One moment, you’re innocently going about your day – the next moment, you discover yourself in the clutches of desire. Despite having a healthy salad for lunch it is now 2:30 pm and you somehow find yourself lost in desire with an overwhelming losing battle for a chocolate cupcake with buttercream icing.
“The Afternoon Dip”
Do you ever notice that in the mid-afternoon you feel that dip in your energy? In a study from Tufts University, 91% of women said they experienced strong food cravings. And willpower isn’t the answer. The solution to this daily conundrum may actually be more simple than we anticipate assuming we discover the root cause of this craving.
The Brain’s [Demanding] Energetics
By eating fewer calories a day or restricting an entire food group [like carbs], you’re putting your body in prime craving mode. The brain is a remarkable organ with immense sophistication. Despite its eloquent sophistication, the brain is quite demanding. In fact, the brain uses up to 80% of the body’s blood sugar and if these demands are not met – the stress response kicks into overdrive.
THE STRESS RESPONSE:
When the nervous system is activated with low blood sugar it alarms the “stress response” and initiates the fight-or-flight changes within the body. The end result of all this is your overwhelming ‘food craving’. This craving is often a losing battle because the body looks upon sugar [ i.e. delicious yummy cupcake] as a quick source of life-saving energy. What makes it worse is the conditioned response we often get with the feel-good taste of that delicious cupcake. In fact, these urges are fueled by feel-good brain chemicals such as dopamine, released when you eat these types of foods, which creates a rush of euphoria that your brain seeks over and over.
A Moment On The Lips – An Innocent Kiss Of Death
The answer to this daily conundrum from an Ayurvedic perspective is ghee [clarified butter]. Yes, ghee. However, before we explain the benefits of ghee upon the body, more specifically the brain – let us first discuss the inflammatory stress response upon the body. The ultimate goal of the stress response is to ensure that the ‘commander in chief’ [i.e. the brain] receives fuel. Unfortunately this entails stimulating the adrenal glands to release stress-fighting hormones which stimulate the liver to break down glycogen into glucose thereby raising blood sugar levels. That’s not all. The hormones involved with the stress response are also involved with the production of inflammatory free radicals. In fact, these damaging free radicals are now considered to be the leading cause of aging, disease, and death. Suddenly, that innocent craving of a cupcake is no longer seeming so innocent.
“How To Reduce Sugar Cravings” – Dr. Josh Axe
This videos shares with you ways to reduce sugar cravings. The number one way people fall off a diet is when someone has a craving. Here are top four ways to reduce sugar cravings:
1. Consume more fiber
2. Consume more protein
3. Consume more healthy fats
4. Consume sour foods
An Ayurvedic Perspective
The ancient science of Ayurveda described certain aspects of human physiology by metaphorical terms namely “vata-pitta-kapha”. Although not exacting but enough to convey the point – we can think of the above inflammatory stress response as ‘pitta’. Ayurveda explained thousands of years ago the nature of pitta as being hot, sharp and penetrating while being represented by the element of fire. It is to no surprise that when the FLAME of pitta is increased that this fire element will then lead to inflammation [in -FLAME-ation].
The Answer – GHEE
Once again, the answer to this daily conundrum from an Ayurvedic perspective is ghee. Ghee is considered the best food to help pacify pitta – pitta being the metaphor of the entire inflammatory cascade as explained above. Even modern science demonstrates the benefit of ghee upon reducing the oxidative and inflammatory process. Therefore, by introducing increased amount of good quality fat [i.e. ghee] the body will less likely experience the roller coaster-like effects of blood sugar highs and lows. The reason for supporting increased amount of healthy fat intake in our daily diet is because fat burned within the body is done so in a more stable and even fashion. This evenly-fashioned chemistry of the body will help prevent the peaks and troughs of blood sugar levels and help prevent those not-so-innocent cravings. Prevention is better than the cure. Therefore, in order to prevent the overwhelming losing battle of the mid-day sweet cravings simply consider adding more healthy fat to your lunch. This will allow you to coast through the afternoon avoiding the inflammatory alarm bells of low sugar levels. Lastly, the avoidance of mid-day snacks will perfectly time your appetite for a healthy dinner by early evening.
Still tempted? Ask Yourself 3 Questions:
- Ask yourself: Am I stressed out?
As discussed above – when you’re under pressure, your body releases the hormone cortisol, which signals your brain to seek out rewards.
- Ask yourself: Have I been eating less than usual?
If you’re eating fewer than 1,000 calories a day or restricting an entire food group (like carbs), you’re putting your body in prime craving mode.
- Ask yourself: Am I getting enough sleep?
In a University of Chicago study, a few sleepless nights were enough to drop levels of the hormone leptin (which signals satiety) by 18% and boost levels of ghrelin, an appetite trigger, by about 30%. Those two changes alone caused appetite to kick into overdrive, and cravings for starchy foods like cookies and bread jumped 45%.
Gurmar is one of the most prevalent ayurvedic herbs for diabetes. Also known as Shardunika the name Gurmar translates to ‘destroyer of sugar’ and thereby suggestive of its properties as being an effective herb for balancing blood sugar levels.