Because of the restrictions during these COVID times, we have already altered our physical activity by more than half. We are burning far fewer calories as compared to how much we would burn earlier on a typical workday. This is even more alarming because our daily intake of food has increased whilst sitting at home, be it binge-eating while watching TV shows, stress-eating due to anxiety or mental unrest. The current situation, which is here to stay for a long time combined with restrictions on daily movement and excess-eating, might have some severe consequences for our health & body weight. However, it’s not too late to get things in order.
Two of the prime reasons behind weight gain are – fatty food and sugary foods.
While most people are taking a conscious effort to reduce oily food in their diet, sugar is an element that we are overlooking and neglecting. Even our coffee/tea doses for the day are filled with sugar! Just two cups of coffee/tea can account for around 80 calories from sugar, which is approximately equivalent to the calories burnt in a 2 km walk! And now that, most people have resorted to baking while at home, sugar is an element that has been overused intensely. This is why practicing sugar-distancing, along with social-distancing, is of prime importance and should become a priority.
Here is where the role of low-calorie sweeteners like Sugar Free come into play. Low-calorie sweetener is a food additive that provides a sweet taste like that of sugar while containing significantly less food energy than sugar-based sweeteners, making it a zero-calorie or low-calorie sweetener (LCS). LCS when used to replace sugar in the products consumed in the diet, may be beneficial for weight management. Low-calorie sweeteners can be used for beverages and baking as they come in pellets, sachets, and powder form.
Conversations often arise around the safety of switching to low-calorie sweeteners and their health benefits. However, low calorie sweeteners available in the market are thoroughly investigated and their safety is confirmed by many studies. The key ingredients of these sugar substitutes like aspartame, sucralose and stevia have been recognized safe by US FDA & by JECFA, an international scientific expert committee administered jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and WHO. In India, Low-calorie sweeteners are regulated by FSSAI and are safe* for consumption.
Renowned Chef Sanjeev Kapoor also suggested tips to maintain one’s fitness during these trying times, “Just make sure you’re eating right, providing your body with appropriate nutrition and keep it hydrated. In this situation, for instance, since I have a sweet tooth, make sure to substitute the regular sugar with Sugar Free products whenever possible.
Also, Try and consume a lot of salads, fresh fruits, and vegetables if you can procure them. They are rich source of fibre along with vitamins like vitamin C, folic acid, beta carotenoid (precursor of Vitamin A) etc. that are vital for good health. ”
Leading Nutritionist Ishi Khosla also provided her inputs to keep one’s diet in check, “Since our bodies are at rest, it’s important to remember that our diets can’t be the same as before. We need to cut down on the number of meals and maybe limit them to just two. When our movements get curtailed, our appetite falls, but cravings increase. We shouldn’t give in to those cravings. It’s important to restrict one’s diet without compromising on nutrition. Include immunity-boosting food like aloe vera, tulsi, coconut oil in the diet. Replace sugar with low-calorie sweeteners and keep hydrating! New realities mean that we need to look at food and diet in a new way.”
Lastly, it is imperative to remain positive during this pandemic. Eating on time can affect your alertness and productivity. Try and ensure that this lockdown is beneficial to you and helps you realize, reassess, and reorganize your routine to emerge stronger, fitter, and healthier. Don’t forget to keep sanitizing!
- Ashwell, M., Gibson, S., Bellisle, F., Buttriss, J., Drewnowski, A., Fantino, M., . . . La Vecchia, C. (2020). Expert consensus on low-calorie sweeteners: Facts, research gaps and suggested actions. Nutrition Research Reviews, 33(1), 145-154. doi:10.1017/S0954422419000283
* As per published literature on APIs.
ADI (Acceptable daily intake) for Sucralose is 5mg/kg body weight/day and Aspartame is 40mg/kg body weight/day
ADI for Steviol Glycoside is 4 mg/ kg body weight/day
Aspartame is not recommended for Phenylketonurics
Sugar Free Gold & Natura contains artificial sweeteners and is for calorie conscious. They are not recommended for children