Jan 29- Feb 04, 2011
Mag The Weekly
difficult daughters
Do You Have A Sweet Tooth?
When I decided this topic last week, I was suffering from gulab jamun's withdrawal symptoms, yes, I have one hell of a sweet tooth, but that doesn't mean I am an addict, although I do tend to exhibit a craving that needs to be satiated at times, I am just a sweet food fan. Nevertheless some of my readers sadly took that idiomatic expression as a misnomer. I have never understood my incessant harping on the essentialities of eating sweet stuff myself because I have never understood my taste buds to the core, the latter will without any hesitation welcomes all and sundry in the sweet region of the tongue. Seems like the cause is a genetic with some sweet-eating gene hiding somewhere in my DNA ladder. Most of you must be thinking that this piece is going to be all about the health problems that people like me having a sweet tooth might face. Well that may be right, but I am not going to rant on and on about this clichéd topic, because we all know that sweets are something we just cannot live without no matter what effects it bestows upon our dear healths that is so prone to occasional epidemics and pollution. However there is a downside and upside to this inclination of ours, we cannot deny the fact that gorging on sweet delicacies, candies, chocolates, and all those mouth watering traditional desi delights can have a significant effect on our waistline. Many research studies all over the world have pointed this notion that excessive intake of sugary products is one of the major causes of obesity, and diabetes to a certain extent. Moreover children and mostly adolescents have a greater tendency towards eating more sugary stuff than adults. This has not only resulted in high rates of obesity but also other health problems. On the other hand amongst adults it is thought to be one of the reasons why diabetes comes into play. Moreover our friends in the dentistry profession have their own concerns, because bad oral hygiene coupled with excessive intake of sugars, in the form of candies and sweets, is a killer combination for the patient's oral cavity.
But, we, for our own reasons are historically inclined towards desserts because it is not just a part of some people's everyday bingeing routine, but also a traditional part of our festivals and not to forget 'good news'. The Urdu expressions of 'munh meetha karo' and 'aap ke munh mein ghee shakkar' are a testimony that we are meetha khanay k shawqeen and that it is something that has become a part of our culture.
Almost every occasion has its own niche in the sweet department, come Eid and we are gorging on sheer khuorma, vermicelli, kheers and what not, birthdays call for cakes, wedding news are usually accompanied by laddoos and milaads are followed by distribution of baalu shahis. Gajar ka halwa, gulab jamuns and other countless sweets are all just essential desserts in our desi cuisines. Our sweet eating habits have evolved over the centuries, but our traditional recipes haven't budged much. When I enquired about this to the owner of a sweet shop chain in the city, he told me that experimentation wasn't something that was rampant in this profession. Most of the recipes were age old, some were secret and ran in the lineage of khandani halwais. Some owners even remarked that people had developed a taste, and that a change would never be received with the same fervour. When I didn't understand what he meant by this, he further said, "How would you feel if your typical gulab jamun had a different taste?" That's when I realised what he meant by my question of 'evolution in recipes' or change. He further emphasised that instead of evolving the recipes, a slight change would result in a totally new mithai, hence a new name for it, a new identity.
Most of the traditional sweets we eat these days have Indian or Bengali origins, the latter is particularly known for its traditional and unique delights, and these have since always had a great influence on our customary sweet habits. Apart from this, our meetha khanay ki aadat isn't just limited to the traditional sweet dishes that our mothers make or the local halwais sell. We now have a special place for chocolate in our hearts too and the migration of this wondrous dessert in our list of favourite meethas is now permanent, add to that are the numerous colourful candies and sweet treats that kids and adolescents are crazy about. Thanks to these, kids are suffering from the teeth-losing endemic that their taste buds have invited.
Anything in excess is never a success, and despite knowing this some people (like me) are really meetha cravers and this habit may lead to excessive glucose storage hence exertion on the liver and pancreas, which could lead to insulin dependent diabetes and therefore other uncalled-for health problems which I think we all must be wary of before sinking our teeth into a sweet treat!
Your Views

Yes, of course, isn't eating something sweet after a meal sunnat. Desserts are as important for us as the meals and our traditional sweets are the best. Khadija, Lahore

Desserts are a fundamental part of our cuisines, festivals and other occasions. No doubt some people are a little too crazy about eating desserts, but it shouldn't be in excess. Jameel Khan, Karachi

Having a sweet tooth is a pain, at times when a person is having a very strong sweet craving, there is nothing sweet to eat at home, and that's the worst bit about having a sweet tooth. Faiza Sami, Karachi

Sugar is so expensive these days that with the rise in sugar prices, prices of local mithais have also increased. Having a sweet tooth and suppressing it in such a scenario is no doubt a test for people like me. Bushra Aslam, Faisalabad

Excess sugar has negative effects on our body's organs, like there is an increase in glycogenesis and an increased production of insulin, these things effect the liver and the pancreas which could lead to serious health disorders. Sameena, Karachi

Yes I do have a sweet tooth, when I am craving for eating something sweet; I wouldn't mind eating anything as long as it's sweet. Amir Shahid, Islamabad

Diabetes mellitus is a disorder associated with the body's lack of metabolism of glucose. We Asians in the subcontinent are prone to diabetes, having a sweet tooth becomes a big deal when it comes to tackling the body's sugar levels. So yes, having a sweet tooth is bothersome when a person is suffering from diabetes. Kashif Yaseen, Hyderabad

No. I think Pakistani people pride themselves more on the variety of our general cuisine. Desserts have their own importance, but I don't think they are of any match to our desi foods. Ayesha Latif, Mirpurkhas

Our sweets have traditional importance in our festivals. Meethi Eid is incomplete without scrumptious desserts like sheer khuorma, sawaiyyan etc. It has always been associated with celebrations and will continue to be. Muzammil, Rawalpindi

My family and I love desserts and our meals are incomplete without a dessert at the end. But unlike us, not everyone out there have the same taste or choices, in fact some people don't have the same love for desserts. It all depends upon people and their choices, but I personally think that our sweets and desserts are symbolic of our traditions. Sadia Hassan, Peshawar

Weight gain and obesity is one of the biggest problems surrounding women in Pakistan and amidst all this having a sweet tooth and striving for weight control becomes very difficult. Shiza Karim, Lahore

I am on diet and I have a sweet tooth, it isn't easy to stay focused on one's diet when family members are devouring sweets and other desserts. Downright injustice, why did sugar have to be associated with weight gain! Sana Irshad, Karachi

No I don't have a sweet tooth, but my siblings always go a little overboard when chocolates, mithais and ice creams are at our place, no wonder they are obese. People having a sweet tooth should exercise control. Muhammad Arif Khan, Quetta

My son has had a lot of dental problems because of his incessant eating of sweet and sugary stuff. Those who aren't obese and yet have a sweet tooth should try to at least limit their intake. Maryam, Hyderabad


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