Have you eliminated yummy pedhas, delicious rasgullas, luscious jalebis from your life? Do you find it difficult to resist scrummy desserts and pastries during parties? Have you substituted sugar with ‘sugar-free’?
If your answer for the above questions is ‘Yes’, here’s a last question for you –
Are you happy with such a restrictive attitude towards sweets? Has it aided phenomenally in your weight loss journey?
And if your answer has now switched to ‘No’, you should definitely find out where you are going wrong!
Whenever we are trying to lose weight, sweets and desserts are the first things we stay away from. But do you know that a small serving of dessert every day can really be beneficial for you? Yes, it’s true! If you have a small portion of sweets today, you won’t feel deprived and will be less tempted to hog on it tomorrow.
I do not say eating a scoop of ice cream after every meal is going to help, but what I mean is there is no need to completely eliminate sugar from your diet. And I believe that how sweet foods show on your weighing scale depends on how wisely you chose and at what time of the day you enjoy them. So instead of depriving yourself of sweets, follow these small tips to enjoy your desserts:
- Grab natural sugars over artificial ones: Sugar is sugar, be it natural or artificial. But there is a difference in the nutritional content of foods containing them. For example, though banana is sweet, it is loaded with nutrients which are good for you and low in calories, saturated fats and trans fats. Foods which have natural sugars are packed with other nutrients also like fibre, proteins and healthy fats. Therefore, even if a banana has more sugars, it is healthier than a pastry. So, instead of comparing foods only by their sugar content, look at the overall nutritive value.
- Pair them with fiber, proteins and healthy fats: Try to club your dessert with fibre, proteins and healthy fatty foods. Because all these three nutrients slow down the absorption of sugars (which causes a spike in your blood sugars and decreases your energy levels) in your bloodstream. Also, these nutrients make you feel satisfied and give you satiety. This tip helps especially when you come across your favourite dessert when you are halfway through your diet regime.
- Eat your favourite desserts around your workout time: Exercise can help you in getting rid of excess sugars that you consume. Researchers from Syracuse University found that completing a single weight-training session reduced the effects of sugary meals on women’s blood-sugar levels by 15 percent for at least 12 hours. Sugars from refined carbohydrates, like white bread and pasta, can also give your exercise routine a boost. Those added sugars provide energy to help you intensify your workouts.
- Keep sugar away from your coffee: No matter how hard it would be for you to implement this change, but coffee and dessert are not really made for each other. The caffeine in your coffee can inhibit your body’s ability to process the sugar in your glazed accompaniments. In one study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Canadian researchers found that when men consumed one to two cups of regular coffee an hour before a sugary meal, their blood sugar shot up 16 percent more than if they had one to two cups of decaffeinated coffee before the meal. The researchers suggest that caffeine causes your body’s cells to be less responsive to insulin, causing short-term insulin resistance.
- Cinnamon helps: Sprinkling your desserts with cinnamon powder can help keep snacking at bay. According to one study, eating cinnamon on any type of food, including sugary ones, helps lower the amount of sugar in your blood if you haven’t eaten in a while. And that can help you lose weight because you’ll fend off insulin resistance, which can make you put on extra pounds.
- Choose your occasions: Once you decide to cut your sugar intake, prioritize occasions or events when you will want to have them. Whether you want to have your weekly quota of dessert in your office party or over the weekend with your kids, is what you have to decide. When you stop and really think about your food choices, you’ll often find that many of them come from conditioning rather than true preference. But just because a 12-year-old you liked low-quality sweets doesn’t mean the adult-you have to continue eating them. Save desserts for the times that are really worth it, and realize you aren’t missing much by skipping your favourite brownie bites.
Share your dessert: Get out of the habit of eating dessert alone, especially those foods that you eat for comfort. One of the wonderful things about life is that celebrations happen for all occasions. Use these occasions as moments to share with people you care about. And the best way to indulge in desserts without guilt is to have a fruit or fruit yoghurt instead. Avoid keeping away pre-made desserts in your house.
- Quality matters: If you still manage to incorporate a dessert in your diet regime emphasize on quality over quantity. A few bites of good quality dark chocolate would do less harm than a handful of sugary milk chocolates. Pick up foods with actual flavour and not just extra sugar and salt.
- Split it up: Half a dessert is definitely better than the whole of it. If you want to have ice cream but you are already done with the dessert quota for the day, but an only half portion of that favourite ice cream of yours. Try to share it with a friend so that you don’t end up consuming all the calories.
- Modify your recipes: Give a healthy makeover to your favourite desserts by replacing refined flour with oats or whole grain flours. You can also replace half the fat with canola oil or coconut oil. Load it with nutrients by adding lots of nuts and oilseeds. Remember, you can eat your favourite dessert without any guilt if you prepare it at home!
Keeping a check on those sweet cravings may not be as hard as you think. Try these tips…
- Watch your serving sizes: Quantity is equally important as quality. Just because a fruit can satisfy your sweet craving doesn’t mean that you can have a whole watermelon at a time. Small portions of whatever you eat will give you satisfaction and at the same time will take care of your calorie intake.
- Make a healthier swap: Desserts are often high in fats, so choose low fat or low-calorie version while you go for it. For example, instead of chocolate ice cream, go for a fruit popsicle
- Pick seasonal foods: It is easy to avoid those sugary desserts if you stack some fruits on your office desk. Remember fruits, that are in season, taste sweeter. Stock up on citrus fruits, apples and pears in winters, and in summers choose delicious sweet berries and peaches.
- Let the sugars sink in: Many of us end our meals with desserts, even if we are already full. The key is to wait at least 15 minutes before having dessert to give your brain time to recognise your stomach is actually full.
- Brush your teeth: It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book. When sugar cravings hit you, get your toothbrush out. Toothpaste leaves a fresh, mint flavour in your mouth that actually spoils the flavour of classic sweet treats such as biscuits and confectionery.
With these effective tips, you can have ice creams, pie or cookies in your daily routine and still stay healthy. Toh, kuchh meetha ho jaye? 😉
And, if you want to enjoy sweets without any guilt as well as reckoning, download ‘bon happetee’.
With this app installed on your phone, you just need to savour your dessert, while the team takes care of the tiresome calculations about the appropriate portion and time to consume. A weekly report helps you keep a check on your sweets consumption.
by Rashmi Madholkar (Nutritionist)
Rashmi extensively educated herself in the field of nutrition to create awareness amongst people. Being in this field for 9 years, she believes that having the body that you always wanted is to nourish it with love, understanding and care.