A sugar free diet simply means eating no refined, concentrated, or added sugars. You can eat anything else.
Of course, candy and desserts are made with sugar. But did you know that refined sugar is a hidden ingredient in most processed foods? (Those are the foods in boxes and bags at your supermarket.)
To be sugar free, you need to read the ingredient lists on food labels, because refined sugars go by many different names. I've got a Names for Sugar list (almost 150 of them) that will come in handy.
To create refined sugar, food manufacturers take whole natural foods and plants and cook them down to the pure sugar. The leftovers are discarded or used for animal feed.
Sugar cane and sugar beets are refined to white table sugar, which is pure sucrose. There are many, many names for the pure and partially pure products of sugar cane and sugar beets.
Corn is refined to create glucose, dextrose, and fructose ("fruit sugar"--yes, the "fructose" and "fruit sugar" seen on labels comes from corn). Corn, not surprisingly, is the source for corn syrup, which is also an industrially refined product.
High-fructose corn syrup is a mixture of refined glucose and refined fructose (both from corn) which is chemically so similar to sucrose (white table sugar) that it is widely used in processed foods in place of cane sugar.
Barley and rice are refined to maltose. "Malted barley" and "brown rice syrup" sound harmless on ingredients lists, but, sadly, they are also a form of refined sugar.
So is the "concentrated fruit juice" used as a sweetener in some processed foods.
Commercially available molasses and honey, although having the same names as unrefined molasses and honey, are also refined.
Refined sugars can have the same names as natural sugars, but don't be fooled! When they are used as ingredients--and therefore appear on ingredients lists--all are refined and unnatural food additives.
The fact is that the word "sugar" is used differently in different contexts--and unfortunately, differently on the Nutrition Facts part of the food label and the Ingredients List part of the food label. You can read additional information about the different uses of the word "sugar" on my What is Sugar? page.
The sugar substitutes are considerably more unhealthy than sugar! I recommend they be avoided.
Artificial sweeteners are synthetic chemicals:
Sugar alcohols are neither sugars nor alcohols; however, they are indigestible and notorious for causing diarrhea. They are frequently used in sugar-free desserts intended for diabetics. I did not soon forget the diarrhea caused by cookies made with mannitol.
Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates
By eating whole foods, you automatically are spared refined sugar, sugar alcohols, artificial sweeteners, other food additives, and refined grains.