Why Do We Crave Sweets & What You Can Do About it! – your SV Ayurveda Newsletter Jan 119, 2023 – #2, Vol 12

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Why do we crave sweets? Specially when we are mentally upset and emotionally down? Does the sweet taste offer anything for our mental and emotional health? How does eating sweets play a role for our mental and emotional health? Have you noticed how your craving for sweets increases in stressful situations, or when you are tired? Why is that? Why do we not crave spicy or salty stuff? But sweets? 

According to modern science, whenever we experience mental stress, the brain uses up more serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter. Some researchers recognize its chemical ability for maintaining mood balance. A deficit of serotonin can lead to depression. Science also tells us that consuming sweets or sugar increase serotonin levels in the brain. However, modern science also recognizes – as Vaidya Mishra already taught us through SV Ayurveda precepts – that processed sugar penetrate the blood at such high speed that they tend to give an immediate high – a feeling of elation – followed by a greater crash due to plummeting levels of serotonin. Consuming processed white sugar can result in feeling low and even lead to depression. The molecules of processed sugar – white sugar crystals – cannot and do not provide a steady sustained effect of serotonin. When processed sugar has been stripped of most of the naturally occurring minerals, it losing its health-promoting properties. This is why when you consume foods with white processed sugar, you get a sugar high and may feel happy and motivated, and shortly thereafter will get a sinking feeling and reach out for more sugar. You develop an addictive craving. The result crash or “rebound effect” offsets any short term elevation in mood or energy levels.

But there’s more to it. White sugar is highly estrogenic. For women, white sugar will increases estrogen levels. Higher levels of estrogen have been associated with weight gain; bloating; swelling; tenderness in the breasts; decreased sexual drive; irregular menstrual periods; headaches; mood swings; fibrocystic developments in the breasts; and even cancer. 

Vaidya Mishra explained that Serotonin is a type of Ojas. A specific type of neurotransmitter. High vata and high pitta depletes tarpaka kapha and serotonin. This is why we crave sweets when we are mentally stressed out. We reach out for sweet things because our body is craving madhura rasa – the sweet taste. Madhura rasa is made of liquid and earthy soma, which support tarpaka kapha and Ojas (serotonin). Vaidya explains that what we are actually craving is soma. It is soma that we need more of. Soma is what gets transformed into Ojas. With low levels of Soma, our Ojas will be depleted. Even though we crave Soma, our taste-buds might to necessarily distinguish between healthy unprocessed sweets – full of natural soma such as fruits etc – and those that taste just as sweet but are depleted and depleting to the physiology. Processed sugars and sweet items promise Soma but do not actually deliver it to the body. 

Mental stress and fatigue may be one reason we reach for sweets. The other is: emotional challenges. Emotional challenges directly impact Sadhaka pitta. Sadhaka pitta – centered in the heart area – is the transformative principle for our emotional experiences and thoughts. It is Sadhak Pitta that helps us process emotions. When Sadhak Pitta is balances, we experience joy, enthusiasm, and overall emotional well-being. When we are emotionally challenges, Sadhaka pitta uses up more Tarpaka Kapha and depletes it. Tarpaka Kapha supplies essential lubrication for our spine and brain. When Sadhak Pitta is combust with heat due to emotional stress, when it has an imbalance of agni, it calls on the reservoir of Tarpaka kapha and Ojas to cool itself off and restore balance to the body. 

So now you know! Whenever you are experiencing emotional challenges, you understand why you tend to reach out for that extra-large-ice-cream-tub! Your body is trying to cool you off, but you have become addicted to the processed sugar. It’s time to clear your freezer from all things ice cream and replace your pantry with healthy sweets! And some sesame crunch!!! This is why Vaidya gave us the SVA version of the traditional nuts and sesame confection call chikki. Vaidya renamed it “sesame crunch.” The minimal processing/cooking, the actual nutritional wealth of the ingredients, and the overall ayurvedic balance of the chikki recipe makes it a star amongst sweet recipes. And this time of year, they are specially good to have. It is a traditional sweet that is consumed during Makar Sankranti – the annual festival dedicated to Surya, the Sun God, celebrated in January of every year.

Chikki is a popular indian confection, even though you can find many variations in different traditions of the world. They make delicious variations of chikki in Mexico too! 

The idea of chikkis is simple: nuts and/or sweets combined with sugar. Almonds, cashews, even peanuts, or a blend of nuts, or seeds, are traditionally used to make chikkis. One other variation involves using only sesame seeds. Traditional the nuts or the sesame seeds are combined with jaggery – cane sugar. Jaggery, because of its tradition artisanal extraction and manufacturing methods, carries a higher content of minerals naturally occurring in the sugar cane plant, thus making it a healthier sugar for regular consumption.

Nutritionally speaking, sesame seeds are such a wonderful addition to your daily diet. They carry so many health benefits according to Ayurveda, and confirmed by modern science. It’s a tiny but oh so mighty little seed. Did you know that sesame seeds are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, natural oils, and organic compounds? Here is the list of what they supply your body with: Calcium; Magnesium; Phosphorous; Manganese; Copper; Zinc; natural plant fibers; Thiamin; Vit B6; Folate; Protein; and Trypthophan. A quarter cup of sesame seeds gives you approximately 35% of your daily calcium needs. But there’s more! 

Did you know that sesame seeds have a very low glycemic index? They don’t give you a sugar high. AND: in addition to all these nutritional substances, sesame seeds also contain two very unique ingredients: sesame and sesamolin. Both of these substances belong a group of special beneficial fibers called lignans. Lignans have been shown to have a cholesterol-lowering effect in humans, and to help in preventing high blood pressures. In addition, they increase Vit E supplies. Sesamin, in particular, is a great anti-oxidant and natural preservatives that has been found to protect the liver from oxidative damage. So here it all is! Sesame is a must in your diet. 

If you opt for Vaidya’s delicious Sesame Crunch snacks, you will be delighted to know that we use cane sugar, or “jaggery” or also known as “gur” in colloquial Hindi. Jaggery or gur is a traditional non-centrifugal cane sugar commonly used in Indian sweets and confections. Gur is made without the separation of molasses from the sugar crystals. It has a more grounding and calming effect, and is not prone to inducing sugar highs and lows. It is also more rich, creamy, and thus satisfying. 

Vaidya Mishra made his Sesame Crunch in 5 different flavors – because different flavors will not only supply different balancing properties, but they also add more joy to the experience and that’s always a must in life and in SVA! Choose from the delicious plain (just sesame seeds and jaggery) or go for the sesame with with black pepper to pacify kapha dosha. Or choose the sesame with Rose petal, for a little extra support for high pitta people or situations and more cooling for the heart. Or choose Cardamom to help pacify Vata and Pitta doshas further and support oxygenation to the brain channels. Fennel is an old time favorite as it marries so well with the sweet taste and support Sadhaka Pitta by supporting Pachak Pitta too. Last but never least, if you have secret chocolate addiction, you will love the Sesame Crunch with organic Cocoa powder. The clogging effects of the cocoa bean are countered by the warming properties of the sesame seeds. And the jaggery makes it just enough sweet to enjoy it all guilt-free! 

Keep the New Year Happy! Celebrate all things good with good sweets through SVAyurveda! Don’t try to eliminate or control your sweet tooth, instead: choose REAL Soma!

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I strongly encourage people wanting to learn more about SVAyurveda to start with this program as it clearly outlines what makes SVA so unique from other ayurvedic lineages.This clarity will provide a strong foundation for future SVA learning.”

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“We all face so many emotional and mental challenges as we go through life, specially nowadays; and that is why we need a proven method for handling stressful situations. I found that this course gives us the best ayurvedic tool to surf the waves of life with greater skill, an image Vaidya Mishra himself liked to use. Vaidya Mishra’s teachings on the heart lotus in connection to the mind and the light of the soul (satya buddhi or spiritual intellect) are a tremendous teachings that have been misinterpreted and lost. In addition, it is so important to learn how to correctly work with marma points, as they are such powerful yet sensitive energy points. But perhaps my favorite aspect of this course is that it has a lot of knowledge that helps us understand who we are as individuals in relationship to the cosmos, and why it is important to strengthen and nurture that connection, through SVAyurveda. I highly recommend this course both to newcomers to SVA and old-timers alike – you will not regret it!”

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Although I am quite familiar with Ayurveda, I also very much enjoyed the beautiful intro to Ayurveda and its basic principles, as well as the history of Vaidya Mishra’s ancient Shaka Vansiya Ayurveda (SVA) lineage. The video footage of this great master teaching his students was truly a privilege to experience — how incredibly special to see and learn directly from this authentic Ayurvedic Master himself! Priceless! Thank you for such an amazing, practical, effective, and unique course!”

Daria Schneidman-Fernandez, Idaho, USA

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