I am health-conscious, but that doesn’t imply that I will read random articles or follow the latest fad diet blindly (Read about various Fad Diets) and jump to conclusions. I can vouch for the fact that in my case, quick and easy tips (or for that matter any shortcuts) to lose weight in 15 days has never worked and I am sure a lot of you would agree with me. Slow living and conscious thinking has been the mantra in my life. I gained 26 lbs during my pregnancy and losing that baby weight seemed an implausible challenge. But after 3 years after my daughter’s birth, I have now lost all the baby weight and more thereby achieving my BMI goal. What’s more, I have never been on A diet! There is no strict diet or regime which I follow but simple tips and tricks which I am going to share. This is based on my personal experience and has worked in my case. The baseline philosophy is that - It’s not about losing weight, it’s really about changing one’s habit and lifestyle because only then will you achieve long term success and results. Lots of small and slow changes have helped me to increase my metabolism, so that even if I gorge on those sinful treats on long weekends, trips or holidays, my weight never increases.
Sugar is considered as one of the main culprits for weight-gain (and rightly so) and here is what I am doing (work in progress J) to get rid of it completely. While I was researching on sugar, I also realized that till I don’t quit it completely (or reduce it significantly) I will not gain the desired results of weight loss (My weight goal is 120 lbs). So here is my journey:
Bye Bye! White sugar
As the first step, I had to get rid of white sugar as it is chemically processed and the most addictive, with the highest number of calories (every 100 gms of white sugar contains 387 calories), as compared to other alternatives. I finished the last pack of white sugar and said good bye to it from my kitchen about six months back and have never bought it since then. Getting rid of it was as simple as emptying the last canister of white sugar at home and going for an alternative.
Hello! Brown Sugar (but not for long)
The calories in brown sugar are slightly less compared to its white alternative, but the major advantage is that it is less processed as compared to its counterpart and lesser quantities of brown sugar serve your sweet tooth cravings as compared to white, thanks to its earthy, rustic flavour. I started using brown sugar for tea and coffee and it definitely made my coffee taste better. But as most of the health experts say that brown sugar is also no good and almost equally harmful, I had to make one more switch.
The traditional Indian sweetener entered my kitchen and never left. Jaggery in its organic form is far less processed and has lots of health benefits because of its molasses content. I remember, my mother was asked to have 100 gms of jaggery (because of its high Iron content) every day as she had low haemoglobin levels. There are two types of jaggery which you would see in the super market. One which looks clean and light brown in colour and the other which is looks muddy and dark brown. Buy the latter (and preferably organic) as it is less processed. I usually prefer powdered jaggery as mixing it in tea or coffee is easy.
There is one secret of using jaggery - never boil it with tea or milk because it will spoil and curdle the milk. Make your sugar free coffee or tea with milk and mix the jaggery powder in the end. It doesn’t need a stir to dissolve like sugar granules.
Honey has been always part of my kitchen
I also use honey extensively as a sweetener, but there is one important note you need to keep in mind - As per Ayurveda, never boil or heat honey as it forms toxins and is very harmful. I always use honey for my early morning Lemon-Honey detox drink. Please note that honey should never be added to hot water. It should be added only once the water is lukewarm.
It’s all about (self) control
Once the Kitchen was sorted out to the best of my knowledge (I am yet to explore Stevia – a natural plant based sweetener, palm sugar, palm jaggery and coconut sugar), it was time to change my habits slowly.
Tea/coffee time always waited for me: Moment it rained, all I could think of was a hot cup of masala chai. If it was cold, I would snuggle up in my quilt and sip my favourite filter coffee, but then I changed some of the rules. On a daily basis, I have switched to herbal tea (with no milk or sweetener) or green tea with honey. Although, when it rains, I still indulge myself with my masala tea (but with jaggery instead).
Cookies and cakes are no more my date: If they are enjoying in my refrigerator, I would immediately give them off. When I make cakes (I have recently started to bake), I use organic jaggery and that is consumed by my daughter. I have stopped eating cakes and pastries in birthday parties except for family birthdays (It’s very hard when everyone else is enjoying that gooey chocolate cake).
My Daughter's Birthday Cake
Leave the last course with a smile: When the waiter returns with a menu card again and recommends the chef’s special dessert of the day, smile and say: “Check, please”!
Indian sweets are the worst cheat, but I am not leaving it: I salivate just by saying the names of the delicious sweets which are found in India. I find it impossible to resist them, and they are the single biggest deterrent in my “quit sugar” mission. But, like me, if you think that Indian sweets are unhealthy and only result in weight gain, then we are all wrong. Famous Indian dietitian and nutritionist - Rujuta Diwakar, talks in her book on “Indian Superfoods” (Must Read and highly recommened book, if you really want to be healthy in a right way) about Ghee (clarified butter) and its benefits and how it is one of the superfoods of India, but it has been categorically side-lined as an unhealthy ingredient and considered as a culprit for weight-increase. Sweets like Puran-poli (made from gram flour, jaggery and ghee), dry fruit ladoo, besan ladoo and wheat ladoo are actually good for health if eaten in moderation. And so, I said good bye to processed chocolates and cakes and switched to homemade sweets to satisfy my sweet tooth craving.
I have made many rules which I have happily broken on and off, and my “quit sugar” mission is still a work in progress and hopefully by next year (a 2018 resolution), I would have gained complete control over my sugar intake. Here are some of those rules –
- I will only have my mom-made sweets, which I get when I go to my home town once or twice a year – Nope, this didn’t work. There is no way in the world I was staying away from sweets 364 days a year.
- I will not buy any sweet, instead I will make them at home – if I can get over my laziness that is J
- If someone gifts me a pack of sweets, I would give a smile and distribute or donate it as soon as possible – this one’s a win-win for everyone!
- I will not eat any sweet throughout the week and on one of the weekends, I will enjoy the one sweet which my mother-in-law brings, to celebrate my determination
I have post-its all over the house to motivate me. The last lap of this journey, which is controlling these sweets is still in progress and I am hopeful that my foray into Yoga will help me achieve more self-control. Sugar, as such is not bad and one should move from added sugar to natural sugar and has to be regulated as you age. I also try to satiate my sugar cravings by eating more and more locally available fruits like mango and sapota. So, if you are with me, sailing in the same boat, then do share your experience and success stories.
Indian sweets are the worst cheat, but I am not leaving it