Winter Sugar Cravings

Warming Foods: The Good and The Ugly

Winter Sugar CravingsYang deficient patients need to eat warming foods.  We think of foods like chicken or ginger or perhaps garlic to help warm their spleen yang.  These foods help digestion.  It will warm the body and increase the energy.

I mostly eat okay.  This winter, after having a little too much extra food over the holidays I was starting back on a decent diet and limiting my intake of simple carbohydrates when we were hit by a winter storm.  At first, as it snowed outside I enjoyed watching.  I had some lunch.  I decided to treat myself to a kombucha.  As the snow continued for the next two days I found myself with the increasing urge to bake.

I grew up in a home where my mother offered baked goods on a daily basis.  They were always homemade and she used the best ingredients possible.  By best, I do not mean the most healthful, but the best ingredients that would make the best food.  At some point in my childhood she discovered that Crisco was easier than lard.  By the time I was a teenager a chocolate cake might come out of a box. I remember sitting in the kitchen watching her or at times helping with things that needed extra hands.

The snow brought that back.  After fighting the urge for most of a morning and into the late afternoon I baked some simple cookies.  And I ate.  And ate. I found that I couldn’t get enough of them.  I’m yang deficient. I was cold.  After feeling badly and wondering what was off on my hormones and how could I correct this, it occurred to me to wonder, as I shivered under covers when the power out later that I was surprised at my chill given the sugar I had eaten earlier. It then occurred to me to wonder, was the sugar craving my body’s way of trying to warm itself when there was cold outside?

This didn’t make the sugar binge okay with me, but it gave me an aha moment.  Perhaps our cultural love affair with all things sugar is really our body’s attempt to balance an imbalance. The cold, quick foods so often eaten and the heavy carbohydrates that further inhibit the spleen means that most people in my office were, to a great or lesser extent, spleen qi deficient and often spleen yang deficient.  While there are far better foods that would warm my body, sugar is a food my body has found earlier than it has found many of the other warming foods. Perhaps therein lies the craving.  Maybe my body is taking its limited knowledge of balancing and attempting to make a balance, despite the fact that sugar will cause so many other problems.

Certainly I know to avoid sugar.  Certainly I mostly do.  But sometimes something comes up with a strong craving and I give in.  This gives me another question to ask myself before giving in.  I can consider why now?  Maybe it’s the weather.  Fats are often helpful to manage sugar cravings.  Fats are also very warming.  I wonder if that’s one of the reasons they work to limit sugar cravings.  Although sometimes, fats just aren’t as good as sugar!  Oddly, my choice was peanut butter cookies, so I guess I had some of both!

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Bonnie Koenig has been a licensed acupuncturist since 1999. She is passionate about helping people find real healing and real health. In the process she keeps asking about our attitudes towards sickness and health. Only by being clear on what sickness is, can we ever find health.

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