“Mom, please add some sugar to yogurt, its tasting bland today.”
“No, baby, you already had required sugar today. Enjoy it as it is.”
“That’s not fair”
This was a regular story when I was young. I was a plump little kid who was always scouting for sugary stuff after meals. To cut back on my sugar craving, my mom started giving me yogurt. However, I got bored of plain yogurt and desired for something sweet again. I was helpless at that time. But, now I am armed with ideas that can help you cut sugar from your routine diet in simple ways.
Are you aware why are we cutting sugar from your diet? This is because it is harmful to health, not only in one but many ways. Firstly, added sugar does not contain any kind of essential nutrients. Further, it is harmful for your teeth as well. Being high in fructose, it might even affect your liver. Sugar also harms the brain and hormones, thereby promoting fatness. As sugar is addictive, it is one of the reasons of obesity in both kids and adults. So, are you ready to cut back on sugar now, knowing that it is not doing any good? A note of caution here – do not cut sugar from everything suddenly. Do it gradually to save any problems.
If you ever read the back of the pack of cereals, you will come to know that they have some amount of sugar. I know it’s not that much but you will need to eliminate sugar from such sources so that you can enjoy it in meals that are impossible without sugar (in my case, yogurt). If you are really fond of cereals, hunt for those that have no added sugar. Yes, they are indeed available. And when you get them, add fresh honey or diced fruits to your bowl to relish them in the morning. You will be one happy chap.
Ready-to-eat meals are a great invention. They are quick, satiating and interesting too. My kid loves it – be it oats, noodles or soups. However, you might not know that these meals are packed with high amount of sugar. This obviously affects your health. Instead of purchasing ready-to-eat meals, make a vow to prepare fresh meals and flavor them yourself. There are so many spice mixes, herbs and seasonings available that will help you bring out unique flavors in your foods.
Instead of buying ready-to-drink milks and yogurts, you can add vanilla essence, coco powder or fresh fruits to them. This will further help you to cut down sugar.
Goodbye to Sugary Toppings
Sandwiches without sugary toppings seem to be a bad idea. What if there is no jam on my toast? I dread that day. I might sound over-dramatic here, but there are people who need the daily dose of jam. I suggest that instead of buying jams from the market, prepare them at home. You can also prepare peanut butter. It is packed with protein for a good dose of energy. Try twisting your sandwich recipes and prepare them with fresh cottage cheese, plain unflavored cheese or even butter and fresh herbs.
2. Do Not Equate Desserts with Sugar
Desserts are sugar. It is difficult to imagine desserts without sugar. However, I am going to give you some fresh and innovative ideas for desserts that will help you cut down on the menace of sugar. Begin with preparing desserts at home. Yes, indeed with sugar. You have options ranging from cookies, tiny pancakes, cupcakes, waffles, etc. with dark chocolate dips. Add this to the meal itself, rather than after the meal. This will help you cut down the portion of the dessert. Then, replace sugar in the desserts with substitutes like honey, jaggery, dates, fresh fruits, etc. Natural flavors work better than sugar. The third step for a healthy dessert should be replacing all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour.
When you prepare desserts at home, there are a range of benefits. Firstly, you can cut down on sugar. Ready-made desserts are high in sugar. Secondly, you can control the portion. Controlling the portion helps you cut down the high consumption. Thirdly, preparing and eating fresh does not result in as much harm as ready-to-eat ones do. (pssst… you are even burning calories while preparing desserts). Fourthly, you inspire your kids to prepare foods at home. They will get the habit of eating fresh desserts at home. Instead of controlling kids, teach them good habits. Let them cheat on desserts once or twice a month. This will help them understand the difference between the two.
3. Eliminate Sugar from the Storage
My kiddo gets hunger pangs after an hour of breakfast. She asks for wafers, biscuits or things like these, which are easy to munch and kills her time. However, such foods might be high in sugar. I refrain from giving such stuff to her between meals as it not only kills her hunger for lunch but also makes her super active and she is not ready to rest in afternoon. Instead of wafers and all, I give her fresh dry fruits or dried fruits. They are equally munch-worthy and are good for health as well.
When the hunger strikes, you probably run to the pantry like me. The pantry spares no one. You sit with a cookie or two but your mind wanders to the pack again and poof! It is over. Instead of refueling your body with sugar, keep fresh fruits diced in the fridge. Even store dips like hummus or guacamole. So, next time when the hunger strikes, you can reach out to healthy snacks instead of sugar-laden ones. Clear your refrigerator with canned juices, canned fruits and all things that will load your system with sugar.
4. Change the Way You Hydrate
When I was trying to lose weight, I had been advised to consider whether I am hungry or just thirsty, while reaching out to foods. The same thing works when you consider drinking juice or water. At times, your body just requires plain fresh room-temperature water. Instead, you reach out to juices, sodas or colas, which are plain sugar, nothing else. Before jumping to your favourites, sip some water. You will feel better and will be able to make a right choice.
Keep a water bottle handy. Hydrating yourself at intervals will be a great help in itself. If your kids are fond of lemonades, prepare them at home. Add a dash of honey along with a little sugar. Prepare fresh detox drinks to up the family consumption of water. Mix muddled mint sprigs, sliced citrus fruits, ginger and the likes to a glass jar. Sip on this refreshing drink and notice the change in your energy levels.
In the End
We do not realize our intake of sugar throughout the day. In spite of eating a healthy diet, we make some wrong choices without realizing it. Make a habit of reading labels. It has helped me a lot. Sugar even saps the energy at times as it is quite addictive. You just need to take caution for a month or so. After that, you will get into a rut of avoiding sugar at all costs.