Best eating habits to reduce sugar intake and prevent diabetes

Jul 08, 2022 01:12 PM IST

Here are some healthy eating habits that will help you crave for less sugar and prevent chronic diseases like diabetes.

We all are aware of the dangers of consuming too much added sugar. Studies and experts have been warning us how not being mindful of added sugar in our daily food from bread, canned drinks, processed foods, breakfast cereals and fruit juices could be making us sick and raising risk of several lifestyle diseases. Many of us give up sugar in tea and coffee but continue having store-bought snacks - biscuits, cookies, juices, pasta sauces without realising how much added sugar we are consuming on a daily basis. (Also read: Diabetes: Ayurveda expert on easy tips to control blood sugar in just 15 days)

When you eat too much sugar, you will start to see all the danger signs in the form of weight gain, tooth decay, reduced immunity among many other issues.
When you eat too much sugar, you will start to see all the danger signs in the form of weight gain, tooth decay, reduced immunity among many other issues.

Having a high-sugar diet means one is putting themselves at risk of chronic inflammation. According to studies, when people eat or drink less of sugar, inflammatory markers in their blood reduce. When you eat too much sugar, you will start to see all the danger signs in the form of weight gain, tooth decay, reduced immunity among many other issues.

This, however, doesn't mean that we do not consume sugar at all. Experts say naturally occurring sugar in fruits, vegetables, dairy is perfectly fine as plant-based foods have good amount of fibre, essential vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, while dairy contains protein and calcium. Because of these, our body digests the food slowly preventing sugar spikes and chronic diseases like diabetes, heart diseases, etc.

Nutritionist Ishti Saluja in an interaction with HT Digital says adults should aim to consume less than 10% of their total calories from added sugar and that if someone is following a 2000 calorie diet, this would mean consuming less than 200 calories, 50 grams, or 12 teaspoons of added sugar per day.

"Some flavoured fruit yogurts, cereals, and prepared oatmeal contain nearly six teaspoons of added sugar per serving and a 330ml can of coke contains 9 teaspoons of sugar," Saluja shares.

There is substantial evidence to show that increased sugar consumption increases the risk of heart diseases, obesity, insulin resistance, fatty liver, high blood pressure, unbalanced gut microbiome – all that can further lead to health conditions that are much harder to solve as you age.

Saluja shares few ways in which one can reduce their sugar intake:

Start your day with a savoury breakfast high in protein and healthy fats: Doing this helps balance your hormones and increases satiety levels, which means it reduces your sugar cravings during the day, hence reducing mindless snacking.

Stop buying store bought sauces: There is so much flavour in natural foods and spices. Experiment in your kitchen, batch cook and freeze if you are short on time, but avoid buying sauces from outside to avoid excessive preservatives that are high in sugar and not doing your body any good. Remember when store bought sauces have a long shelf life, it means they are high in sugar.

Make your own snacks: Granola, crackers, protein bars, gluten free muffins can all be made at home easily. This way you skip added processed sugar and you also get to customise your snacks to your liking.

Cut back on sugary drinks: You know soda has added sugar and so does a bottled vanilla-flavoured coffee. But the sugar in other drinks might not be so obvious, like coconut water (some brands add sugar), bottled iced teas, flavoured waters, and even artificially sweetened drinks. It’s hard to suddenly stop having these drinks, so start with replacements. If you are craving a can of coke, have a glass of water, piece of dark chocolate, unsweetened coffee or do 10 jumping jacks. Diverting your mind is key and slowly it will become a habit to reduce sugar intake.

Depend on fruit: Once you have reset your taste buds for less sweetness, take a moment to notice how your usual sliced banana with cereal or how an apple now tastes sweeter. Enjoy fruits as snacks after meals or add them to main dishes and salads whenever you can. Whole fruit also contains fibre, vitamins, and water that keep you feeling satisfied.

"Everyone loves convenience and that’s why we opt for processed foods. Be mindful of the sugar content – read the back labels. Do not get obsessed with reading sugar content on labels, but for the sake of your awareness and health, you must know what you are consuming. Some common names for sugar on labels are: corn syrup, rice syrup, fructose, sucrose, maltose, dextrose, fruit nectars, concentrates of juices, honey, agave and molasses," concludes Ishti Saluja.

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