Here's a first-hand experience of what happens when you consciously try to give up processed sugar from your life.
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But I love sugar!
I’m a sugar junkie, and everyone at work knows that I’m in a serious relationship with gooey chocolate cake. So when the team began discussing how sugar is hidden in so many different forms, and the words ‘no sugar’ and ‘challenge’ were being thrown around together, during a brainstorming session, I could see where this was headed and fervently wished to become invisible, like NOW! But soon enough, as I’d feared, everyone was looking at me! “There is no better person”, “it will be transformative,” they said, trying to convince me. “What if I faint and drop dead!” I pleaded. You will not! Think glowing skin, imagine a flat belly! they said. Hmm... People have gone to such great lengths to get a flat belly, and this is just one week, I thought. The gauntlet had been thrown and now it was time to rise up to the challenge. And that’s how on a Sunday evening, I grudgingly made a list of dos and don’ts for the next week—21 meals without desserts, several rounds of salted nuts and natural juices, sugarless tea and black coffee. What is life without a little refined goodness! I was about to discover.

Monday, Day 1

At breakfast, the cold milk WITHOUT sugar felt like liquid plastic, but I drank it nevertheless. My mom cooked poha, and to set me off on my no added-sugar diet, refrained from the sprinkling the crystals that help balance the flavours. I gave the bowl a generous squeeze of lemon to spike up the taste, and it worked. In solidarity, my whole family ate lemon poha.

I take the train on my long commute to work, and have believed I needed the glucose to keep myself from feeling dizzy. Candies, biscuits, sweet and salty golis, but a chat with a nutritionist, Ritika Samaddar to understand a no added-sugar diet made it clear to me that I had enough reserves to keep me going, and there were far healthier options to sweetmeats that slip easily into the mouth but sit stubbornly on the belly or (double) chin.

Getting Label Wise

For lunch I ate home-made khichdi with veggies and yoghurt, and scooped out a spoonful of Schezwan sauce to add some flavour. Turning the bottle around to read the label, as recommended by the nutritionist, I noticed it had added sugar! (give exact quantity) Off you go Schezwan. I also skipped the spoonful I add to my daily bowl of yoghurt, tasting dairy the way it is supposed to be, for the very first time! Not bad, I thought. That day I walked past the dessert and chocolate counters in the canteen without as much as a second glance. This was not going to be so tough after all!

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Natural Sugars Work Too!

The workday had gone by smoothly, I had managed to stay off sugar, bolstered by tips and tricks from my colleagues and the internet. But at home, as comfort food beckoned, mother absent-mindedly spread a table mat with the picture of a luscious caramel custard. To add salt to injury, I watched my younger brother coolly polish off my share of a black forest cake. It all seemed like a conspiracy so I grabbed a handful of almonds, cashews and dried apricot to munch on. Pretty soon, the craving was gone, at least temporarily!

(Note to self): Apricots are rich in potassium, iron, dietary fibers and natural sugars and make a healthy dessert option. But don’t look at black forest cake when you’re eating them!

Lessons, Lessons, Lessons...

There is hidden sugar almost everywhere, so read the labels carefully. 1 tsp of sugar = 4 gm. 1 slice of black forest cake = 120 gm. Dried apricots, figs, raisins and dates are all naturally sweet, but remember to eat in moderation.

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Image courtesy: Shutterstock

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