The dangers from excess and somewhat hidden sugar in our current diet pattern are many. Some are direct effects and some are secondary and long-term impacts of imbalanced nutrition. The most common are associations are a) Excess calorie value which will spike blood sugar level and create uneven blood glucose levels and uneven energy level b) Excess glucose converting to body fat and contributing to obesity c) Known as one of the major causes for heart disease, diabetes, immunity-related health issues d) Strong association with various ailments from cancer to candida.
Craving for sugar and chocolate is partially fueled by some of our habits and due to the excessively focused advertisement of such sugary products. There are multiple reasons for these cravings to appear
a) Imbalance in hormones like endorphin and serotonin associated with stress
b) Uneven blood sugar level caused by consuming a diet low in protein and fiber balance
c) Lack of sweet taste in regular meals (Having mainly salads and green juice alone)
d) Deficiency in minerals like iron and magnesium
f) Habits of association between food and events (like popcorn with television or chocolate after dinner)
The ayurvedic viewpoint of sugar is that it is heavy and clogging by nature and hence a predominant cause of sluggishness and weaker immunity. But it is really important to understand the difference between sugar and sweet taste. Ayurveda recommends each meal to have all the six basic flavors sweet sour salty spicy bitter and astringent within them to be considered as a balanced meal. Intuitively the balance of flavor will result in a combination of food ingredients that are naturally complimenting in term of nutritional balance and satisfaction. Out of them, let understand sweet taste better a bit closer.
The sweet taste is grounding, nourishing and calming in its effect. It improves our strength, vitality, and satisfaction. It supports tissue nourishment, improve immunity and, supports better quality sleep. From a dosha point of view, the sweet taste is necessary to balance both Vata and Pitta. The source of sweet taste has nothing to do with sugar and in fact even calories.
The common sources of sweet taste according to Ayurveda are
a) Rice, wheat, and grains in general
b) Milk and other milk products
c) Root vegetables
d) Meat and Poultry
e) Sweet spices like cinnamon and licorice
f) Fruits like apple
A healthy portion of sweetness is necessary for your diet for the above-mentioned effects of it. In fact, if your predominant dosha is Vata, every meal much have a sweet element in it. For example, the morning porridge much have a pinch of cinnamon, lunch and dinner must have a combination of root vegetables with a plant or animal source of protein.
A holistic solution for sugar addiction.
Due to improper understanding of this difference between sweet taste and sugar, most of us fall into recurring periods of low sweet diet like salads and dark chocolate followed by a period of eating ice creams and sugary processed meals. In my practice, I have experienced patients considering chocolate as a safe vice instead of alcohol or smoking. The problem with this view is the risk of going really overboard assuming it is not that unhealthy. Added to this the feeling of satisfaction our primitive brain picks up from sugar, it becomes a recipe for chronic illnesses.
The solution for eliminating sugar craving according to Ayurveda is as follows.
Step 1 – Find out the (Vihara) habits and routines associated with sugar eating like watching tv or having dessert after dinner and try to vary the routine.
Step 2 – Know your body type and consume a diet according to your dosha. A dosha balancing meal due to its nature itself will create better satisfaction, make sure all micro nutrients are present and reduce all kinds of cravings.
Step 3 – Include sweet taste more than usual in your regular diet to help with the transition. Have cinnamon in sweet dishes porridge and prepare beet, carrot or parsnip chips as snacks.
Step 4 – Make sure you’re very well hydrated. Have many sweet-flavored herbal teas like chamomile, licorice, and rooibos during the day.
Step 5 – Always include mindfulness and breathing exercises to ease out the fight or flight response that lead hormonal imbalances.
Step 6 – Never go shopping when you are hungry and tired. Always make a list of things you are planning to cook and purchase only accordingly.
Step 7 – Our brain always likes a regular reward for all the hard work it does. To compensate for the lack of sugar and processed foods, including a supplement like Kraunch beej or velvet beans which is a natural dopamine supplement. A regular dose of exercise and walking can be also an equally pleasurable experience.