The average person in the UK is, on average, 3 stone heavier than they were in the mid-60’s. But people haven’t become especially greedy and contrary to popular belief, our physical activity has not changed drastically to that of 50 years ago.
So what has changed? It’s our diet and more especially the high levels of sugar within it.
Sugar, according to David Kessler former head of the US food agency FDA, is highly addictive; it is “highly pleasurable. It gives you this momentary bliss. When you’re eating food that is highly hedonic, it sort of takes over your brain.” A 2008 study showed that sugar affects dopamine levels in the brain and creates behaviours such as bingeing, withdrawal and cravings. Through these neurochemical changes, just like cigarettes or alcohol, we can become addicted to sugar.
So why doesn’t our highly sugared food such as fizzy drinks, come with a health warning? Amazingly today as I type this I see New York has banned the sale of sugary drinks over 16oz. Well not to get too political about it but I believe only when the cost of caring for obese people outweighs the revenue that governments receive from large food lobby groups, we will see change. Until then it’s our own responsibility which really it always has been, to nuture our own sweet selves and those around us.
In Chinese medicine the sweet flavour is linked to cravings and addictions, also to the stomach/spleen and this time of year which is abundant harvest of mother earth. From the Chinese perspective there is nothing wrong with sweet food, however if we over indulge, as with any area of life it will cause problems.
If you have found yourself in a habitual eating pattern or caught up in a cycle of addiction. Here are a few simple tips from Traditional Chinese Medicine to eat more consciously, break the habits and feel satisfied.
Firstly CHEW CHEW CHEW. This is an integral part of our digestion often missed out in our busy lives when food is eaten rushing down the street or inhaled in the car running from one appointment to the next. When we chew the saliva transforms the carbohydrates into sugars and our taste buds will pick up on that releasing chemicals in the brain to promote a feeling of satisfaction.
Chinese Medicine would recommend eating foods that are naturally sweet such as sweet potato, carrots, parsnips, and butternut squash. Take time to roast them so all the natural sugars are slowly released into your blood stream. Sprinkle them with sesame seeds and eat with a bowl of brown rice for a perfectly balanced nourishing sweet soul dish.
Many diets and slimming groups would steer you away from these foods because of their natural sugar content. But from a Chinese Medicine point of view that doesn’t help you to love your body in the long run.
With cravings listen to them – it’s your body trying to tell you what it needs. That doesn’t mean to say that you have to exactly what it asks for. Remember the saying “Follow your heart but take your brain with you”.
After giving birth to my twins, my body asked for a magnum ice cream everyday but I was already 14stone (I’m only 5ft tall) it wasn’t what it needed. But my body was crying out for extra energy and support. I ate carrots, wholegrains and butternut squash, all recipes from my book but really what helped was making sure I had time for me, especially to receive shiatsu body work. This helps to nourish the flesh, the stomach/spleen and bring us back into connection with our body.
Any type of physical touch will help the body and alleviate cravings so go get a hug or give yourself a foot massage. Use the acupressure points I share and try the Qi Gong move in my free mini ebook to Stop Sweet Cravings.
Our focus for the month for May in Chi Flow with Jo will be all about Stopping Sweet Cravings. (Doors open last week of April) It’s not about never eating chocolate again, it’s about balance in the body mind and soul . It’s about connection with the body, loving yourself and knowing when to stop.