From sugar-soaked Gulab Jamun to deep-fried Jalebi, many South Asian delights have made their way to Canada over the years. And our taste buds are better for it!
However, our health is another story. As a doctor and the president and founder of the Canada India Network Society (CINS), I know that South Asian people tend to eat too much sugar. This is a problem because…
Sugar is addictive!
Can you beat sugar addiction? The short answer is yes. The more sugar you consume, the more you train your body and mind to crave it. The opposite is true as well; the less you consume, the less you crave. Our bodies do need sugar to survive, but we get all the sugar we need through natural, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables and dairy products.
The sugar we add to food and drinks is the problem: sugar in our tea and coffee, sugar glazing on a doughnut, the enormous amount of sugar in soda pop, and the list goes on and on. The average Canadian consumes around 26 teaspoons of sugar daily, with men ingesting considerably more than women.
About a third of the sugar we consume is added sugar, and overconsumption of sugar increases health risks such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and inflammation of the digestive system and brain.
But, guess what? You can get rid of sugar addiction by eating less sugar. Your brain and body will adapt, and your sugar cravings will gradually subside. You may even find that some sugary foods you used to enjoy become too sweet for you to eat.
Sugar cravings can be very powerful, and reducing your intake is easier said than done. Flip the script on your sugar cravings with these simple tips:
Rethink your tea and coffee
While taking these beverages black obviously cuts out sugar completely, there are other ways to avoid sugar’s unhealthy side. One option: Use a small amount of milk only.
Canada’s national condiment has a lower glycemic index than sugar, which means it increases your blood glucose level less than refined sugar. Your pancreas, in turn, won’t have to work as hard, which may reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Another option: Stir in a flavourful teaspoon of cinnamon or cocoa. As well as containing almost no sugar, cinnamon has been linked to lower blood sugar levels—good news for guys with type 2 diabetes—while cocoa may lower the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Last but not least, favouring lighter-roast coffees over darker ones means you’ll need less cream and sugar to cut through any bitterness. Every little bit helps!
Swap your sweets
If cravings for something sweet strike more than once a day, try lower-sugar alternatives like dark chocolate (with 70 percent or more cacao), fruit, or berries. Another option: mix dark chocolate chips, dried fruit and unsalted nuts together to make trail mix. As an added bonus, dark chocolate is rich in healthy antioxidants and some minerals.
Just add water
Soda pop and fruit juices account for about a third of our daily sugar intake! If you dilute your breakfast juice with water—say, by going half-and-half—you’ll cut sugar intake in half, too. If the fizz of pop is what you crave, make your own pop by sipping on plain soda water with a slice of citrus.
Added sugar sneaks in even when guys are trying to eat nutritious foods. Frosted cereals, for instance, are packed with it. Fruit-on-the-bottom yogurts, too. The key here is to go for an unsweetened base—steel-cut oats, plain yogurt—and then jazz it up with natural sweeteners such as blueberries, or add flavour with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Skip the vending machine
As well as being packed with sugar and fat, those bars behind glass cost way more than healthier sweet snacks you can buy at any supermarket or corner store. Think apples instead of chips or mandarin oranges instead of peanut butter cups. Plus, your snack is much less likely to get stuck on the way out of a grocery store!
Research suggests that treating yourself once in a while helps you stick to a healthy eating plan. The trick, then, is to eat the smallest amount of sugary food that satisfies your craving. So the next time you crave Jalebi, have a couple of the adorable little spirals and leave the rest for others to enjoy.
Less sugar + good manners = a well-earned pat on the back!
Do you have ways you’ve been able to cut down on sugar? Share in the comments below.
If you’d like to hear more from Dr.Garg, join him and others from the Canada India Network Society at their annual health conference hosted online. Held on June 18-19, 2022, this year’s theme is: Women’s Health Engaging & Empowerment for Healthy Civil Society–Voices From the Trenches You can register for the conference at www.thecins.org.
Canada India Network Society is a not-for-profit society registered in the province of British Columbia. Founded in 2009 with a vision of lowering the burden of chronic diseases and building a healthy society through engagement, collaboration and technology. The society is a virtual, project focused organization, and it organizes major international conferences (CINI) and round tables to explore, network and facilitate health and health care.