How to Be "Sugar-Free"
Being totally sugar-free is of course impossible. Besides, there are healthy sugars, like glucose, that occur naturally in your body. The sugar in milk is lactose, which is also healthy. Some people are lactose intolerant, but this just means that you can't digest it, and taking an enzyme pill can easily solve that problem. These sugars do not cause damage to your metabolic system. Your body is equipped to utilize these sugars for energy, and has feedback systems to tell your brain when you have enough.
The type of sugar that causes metabolic dysfunction and obesity is fructose. This is found in table sugar which is "processed sugar" or "refined sugar". It is also found in high fructose corn syrup, honey, brown sugar and many other so-called "natural sugars". All of these additives or sweeteners contain about the same amount of fructose, about 50-55%. Fructose is also found in fruit juice and in fruit. It's OK to eat fruit because the fructose is bound to fiber. But fruit juice is like processed sugar, since the fiber is processed out, leaving essentially only concentrated sugar water. A glass of orange juice contains the amount of fructose in 6 oranges, but NONE of the healthy fiber.
It is healthy and quite reasonable to strive for a diet that is almost entirely free of fructose. All foods that contain fructose are non-essential foods. Most of those are "social foods", that is, not eaten for the nutritional value, but because of social custom. These are foods that were relatively recently invented, and propagated by the food industry for the purpose of increasing profits at the expense of the consumers' health. In a way, they are similar to tobacco products (non-essential products that cause bodily harm, but the "need" for them is artificially produced by advertising). Unlike tobacco products, they hide under the disguise of being a food or beverage. (Many of the "Big Food" companies are actually owned by tobacco companies. And this makes perfect sense, when you consider the type of products and marketing strategies that are used.) The obvious examples are sugary desserts, donuts, sodas, milkshakes, sugary or chocolate candies, ice cream, fruit juice, sports drinks, and sweet tea or coffee.
It is almost impossible to participate in our current society without eating and drinking these social foods and drinks. They are fun and tasty, and a positive improvement to our quality of life. Fortunately, nearly all of them now have a sugar-free version! There is really no reason to ever eat or drink products that contain more than a trace of fructose-containing sugar.
Many diet books and diet guides have sections that suggest alternatives to harmful foods. Here is a table set up in that format to suggest alternatives to fructose-containing social drinks and foods:
Don't drink: (sugar-loaded beverage) Instead drink: (safe sugar-free beverage)
Fruit juice Sugar-free Koolade, Crystal Lite, sugar-free flavored water
Sweet tea, coffee with sugar Unsweet tea or coffee, or add non-sugar sweetener
Soda, sugary carbonated drinks Sugar-free or diet soda (or water!!)
Milkshake Make your own with sugar-free ice cream and sugar-free syrup
Sports drinks, Gatorade, Powerade Water is best for hydration, zero-sugar sports drinks are OK
Don't eat: (sugar-loaded social food) Instead eat: (safe sugar-free social food)
Candy bar Sugar-free chocolate bar or sugar-free candy
(but for treats only, these are also high calorie)
High-sugar cereal (over 5 gm of sugar) Cheerios, Kix, Special K, Wheat Chex, several others
(under 5 gm sugar per serving)
Ice cream Sugar-free ice cream (or at least low sugar: under 5 gm sugar)
(pick the sugar-free frozen yogurt at Stakz or Baskin-Robbins)
Chocolate sundae Sugar-free ice cream with sugar-free chocolate syrup
(remember, nuts are also sugar-free)
Honey, jams and jellies Sugar-free jams and jellies
Donuts or bagels for breakfast Bacon and eggs are completely sugar-free, much healthier
M&M's Sugar-free Reeces Pieces (treats only, these are also high calorie)
Cracker Jack, caramel popcorn Plain popcorn, without butter (since that doubles the calories)
Tricks the Food Companies Play
Another important way to avoid eating or drinking too much sugar is to read the nutrition labels. Most of the information is not important for children or healthy adults, except the total calories and the total sugar. But these can be a bit tricky to figure out, since the food company often tries to hide these facts. A common trick is to divide the package into multiple "servings".
For example, when you read the label of a 20-ounce "low-sugar" sports drink, it might say there are 16 gms of sugar. That's sounds like a lot anyway, but then you read the fine print: "Servings per container = 2.5". (As if you are going to split this drink among 2 and a half people!!)
Here's what you do: multiply the number of servings per container by the sugar number to find out the REAL amount of sugar in that bottle!
In our example, that's 2.5 x 16 = 40 grams of sugar!!!
One of the biggest scams of the Food Industry is the creation of the "holiday candy culture". There is never a time during the calendar year when there is not a gigantic candy display at every super market, from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas to Valentines to Easter to Fouth of July to Summer Vacation to Back to School, and back to Halloween again! This is the tobacco/big food companies' dream-come-true, a way to market deadly products to children without any regulation whatsoever.
What about Calories?
If your metabolic system is working properly, you will eat the calories that you need when you get hungry. The body automatically adjusts for the amount of energy that you spend. Of course this will not happen if the metabolic system is poisoned with fructose. That's why the elimination of processed sugar and high fructose corn syrup is the most important principle in maintaining a healthy diet.
If you are expending large amounts of energy, you will become hungry and want to eat high-calorie foods. This is normal and you SHOULD eat those high calorie foods when you need them (high calorie, NOT high sugar!). Unfortunately, most Americans have already damaged their metabolic system to some extent, so hunger is not always a truthful sign. The best way to tell if you are eating the right amount of calories is to see if you can maintain a healthy weight (normal BMI) while being able to do vigorous exercise every day.