You could be…if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms: Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Mood Swings, Depression, Liver Problems, Weight Gain (or Loss in some body types), Learning Disabilities, Lowered Immune System and Increased Risk of Infections, Reduced Tooth Enamel, Heart Disease, Insulin Resistance, Diabetes II and/or Metabolic Syndrome. Eating too much of the wrong types of sugar, particularly processed sugars with high glycemic indexes, can lead to all types of disruptive health conditions.1
But We Need Some Sugar, Don’t We?
Ayurveda advises that the Sweet taste comprise the majority of the diet, particularly for Vatas and Pittas. Check out ‘The Scoop on Sugar’2 for details on what is meant by the ‘Sweet Taste’ and why it is so good for you. It might surprise you!
Indeed, we need to consume glucose and fatty acids in order to energize all of the cells in the body.3 In order for the body to use the glucose properly, however, it is best to consume natural sweets and whole foods with fiber. The fiber reduces absorption of sugar by 30% and ensures that the glucose enters the blood stream gradually, preventing surges in insulin that will leave you crashing later. In contrast, processed sugar tends to be sweeter without triggering satiation receptors in the brain. Over time, this increases the desire for sweeter and sweeter foods and more of them, without ever fulfilling the cravings of the body. Thus, begins a dangerous cycle.
Eating sugar in excess, particularly during Late Winter and Spring, is not good for anyone. Ayurveda says that the Sweet taste can contribute to high toxins in the body (ama), dull agni/digestive fire, heaviness, obesity, diabetes, parasites, obstructed circulation, vomiting, gas, lethargy, asthma, hay fever and congestion (undigested food waste or ama correlates to the western view of very low-density LDL cholesterol). Excessive sweet can also feed attachment, complacency and greed in the mind.4
Eating a balanced diet with whole foods and regular meals, beginning with breakfast, is the best routine for preventing sugar addictions. Here’s a few more guidelines to keep you on track:
General Guidelines to Reduce Sugar Cravings5
- Eat low glycemic index foods like sweet potatoes, quinoa, legumes, milk, leafy greens, non-starchy vegetables, nuts and seeds, meats and fish. These will satisfy your sweet taste without spiking blood sugar levels.
- Consume more soluble fiber, like that found in vegetables, legumes, whole grains and fruit. Soluble fiber helps slow down the breakdown of carbohydrates and the absorption of glucose.
- Maintain a healthy body weight, which you will be better able to do with healthy eating habits.
- Regular exercise is essential in maintaining proper insulin levels and sensitivity in the body, as well as greater use of existing glucose stores to energize working muscles.
- Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and assist the kidneys in removing extra sugar from the body in the urine.
- Avoid all sugary drinks, including alcohol, sodas (including diet versions), and fruit juices, which tend to provide too much of the Sweet Taste without contributing any of the necessary fiber.
- Several herbal supplements can assist in balancing the blood. My favorites include green tea, bitter melon, ginseng, cinnamon, gymnemna sylvestre, aloe vera and fenugreek.
- Get a blood glucose meter6 to measure your progress. Forty percent of people who have diabetes don’t even know it, and this makes them susceptible to all of the condition’s long-term complications without realizing it. Note that a blood sugar level over 100 mg. per deciliter is a sign of pre-diabetes and should be addressed. Awareness is the first step in preventing hyperglycemia and full-blown diabetes.
Healthy Ayurvedic Hacks to Beat Sugar Addiction
If you need a little additional help to keep your sweet cravings at bay, try these healthy Ayurvedic tricks based on Banyan Botanical recommendations:7
For those with Variable Appetites (more Vata):
- Roast an ounce of Ashwagandha in ghee and add a tablespoon of date sugar. Store in a screw top glass jar in the refrigerator. This can be eaten in the morning about twenty minutes before breakfast, in the mid-afternoon if sweet cravings arise, and at bedtime with a cup of hot milk.
- To help reduce the stress levels that exacerbate sweet cravings, drink tulsi tea or have your practitioner design a stress-reduction tea for you.
For those with Strong Appetites (more Pitta):
- Instead of starting the day with the sweet taste, begin with bitter to take the edge off. A half teaspoon of Mahasudarshan in a teaspoon of honey works well for most people to diminish cravings for breads and sweets. This can be followed, twenty minutes later, by a breakfast containing protein. It is better to avoid a sweet breakfast altogether in this situation and to start the day with a small but complete meal, such as a bowl of kitchari or quinoa or a veggie omelet.
- Roast an ounce of Shatavari with ghee and add a tablespoon of sucanat or turbinado sugar. This can be taken mid-morning and mid-afternoon to prevent hypoglycemia and to regulate the metabolism.
- For stress and addictive tendencies, drink Brahmi tea three times daily.
For those with Sluggish Appetites (more Kapha):
- After each meal three times daily, take a teaspoon of Gymnemna Sylvestre or a blood-balancing formula provided by your practitioner. This balances insulin secretion and reduces sweet cravings.
- Drink a half teaspoon of Mahasudarshan with a teaspoon of old honey to diminish cravings for breads and sweets.
- Ten minutes before each meal, take a half teaspoon of organic turmeric powder to aid in balancing the blood sugar load from that meal.
- To help reduce weight and kindle the digestive fire (agni), take Trikatu 10-20 minutes before each meal.
- For stress, take Brahmi or another practitioner-developed tea for mental clarity three times daily to help with sluggishness and lethargy that often leads cravings for stimulants.
There is generally a stress component to most cravings for sweets. For this reason, it’s imperative to incorporate stress-reducing techniques into your daily routine if you’re serious about getting off the sugar rollercoaster. Let Positively Ayurvedic know if you need help with any of these recommendations or with other proven stress-reducing techniques.
The sole purpose of this article is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have an acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or email Karen Callahan at info@positivelyayurvedic.