The following article is taken from the curriculum presented during the Metabolic Syndrome class. This topic is included in both the Advanced Topics in Herbal Medicine and, beginning in 2019, the Foundations of Herbal Medicine programs.
Simply informing someone that excess white sugar or processed carbs are unhealthy and should be taken out of the diet is not enough. It is more helpful to look at the source for the need/desire for sweetness and develop a plan accordingly.
1. In nature, foods with a sweet taste are the most physically nourishing. This desire/need for nourishment is also true emotionally. The nourishing emotion is love. We crave sweet foods when we need love or feel lonely, depressed or stressed. We turn to comfort food when we need emotional comforting.
2. If a person has low blood sugar there is a physical need for sugar. This may be due to a deficient liver, extended over-exertion from work or exercise, improper protein:carb:fat ratio in the diet or improper fasting. This is a real, physical, present time need for increase in blood sugar. Do not deny sweets in this situation. It can be prevented through proper nutrition and timely eating.
3. When people have a Deficient Liver, there is a reduced ability to digest fats and protein. This type of person is more likely to avoid these foods and prefers to frequently graze on carbs to keep blood sugar up. This person may be more susceptible to hypoglycemia. This is related to #2. These people are often drawn to a vegetarian or raw food diet because these foods tend to be higher in carbs and lower in fat and protein, thus easier on the liver and easier to digest.
4. There is a physical need for food nourishment. Our modern diet leaves most people at some level of nutritional deficiency. In a traditional diet, sweet foods are the most nourishing. This need for real food nourishment is mis-directed to modern sweet junk food.
5. Insufficient fat content in diet. Many people wrongly reduced or lowered fat intake during the past few decades due to mistaken information. Fat has a satiating affect and people actually eat less food because they feel full and satisfied sooner. People eat sweet foods, often junk food, in an effort to satisfy the craving that could addressed by more butter, ghee or coconut oil in the diet.