By : Apeksha Thakkar Clinical Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator and Nutrigenomic Counselor
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Adopting a Sugar Free Diet For Better Health 

COVID and its restrictions have turned life upside down for almost everyone. Locked up at home with restrictions in the movement has taken a toll not just on our mental health but physical wellbeing too. Working from home, lack of exercise, and eating mindlessly may all lead to severe health consequences if we do not take the necessary steps. Yes, that repeated cups of coffee and tea you gulp down throughout the online meeting is also included.

 

 

So a sugar-free diet as part of a healthy lifestyle is highly recommended. But most of the time it is easier said than done.

The consensus dietary guidelines for Indians in 2011 recommend that sugar consumption including added sugar for Indians should be less than 10% of total calories/day. This guideline has been created keeping in mind the increasing prevalence of disease obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. One of the reasons is excessive consumption of sugars leading to hormonal imbalance and inflammation in the body.

 

By adopting a no-sugar diet, you reduce the risk for these health conditions significantly. Here are some tips to help you  to make this transition to a sugar-free diet easier

 

Gradually cut back on your sugar consumption.

 

 

You cannot one day wake up and decide to give up on sugars, that does not work. It has to be gradual if it has to stay for the long term. So, step down your sugar consumption slowly over a few weeks. Replace those sweet desserts and treats like pastries, muffins, chocolates with one whole fruit or a mixed fruit platter packed with natural sugar and rich nutrients.

 

Limit refined carbohydrates. Carbohydrate-rich foods like white bread, pasta, and so forth might not taste sweet, but they are forms of sugar. Choose healthy carbohydrates like whole grains and pulses rich in fiber.

 

Keep a tab on what you drink.

 

 

Not just soft drinks, but be cautious about the sugar in your tea, coffee, shakes, and juices as well. Alternatives to sweetened beverages can be natural drinks like water flavoured with herbs like mint, basil lemon, skimmed buttermilk, tender coconut water, homemade low-fat milkshakes with natural fruits, etc.

 

Choose natural flavours 

 

 

Add spices, seasonings, and other natural ingredients for flavour to your desserts instead of sugar. For example, a cup of coffee brewed with cinnamon or adding vanilla bean or extract or add zest or juice of fruits instead of essence or artificial flavours.

 

Decode the word ‘sugar’ on food labels. 

Do not fall for the sugar-free or low sugar stickers on a food package. Check the ingredient list for terms like honey, jaggery, molasses, barley malt, brown sugar, cane sugar, corn syrup, sucrose, lactose, fructose, glucose, dextrose, maltose, galactose, grape sugar, mannitol, sorghum syrup and maple syrup. These are all forms of sugar. This may sound daunting but as they say, where there is a will, there’s a way too.

 

Occasional sweet indulgence is never a sin 

Be happy! There is no need to fully give up on sugar, even the word ‘free‘ comes with its liberty. Grab a slice of that delicious cake, pick a muffin from the platter, dig into the kheer, just be mindful of the portion size. 

 

The Takeaway 

Going completely sugar-free one fine day is not practical. But it is possible to adapt a gradual cut down on sugar intake from your meal before reaching the complete sugar-free diet. Avoid the obvious sources that stare right back at you from the pastry section, cookies jar, beverage section, and mithai shops. Walk to the fruits aisle and choose wisely.

 

Besides, it helps to tell yourself that curbing that craving today is the road to a reduced chance of obesity, diabetes in the future along with glowing skin and cheerful health.

 

Maybe a recipe that can be guilt-free

 

Dry Fruits Ladoos

A healthy treat for the sweet tooth Add nuts and seeds of your choice and indulge in these sugar-free ladoos.

 

 

Ingredients

¼ cup almonds

¼ cup cashew

¼ cup pistachio

¼ cup sunflower seeds

1 tbsp. chia seeds

2 tbsp. raisins

10 to 12 soft dates, soaked (adjust to taste)

 

Method

1. Combine the nuts in a blender and blend very coarsely. Reserve 2 tbsps. of the crushed nuts in a plate to coat them at the end.

2. Then add the rest of the ingredients and blend. Add little water if the mixture is dry.

3. Remove the mixture to a bowl. Grease your hand and take a small portion of the mixture and form a ladoos. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.

4. Coat the ladoos with the reserved crushed nuts. Serve and store the rest in an airtight container.

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