There's a cozy theory that Mother Nature in her wisdom has given us four times as many sweet taste buds, front and center on our tongues, than any other type. There are various notions about why this may be so, but my favorite one is this: back in days of yore when we hunted and gathered our food in the wilds, nothing in nature that was poisonous had a sweet flavor.
Based on this notion, eating sweets was a survival strategy. Couple this lizard brain propensity with the fact that mother's milk is sweet in flavor -- not to mention that bonding with mother herself is sweet and nurturing and pleasurable -- and once again, our survival. And it's easy to see where the original passion for sweetness began.
Unfortunately, our passion for sweet flavor and the safety it brings has gone radically out of balance. The prevalence of low-quality sweeteners and sugary foods, high-stress living, and looking for love in all the wrong places, has led to an epidemic of sugar addiction.
As a point of interest, factor in the Macrobiotic theory about the energetics of food, noting that sugar, like alcohol and coffee, has an expansive effect on the body/mind. In this view, if we eat too much contracting food like meat and salt, or if we have too much contracting life energy like stress, our organism will seek homeostasis by eating expansive foods. Of course, at those times when rebalancing is necessary, the Macrobiotics recommend the sweet and starchy vegetables and squashes or kuzu root teas, not soda and candy.
But there's nothing sweet about excessive insulin in the blood. This is now implicated in diabetes, heart disease, and an array of other chronic disease processes. Sugar also stresses our adrenal glands, de-mineralizes our bodies including our bones, over-acidifies our blood, causes inflammation, and creates an internal ecology in our gut that compromises our ability to absorb nutrients and undermines our immunity.
Depending on the intensity of your sugar habit, you may need to wean yourself slowly. Frequently, there is an emotional component to a hard-to-break sugar habit. If this is true for you, take the time to get to know your needs and desires and how you use sugar in an attempt to meet them in this indirect way. And please be compassionate with yourself. You are human and doing your best to take care of yourself. But know that you are worth the time and energy it takes to meet your needs in truly healthy, nourishing and life-enhancing ways.
Here are some tips for getting sugar out of your daily diet:
1. Reduce or eliminate caffeine. Caffeine causes blood sugar swings, which can lead to sugar cravings.
2. Drink water. Dehydration can lead to cravings, including the craving for sugar.
3. Eat protein and good fats. While too much protein can tip us towards craving sugar, so can too little. For overall blood sugar balance, enhanced metabolism and satiety, include some protein and good fats with every meal and even in your snacks.
4. Don't skip meals. Skipping meals can cause a dip in your blood sugar, which can spur the craving for sugar.
5. Pass on the white flour and pasta. Not only do these foods lack nutritional value despite being filling, they convert to sugar once digested. Eat whole grains in moderation instead.
6. Eat sweet vegetables and fruit. In the context of a balanced diet, these are wonderful sweets to eat, loaded with fiber, vitamins, micronutrients and phytochemicals.
7. Use kinder, gentler sweeteners. Avoid chemical and artificial sweeteners and food with sugar added. Instead, use small amounts of gentle sweeteners like rice syrup, barley malt, maple syrup, raw honey, stevia and dried fruit.
8. Get more sleep. If you are deprived from staying up too late for months and years on end, you may be craving energy. We typically reach for sweets as a fast but backfiring boost.
9. Get more exercise. Physical activity helps to balance blood sugar and reduce stress.
10. Slow down and find sweetness without eating at all. Are you craving something sweet in your life? Time with friends, hugs, fun, creative expression, spiritual connection? Eating will never meet these needs. So feed yourself the nourishing life you truly deserve!
Cheryl Berkowitz is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor and Certified Health Coach offering nutritional and lifestyle counseling to women of all ages. Cheryl provides nutritional healing support with a mindfulness-based approach, helping clients to improve and sustain good eating habits, shift underlying imbalances, reduce stress and overcome health issues to achieve vibrant health. Cheryl supports women with Natural Bone Health, to prevent and reverse osteopenia and osteoporosis, and she leads seasonal cleanse and weight loss programs. She teaches local workshops and national teleclasses, and serves women in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts and across the nation, in-person, by phone and Skype.
To find out more about Cheryl's approach: http://www.cherylberkowitz.com
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