A Diwali without Indian sweets!!! We wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Here’s how you can eat, drink, and still shrink.
Granted, you cannot be picky when you’re visiting friends, but there are ways to be mindful and not binge on the sweets and simply swap them for healthier alternatives. We got experts to weigh in.
1. Eat: Jaggery-enriched Treats | Drop: Sugar-laden Sweets
Sugar provides empty calories, that is, they do not have other nutrients like fibre or protein that slow down absorption. So this results in a spike in blood sugar and over a period of time, can lead to lifestyle diseases. Consumption of aerated drinks and sweets that contain refined sugar means your body burns less fat. Hence, opt for freshly squeezed juices as these have natural sugars. Swap sugar with jaggery—It has a lower glycemic index, that is, it is absorbed slowly, and does not spike your blood sugar levels. This is because the time taken by jaggery to breakdown is much lesser when compared to sugar which enters the blood quickly. Therefore, adding jaggery to sweets instead of sugar keeps you in a safer zone, especially during festivities when consumption of sugar spikes!
Coconut oil also helps in controlling Type 2 diabetes, so sweets made from jaggery and coconut are a healthy option. Synthetic sugar can also be replaced by black dates and raisins. Palm sugar is another healthy alternative with high in potassium, iron and vitamin B. It is a natural, unbleached sweetener which can be swapped with almost all varieties of white sugar in sweets.
BONUS: A big trick is to add cardamom to your sweets because this spice satiates our sugar craving and also brings about a balance in the sweet, therefore requiring less sugar to be added in the first place. Instead of sugar, reach out for sweet fruit like banana, pineapple, pear, apple to make some yummy kesaris, halwas and cakes.
2. Eat: Almond/Soy/Coconut Milk Sweets | Drop: Cow's milk-based Sweets
The festive season is also a time when there is a greater chance of adulteration as the demand for milk is high. Adulterated milk can compromise our health. Soy milk, which is fat-free and vegan is high in phytoestrogen; these phytoestrogens help improving heart health especially for women in their postmenopausal stage. They also help in treatment of arteriosclerosis (a condition where there is thickening in the arteries). Almond milk and coconut milk are other alternatives as these are low in calories; however, both can be a bit expensive.
3. Eat: Fruit-based Desserts | Drop: Condensed Milk Desserts
Condensed milk is used to add more sweetness and a special flavour to a sweetmeat. However, the milk contains 62 calories per tablespoon as it is a mixture of milk solids and sugar. Also, there is high amount of saturated fat which can lead to cardiovascular diseases. So it is always advisable to avoid condensed milk or consume it in small portions. A food swap such as a fruit custard is healthier. You could also make a dessert of frozen watermelon and banana popsicles mixed together with natural vanilla powder (not the synthetic essence)—this healthy dessert also has cancer-fighting properties.
Eat: Natural butter or avocado cream | Drop: Excess ghee and butter
Mashed avocado tends to be buttery and a little both of it can be a healthy substitute for plenty of butter.
Many sweets use massive portions of ghee which is unnecessary. Instead, use a different binding agent for the sweets. Refined besan and maida, which is a key ingredient in some sweets, can cause high free-radical damage. Replace them with wheat sooji (unless you are gluten-intolerant), ragi (it is rich in iron) or moong atta (loaded with fibre, enzymes, protein, vitamins and minerals).
With inputs from Dr Amrapali Patil, nutritionist founder of Trim N Tone Clinic, Mumbai and Dr. Anitha Arockiasamy, President, India Home Healthcare.
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