugar (white, brown, agave, honey) to tons of things I eat. And also don’t shun carbs, which may or may not be more “classic” sugary things, i.e. oatmeal is a very different carb from a slice of cake carb. But either way, I am into both sugar and carbs.

I am not into protein nearly as much. Fats, yes. We’ve talked about this before, but for my body type and metabolic type, I just feel better with a decent amount of sugar rushing through my veins. I am sure that some people cringe, but that’s ok. It’s my body πŸ™‚

I also think people get a bit too obsessed about sugar, and finding out ALL The ways it can come into one’s diet and in what forms. I think eating a diverse diet, of whole, unprocessed, natural state foods…is one’s best bet. And to keep the slab of chocolate brownies to a minimum πŸ™‚

HEAB March 1, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Haha…or slab of rice krispie treats with fudge frosting…which I still want to make! πŸ˜‰

Heather March 1, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Great question and post! We are an over-sugared society! I tell my clients that if you feel you TRULY need it, eat sugar you recognize like brown rice syrup or old fashioned maple syrup. The stuff we eat now has only been around for less than a century and it’s made to draw you in and make you addicted.
Another tip for fighting the sugar blues, make sure other parts of your life are sweet. We often turn to sweets to comfort us when other areas of our life make us unhappy.
Just a thought!

HEAB March 1, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Very good point. I know if I’m feeling down about anything, I want sugar! Not good.

Renee March 2, 2011 at 12:55 am

That is soooo true! I love that!

Sarah March 1, 2011 at 3:31 pm

You might want to add that sugar isn’t always listed as “sugar” in the ingredients – besides the various fruits and sweeteners you’ve listed, pretty much anything ending in “-ose” (i.e. maltose, dextrose, glucose etc.) is an added sugar. πŸ™‚

HEAB March 1, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Yes! Good call.

Maya March 2, 2011 at 4:31 am

I have been sugar-free for about a year (with a few cheats but not many!) To add on to Sarah’s post, sugars also appear as these products:

rice syrup, evaporated cane juice, maltodextrin, Neosugar, Alant Starch, Atlanta Starch, Alantin, FOS (fructooligosaccharides)

and there are more for the seriously effected, such as tapioca starch, xantham gum, licorice, and Sodium starch glycinate.

But just avoiding “sugar”, rice syrup, cane juice, -ose’s, and maltodextrin would get you pretty far!!

VEGirl March 1, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Great post! I personally have no problem with fruit (I eat it allllll the time :)), and I love sweet potatoes– they make up a lot of the “sweetness” in my diet. I rarely use agave nectar, maple, brown rice syrup, etc. (although I used to eat thee a lot– but even them in excess doesn’t make me feel good) and even more rarely sugar– sugar itself (even the raw stuff) coats my taste spuds and makes me feel like I just need to eat more, more, more, more, sugar! Not a nice cycle to be in! I have come to love the taste of unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder for my chocolate fixes (I am satisfied with less when it comes to those), and I now love the taste of stevia for any sweetening desires I may have.

With cutting out sugar I love how even the most simple, whole foods taste decadently sweet– like carrots or sweet potatoes, and dried fruit is like candy!


HEAB March 1, 2011 at 5:27 pm

I could not agree more.

Baking 'n' Books March 1, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Find what works for you I say. It evolves and changes. Like you said, even your diet is not what it used to be. Different stages, different strokes.

Unsweetened dark chocolate?! You are hard-core! πŸ™‚

Michelle March 1, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Thanks for posting this Heather! I’m working on lowering the amount of processed food in my diet and I’d love to lower the amount of sugar I eat too. I know I feel better without these foods but sometimes I run out of ideas. Now I’ve got some great resources. Thanks again!

Jen March 1, 2011 at 3:04 pm

It’s like you were reading my mind! Awesome, perfectly written post, thank you!!!

Liz @ Tip Top Shape March 1, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Wow, sugar really is everything when you start looking for it. I’m going to be reading my labels more carefully now for sure.

chocolate-covered katie March 1, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Awwwwwwwww HEAB, I am so so so honored that you included me in your sweet (hehe irony) post. I LOVE how you feel the same way about sugar that I do… a little is good, a lot is bad and makes ya feel gross. In fact, you were one of the ones who prompted me to try 100% chocolate. (Forever indebted to you 4 that!)
And I have to shake my head every time I see things touted as “sugar free” when they have maple syrup or agave. In fact, I was just eating some chili sauce today that’s “sugar free” but not really (It’s by Organicville, and it has agave… it’s really good though lol).
I could go on. But instead I’m gonna shut up so I can silently marvel at the beauty of your brekkie ;).

Sarah March 1, 2011 at 2:16 pm

This is wonderful, Heather. I’m glad you chose to post this today; I know I could really use a reduction in sugar intake myself!

Jennifer March 1, 2011 at 2:10 pm

What great information!! Thanks for asking, Dena! I *know* sugar does bad things to me…and I go in cycles of doing well eliminating it and then…not so well. This post is a great (re)starting point for me to get on (back) on track.

I’ve been curious, though, about a substitute for Stevia. I can’t do artificial sweeteners at all. I’ve tried Stevia and it doesn’t seem to like me either… :/

Thanks, Heather!! πŸ˜€

HEAB March 1, 2011 at 3:34 pm

My mom gets headaches whenever she eats stevia. Have you ever tried SlimSweet? The alternative MD I used to work for was a big fan. You can buy it from iherb:

J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) March 1, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Very informative post! I’m not so good with limiting my sugars or carbs, I’m a carbaholic for sure, but I do at least make an attempt to keep my added sugar intake lower than it once was.

I do better with carbs in my diet, even though I know we technically do not need them to survive. I like them and I feel they can be quite healthy.

Now, I already love dark chocolate (72%), I’d have to slowly creep my way up to 100% unsweetened, lol. I love (sweet) cacao nibs, though! Close enough? πŸ˜› hahaha

Ellen March 1, 2011 at 1:37 pm

i totally agree about sugar. i gave it up at the beginning of the year and it was the best decision i ever made. i’ve known i needed to give it up for a long time, but it is hard. anyone that says it isn’t addictive has never given it up cold turkey! i think it is probably the single most helpful thing someone can do to improve their health. great post!

Talia @ Texas Gunslinger March 1, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Love this post! I’m currently axing as much sugar from my diet as possible, because it affects me so negatively in how I feel and my energy levels. After going months and months without sugar, and then starting to eat it again after my competition, I felt out of control with the cravings and realized sugar was the “culprit” to my mood swings, crazy weight fluctuations, and energy. I feel SO much better when I cut sugar from my diet and am training my taste buds to really enjoy dark chocolate more and finding the natural sweetness in whole foods, rather than relying too much on artificial sweetness. I still haven’t weened myself off Splenda,but it’s a start! πŸ™‚

Jill March 1, 2011 at 1:07 pm

I definitely *do* eat sugar…in a perfect world I would eat less, but I guess I rationalize it by saying that I eat around 80-85ish % whole/real foods so that makes it okay πŸ™‚ What my body does not seem to enjoy is a lot of refined and white carbs. If they are the only carbs involved in any of my meals I’m ravenous within 2 hours.

One sugar issue that annoys me so much is when sugar is in TOTALLY unnecessary stuff. There are seriously about 8-10 grams per serving in pasta sauce and I don’t want my pasta sauce to taste sweet. Who thinks up stuff like this? LOL

See you tomorrow!

Little Bookworm March 1, 2011 at 1:07 pm

That breakfast sounds interesting – only ever had tahini in hummus. Love chocolate in porridge though! πŸ™‚ That bowl your breakfast is in looks pretty as well!

Jennie March 1, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I cut out added sugars, too, for a while and I feel so much better. I have found now that things with sugar in them are too sweet for me now. 85% dark chocolate used to taste slightly bitter to me, now it tastes too sweet. I love, love, love 100% cacao bars (Hershey’s Unsweetened Baking Chocolate is the absolute BEST).

HEAB March 1, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Yeah, I like the Hershey’s as well, but Bakers will always be my favorite. πŸ™‚

Victoria (District Chocoholic) March 1, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Good call on the hidden sugars – I found out that there is high fructose corn syrup in what *used* to be my favorite whole grain crackers. Yikes.

I think one of the best ways to slowly get sugar out of your diet, if you are looking to do so, is to incorporate other foods like fish, vegetables, etc. into your diet more often, and the sugary things will naturally fall by the wayside.

Except homemade chocolate treats. But those don’t count.

HEAB March 1, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Of course they don’t! πŸ˜‰

Jillian Babbel March 1, 2011 at 5:18 pm

It took my body about 3 weeks to stop craving sugar. But that’s a great recommendation. Also having quick swaps for when you just HAVE to have some sugar (like 87% dark chocolate)

chelsey @ clean eating chelsey March 1, 2011 at 12:53 pm

I tend to put natural and refined sugars in two separate categories. I’ve never had a problem with natural sugars from fruits or dried fruits, so I stick with them! That just goes to show that eveyrone’s bodies are different!

Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) March 1, 2011 at 12:52 pm

It’s so funny you are talking about this today. The boys are starting to love dried fruit and while I know it is sugar, I also believe that it is better for them the endless amounts of chocolate or HFC syrup stuff. I think we train ourselves to like sweetness because, well, it is tasty. However, it should be viewed as a treat and definitely in moderation. Most people treat me like a freak because I would chose an apple over a piece of cake or a cookie. I can’t help it, it is now a craving for me and I was never that way before. Your oats look perfect! I need to try that combo!

steph March 1, 2011 at 12:46 pm

That combo looks sooo good! I just figured out how to do oats on low overnight in the crock-pot and it makes my breakfast fast and easy. (1 cup oats, 1 cup coconut milk, 1 cup water = 2 servings)

HEAB March 1, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Thanks Steph,
I tried oats in the crock-pot once and they exploded. Perhaps I’ll try again using your method. πŸ™‚

nadia March 1, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Heather – thanks for this brilliant post -it is vital reading for anyone concerned about their health! I agree completely not only do you not need sugar your quality of life dramatically improves without it. I didn’t eat any carbs for 2 months and that was really difficult – I didn’t feel good. But I think its been about 3 months of my not eating sugar and I can easily imagine living this way for the rest of my life. I don’t get sick easily, I have more stable emotions etc etc. the list of benefits is amazing.
Anyone just needs to try it to understand πŸ˜‰

Rachel @ Grateful Girl Goes Gluten Free March 1, 2011 at 12:26 pm

I decided to cut back/out sugar when I started reading your blog (7 months ago). I lost 4lbs in ONE day. I would have sweetened cereal, oatmeal, and fruit as a normal day. Now I do eat small amounts of sugar because it is in so many things. But, I found that my digestive system just can’t handle it either. I had never heard of going low sugar until reading your blog. Thank you!

HEAB March 1, 2011 at 3:51 pm

That is awesome news. So happy to hear you’re feeling better with less in your life. πŸ™‚

Katie March 1, 2011 at 12:11 pm

I just started a monthly week long No Sugar challenge with Alisa and posted about it THIS morning. Crazy timing.

I’ve never done more than a week without sugar, but I can definitely tell in my energy and sleep patterns. I am okay with stevia and some artificial sweeteners, but it is crazy where you find it. I couldn’t believe when I was at the store last night, about to buy a rotisserie chicken that there is sugar in it! And my low sodium deli turkey? Sugar.

Grrr. Looks like those will have to wait.

carrie (Moves 'N Munchies) March 1, 2011 at 12:05 pm

awesome post!! sugar is everywhere!! i def have very little added sugar daily but i do eat a lot of fruit and dried fruit for snacks… but you have gotten met o think twice about all the fruit!

Alex @ Spoonful of Sugar Free March 1, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Heather, I totally agree that sugar is NOT needed. I never eat added sugars, and my fruit intake is at a minimum. Fruit is so great, though, when you are an athlete like myself. I need a bit of that quick energy to get me through matches, so I will take some coconut water or a banana on the tennis court with me.

But it is definitely not needed, and you will lose weight when you take it out of your diet.

Thanks for the great post!

Picky Nicky March 1, 2011 at 11:58 am

You are so amazing, Heather! Thanks for sharing all the info πŸ™‚

Jess March 1, 2011 at 11:48 am

Wow you must have read my mind! I’m trying to limit my intake of refined carbs/sugar and this sounds like a good start…I’m not sure if I can go cold turkey so I hope to slowly remove certain sources of sugar from my diet as I go…Thanks for the helpful blog links and I will definitely be trying some of your recipes along this journey!! Thank you, Heather πŸ™‚

Eimear Rose March 1, 2011 at 3:05 pm

My mind has also been read! I just started a sugar free month today so this post is really timely! Heather, your blog has been a real inspiration for me to cut down my refined sugar intake. I don’t eat a huge amount but it really makes my energy levels swing. I will be looking to your blog for great recipes to see me through the next month and hopefully beyond:)

HEAB March 1, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Eimear Rose,
So happy to hear it. I think you’re going to feel amazing by the end of the month. πŸ™‚

HEAB March 1, 2011 at 3:53 pm

You’re welcome & good luck. You’re going to feel great! πŸ™‚

Kara March 1, 2011 at 11:43 am

I have to admit that I LOVE sugar. I can’t imagine trying to reduce my intake, especially with all my running (since I’m assuming Gu and Gatorade don’t have low sugar subs). I do agree that we don’t “need” sugar, but I sure do enjoy it πŸ™‚

Miranda March 1, 2011 at 11:42 am

Amen, sister! πŸ™‚ I’ve never felt better in my life since cutting out sugar (started last October and then stopped eating even fruit in January). I’m not sure yet if/when I’ll start incorporating some again, but for now, my body is healing from the inside out. I used to be a sugar and fruit addict, but now I don’t even think about it. It’s truly amazing how our bodies adjust and heal. Thanks for this post, Heather!

N333 April 22, 2011 at 11:04 am

I have severe chronic headache problems and since eliminating sugar and all fruit, (even my beloved yellow/white grapefruit), my headaches are less. I cannot eat veggies either, since they all seem to contain sugar. I get vitamin C and A from pills (natural sources, not synthetic). I use stevia and a glucose meter. Sugar is toxic as far as I’m concerned. Some people can handle some sugar, but I’m not one of them. I thought fruit was healthy, but now I realize it’s not healthy for damaged people like me.

Valerie @ City|Life|Eats March 1, 2011 at 11:40 am

I do better with no refined sugars and minimal natural sugars too so I can really relate too this post – that means I only eat a Lara bar once in a great while, usually when I really want a treat, and really limit any sugar. I do eat carbs, but focus on whole carbs – ie brown rice over brown rice pasta, whole quinoa over quinoa flour … don’t get me wrong, I eat both brown rice pasta and quinoa flour products (I am intolerant to gluten btw) but I find that from a blood sugar balancing perspective I do best with the whole grain or, better yet, things like sweet potatoes πŸ™‚

Speaking of brown rice, I had a HEAB inspired dish last night and it was so good. I mixed hot cooked long-grain brown rice with a smidge of Earth Balance (I cannot do any dairy, not even butter or ghee), nutritional yeast and seasalt and OMG i love this combo. It went great with my sauteed mushrooms and greens topped with white-bean hummus. Yum. I am so making HEAB-inspired noochy-cheesy brown rice again!!

Maryann (The Balanced Bean) March 1, 2011 at 11:34 am

This is a great post!! I never limited my intake of fruit, but I have found that sugar (all forms) has a huge effect on me. I started limiting my intake of sugar to maybe just a piece of fruit at night for dessert and it’s been great! Skipping fruit in the morning (besides grapefruit) has really helped to lower my night time sugar cravings. Larabars have ton of sugar, and always leave me craving more!

Dena March 1, 2011 at 11:30 am

Thanks for the quick post response to my question, Heather! I really appreciate you listing some snack options – I’m all over that late night oatmeal and I’ll give the avocado carob blobs a go. I don’t plan on staying sugar free for forever, but I would like to go cold turkey and slowly add a bit back in at a reasonable level. Thanks again.

Erica March 1, 2011 at 11:22 am

“Dates = sugar”

YES. THANK YOU. I see so many recipes that claim to be “sugar free” or “fruit sweetened” but then they have a copious amount of dates. Dates have very, very little nutritional value, very little fiber, and a TON of sugar. In general I stick to fresh fruit rather than dried.

Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day March 1, 2011 at 11:20 am

Great post! I really love stevia and have figured out how to use it right.. I make my own ketchup and condiments ..all sugar free! It is shocking how much hidden sugar there is in things.. especially in the form of corn syrup.

Gen March 1, 2011 at 11:18 am

What a great post!
I’d like to cut back some sugar from my diet, not to lose any weight, just because it makes me feel sluggish. This was very informative! =D

Felicia (a taste of health with balance) March 1, 2011 at 11:16 am

Sugar is such a little devil.. sneaks up everywhere! As soon as I start eating more sugars I crave it wayy too much, so I stay away and it works for me.
I found that eating more savory makes me crave savory… like starting the day with a savory breakfast instead of sweet.
When I do crave sugar, healthy sugars from honey, dates (although I have an obsession with dates thats hard to control sometimes πŸ˜‰ ) and dark chocolate works for me.
I really want to try tahini on oats! I keep forgetting!

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