Some can’t avoid the candy dish at work, others can’t stop eating sweets after dinner, and some just want sugar all day, every day. To be sure, sugar has gotten a bad rap. It can be a source of empty calories, lay the groundwork for Type 2 Diabetes, and cause you to get fat. Despite the long-term health consequences of eating too much sweet stuff, so many people crave sugar like its water in a desert.
Chinese medicine has a lot to say about sugar and why so many people crave it. First, while you may think of sugar as the devil in disguise, in Chinese medicine not every sweet thing is Acupuncture for sugar cravingsnecessarily bad for you. Foods that are sweet, but have nutritional value are considered to be full sweet. Fresh and dried fruits, carrots, certain grains, fennel seeds, and even some chocolate with nuts and fruit or carrot cake could be considered to be full sweet. On the flip side, soda, doughnuts and candy would be considered to be empty sweet, because you’d have a hard time finding much nutrition in them.
The reason you crave sweet flavored foods is all about energy. That’s because everything you eat is broken down into glucose—simple sugar—that’s your body’s basic fuel. One of the most important functions of your digestion is to convert the food you eat into glucose, which gives your body the energy to perform everyday tasks. In Chinese medicine that includes providing for immunity, maintaining body temperature, movement, digestion, and mental functioning.
When you’re having cravings for sweets, it essentially means that you’re craving what your body needs to make energy. Your body is down a quart of get-up-and-go, and you’re hungry for the building blocks to refuel. There are a number of reasons why you may not be getting the energy that you need, including:
- Right food for your body. If what you’re eating is leaving your energy stores short, you are likely to crave quick, energy-boosting sweets.
- Poor digestion. The role of your digestion is to convert food into energy and nutrients. However, if your digestion is compromised in any way, that job is not being done efficiently.
- This is actually a case of poor digestion in disguise. When you’re emotionally upset, anxious, or stressed, it’s common for your digestion to shut down. In fact, it has been said that your gut is your second brain. During times of emotional stress, your body shifts into fight or flight mode and sends energy to the systems that are needed in the moment, but closes down others that aren’t necessary, which includes digestion, immunity, and some memory functions.
- Finally, we crave sugar because it’s a digestive aid. In Chinese medicine, each of the organ systems have a flavor associated with it. A small amount of that flavor enhances the system, but too much overwhelms it. Sweet is the flavor associated with your digestion, which is the Stomach/Spleen in Chinese medicine. When you’ve finished a meal, most people want something a little sweet as a way to enhance the digestive process.
Ways to help quit sweet addiction
- Herbs and supplements. There are certain herbs and supplements which help balance blood sugar. This is key to combating sugar cravings and getting off sugar for good. Chromium, Gymnema Sylvestre, L-glutamine, and even B vitamins can all help correct nutritional deficiencies, fatigue, or insulin spikes that may be leading to sugar cravings.
- Limit temptation. If you were an alcoholic and trying to stay sober, you wouldn’t keep any booze in the house. Sugar should be treated the same way. Remove all the cookies, candy, ice cream etc. from your house. Do not buy anything with added sugar at the grocery store! Avoid the sweets section altogether. When you go out to eat, don’t look at the dessert menu.
- It helps with both the physiological and psychological aspects of sugar addiction. By targeting the central nervous system, acupuncture needles help manage anxiety, a huge precursor to sugar cravings. Acupuncture can also regulate blood sugar, evening out the high and low you feel after eating sugar.