Friday, June 14, 2024

DECODING Indulgence: How and why desserts dominate post-meal consumption trends?

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India’s enduring fondness for sweets is as varied as its wealth of cultural traditions. Indulgent treats are an integral part of Indian festivities, customs, and everyday existence. Desserts are special to Indians; they might be part of a religious ceremony, a joyful occasion, or just a way to cap off a meal with something sweet. But there’s reason for caution, as the practice of eating dessert right after lunch is becoming more common. Sweets were traditionally saved for rare occasions and consumed in moderation. Sugary snacks are now more widely available than ever before, which has led to a rise in their regular inclusion in meals.
Health professionals are concerned about this shift in eating patterns since they are seeing an increase in diet-related health problems, including diabetes and obesity. Even though Indian society still heavily relies on sweets, it’s important to address the negative effects of overindulging in them. To make sure that a love of sweets does not come at the expense of wellbeing, it is crucial to strike a balance between enjoying culture and maintaining good health!
In India, producing mithai is one of the oldest occupations, rich in customs and cultural value. Even though ingredient purity may not always meet historical standards, business is nevertheless quite profitable in this sector. At present, the Indian sweets and candy market is estimated to be worth $664 million. Of this, $461 million, or 70% of the total, is made up of sugar confectionery, with the remaining $203 million going to chocolate confectionery.
To learn more about how much sugar is consumed by Indians living in cities, Local Circles carried out a nationwide study. 8% of respondents said they regularly ate traditional Indian sweets, whereas 7% said they regularly ate ice cream, chocolate, candy, etc., and 31% said they regularly consumed bakery goods. While having a sweet taste is widespread among Indians, the survey made it clear that consumers should be aware of additives like palm oil, preservatives, and food colouring in these items.

What makes us need sweets after eating? These are a few of the causes:

n Energy restitution: The body has to expend a lot of energy during digestion in order to break down food, absorb nutrients, and get rid of waste. Your body expends a lot of energy on these processes following a meal. Perhaps the desire for sweets is a conditioned reaction to makeup for the energy used in digestion.

n Intake of carbs: Eating simple carbs, like sweets, causes blood sugar levels to rise quickly. Insulin is released in response to this, aiding in blood sugar regulation. To keep blood sugar levels balanced, you may have a yearning for something sweet following the initial surge in insulin levels.
n Salty and oily meals: To achieve balance, your body may seek sweets if your meal is especially salty or oily. Moving from savory or salty to sweet can create a particularly pleasing contrast in flavours.

n Serotonin levels: cravings can be influenced by serotonin, a neurotransmitter that aids in mood regulation and feelings of wellbeing. Reduced serotonin levels have been associated with a greater craving for carbs, especially sugary foods. Eating sugar raises serotonin levels momentarily, making one feel cosy and happy.

n Habit: Occasionally, the post-meal hunger for sweets develops into a habit. Your brain starts to associate meals with sweets if you often overindulge in dessert or sugary snacks after eating, which reinforces the tendency.

Chef Sanjay Thumma discusses how a childhood event affected his viewpoint, which is in line with the expanding trend of easily accessible sugar. “Sugary was a holiday treat, not a daily occurrence,” he claims to have grown up. “This brings up an important point: accessibility. Sugar is present in everything these days, from sugar-filled drinks that are constantly advertised to kids in the media to hidden sources found in processed meals. A risky habit loop can be formed by making even seemingly healthy decisions, such as adding sugar to milk or breakfast cereals.” He goes on to explain, ‘These simple entry points to sugar translate into major health issues. I made the decision to test out a no-sugar diet after personally observing the rise in lifestyle diseases. The outcomes were significant; losing weight was only one part of a larger increase in general health.” His experience emphasises how critical it is to spread the word about the sugar industry’s hidden risks. We must cultivate a culture of moderation and be more conscientious about what we give our kids! He highlights, saying, “There’s a worrying tendency gaining traction in Indian cities: the idea that a sugary Indian dessert must come after every meal. Despite its seeming harmlessness, this indulgence is fuelling the growth of lifestyle disorders like obesity.” He thinks raising awareness is the first step. Many people are unaware of the long-term health hazards linked to consuming too much sugar. It is necessary to inform the public about the connection between these eating habits and a possibly unwell old age. He goes on to discuss how awareness and change can be effected, saying that “we can create a healthier future for ourselves and future generations by promoting a shift towards fruits and dry fruits as dessert options. The media must play a significant role in raising awareness of this problem. Through educational articles, interesting recipes, and interviews with medical professionals, we may draw attention to the risks associated with consuming an excessive amount of sugar and highlight the advantages of natural alternatives. These natural options are high in fiber, which helps control blood sugar spikes and facilitate digestion.”

According to Agrima Asthana, a home baker, there has been a noticeable shift in customer tastes for sweets in recent years, with a focus on healthier options. “Consumers are increasingly seeking sweets with lower sugar content or those that use alternative sweeteners like erythritol, stevia, or monk fruit,” according to a survey of consumer trends. “A rising number of people choose sweets manufactured without artificial colouring, preservatives, or additives and instead using natural or organic ingredients. More people are embracing sweets with extra health advantages like probiotics, vitamins, or minerals. In order to indulge without going overboard, a lot of customers are choosing smaller, portion-controlled confections.” These patterns show that people are becoming increasingly conscious of and inclined toward sweets that are made in an ethical, ecological, and healthful manner. The nutritional value and flavour of healthier sweets are directly impacted by the quality of the components used. Natural, high-quality ingredients can improve flavour and offer greater health advantages. Dessert and confectionery sales have fluctuated throughout time due to a variety of variables, such as shifting consumer preferences, shifting marketing tactics, and shifting economic conditions. She explains that “comfort food during stress or periods, celebrations, and festivities, it’s when people uptick in the consumption of sweets. Innovative product offerings, convenience and accessibility, social media influence, as in the food bloggers influencers and viral food trends often showcase visually appealing desserts and sweets, healthier alternatives, and marketing and promotion, which includes effective marketing campaigns, promotions, and discounts.” Nevertheless, it’s important to note that, even though there may be periods of increased consumption, there are also trends towards healthier eating habits that could have an impact on overall sales!

Expert Market Research estimates that the Indian bakery market will be worth USD 10.1 billion and will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.6% to reach USD 17.44 billion by 2028. The popularity of storied bakeries, such as Karachi Bakery, which was established in 1953 and is well-known for its mouthwatering cakes, pastries, and fruit cookies, is a reflection of this rise. Similarly, personalised celebration cakes and pastries in the European style are the specialty of Conçu, which was founded by Sahil Taneja and Swati Upadhyay. Founded in 1995, Labonel Bakery is also well-known for its rich cakes and brownies made with only the best, freshest ingredients, free of preservatives. Labonel Bakery was established in 1995 and is well-known for its decadent cakes and brownies that are produced without preservatives using only the best, freshest ingredients.

A diabetologist named Dr. Sanjoy Paul states that cravings for sweets are common in many diabetes patients with low blood sugar, pre-diabetics, and people with high insulin levels (hyperinsulinemia). The sense that you need to consume something sweet can be due to reactive hyperglycemia. These appetites for sweets might also be exacerbated by some drugs. Additionally, sweets have a very high glycemic index, which causes sugar to rise. Postprandial hyperglycemia, which is typically associated with heart problems in Indian patients, is also noticed. If a person consumes sweets on a regular basis, their insulin levels will not respond appropriately, causing sugar to rise. The same problem affects a large number of fat non-diabetic patients, and long-term consumption of additional sweets can cause pre-diabetic individuals to develop diabetes.

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