A good sleep, healthy diet, family time, home care, self-pampering is some of the best we got with this lockdown. It has made all of us learn to stay happy and together.
Togetherness in cooking, playing, gardening anything and everything to make this universe a better place. While we all are inculcating good habits finally, we all will stop and meet at a place where the entire universe will breathe in better and pure ambiance.
Confined at home most of us are binging on sweets. The automated mode of sugar cravings is turned on with no sign of getting off. From bakery products to Indian sweets we are relishing it all thereby increasing our intake of refined sugar.
Though lockdown was one time where we could have inculcated good habits and controlled our cravings. However, we are to do so because of a lack of discipline, commitment and inner motivation. All this could have cleaned our body but we are all together on a different track. Wondering why?
Sugar craving is an addiction; it is like a drug.
When we intake sugar a hormone dopamine is released in our body. Dopamine gives a happy feeling in our body and uplifts the mood and you feel good. So basically, you are addicted, and your sub-conscious mind craves for sugar.
While you intake sugar you feel good but somewhere down the line, it is damaging your body. You start feeling lethargic, lazy and tired. Sugar is like termite; it slowly damages the body by increasing the inflammation. The inflammation affects the liver the most as it increases the fat storage capacity but doesn’t burn it at all.
My 6-year-old son used to experience pain in his wrist and knees during bedtime. No deficiencies or medical issues were detected after all tests, but something was missing. I kept a proper watch and noticed that every time he consumed refined sugar in the form of candies, cakes, dairy sweets, chocolates from outside he experienced the pain. This concluded that he had refined sugar intolerance. Though there is nothing like ‘sugar intolerance’, but there is something that the body is not able to tolerate and that was sugar in my son’s case.” I concluded that it creates inflammation of a kind that causes calcium leach resulting in joint pain.
Sugar acts as bad bacteria. When a Pap test for cancer is conducted, sugar drops are tested with the cells to conclude the level of cancer. This is the main reason why all cancer patients are asked to leave all kinds of sugar.
What causes sugar cravings?
When the amount of water is not sufficient in the body it gets difficult for the body to absorb the nutrients. Nutrients travel with water and with lack of water you feel dehydrated and start craving.
The lockdown has confined us at home, thereby also increasing our craving for consuming bakery products to pass our time. We consume refined sugar and create trouble for our body. To control the same all you need to do is pick a glass of water and drink as and when you crave for sweets. Keep yourself hydrated throughout the day by taking lemon water, infused water, summer cool drinks.
Deficiency of Iron, Vit D, Vit B12
Apart from being dehydrated, deficiency of iron, Vit D, Vit B12 or chromium can also cause sugar craving. Taking care of these deficiencies will wipe away the cravings.
Inadequate amount of protein
Including proteins in your healthy diet plan is also important. Having only carbohydrates like bread, vegetables, pulses and just 3 meals with long gaps can again make your body crave.
But if you include proteins like lentils and legumes (rajma, chana, lobia, soya bean, peas) in your diet then it becomes a complete meal and helps in handling the craving.
Two meals of the day should have protein like paneer, eggs, boiled chicken, or tofu to make your body feel full and reduce the cravings.
Lockdown has made us all sit ideally at home the entire day. The body becomes sedentary watching movies, TV. The blood circulation goes slow and makes the body stiff as it is unable to accept nutrition value.
Whatever is eaten throughout the day does not release ATP, Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) that provides energy to drive many processes in living cells. All the energy and fat is getting deposited and when you get to active mode you crave for something sweet to activate your body.
Stay active; do not sit for more than 30-40 minutes at a stretch. Ensure to do regular exercise anytime of the day inside your home. Stay active and stay crave free.
When anxiety, stress and depression overtake, to boost up the mood you crave for sugar which makes you sleep deprived. Overall, the increased stress level and sleep are connected. People who are insomniac get up at night and binge on sweets.
When your body is stress-free and you get good sleep by adopting a routine, you crave less. Give your body an organized plan; utilize the time actively to enhance the knowledge in life. Stay stress-free, get good sleep and you will experience a change in the body and cravings.
Healthy sugar substitutes
In the Indian food system, it is not always practically possible to completely stop sugar consumption. However, we can easily look out for substitutes to satisfy our cravings or manage diabetes. A few substitutes are:
Fruits: They are natural sweeteners that can also be taken by diabetic patients. All that one must be careful about is the timing. The best time to consume a fruit is empty stomach or post-workout.
Diabetics can also consume mango empty stomach and it will do no harm. All they must do is consume some fiber along with it like almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, watermelon seeds, pumpkin seeds, or nuts. Eating fiber along with the fruit will help in reducing the glycemic load of the fruit.
Fruits like musk melon, watermelon can be consumed in mid-morning. One must avoid consuming fruits at night as they create fermentation.
Dry fruits: Anjeer, dates, soaked raisins can be consumed while you are craving for sugar. They do no harm when consumed in moderation and are better than refined sugar.
Jaggery: It has zinc, selenium, potassium which is a particularly good substitute for refined sugar. Jaggery is best consumed in winters.
Coconut: This is yet another substitute. It has MCT, Medium Chain Triglycerides, which has a good amount of fat and fiber. If you chew coconut properly your sugar cravings will vanish.
Dark chocolate: Dark chocolates are available in varying percentages. They are best when consumed with a higher percentage i.e. 80% – 90% of dark chocolate is the best substitute.
Stevia and Erythritol: Stevia can be consumed from its plant or in powdered form in place of refined white sugar. Erythritol can be consumed as well. However, the usage of both must be limited. Moderation is the key. It can replace sugar in bakery products.
Indian sweets cannot be eliminated completely, and they do have refined sugar. How to handle this now?
You must be careful about the amount of sugar and time of consumption. Try these sweets mid-morning or evening keeping in mind the portion size. In summers, we cannot resist the coolers like ‘nimbu pani, sharbats’ which of course have refined sugar. For the same, sugar quantity can be taken care of.
More tips on managing sugar cravings
Relax your body during the lockdown and try intermittent fasting. Your body will start regulating insulin. Since we are all at home, we can easily make our eating windows flexible which will help turn down the cravings. Break your fast with a fruit followed by the meal.
Try it for 7 days where you take your body to fasting mode, (not starving mode) and your body will thank you as it will get time to heal itself. The liver starts cleansing itself which helps in controlling the cravings.
For better lifestyle and health, let us together inculcate good habits and give our body the best from this time.