With life comes the opportunity to create, to stand in awe, to contribute, to receive. It often also comes with bills, stress, and inconveniences… illness, death, and great suffering. We are bombarded with images and stories on the news and internet of the injustices occurring around the world. It would be hard not to have a visceral response to so much suffering. So, how and where do we find sweetness in this life? Can we still feel good about indulging in it?
Renowned author and self-help veteran, Louise Hay has long bridged the gap between body and mind. Her first book on the subject, Heal Your Body, was published in 1976 and is still one of my favorite books to recommend to patients. It’s more of an index than anything, in which she lists the mental causes for various ailments/illnesses and affirmations one can use to heal them. The belief is, what you concentrate on, you become. This is a common theme seen often over the last few years– what with The Secret and the renewed interest in the Law of Attraction; but it can be seen earlier, as in Napolean Hill’s works of the 1920s and 30s (e.g. Think and Grow Rich). In this book Hay writes that feeling “longing for what might have been,”–or that there is “no sweetness left” may in fact contribute to a disease of sugar imbalance in the body: Diabetes. The statistics on this disease are astounding–with over 25% of people over the age 65 experiencing symptoms; and the numbers grow among populations known to face considerably more discrimination than non-Hispanic whites. Coincidence?
We all know eating sugar isn’t going to fix our problems, but it sure can feel comforting in the face of stress! The truth is it’s not uncommon that when our need for ease, joy and celebration goes unmet, we often turn to coping mechanisms. For many, this means indulging in food, or other pleasure-producing activities. And the big companies are aware of our inherent need for sweetness as they plump up our foods with corn syrups–high fructose corn syrup (see below).
People think they can cheat the system with artificial sweeteners – but the studies are showing low-glycemic sugars are only bitter-sweet. I recently read this great article by Marlene Merritt, DOM, LAc, ACN, “Think Fructose is Safe? Think Again,” in which she explains how fructose is processed through the liver, unlike glucose. Since fructose never triggers insulin, the body doesn’t know when it’s full. Likewise, when we eat falsely-sweet foods, our body surges out insulin in expectation of the incoming energy burst. But when the energy burst from broken down carbohydrates never comes– we just end up craving them instead [to balance our insulin overload].
While the cause of sugar craving can be explained with a longing in life, or basic science, Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at the relationship of organs involved and their level of functioning. When our body is running optimally, and our emotions even, health naturally follows.
The best way to enjoy a sweet life? Love, share gratitude, extend kindness–and when necessary, see your acupuncturist.
PS. Some suggest that the “first” artificial sweetener may have led [note the pun] to the fall of the Roman Empire – too bad the article didn’t also mention how aspartame breaks down into formaldehyde in the body…