It can be confusing working out which foods are healthy and which aren’t these days. Scientists and nutritionists seem to keep changing their minds about what foods we should be eating. Once upon a time it was salt that was bad, then it was fat, then coffee, and sugar has also been on the naughty list for a while now.

There’s a craze at the moment for the completely sugar-free diet, which doesn’t just ban table sugar, but also sweeteners like honey and maple syrup, condiments, refined flours and even certain fruits like bananas.

It’s a diet that doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun to be on, but is this ruthless removal of all sugars as healthy as it seems? Yes, too much sugar is bad for us, and there are a lot of processed foods out there that contain sugars, but cutting out whole food groups that contain sugar isn’t sustainable or necessarily good.

The UN has warned that sugar could be ‘the new tobacco’ because of the risks to health through obesity, but there’s a group of scientists who dismiss the sugar-free diet as a waste of time, and a possible danger to health.

The charity Sense About Science had dieticians, biochemists and other experts assess the sugar-free diet and four others. Biochemist Leah Fitzsimmons says that cutting all sugar from your diet would be very difficult to achieve. Fruits, flours, vegetables, nuts, dairy products and eggs all contain sugar. If you were to cut them from your diet, all you would have left to eat would be meats and fats, which wouldn’t be healthy.

You Can Cut Down Without Cutting it Out Completely

When you cut certain foods out of your diet completely, you create a craving for them because you feel deprived. You don’t have to quit sugar completely to improve your health; you can cut down on the amount you eat.

Try taking one less sugar in your coffee to start with, or swapping out that chocolate bar for a piece of fruit. It’s far more sustainable than checking every label to see if a miniscule amount of sugar is present, and then feeling miserable because you can’t eat what your friends are eating or drinking.

The sugar-free diet is another fad diet like Atkins or the Zone diet, and fad diets just aren’t sustainable in the long run. How many people do you know who live permanently on Atkins or the raw food diet? I can almost guarantee that the people who gush about how great a fad diet is won’t be on it a year from now. The effort needed to sustain eating that way becomes too much to bear. You end up giving in to the craving for the food you can’t have, then bingeing on it and feeling miserable.

Try and implement small changes into your diet, and as you get used to each one, make another small change. Remember, it was the tortoise that won the race, not the hare.