What we are witnessing now with the crisis of sugar shortage in Egypt is very normal behavior of an entire nation whose diet is mostly dependent on the sweet white stuff. Sugar can’t just disappear over night from supermarket shelves and people are expected to act like adults on their best behavior.
While we totally feel the confusion and frustration, we are here to tell you what no one else is saying. We don’t want to sugar coat it, but we can’t help but see the sugar shortage as a healthy blessing in disguise.
Let’s go back in time when our great grandparents managed to live their lives on only 1 tsp of sugar a day. If we compare that number to the average intake of 38 tsp of sugar per person today, that alone should be a wake up call for a much needed change in our diet choices.
As a country that consumes a total of 3 million tonnes of sugar a year, it does not come as a surprise that in a survey conducted by the World Health Organization, 62.2% of Egyptian adults were found to be overweight and 31.3% of them were classified as obese.
The obesity problem in Egypt exists because most of the staple foods in Egypt contain a massive amount of sugar, whether it’s the classic 3-spoons of sugar in their tea or heaps of sugar in the country-favorite ‘Om Ali’, Egyptians depend on sugar as part of their daily diet. In face of the current sugar crisis in Egypt, the shortage in sugar is forcing Egyptians to learn how to live without sugar.
Why is sugar actually bad for the body?
Sugar is broken down into two types of sugars, glucose and fructose. Our bodies produce glucose, which is used as an energy source, while fructose is obtained from our diet. Having little amounts of fructose in your diet, from foods such as fruits and vegetables, is not a problem because our bodies turn it into glycogen, which is then stored in our liver. The problem arises when we overload our bodies with fructose and our liver glycogen storage is already full, our liver is then forced to turn the excess fructose into fat.
Looking at the average Egyptian diet, it’s easy to see why the World Obesity Federation, ranked Egypt as the seventh most obese country. A diet containing such high amounts of sugar, is destined to decrease the body’s ability to handle carbohydrates, leading to excess fat again, and causing chronic diseases.
Here’s a list of sugar alternatives to help you – and hopefully not just until the crisis is over!
- Raw Honey:
Raw honey contains natural sugars as well antioxidants, vitamins and minerals the body needs. Raw honey very easily replace sugar, whether it’s in your morning coffee, your daily cup of tea or even in baking. The only difference is that honey is very sweet, so be mindful not to use too much.
Dates are high in fiber & potassium and have a very high nutritional value. Dates are very versatile when it comes to uses; they can replace sugar in baking, or be added to smoothies or used to create date syrup. Date syrup, has a liquid-like consistency and can be used in the same way as honey. Both dates and date syrup are also very sweet so be mindful when using.
- Pure maple syrup
Maple syrup, in its pure form, is made from the sap of the sugar maple tree. Pure maple syrup can be used to replace sugar in most things, but keep in mind that pure maple syrup is a liquid sugar; it shouldn’t be used in large amounts. When using, replace 1 cup of sugar with ¾ cup pure maple syrup.
Stevia is a no-calorie; all natural sweetener made from the leaf of a plant and is completely fructose-free. Stevia is much much sweeter than sugar and should be used in little amounts.
Applesauce can be used as a sugar-alternative in baking. Replace 1 cup of sugar with ¾ cup applesauce to keep the same consistency. You can make your own applesauce by pureeing apples, and adding water to find the desirable consistency, or buying it from the baby-food section in stores.
Photo Credit: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh