Many health-conscious people are becoming aware of the negative consequences of a high sugar diet. From the short term effects such as blood sugar spikes and energy crashes to the long term risks such as type II diabetes, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that reducing your sugar intake is a good idea.
In South East Asia, this is something that needs to happen on a conscious level. If you’re not paying attention, your juice or coffee will be ‘spiked’ with a generous amount of sugar, and before you know it, you’re on a ‘sugar high’! Beware that what goes up usually comes down, so you might not feel so good an hour or two later.
If you think that your diet is pretty high in sugar and you want that to change, make sure that any changes you make are gradual. Your body will be less likely to experience withdrawal symptoms and the changes will be easier for you to sustain.
Are less refined options better?
An excess of anything in your diet can cause problems. Just because you are choosing less refined options to sugar, it doesn’t mean you should eat them by the truckload! If you find that you have regular cravings for anything, it can be an indication that your diet is lacking in something. First make sure you are getting enough protein and good fats. The next step might be to talk to a nutritionist for specific advice.
If you need to use a sweetener or eat something sweet, there are healthier alternatives to refined sugar. These will generally have less impact on your blood sugar levels and will provide your body with nutrition that you won’t get from sugar. Let’s take a look at two of the healthiest sweet options.
If you are craving a mid-afternoon processed chocolate bar, snack on fruit instead, to satisfy sweet cravings. There is a wide array of delicious tropical fruit available in South East Asia, so find a few options that you really like the taste of. Fruit is full of vitamins and phytonutrients so it will help you cover your nutrition bases. If you need a sweet treat at work, pack fruits that are easy to transport such as bananas. Otherwise get prepared the night before and cut up your favorite fruit such as melon, papaya or pineapple so it’s ready to go!
In South East Asia, healthy honey options are readily available. In the west, it is often hard to source raw honey, and especially at a reasonable price. You should be able to find plenty of places that stock raw honey in cities around South East Asia. Raw honey is a great option because it hasn’t been heated, and this means the nutrients are still intact. It has less impact on your blood sugar levels than sugar but still has a very sweet taste. If you are weaning yourself away from adding sugar to your meals and drinks, try adding a little honey instead.
Some other healthy sugar alternatives that you might want to consider include stevia and pure maple syrup. You may need to go to specialist stores (e.g. organic food stores) to sources sweeteners like these.
Remember to make a gradual reduction in your sugar intake. Focus on one part of your diet at a time, to help make your changes sustainable.