Diwali Diet – How much sugar is OK?
Festive season is round the corner and that is synonymous with hearty foods and sweets! Between hosting parties and meeting friends and family, the time around Diwali can be tough on most people who otherwise like to control the calories they consume. Add to that, the sugar indulgences in form of mithai and other desserts, without which your Diwali diet isn’t the same.
Need to control the sweet intake?
Sweets are laden with carbohydrates and calories, without much nutrition. They can be major contributors of weight gain, which further increases the risk of conditions like diabetes and heart disease. For people already suffering from these conditions, festivals are a time to show strong restraint against sweets.
How much sugar?
Regardless of festival time, the normal sugar limit for an average woman is 6 teaspoon per day and 9 teaspoons for men (as outlined by the American Heart Association).
It can be difficult to make an exact estimate of sugar consumption during the holiday season as a person might not know the amount of sugar in different sweets. A better estimate can be judging the percentage of diet composed of sugary foods and drinks consumed per day.
Ideally, a person must limit added sugars in form of foods and drinks to 10 per cent of their overall calorie intake. This ranges between 50g for women and 70g for men, though the amounts may vary with age, size and physical activity levels.
How to tackle excess sweet intake during festivals
Though it is difficult to completely eliminate sweets for those few days, one can manage the total consumption and make other healthy choices to balance the effects of excess sugars through sweets. Here are some ways:
- Keeping portion sizes small – A desert treat can be included in the meal by keeping its portion small and also removing another carbohydrate like an extra chapatti from the main meal in its place.
- Modify the usual meals – Since one would already be consuming sweets during the day, like visiting relatives and friends during the day, their effect can be balanced by either skipping the main meal altogether if already full or changing it towards a mini meal at appropriate intervals. Continuing to eat regular meals in addition to sweets puts more pressure on the digestive system and can cause hyper-acidity. Thus, the festive mantra could be to eat when hungry.
- Revising recipes – Desserts and sweets can still taste great with healthier changes made to them. For example, reducing the sugar quantity can be balanced with increased flavours from spices and flavours like saffron, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, etc. Fatty additions can be substituted with fruit ingredients. This is extremely helpful for diabetic patients who can still savour some sweets minus the excess fat and sugar.
Image Courtesy Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Street_shop_for_sweets,_mithai_Rajasthan_India.jpg#file
“Enjoying yourself at Christmas,” Diabetes.org.uk, http://www.diabetes.org.uk/upload/Christmas%202010%20-%202011/2011/EnjoyingYourself%20at%20Christmas.pdf
“Fitting in Sweets,” Diabetes.org, American Heart Association, http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals/holiday-meal-planning/making-sugar-count-during-the-holidays.html
“How much sugar is good for me?” http://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/1139.aspx?categoryid=51&subcategoryid=167