Some of us have had a sweet tooth since however long we can remember whilst others have more of a penchant for cheese and cracker. Sugar helps us both by providing us with some fast energy as it is absorbed super quick through our bloodstreams and triggers a lovely release of dopamine and serotonin, the happy hormones.
As we know, too much of the thing leads to health problems, weight management issues, hormonal, cardiovascular imbalances as well as addictive behaviours (post meal sweet craving anyone?). It can cause harm to our liver, pancreas, impairs digestion, affects our ability to deal with stress and exacerbates feelings of anxiety. Why do we go for it when we’re in need of comfort then? Ah yes the serotonin, which by the way is stored in the gut (interesting! See Day 5 post about our second brain)! Some therapists will tell you to stop eating sugar when you are dealing with stress, anxiety and depression and it’s probably a good idea.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, sugar is considered yang as it disperses our energy (yang = outwards; hello sugar rush!) but causes yin conditions (dampness, water retention as a result of difficult digestion, post sugar slump). Sweet flavour is associated with the season of late summer, early autumn and is linked with the Spleen and Stomach organs. The emotions are worry and insecurity, often exacerbated with processed sugar.
We do need the sweet taste as part of a varied diet, so, how can we fulfil these sweet craving by ensuring our meals have their share of sweetness? I don’t mean adding honey to chicken (although sounds delightful) but sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut squash, carrots bring some sweetness to dishes without the downfall of processed sugars. Grains such as quinoa, brown rice, oats, barley, all pre-soaked properly, will also bring you that sweet taste.
Next time you want to reach for something sweet (talking to you, the me of tomorrow) try a couple of things: try some herbal tea (Yeah it doesn’t do it for me either although cinnamon is a good blood sugar level moderator so in tea it works), try some pre soaked and dried nuts (handful), some cooked apple/pears with spices (That will feel like dessert), dates,… or homemade baked goodies free of refined sugar, or whatever rocks your boat without leaving you feeling you want more, or giving you a sugar hangover after 30 minutes. Whatever you end up snacking on, don’t feel guilty!