Diwali is finally here! The festival of lights is also the festival of sweets, and we consider exchanging of treats and sweets as a means to spread cheer and happiness, and celebrate the essence of Diwali. And that means even the most calorie conscious and iron-willed dieters out there cannot excuse themselves out of mouthing a few ladoos and extra bites of incredibly delectable kaju katlis. But there’s one main ingredient that goes into the making of Diwali sweets that people trying to lose weight are most worried about – sugar! Health and weight loss experts unanimously agree that eliminating refined sugar from the diet can be a game-changer if you are trying to lose weight and improve overall health as well. In fact, white sugar is labeled as “white poison” because it increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, inflammation, and obesity. Regular consumption of sugar also has a negative impact on liver and gut health. Giving up sugar is thought to be an effective way to lose a few extra pounds without breaking a sweat. So, how can you celebrate Diwali without going on a guilt trip every time you pick up a piece of barfi or milk peda? It’s easy – there are way better alternatives to make sweets without allowing white sugar to put a dent in your Diwali festivities.
Why Sugar is not Good for Weight Loss and Health?
Refined sugar not only leads to weight gain, it effects overall health negatively too. Here’s how:
1. Sugar has a high amount of empty calories – 1 tablespoon sugar has around 48 calories. Just think about how many calories you are consuming by adding sugar to tea, coffee, fruit juice, lassi, lemonade, cola, sweets, desserts, cupcakes, pastries, cakes, through the day, without even realizing that all those extra calories are getting stored as fat.
2. Consuming too much sugar can cause wrinkles – sugar accelerates skin ageing through a process called glycation, where the sugar in bloodstream attaches to protein and produces free radicals that damage collagen and elastin, and the skin loses its youthfulness and firmness.
3. Overconsumption of sugar is one of the major causes of polycystic ovarian disease/PCOS.
4. Causes hormonal imbalances.
5. Sugar can cause bloating.
6. Increases risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.
6 Sugar Substitutes To Make Diwali Sweets:
1. Xylitol: It is a sugar alcohol found naturally in fruits and veggies, and has only half the calories as white sugar (2.4 calories/gram whereas white sugar has 4 calories). It does not raise blood sugar sharply and thus insulin spike is not too high. Additionally, xylitol is considered good for dental health because it prevents tooth decay. Xylitol can be bought in powder form and just a little bit is needed to sweeten things up.
2. Coconut Sugar: It’s extracted from coconuts and is a better option compared to table sugar, it’s also low on the glycemic index. Since coconut sugar is unrefined, it retains most of its vitamins and minerals, and doesn’t cause sudden fluctuations in blood sugar. However, coconut sugar has the same amount of calories as white sugar, but sugar has empty calories and doesn’t have any nutritional value.
3. Jaggery: Rich in potassium, iron, and other minerals, it’s much better than refined sugar. Available in block and powder forms, jaggery (Indian gud) is an unrefined sweetener (usually sourced from sugarcane, coconut palm, and date palm), used since ancient times in India to make sweets and treats. White sugar, on the other hand, even though extracted from sugarcane, undergoes heavy processing, gets refined, and has loads of empty calories (no nutritional value). Calorie wise, jaggery has 383 per 100 gm and white sugar has 385 calories. But considering the nutritional value, jaggery is a better choice.
4. Dates: They are very nutritious and contain a lot of vitamins and minerals. They do contain a good amount of calories but high in fiber and contain antioxidants that fight free radicals. You can make anything from ladoo to halwa to kheer with dates.
5. Erythritol: It’s a sugar alcohol like xylitol but has low amount of calories, just 0.2 calories per gm. And also it has just 70% sweetness compared to white sugar. Recent studies have shown that erythritol even has antioxidant properties as well. You might have already noticed how “sugar free” sweets out in the market are using “erythritol” instead of white sugar.
6. Honey: Make your kaju katli with honey this Diwali! Also, honey dipped balushahi, even honey gulab jamun! Rich in nutrients, with good amount of vitamins and minerals, honey has a high nutritional profile. Though there are more calories in honey (64 calories per tbsp) compared to white sugar (45 calories per tbsp), honey is way sweeter but with a lower glycemic index (does not raise blood sugar sharply).
Summing up, you should never allow anyone or anything to put a dent on your festivities. Diwali is a festival which brings family, friends, and everyone else together and sweets are a central part of this festival. So, do indulge and soak in the festive fervour, but do remember to get back on track right after. Also, if you are struggling to lose weight, check out the Speed Slim program on the Rati Beauty app.