This refined sugar free diet plan and eating guide will help you to make healthier eating choices. By using our healthy eating tips and natural sugar recipes, you can improve your overall health!
What is refined sugar?
From the time of birth, our bodies crave sweet foods. The thing is, there’s a big difference between foods that are naturally sweetened and those with refined sugar. Sugar provides our bodies with important carbohydrates, but refined sugars (also known as sucrose) are processed sugars. Rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, refined sugar can cause unhealthy spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels. Those spikes can increase the risk of diseases like diabetes.
How does refined sugar affect the body, digestion, metabolism?
There are a lot of health benefits of reducing the amount of sugar you consume. Lower sugar intake can be linked to:
- better brain function, including memory retention
- clearer skin
- increased energy
- deeper sleep
- less bloating
How much sugar a day is okay?
According to the World Health Organization, no more than 5 percent of total calories eaten per day should come from added sugars. Based on a 2,000 calorie diet, that equals about 24 grams or 6 teaspoons of added sugars per day.
The American Heart Association, recommends that adult males consume no more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar per day (36 grams, approx. 150 calories).
Adult females should consume no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day (24 grams, approx. 100 calories).
Is fruit sugar bad?
Fruit sugar, also known as fructose, isn’t bad if it’s eaten in moderation. But depending on your body, you may be sensitive to fodmap fruits. See low fodmap meal plan for suggestions.
Refined Sugar List
All of these are refined sugars and should be avoided while you’re on a refined sugar free diet.
- white flour
- evaporated cane juice
- instant starches
- corn syrup
- high fructose corn syrup
- brown sugar (made by adding molasses back into refined white sugar)
- processed artificial sweeteners
Sneaky Hidden Sugars
Dextrose, dextran, dextrin, sucrose, and maltose are all chemical forms of sugar. Maltodextrin (a starchy white powder) is an additive derived from corn that’s also used to sweeten foods. If you see these on nutrition labels, be conscious of the amounts. You could be consuming more ADDED sugar than you realize and this can affect blood sugar. Be MINDFUL. I say that politely and I’m reminding myself.
Bottom line –> Make sure to always read nutrition labels. Swap out those foods with hidden sugar or refined sugars.
Healthier SUGAR ALTERNATIVES
Here are some examples of unrefined or naturally refined sugars.
- Yacon Syrup – Made from the roots of the yacon plant. Not recommended for high heat cooking, but it has a third of the calories of white sugar!
- Stevia – Made from stevia plant leaves. No calories and hardly has an effect on blood glucose levels.
- Raw Honey – Nature’s candy! Be sure to look for PURE raw honey; it has a low GI, while cheaper kinds of honey have a high GI.
- Turbinado (raw sugar) – This is minimally refined cane sugar, so use it in moderation.
- Pure Maple Syrup – Made from maple tree sap. Don’t confuse this sugar alternative with pancake syrup; there’s a big difference.
- Agave Syrup/Nectar – The sugar alternative is made from the agave plant. Don’t go hog wild on this one though; it has a high percentage of fructose, which can potentially be harmful if consumed in high quantities.
- Coconut Sugar – No, coconut sugar is not made from coconuts! Instead, it’s made from the sap of coconut palm tree blossoms.
- Date Paste / Date Sugar – My favorite sweetener for those on Whole30! I use it in my sticky date cake yogurt bowls. To make your own date paste, all you need are pitted dates and purified water. Soak, blend, and voila! A sticky sugar substitute.
- Monk fruit, also called Luo Han Guo, has been used as low cal sweetener for centuries. Now it’s easier to find in grocery stores in the United States. Monk fruit contains compounds that, when extracted, are natural sweeteners. This sweetener is almost 300 times sweeter than cane sugar, and with little to no calories, and no effect on blood sugar. Again, be sure to check that the monk fruit sugar/product you’re using doesn’t contain additional additives with GMO derived sugar alcohols.
Not all healthy sugar is created equal
- Sugar alcohols are artificial sweeteners like sorbitol, maltitol, xylitol, etc. Don’t worry, sugar alcohols don’t contain grain alcohol. While they are low in calories, naturally derived, and can be substituted cup for cup, be cautious about consuming too many of these. They have been known to produce excessive bloating and frightful gas. Also, many sugar alcohols are not sold in their pure state, much of the sugar alcohols used in foods and beverages today is derived from cornstarch from genetically modified corn, so make sure to check the brand for added GMO starches, etc. (source)
Bob’s Red Mill organic NON GMO natural sugars are great for easing your way into a refined sugar free diet.
LET’S TALK A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT REFINED VS UNREFINED SUGARS…
Now, let’s get to work! Ready to swap out meals with added refined sugars for healthier meals? Here are REFINED SUGAR FREE MEALS from COTTER CRUNCH!
If you’re looking to print off all of these sugar free recipes, click HERE for the printable PDF!!
Breakfast – SUGAR SWAPS
Swap out your unhealthy breakfast for the meals below. The average American breakfast is loaded with refined sugars! We see them most often in the form of white sugar sweets, dairy with added sugar, white flour, sweetened jam made with corn syrup and citric acid, canned fruit, quick oats with sugar, fast food breakfasts, egg sandwiches, scones, and smoothies with concentrated juices or syrups.
Refined Sugar Free Breakfast Recipes
- Turmeric Oven Scrambled Eggs – Rich in anti-inflammatory Properties and naturally sugar free
- Oatmeal swap – Use Bob’s Red Mill rolled oats to make Superfood Overnight Oatmeal (whole 30 option – swap the yogurt for sweet potato puree). Notes in recipe!
- Weekend brunch plans made healthy! – Chickpea pancakes For dairy free options, use coconut milk based yogurt.
- Grab and Go Chocolate Almond Butter Breakfast Cookies (skip the chocolate coating or use pure dark chocolate)
LUNCH – SUGAR SWAPS
Choose the meals below as a healthy swap for the refined sugar found in most deli meals.
You can find refined sugar hidden in packaged condiments, dips, salad dressings, and deli meats. Even foods that label themselves as healthy may have refined sugar, such as gluten-free breads, chips, crackers, and even nut butter!
Refined Sugar Free Lunch Ideas
- Salad – A healthy salad for lunch doesn’t have to be boring, either. Make yourself a delicious Greek Cauliflower Salad Bowl for lunch. Dairy free option, skip the goat cheese!
- Homemade dressings – Make your own and hold the refined sugar! This Vegan Green Goddess Dressing is amazing!
- Wraps – Paleo Avocado Egg Salad Wraps or Mango Chicken Salad Wraps packed full of flavor without sugar.
- Chips with refined sugar can be swapped for homemade BBQ Baked Rutabaga Chips
- Swap your peanut butter for Homemade Cashew Butter
DINNER – SUGAR SWAPS
Swap out canned foods and soups, pasta, take out food (Chinese is loaded with sugar for example), pre-made or frozen meals (check all ingredients!), meats/fish with marinades or sauces that contain added sugar.
Enjoy these EASY refined sugar-free homemade dinners instead!
- Make homemade takeout meals like Cashew Satay Spiralized Veggies Stir Fry
- Enjoy some simple homemade soups – Two favorites are Instant Pot Chicken Potato Soup and Instant Pot Steak Fajita Soup
- Simplify seafood with Salmon with Avocado REmoulade or pistachio crusted salmon
- Try this pasta dinner recipe; you won’t find hidden refined sugar in this delicious sauce!
- Make your own sauces and condiments with this Cashew Cream Sauce
DRINKS and DESSERTS
- swap out your bubbly drinks and sugary soda for this refreshing Homemade Fruit Kvass
- Homemade sorbet or fruit sweetened ice cream – Try this Banana Soft Serve Vegan Ice Cream Recipe or make this Espresso Dark Chocolate Sorbet
- Edible Cookie Dough (be sure to use real dark chocolate, with a cacao percentage of at least 65 percent)
Bottom Line – Your Body and Sugar
At the end of the day, all sugars (yes, even NATURAL sugars) can have an impact on your overall health. It’s important to figure out the sugar intake that’s right for you.
Some people can handle a little bit of sugar in their diet, while for others, it may cause binge eating, rapid weight gain, and disease. Every individual is unique and you need to figure out what works for you.
YOUR REFINED SUGAR FREE CHALLENGE:
- Swap out any or all meals with hidden/added sugars for our suggested meals or other meals that are refined sugar free.
- Tag us! @cottercrunch on social media #cottercrunch and mention you’re doing the refined sugar-free challenge. #refinedsugarfree
- Join our FACEBOOK GROUP and share your meal ideas!!
- PRIZES!! We’re giving away lots of natural sugar alternatives from Bob’s Red Mill, copies of my cookbook, and more. <3
Disclosure – We are grateful to be partnering with Bob’s Redmill Natural Sugars on this refined sugar free meal plan.
Alright my friends, that’s it!
BONUS GUIDE —> stay tuned as we have a REFINED SUGAR FREE EBOOK GUIDE coming your way. It’s WAY more in depth and contains even more sugar free recipes and swaps. If you’re in our facebook group, you’ll get a sneak peek this week!
Keep me posted on the progress. Tag, comment below, or email!
Cheers and have a DELICIOUS week!
Disclaimer: I am not a medical practice and do not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please seek diagnosis, treatment, and advice from qualified providers based on your condition.