Sugar! It’s synonymous with everything sweet in the modern world. But, like India’s many significant contributions to the word, sugar was also discovered and cultivated in the first century AD in India and found its origins in the Sanskrit word derived from ‘śarkarā’. It was meant to be used in moderation and for medicinal purposes and was exported as a costly spice like all good things. Two millenniums later, sugar finds its way everywhere, from our morning coffee to evening desserts, from aerated beverages to ice creams, cookies and almost anything sweet. Unfortunately, the excessive consumption of sugar as a staple in our lives is not limited to unhealthy or indulgent foods. Still, sugar also gets into categories that are perceived to be healthy, be it malted nutritional drinks, cereals, or juices, often loaded with added sugar.

Sugar: Consumption and cravings

Till the ’90s, there was little focus on sugar, and globally, fat was perceived to be the main unhealthy nutritional component in fat-free food, giving rise to a host of ‘fat-free’ and low-fat claims, often in products laden with sugar. Excessive consumption of sugar has well-documented health risks, and the most apparent risks are weight gain, the chance of heart disease, tooth decay and type 2 diabetes. The less known perils of excessive sugar are linked to faster ageing, impact mental health (sugar is addictive), non-alcoholic fatty liver, and even influence our brain function. Sugar is a craving best enjoyed in moderation and small quantities, like all good things. The challenge for consumers and brands alike have been replacing such a potent ingredient in our lives and yet keeping our tastebuds happy. Also, many sugar substitutes have had their share of controversy over the years.

Swapping sugar in 2022

Swapping sugar in 2022 has to be a habit formed for good. It isn’t ideal to do it as a temporary reduction and hence not easy to do overnight but has a much more significant impact on our diet and lifestyle. It starts from reading the label of what we eat; not everything put inside a box is terrible. The (AHA) American Heart Association recommends nine teaspoons of sugar for men and six teaspoons for women as the maximum added sugar to consume in our diets. In most cases, that is a very sharp and unpalatable reduction for our sweet cravings.

Aditya Bagri, Director at Bagrry’s, shares some simple ways of going sugarfree in 2022:

  1. Make the switch and develop palate – swap your soda’s, energy drinks or teas for water and unsweetened beverages. Be careful to watch out for artificial sweeteners. Swapping to sugar-free plain yoghurt or removing the mishti from dahi takes time or changing the chocolate hazelnut spread with unsweetened nut butter. Use honey or fruits to naturally sweeten your cravings till you start enjoying a sugar-free life.
  2. Use natural sweeteners – Honey, jaggery, stevia, lesser-known agave nectar, or FoS (Fructo Oligo Saccharides) are better alternatives to sugar. They can be substituted in most recipes, often adding other health benefits. Remember, honey and jaggery are loaded with natural sugar, so moderation is essential.
  3. Unprocessed is best – Whole grains, whole fruits and specifically look for no added sugar products. Eating whole fruits and grains automatically reduces our diets' sugar, making the switch.