March 2006 archive

Letting the Sweet Flow in our Lives

I’m often asked, “How do I stop eating sweets?” I would answer: Don’t stop. Instead, find a more peaceful expression of your desires.

Often we crave specific sweets. These cravings may come from life-long food habits. They may arise from many natural desires—the need for sweet foods, the need for more energy (or more sleep), the need to suppress feelings that are too strong to handle. It is important to calm the mind in these situations so that we can see clearly what our true need is, and address it in a sattvic (peaceful) way.

When a strong craving arises, try this:

– Observe your breathing—allow calm to enter.

– Ask yourself—what do I really want? Be specific—if you want chocolate cake, is it sweetness, cake, chocolate, more energy (or sleep) that you truly desire?

– Then ask, what is the best way to satisfy this craving? Cake, a sweet tea, a small piece of dark chocolate, a nap, a walk?

I would also suggest bringing balanced, integrated sweet flavors into your meals. Adding the sweetness of whole foods to your plate is a great way to acknowledge your sweet tooth. Sweet potatoes or roasted fruit are fine sweet additions.

Another healthy way to go would be to make a substantial, nutritious, and sweet dessert that is part of your meal. If your dessert is made from real foods, it is perfectly reasonable to have it be half your meal (see this recipe for banana chocolate pudding, for example).

I like to think of the gentle and sweet feeling these foods give to me and bring that feeling into my asana practice. Bringing a light, gentle, positive feel to your morning practice will certainly improve it. We may also find the pull of non-beneficial sweets not quite as strong.

Om Shanthi
Brandt