Sugar, the white household sugar, does not have many friends from the orthodox medical point of view. For example, sugar is essentially responsible for adiposity, diabetes, or metabolic syndrome. How does Ayurveda view this? And how does it help to avoid sugar?
The Role of Sugar in Indian Medicine
Anyone who has ever been to India or knows Indian cuisine knows that Indians are not afraid of sugar. The typical Indian diet is sweet.
Even in traditional Indian medicine Ayurveda, sugar is not considered bad per se. On the contrary: sugar is described as energizing, nourishing, and flavor-enhancing and is added to medical recipes to combat emaciation, exhaustion, or deficiency symptoms.
Ayurveda describes the properties of as sweet, cooling, refreshing, and energy-storing. People with overweight, diabetes, respiratory diseases, and other complaints, which we in Ayurveda assign to a too high Kapha dosha, should, of course, avoid it as far as possible. But a little bit of sugar is essential even for these people, as it sweetens life and nourishes the psyche with feelings of happiness and contentment.
Interpret Your Sugar Lust Correctly
The big problem with sugar is that it is often taken as a substitute for high-quality food rich in vital substances. Whenever we are under stress, and our digestive fire is not able to break down the food well, and we suffer from deficiency symptoms, for this reason, our organism reacts with a ravenous hunger for sweet. If we now eat sugar-rich sweets instead of fruits, nuts, and vegetables rich in vital substances, we cheat our body and intensify the deficiency symptoms. So we should first interpret the desire for it correctly and then choose the food accordingly.
For Vata and Pitta types, the sweet taste – and therefore a moderate amount of sugar – has a calming and balancing effect. Kapha types, on the other hand, should try to avoid all kinds of sugar as much as possible. Alternatively, honey is recommended for Kapha.
How Ayurveda Helps in Avoiding Sweets
If the body and psyche are balanced and the metabolism works well, we feel little desire for sugar or denatured food. So it generally helps to pay attention to a healthy and high-quality diet, take our daily meals in peace and without stress, and make the food more easily digestible with stimulating spices like ginger, cumin, or pepper.
To reduce cravings or craving for sweets, I have found that it helps very well if we eat a little sweet fruit – such as grapes, dates, or dried fruit – in the afternoon between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m.
A complete renunciation is not necessary.
In Ayurvedic nutrition for healthy people, a sweet dish is an integral part of a healthy and balanced lunch. So there is no reason to do without sweets completely. A wholesome diet for sick people may also contain a little sweetener, but this then consists of unique recipes with ingredients that are individually adapted to the patient.
Ayurvedic dessert recommendations
In Ayurveda, we are fans of healthy and nutritious desserts such as almond pudding, mango cream, chickpea confectionery, or rice pudding, which are finely flavored digestive spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves.
Sugar is essential, it is just about knowing how much is enough.