The average Nigerian consumes more sugar than is necessary. This is largely due to the staple foods in the Nigerian diet. In addition to the foods we eat, the snacks we buy or make have a large amount of added sugars.
Reducing the amount of sugar we ingest is an essential step towards living a healthy lifestyle. The sugar-free diet has witnessed increased popularity over the years because it is an effective way to lose weight and re-calibrate our eating habits. Many individuals who participated in the sugar-free challenge experienced significant weight loss, improved appearance of their skin and overall better health.
In fact, many medical doctors advise patients with certain ailments to reduce their sugar intake.
In this article, we will explain why you should try a sugar-free diet especially when you eat a Nigerian diet. Then, we will explain what the benefits of going sugar-free are. To ease you into attempting the Sugar-free diet, we will provide you with tips to ensure your success in following the sugar-free diet.
What is the Sugar-free Diet?
Generally, the sugar-free diet refers to eating foods with little or no sugar for a prolonged period of time. Majority of the food we eat contains sugar in one form or the other; therefore, it may be difficult to completely eliminate sugar from your diet.
The definition of a sugar-free diet varies according to an individual’s needs.
- Some see a sugar-free diet as avoiding refined sugar. These individuals continue to use unrefined sweeteners like maple syrup or honey.
- Others people think that the sugar-free diet involves eliminating all sources of added sugars. This category of people will stay away from sources of unrefined sugar such as honey. However, these people still consume foods that have naturally occurring sugar like fruits
- The third category of people are stricter when defining what a sugar-free diet is. These individuals avoid refined sugar, unrefined sugar, and naturally occurring sugar. That is any food that contains sugar such as fruit and carbs are not in their diet.
Now, you may be wondering, which sugar-free diet you should adopt?
We recommend that you start with eliminating refined sugar before experimenting with a strict sugar-free diet. We also suggest that you consult an experienced and a registered dietitian before you start a sugar-free diet.
Diseases associated with a high sugar diet
The staple meals in Nigeria are carbohydrate heavy. These meals include rice, garri, noodles, and yam. While there are other meals in Nigeria, average Nigerians consume these meals several times a week. The addition of added sugars through snacks, tea and maybe even pap can lead to an unintended excessive consumption of sugar.
High sugar intake has been linked to numerous health problems. Some of these health problems are:
- Dental plaque and cavities
- Fatty liver
- Chronic inflammation
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
These above-mentioned conditions may be avoided by minimizing the amount of sugar in our diet.
Benefits of the Sugar-free Diet
- The Sugar-free diet helps to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes
- It also eliminates the likelihood of developing digestive problems
- It gives a clearer complexion
- The Sugar-free diet reduces inflammation
- It can help you lose weight and prevent obesity
- The Sugar-free diet helps to minimize the occurrence of mood swings
- Individuals who have tried this diet have reported an increase in energy levels
Is Sugar-free Diet Sustainable?
Though excessive sugar is harmful, experts have warned that an extremist approach to the sugar-free diet could be fatal. If you want a sustainable and affordable approach to a sugar-free diet in Nigeria, we suggest that you eliminate refined sugars from your diet.
By continuing to eat some unrefined and naturally occurring sugars your chances of binging will be greatly reduced.
From what we have explained, you can see that an extreme approach to the sugar-free diet is not sustainable.
Tips to help you successfully participate in the sugar-free diet
Gradually transition into a sugar-free diet. Do not just overhaul your current diet and start an extreme sugar-free diet. Start by eliminating refined or added sugar from your diet, and after a week or two, eliminate another source of sugar. By following this gradual transition, you will not feel sugar deprived and will be less likely to binge on sugary snacks.
Choose a target date
Eliminating sugar without setting a duration for the sugar ban may not motivate you to continue with your sugar-free diet. Choose a date to stop the diet and reward yourself when you achieve your goal. Try not to reward yourself with sweets or sugar-filled desserts as this could cause you to binge eat.
If you have a sugar craving that will not go away, you can have a small bar of dark chocolate.
Eat whole foods
When you go on a sugar-free diet, eat more whole foods instead of processed foods. Processed foods are likely to have sugars and other refined ingredients. Also, eating whole foods keep you feeling full for a long period. This will reduce your cravings and the need to snack on something sweet. Some whole foods are unprocessed grain, Fruits, Nuts and seeds, Vegetable and meat or fish.
We hope that this article has helped you understand the benefits of the sugar-free diet. Adopting the sugar-free diet as a Nigerian is not expensive, nor does it require special foods. If you would like to go Sugar-free, get a buddy and do the sugar-free challenge. Having a partner while going sugar-free will help you stay on track.
We wish you luck in your sugar-free journey.