April 6, 2018

Don't quit sugar completely

Agreed that consuming too much sugar increases the risk of obesity, cardiovascular diseases, macular degeneration, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and a host of other illnesses. But is a sugar-free diet, in which you ban sugar completely a solution to this problem?

Why you shouldn't cut off sugar completely

Tara Leong is a lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of the Sunshine Coast says :
Quitting sugar is unlikely to improve your health any more than cutting down on ultra-processed foods, eating more vegetables, cooking food from scratch and limiting how much extra sugar you eat and drink.

At best, the sugar-free diet is confusing and imposes an arbitrary set of rules that aren't based on scientific evidence. At worst, such a restrictive diet can create food fear or an unhealthy relationship with food.

Some sugar-free diets advise people to cut out or restrict healthy foods and food groups such as fruit and dairy, without evidence to support their exclusion. This perpetuates the food fear/dietary restriction cycle and may contribute to nutrient deficiencies.

These diets also recommend people avoid fruit for a period of time, and then re-introduce a limited list of expensive 'healthy' fruits (such as berries) while avoiding the cheaper 'unhealthy' fruits such as bananas.

Whole fruit is a wonderful source of fibre, essential vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants. Two serves of fruit per day can reduce the risk of developing some cancers, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Given only half of us eat the recommended two serves of fruit per day, the advice to restrict fruit further could result in people missing out on these benefits.

Many sugar-free followers also avoid plain dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese, due to the assumption these contain sugars.

The sugar in plain dairy products is the natural lactose (a carbohydrate), which is nothing to fear. Unnecessarily avoiding dairy may increase the risk of osteoporosis if not replaced with adequate levels of calcium from other sources.


Cutting off certain "bad" foods totally from your diet can cause weight gain and affect mental health

Instead of completely cutting sugar, nutritionists recommend eating plenty of vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes. Eating less sugar is okay but completely avoiding it is a no-no. Research has shown that avoiding certain kinds of food or strict dieting in fact leads to more weight gain. Why? Simply because the brain interprets dieting and restriction as a famine, which causes the storage of fat for future shortages.   Also when we restrict certain food, our brain becomes obsessed with it and we crave very hard for that very food and eventually we succumb to our cravings and eat /overeat it and feel extremely guilty afterwards. Dieting has thus been found to cause stress with persons on diet obsessing over eating healthy food and constantly thinking of the quality and quantity of food they eat or have eaten. This in turn plays havoc on the mental health of the dieter leading to a condition called orthorexia.

Be mindful while eating food

So it's better to eat sensibly rather than resort to strict dieting. Remember moderation is the key. Having all types of food in moderation is a part of healthy diet. Moreover restricting certain foods can take away the pleasure and satisfaction from the eating experience. Savour each morsel of food that goes into your mouth; in other words practice mindfulness while eating so that your brain can register what you have eaten.  Also read: Dieting: Mind control is essential. You are more likely to overeat if you use your smart phone or watch TV while eating! So avoid gadgets and technology or fights at the dining table. Learn to eat smart. Do read the post Smart eating for weight loss.

Sugar is not so bad, after all!

By the way, sugar isn't as bad as you think! Here are a few good things about sugar. You can also use sugar as a beauty aid.


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