Diwali is around the corner, and the one thing that everyone loves — besides the family reunions and gifts — are the sweets. From traditional mithai to chocolates, we are spoilt for choice. While most of us can indulge in a few extra calories, letting go of fixed diets is not a choice for people battling diabetes or obesity. We spoke to some experts for tips and recipes that will make this festive season enjoyable for everyone.
“Diabetics have abnormal blood sugar control due to a lack of insulin or insulin resistance. So, artificial sweeteners play a vital role in the management of their blood sugar,” says Dr Riddhish Jani, nutritionist, Sketch Clinic. He warns that only people with diabetes or other health conditions that affect insulin production should go for artificial sweeteners. “When healthy people opt for artificial sweeteners to lose weight, it can lead to extreme results. I know of a patient who fainted because his blood sugar dropped drastically. Apparently, he had been taking insulin shots just because his gym buddy did it, and had lost 10kg,” he says.
Taking insulin shots to make up for eating sugar appears to be the latest unhealthy fad. Experts say self-prescribing insulin may cause fainting or weakness, besides leading to other problems. “Having too much sugar and taking insulin shots without consulting a doctor is not safe. Insulin doses need to be altered only under medical supervision,” says Sheela Tanna, a dietician and fitness expert.
Nutritionists suggest people who watch their weight and sugar intake should instead opt for natural substitutes such as:
Watch out for the honey available in stores, as it may be prepared artificially.
Coconut palm sugar
This sweetener is made by heat-treating sap from the flower buds of coconut palm trees until the liquid has evaporated.
This kind of sugar is made from dehydrated and ground dates with a minimal amount of processing. The sugar is slightly sweeter than regular sugar.
Sap from maple trees is heated until the water evaporates and only the sticky syrup remains.
Authentic organic honey is harvested from beehives, where bees store the nectar from flowers. Watch out for the honey available in stores, as it may be prepared artificially.
Brown rice syrup
This syrup is made from cooked brown rice that is treated to cause an enzymatic reaction. This process breaks down the starch in the rice to a liquid, which is then boiled to a syrup.
Besides having other health benefits, aerobics is the best way to normalise blood sugar levels. Walking, jogging, swimming, dancing, cycling and yoga are among the easiest ways to tackle high blood sugar. For those dealing with excess weight, the assistance of a certified trainer is sure to help.
Help with sugar cravings:
“It’s very important that you start enjoying complex flavours, rather than needing nearly everything you eat or drink to be sweet, like children tend to. Eating higher quality foods that provide greater nutrition and take longer to digest, will help minimise sugar cravings for most people,” says Vinod Channa, a fitness expert.
Several food items, spices in particular, help regulate the body’s natural craving for sugar. For example, cinnamon can be paired with coffee or hot chocolate, and is great for clamping down on sugar cravings.
Complex carbs that are rich in fibre can also help reduce sugar cravings, as they help normalise blood sugar levels in the body. Some of the most accessible and healthy options include wholegrain breads, multigrain wheat, pasta, brown rice, whole oats and quinoa, fish, chicken, lean meat, tofu and eggs.
— With inputs from Dr Anil Bhoraskar, endocrinologist and scientific secretary, Diabetic Association of India.
A natural alternative
Stevia is the safest natural substitute for sugar for people suffering from diabetes and other health conditions. However, make sure you consult your doctor to find out how much should be consumed.
Recipes that are low on sugar:
1. Date Payasam
2. Dry Fruit Rolls
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