An article in a medical journal has claimed that sugar can be as addictive as abusive drugs such as cocaine. While the debate is still on, we all can agree on thing. Too much sugar is not good for you.
Sugar and insulin
As sugar is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, the body releases insulin, in order for the cells to use the sugar for energy or storage. But when one consumes a high amount of sugar on a regular basis, the insulin levels in the blood go high on a regular basis. The problem with too much insulin in the blood is that it inhibits the fat burning process and rather makes the body absorb some of the fatty acids and glucose in the blood, turning them into body fat.
It therefore comes as no surprise that the first thing a dietician tells everyone trying to lose weight and eat healthy is to eliminate or reduce sugar intake. If you been a regular sweet eater, quitting sweets suddenly might be difficult for you.
How to reduce sugar intake
Reduce the fixed sources
If you know micro-economics, reducing fixed costs always generates more savings than trying to save on one-time variable costs. What that means is, find out what contributes to your sugar intake on a daily basis. For most people it is their tea / coffee. If you take about 2 teaspoons of sugar for a cup and 3 cups of tea / coffee in a day, you consume about 25-30 grams of sugar in a day. For perspective, one piece of gulab jamun contains around 16 grams, and a donut contains about 25 grams. So reducing your sugar intake in your daily tea / coffee is much more effective than trying to avoid even that occasional sweet.
Switch to natural alternatives
Honey is rich in antioxidants and also helps improve cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Jaggery is rich in minerals such as zinc and selenium and also aids digestion. These are better and healthier replacements of refined sugar which have traditionally been used in most Indian households and many ayurvedic medicines. However, for diabetics, they are only half as bad as sugar, and therefore should be consumed in moderation.
Avoid processed food
Processed food is usually anything that comes out of a packet. Processed foods tend to contain large amounts of sugar and salt as a preservative and to make the taste consistent. That includes all types of candy, jams, canned juices and soda pop. If you feel like having candy, opt for a piece (only a piece) of dark bitter chocolate. It contains comparatively less sugar and the cocoa is good for you.
Moderation is key; do not binge
Just because you have reduced sugar as a shift to eating clean and cheat days are allowed, do not overcompensate by binging on sweets every once in a while. These sudden spikes in sugar and thereby in insulin can potentially cause more damage to your system. Therefore, having loads of sugar even once a month won’t help.
Check added sugar
If you must have something out of a packet (ready-to-eat snack), be sure to check the amount of added sugar per 100g of the product. Nutrition stats on packaged food are now mandated and it makes sense to make use of it. The magic number is 22. If any packaged food contains more than 22g of sugar per 100g, or simply, higher than 22%, it’s probably not a good idea to have it.
Sweets are one of those entities that add pure joy to eating. And if you want to keep having sweets for a long time in your life, it makes sense to have them in moderation. Have a little, have it for long. I hope these cues to reduce sugar intake are something that you can incorporate daily and early in life as to avert risk factors for many diseases later on in life.