Sugar is a huge topic during the holidays with cookies, pies, and everything with pumpkin or ginger. Due to the general increase of sugar, many people tend towards sugar elimination diets or sugar-free foods after the holidays. Yet, often “sugar-free” means more chemicals or alcohol sugars that adversely affect the digestive system.
Ayurveda gives a holistic approach to sugar. Ayurveda teaches how to distinguish between the sweet taste and processed sugars.
In Ayurveda, the sweet taste is one of the most important of all the six tastes as it provides nourishment. However, the sweet taste is not candies and cookies. The sweet taste is naturally sweet foods, such as milk, ghee, sweet potato, carrot, wheat, rice, fruits like dates, and honey.
The sweet taste is nourishing to our tissues, invigorates the mind, and helps relieve hunger and thirst cravings. It also aids in boosting the immune system and can aid in feeling satisfied and content from food.
In an Ayurvedic diet you will want to avoid processed and sugary foods like soda, candy, cereal. These foods lack nutrients that keep you full and satisfied. Yet, you can’t just take out hundreds to thousands of calories in your diet from sugary foods (depending on your sweet addiction) if you want to feel satisfied. This would leave you in a major caloric deficiency and you will want more sweets because you are hungry. This can end up in binge eating. When you start eating less sugar it is important to get the same amount of calories. You want these calories to come from sources with longer-term energy deposits, like healthy fats. There is a misconception that fats are bad for you with the low- fat fad. Healthy fats supply long term energy and nourishment. Healthy fats are not fried foods in oil. Some examples of healthy fats are: avocado, ghee, seeds, nuts, nut butters, and plain greek yogurt.
These will keep you fuller for longer. However, be aware that foods with high fat content are more calorically dense.
All sugar isn’t equal in Ayurveda. Less processed sugars, like honey or maple syrup, are better for the body than other processed sugars. In fact, honey is a great carrier for herbs and helps support and boost the immune system, particularly if you are suffering from allergies or a cold. They should still be eaten in lower doses.
Ayurveda also implies that anything in balance is okay for you. Be present with your food and your body will thank you.