Many of us, especially us women, are all too familiar with sugar cravings. We want our sweets, and we want them NOW! When we want the sugar, whoa, you better look out. Nothing short of a lion separated from her cub is quite like us going way our of way to get that chocolate cookie, or even half-consciously rushing through dinner while we excitedly wait for the dessert course to come!
There are many numerous reasons we might have sugar cravings, which could point to different kinds of imbalances. One such imbalance has to do with salt. Yes, salt.
Think of salt as being on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from sugar. Salt is the most contracting food, meaning that it has a very retracting energy in the body, and causes the cellular fluids in the body to contract and pull in. We all know that when we ingest too much salt we can become dehydrated and thirsty. Excess salt can also pull hydration out of the skin. Contracting foods are what Chinese practitioners would call “Yang” foods.
Sugar, on the opposite end, is the most expanding of foods. When we eat foods with sugar in them, we tend to feel more relaxed and open. Sugar causes the body to expand and open up. Expanding foods are considered in Chinese philosophy to be “Yin” foods.
Thus, it makes sense that when we eat too much salt, or too many foods containing salt, we can feel very contracted. Red meat, eggs, fish, dairy, salted cheese, and condiments such as soy sauce all inherently contain a lot of salt. We ingest a lot of salt from eating these foods even if we don’t add additional salt on top of our food. There is also a ton of salt (sodium) in preserved, microwaved and canned foods, and we may be ingesting more than we realize from eating these foods. When we eat a great deal of salt we start to feel extremely contracted, and we unconsciously start to crave more expanding foods, ie the sugar, to create balance in the body.
If we want to cut back on sugar cravings, we need to create overall balance. One such way would therefore to be sure we are not overdoing the salt. This would especially mean table salt, or sodium chloride, which is man-made and can cause the leaching of fluids and minerals from our body. On the other hand, Celtic and Himalayan sea salt are both natural, raw salts that contain about 70 trace minerals, and have been dried naturally by the sun, rather than in a kiln.
Our specific salt needs are up for debate, and depend on our lifestyle and how active we are, the season we are in, our size, etc. The RDA allowance is 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day, and the National Academy of Sciences’ Institution of Medicine recommends between 1,500-2,400 milligrams a day. This is just around one teaspoon. The best way to regulate your salt intake is to switch to Celtic and Himalayan sea salts immediately (throwing out regular table salt), do not add additional salt to your food once it has been prepared, and avoid packaged and processed foods.
As we balance our salt intake, we might just help balance some of our sugar cravings. We will create more of a perfect yin-yang balance in our bodies, minds and spirits.
One recipe comes to mind when wanting something sweeter, yet filling and nutritious, my sweet potato shepherds pie!
All my very best,