Quitting refined sugar altogether is no small feat. And why not? Since childhood, we’re conditioned, in a way, to see sugar as a sign of a job well done. From chocolates and ice creams your parents rewarded you with after scoring well in exams to eating a piece of cake to make yourself feel better after a challenging day, sugar has always been intrinsic to human emotions. Also, research suggests that sugar can be as addictive as some drugs. Hence, quitting it can be very challenging. But many people do, for their health’s sake. Refined sugar causes weight gain is something we all know. But this isn’t the only ill-effect. It also makes you prone to several serious diseases. Hence, either quitting or lowering its intake is the best thing you can do for your health. But have you wondered what would happen once you quit sugar? What positive effects does it have on your body? Also, since sugar has a similar effect as some drugs, are there any withdrawal symptoms that you might experience? To get answers to these questions, Onlymyhealth spoke to Sreemathy Venkatraman, a gut health practitioner & wellness nutritionist and the founder of ‘Mitha Aahara-Eat to Live’.
Effect Of Refined Sugar On Health
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Before we delve into quitting refined sugar, let us first go through the effects it has on the body. Thus, eating refined sugar can:
- Cause weight gain: The white granulated sugar comprises empty calories, which causes weight gain, and can even make you overweight or obese.
- Increase inflammation
- Make you prone to serious health conditions such as type-2 diabetes, stroke, heart diseases, etc.
The argument over whether refined sugar is completely bad or can be consumed in small amounts is somewhat divided. To understand its effect better, it might help to know how sugar is made. So the sugarcane stalk is made up of 72% water, 12% sugar, 13% fiber, and 3% molasses. The granulated white sugar is made by removing molasses, Sreemathy explained. It’s refined further with centrifuging and other processes.
What Happens When You Quit Sugar
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Refined sugar isn’t good for you and it isn’t something your body needs. Hence, once you stop putting that one teaspoon of sugar in your tea, or do away with that piece of chocolate or bowl of ice cream right after your meals, your body undergoes some changes.
- It will become easier to reduce and manage weight
- Inflammation decreases
- Improvement in mood as you’ll no longer experience the highs and lows associated with a sugar rush followed by a crash
- You’ll start appreciating the sweetness of fruits. They will taste sweaters.
- Overall, the act of quitting sugar will bless you with health, vitality, and vigour.
Withdrawal Symptoms After Quitting Sugar & How To Manage
Many people after quitting sugar experience certain withdrawal symptoms, such as:
- Craving for sweet foods
- Lack of energy
Whenever you feel
Whenever you crave sweet and high-calorie foods, you can consider the following options:
- Dark chocolate
- Traditional snacks, like chikki
- Kheer with jaggery
You can have these but in moderation.
Other Aspects Of Quitting Sugar
Quitting the added refined sugar is one thing. But, there is hidden sugar in many food items you eat and drink in your day-to-day life. These also cause inflammation, weight gain, and are even linked to depression, dementia, and even certain cancers. Hence, doing away with these is also crucial. You can find these hidden sugars in drinks such as:
- Aerated drinks
- Fruit juices
- Energy drinks
- Cold coffee, etc.
Hence, read the nutritional label before buying these.
Some of the common food items also contain it, such as
- Corn flakes
- Protein bars
- Granola bars
- Breakfast cereals
- Chocolate cereals
- Chocolate syrup
- Nut butter
Hence, read the nutritional labels before buying these.
Also, when quitting refined sugar, you can switch to natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, palm and date jaggery, etc. Avoid artificial sweeteners, too. Stevia can be a good alternative. Hence, even after quitting refined sugar, there are several alternatives that you can switch to.
(With inputs from Sreemathy Venkatraman, a gut health practitioner & wellness nutritionist and the founder of ‘Mitha Aahara-Eat to Live’)
Photo Credit: Freepik