Obesity, blood pressure and diabetes are the two foremost resident evils causing disastrous health effects in people living worldwide. We started to deal with weight gain by cutting down on fats, blood pressure was attacked with decreased salt intake and diabetes overruled by slashing sugar quantities during meals and snacks. With fats, sugar and salt almost completely cut out of our meal plans, we are left with a handful of options to choose from. Sometime later when the world faces the crisis of another health problem, are we going to cut out the food group or ingredient responsible for the problem? By doing this, we are channelizing our meals towards imbalanced intake of foods thereby paving way for further health problems.
Sugar-Not So Sweet After All!
Cutting down or avoiding sugars seems to be the primary task of many people these days. There are numerous sugar-free diets to choose from and these diets solely rely on the dangerous effects of excess intake of sugars such as obesity which in turn lead to problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancers to gain popularity and acceptance among the general public. One must also not deny that on an average, people worldwide are consuming far excess quantities of sugar than the recommended values due to the mushrooming of empty-calorie and excess-sugary beverages, processed foods and baked goods.
To shun out all these problems, quitting sugar intake is not the solution. This is not going to improve your well-being, a sugar-free diet is confusing and relies upon a set of rules that aren’t scientifically proved and chiefly, such restrictions can tangle your relationship with food and cause fear in your mind on anything that you choose to eat. When you rely upon a sugar-free diet that has its own list of allowed and disallowed foods, it cultivates a notion of diet mentality and terrorizes the one following the diet on consuming any food that does not belong to the ‘allowed’ list. There are certain diets that request people to cut out food groups such as fruits and dairy that are considered to be healthy universally and ultimately result in nutritional deficiencies. They might even suggest avoiding fruits for a certain period of time and then re-introduce a small quantity of exotic, expensive fruits such as berries while avoiding locally available, cheaper ones such as bananas. Certain other diets ask individuals to completely refrain from dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese owing to the belief that these contain sugar. Sadly, the sugars available in fruits and dairy are natural fructose and lactose that only benefit the body by providing energy. Avoiding these food groups will only lead to nutrient imbalance, conditions such as osteoporosis due to insufficient calcium levels and so on.
Apart from those fearing sugar, individuals who worry about their health, the impact of certain nutrients on their health and above all, about food are likelier to diet. Such individuals might also suffer from orthorexia, a condition in which the individual involved gradually starts narrowing the list of foods and food groups that are deemed acceptable and freaks out when he/she sees something unhealthy in the plate. This is nothing but the precursor to an eating disorder.
Even if you believe that cutting down on those nutrients that add calories is the perfect way to stay healthy and fit, research shows that continuously dieting for a prolonged period can cause weight gain in the long run. This is because, the system misunderstands dieting as famine and starts accumulating fat for using it during future shortages. Secondly, dieting adds stress to the person’s mind and causes the body to release cortisol, the stress hormone, which promotes fat storage in the body, specifically more in the abdomen.
People rely on anything that is fanciful or expensive. A self-proclaimed sugar-free recipe that boasts on using rice malt syrup, maple syrup or dates as sugar replacements is only a fad as these are nothing but expensive sugar alternatives that are still sugars and contain more or less the same number of calories as any other sugar. These alternatives might benefit in other ways, for instance dates adds fiber to your body and rice malt syrup comes in handy for those suffering from fructose malabsorption. On the contrary, people tend to consume more of such foods that are proclaimed to be healthy than when they understand that it is unhealthy.
The real talent lies in consuming a bit of every food group and nutrient but staying healthy and fit all along. To ensure this:
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.