It sounds simple enough: A no-sugar diet means no sugar. No cakes or cookies, no vanilla lattes, absolutely no licking the spatula. But there’s actually more to this type of diet, which can help many people lose weight without counting calories or cutting out major food groups. Unless you think of cake as a major food group.

It’s not just about eliminating added sugar – the sugar that’s not naturally found in food. (Added sugar is everywhere, including yogurt, barbecue sauce, instant oatmeal and pretty much any packaged, processed food.) It’s about choosing foods with a low glycemic index (GI), which help keep your blood sugar levels steady so you don’t end up with crazy cravings.

What can you eat on a no-sugar diet? So many things! Hearty homemade soups, grilled shrimp and vegetable kebabs, and almost anything else that you already know falls under the “healthy” category. If you do buy packaged foods, be sure to read ingredient labels closely and watch for sugar’s other names, including agave nectar, brown rice syrup, evaporated cane juice, maltose, barley malt and more.

On the do-not-eat-list: high-GI foods like white bread, white rice, white potatoes, white flour and, of course, sugar. Some no-sugar diets allow fruit; others recommend limiting or avoiding it. This cherry, chicken and pecan wheat-berry salad lets you get your fruit fix without going overboard. (Devouring a large plate of watermelon slices at a summer barbecue – which, frankly, is easy to do – would be an example of going overboard.)

Experts say sugar is addictive and that once you break the habit, you no longer want or miss sweet foods. In the early days of your break-up with sugar, however, you’ll probably have cravings. The good news? Until those cravings subside, at least one no-sugar diet allows sugar-free ice cream.

Author: Hope Cristol, MyRecipes