Cutting back on sugar is extremely important as it is linked to several lifestyle disorders and significant weight gain. Unfortunately, worldwide the sugar consumption has reached an all-time high, thanks to high fast food and carbonated beverage intake, bakery items, and ready-to-eat processed foods.
That said, not all sugar is bad! Natural sugar present in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products is fine to eat since this sugar is consumed along with benefits like fiber and micronutrients. We have always heard many people say “Leave that sugar if you want to stay healthy” but oftentimes we are not sure what’s the link between sugar and health!
Why does excess sugar intake lead to weight gain?
• Several studies found [1,2] that excess sugar leads to overeating as it contains empty calories and is low on nutrients which give satiety. An excess amount of dietary sugar can lead to a blood sugar spike which makes the body secrete insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps to lower blood sugar levels, with high insulin secretion, the blood sugar levels can drop making the body crave for more sugar as a source of energy. This is the reason why people opt for dessert post meals.
• Another important aspect is that excess sugar negatively affects insulin sensitivity and leads to long-term insulin resistance. This leads to fat deposition over various organs and in due course to stubborn weight gain. Over time, research showed that cutting down excess sugar and eating a balanced, nutrient-rich diet is most effective in reducing weight (4). Consuming a combination of good quality protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates is an effective treatment for many lifestyle disorders .
Things to keep in mind
• Eating a healthy, balanced breakfast without added sugar in tea/coffee and avoiding bread, jam, the syrup is extremely important to help control sugar cravings throughout the day.
• We all know moderation is the key. If you can’t say no to sugar completely start with reducing the added sugar intake to half of the original consumption and slowly wean it off. For example, if you are used to adding 2 teaspoons of sugar to your beverages, make the shift to 1 teaspoon, this will help you enjoy the sugar in moderation. Sudden elimination always backfires
• Not all 0% added sugar products are always sugar-free. It is important to understand the nutrition labels and look for hidden sugars. High fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses, jaggery, malt extract, invert syrup are all classic examples of added sugar and should be strictly avoided.
To make your life a little easier we have combined a list of sugar-free recipes that you can enjoy without any guilt. Here are some healthy recipes that can be added to your sugar-free diet food list:
Jamun mint popsicle
In summers eating a Popsicle might be the right thing to do, but normally they are loaded with sugar. Here we have a refreshing option using the seasonal fruits jamuns by ditching the added sugar. Check the recipe here
Sugarless ragi ladoo
Who said ladoos can’t be healthy? Here we have ragi ladoo sweetened naturally with the use of dry fruits making it a perfect choice for all weight-conscious people. Check out the link here
Dark Chocolate Covered Almond Stuffed Dates
It’s time to replace all the milk chocolates with a darker one. Here we have a perfect nut fruit combo sweet, giving dark chocolate its natural sweetness. Check out the link here
3-ingredient banana flax bars
Not only is this a nice dessert option, but it can also be a great post-workout food choice. Loaded with heart-friendly omega 3 fatty acid and sweetened with bananas. Check out the link here
No-bake oats peanut butter energy bites
Oats and seeds make it a great fiber-packed choice with ditching the sugar by using only dry fruits. This can also be an ideal post-workout choice. Check out the link here
Date and walnut loaf cake
When we think of a cake, healthy doesn’t seem the word to fit in. But hey, we just got a recipe ditching the refined flour and sugar to help you enjoy the goodness of a cake. Check out the link here
Strawberry oats pudding
Oats, a fiber-packed food goes well during the weight loss journey. With just 3 ingredients we have a great dessert option for all. If not strawberries one can replace them with banana or muskmelon. This can be a nice pre-workout snack as well. Check out the link here
Mango matcha pudding
In the summer heat, all you need is a cool dessert to refresh you, and what better than using the seasonal fruit mango for it. Here’s recipes for all the mango lovers out there, check out the link here
It's the season of the king of fruits, yes it's mango time. Here we have just a 2 ingredient dessert ditching the added sugar. Enjoy this dessert and check out the link here
A quick, simple yet healthy sweet option. All one needs is 2 ingredients to make it the perfect food choice. You can add a variety of spreads from dark chocolates, unsweetened nut butter to even sour cream. Check out the recipe here
These desserts won't even be spotted as healthy if we hadn't mentioned them. Weight loss may seem a very challenging task, but that process should not deprive you of what you like. With small tweaks in recipes, one can enjoy its goodness to the fullest. It's always good to keep in mind that the weight gain was over some time, so will the weight loss. Enjoy this journey with eating well and being a cautious eater.
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4. https://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.e749 2