( Blog Contribution by Mrs Savita Surana, BCOM, FCA [India] )
It is all in the mind and not impossible to do. I have been able to control sugar cravings and continue to do so. All of us can do it once we have the right combination of mental understanding and determination.
I had sweet tooth and loved eating sweets but it wasn’t hard controlling the cravings once I decided on limiting processed sugars intake. Replacing processed sugar with naturally sweetened products like dates, raisins, fresh fruits helped a lot initially eventually leading to significant reduction of processed sugar intake. Our mind automatically tells us what is good and what is not. Having said that I still have processed sugar but the quantity is very limited and under the recommended six teaspoons of added sugar. Treats are treated as treats and are only occasional.
We also need to keep ourselves hydrated and fill up with healthy food and snacks. Stress is another reason why we tend to crave for sugars, so we must ensure mind relaxation through music and meditation which can help us manage stress.
Sugar is an important source of food energy. It is used to provide energy for cellular functions. But that does not mean that we need to eat sugary foods or include added sugars in our diet. During the digestion process the carbohydrates gets broken down into sugars to create energy. Sugar is found naturally in a variety of sources such as fruits and dairy. Eaten in moderation, sugar can form part of a healthy diet but it is the excessive consumption that can lead to several health issues.
A wide variety of Consumer Interest Groups have found that there are different commercial names of added sugars used in processed foods. Therefore, understanding the names in food labelling is of utmost importance so that people are well informed prior to deciding on the amount of sugar to be consumed. The World Health Organisation recommends a limit on any type of sugar intake to be 10% of person’s total energy intake to reduce health risks such as obesity and tooth decay. The American Heart Association recommends 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women and 9 teaspoons for men.
Excessive sugar can lead to excessive weight gain which in turn increases the risk of hypertension, diabetes, depression and heart disease. Added sugars in food and drinks are the reasons for tooth decay or dental cavities. These sugars mix with bacteria in the plaque on teeth and produce acid which attack tooth enamel.
Consuming sweet food and drink in between meals increases the risk of tooth decay. To maintain healthy teeth, we ought to limit the frequency of sugary foods and drinks, opt for healthier options and have cheese after consuming sweet or acidic food or drink to reverse the process of tooth decay. Oral hygiene is equally important – brushing teeth at least twice a day and cleaning between teeth to remove plaque.
The normal blood sugar level ranges from 4.0 to 6.0 mmol/L (72 to 108 mg/dL) when fasting and upto 7.8 mmol/L (140 mg/dL) 2 hours after eating.
For people with diabetes fasting blood sugar targets are 4.0 to 7.0 mmol/L (72 to 126mg/dL) for type1 and type 2 diabetes. After meal level is 9mmol/L (162 mg/dL) for type1 diabetes and 8.5mmol/L (153mg/dL) for type2 diabetes
I have been able to maintain my fasting blood sugar levels below 5.4 mmol/L for the last five years without necessarily depriving myself completely of sugar. Simple techniques of controlling the consumption levels of processed sugar and replacing it with natural alternatives where possible is the way to go.