Decoding “Healthy Sweets/ Mithai”
The term healthy sweets, or Mithai, itself is a paradox. A sweet is a sweet and will generate the same amount of calories ,no matter what the source of sweetness. So when we talk about healthy sweets, either because we are diabetic and want to control our blood sugar levels, or we want to lead a healthy lifestyle, the only word of key importance is Moderation .
Whenever we eat anything, our body breaks it down into sugars, which gets into our blood circulation. By labelling a sweet as “healthy” we are in no way decreasing the calorie content in it ,but may be decreasing a bit of the guilt we feel!
The common concept that we can make our desserts healthy if we add natural sugars like jaggery, dates, honey or coconut sugar is misleading .These natural sugars do not give us the liberty to consume the deserts to our hearts content. This is because they are equivalent in calories to the refined sugars. The only advantage is that these natural sugars is that they have a lower “glycemic index”. This means that the spike in blood sugar levels is not as steep as that attained by refined sugar. In addition, each one of these natural sugars have added nutritive benefits -for example, iron in jaggery or Niacin in dates. The catch here is that to enjoy the benefits of these added nutrients we need to consume them in real large quantities !! This obviously will add to the calorie load.
Healthy desserts or healthy sweets is ,therefore, a relative term . It is just a matter of choosing the relatively more healthier dessert over the less healthier one . Here are some tips in making wiser choices :
- Choose a steamed dessert over a fried dessert or a baked dessert over a fried one – like a modak or sandesh is more healthier than a gulab jamun or a jalebi.
- 2) Amongst the baked products, choose whole grain baked products over refined flour. This will give you the added benefit of fibre as well as micronutrients.
- Choose homemade over purchased -you are not only decreasing the preservative load but will also have better portion control.
- Substitute fruits whenever possible for sweetness ,for example whipping up a banana in hung curd will give you naturally sweetened yoghurt, add a few chopped fruits and nuts and your bowl of fruit salad is ready.
- Choose hung curd over whipped cream; A yogurt / cottage cheese parfait over cream parfait is not only low in calories but has more proteins too
- Some fruits go well with chocolate flavour. Adding a chikku to dark chocolate can make a wonderful combination.
Finally remember “Sugar-free” is not “Calorie-free”. Hence limit your portions . Watching how much you eat is as important as watching what you eat and when . Mindful eating or indulgence in moderation is the mantra for a healthy life.
MBBS DOMS FRCS MBA
Founder, NUTRICHEF ENTERPRISE
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