Using Bitters and Bitter Foods to Stem Sugar Cravings
We often hear the question “why do I crave sugar?” (It’s usually me asking myself that question.)
Most of us know the overwhelming feeling that accompanies the sudden craving for something sweet. These episodes usually call for chocolate, cake, ice cream, or candy. Before we even consider what we’re eating, we stuff it in our mouth, inevitably delaying the consequences of more sugar.
Why is it so hard to stop sugar cravings?
Several factors affect our sugar cravings, including fatigue and lack of sleep, fluctuating blood sugar levels, stress, female cycle, and more. As with anything, moderation works best. Problems arise when sugar cravings persist over time. If your relationship with sugar rises to the level of addiction, it might be time to find solutions to curb sugar cravings.
For Hildegard, good health or viriditas came from finding balance in all things. She described the harmony and order found in a life lived in balance as discretio. Ironically, when our diets fall out of balance, we often crave the very things that harm, propelling us further out of balance. Noticing the foods and flavors we crave the most helps to identify our shortcomings, and the habits that cause harm.
Stop Sugar Cravings with Bitters
Incorporating bitters and bitter foods into your diet serves to relieve sugar cravings, and mitigate addiction. Typically, known as an antiquated household remedy, bitters have become rare in our modern western diet. We abandon bitter flavors at our own peril, because the health benefits of bitters are impressive.
Temptation for sugar and sweets appears everywhere. Each of our meals, and the snacks in between, contain loads of sugar. Sugar and sweets have become so ubiquitous that many of us have developed addictions without even knowing. Over generations our taste buds have become conditioned for sweet.
Bitters Almost Forgotten
Bitter foods support our immune systems as natural defense mechanisms. In prior generations, bitter flavors played prominently in daily diets. Vegetables, in their original form, naturally contained more bitter substances. These days, we find most vegetables genetically modified for taste, resulting in fewer naturally occurring bitter flavors.
The retreat of the bitter flavors from a conventional diet has led to the decline of former bitter staples, like dandelion, grapefruit or arugula.
The Health Benefits of Bitters
Bitter substances contribute to many important health benefits. Among other things, they have an antioxidant effect and are believed to support the immune system against the formation of cancer cells. In addition, bitters combat sugar addiction, mitigate the feelings of ravenous hunger, improve fat burning, and ultimately relieve the progress of obesity.
A Bitter Fountain of Youth
Bitter substances are versatile. During the Middle Ages bitters were known for anti-aging properties. Records of Medieval Medicine describe a tonic made from primary bitter herbs, gentian root and angelica root, which promised a long and healthy life. The name of this old elixir suggested its use, “ad langam vitam”.
More than just a longer life, bitters improve our appearance through improved skin. Symptoms resulting from skin impurities, such as acne often resolve from increasing our bitter intake. Finally, bitter substances have a firming effect on the skin.
The Bitter Effect on Sugar Cravings and Obesity
Bitter substances contribute to a healthy digestive system and improve blood sugar levels. More than just accelerating bile production, bitter plants play a key role in managing dyspepsia (indigestion). They strengthen the stomach, the pancreas (which regulates the blood sugar level), the liver (which stores sugar) and improve intestinal flora.
Our Palate like a Paint Pallette?
Think of the palate in your mouth as a paint palette, where each color relates to another with direct compliment. As in painting, too much of one color requires balance by another, complimentary color. And, one color may not work with another color. The same is true of our 5 flavor profiles. Where bitter is absent, we replace it with sweet.
Bitter flavors represent the antagonist to sweetness. This knowledge has existed for over a thousand years in Traditional Western Naturopathy, the Eastern healing systems (TCM, Ayurveda) and almost everyone who tries to get rid of his sugar cravings with bitters has this amazing experience. The greater your craving for sweetness, the better the bitter substances act as an eating suppressant and sedative for a stressed psyche.
Today, we tend to consume too much sweet food, which leads to dependence on sugary foods. On the other hand, our diets contain vanishing amounts of bitter substances, which balance and regulate our sugar cravings.
The Balance of Bitters
Hildegard thought of balance as the ultimate achievement in health. Bitters help balance our bodily juices, resulting in a balanced digestive system. When we achieve balance, we contain unnatural leanings toward sugar and other cravings.
As we fall out of balance, without intervention, we tend to fall further out of balance. This phenomenon certainly plays-out where sugar is concerned. Bitter substances help change our palate to redirect our desire for sweets and help to beat sugar cravings. In addition, bitters help accelerate the natural fat burning and metabolism in our bodies.
Naturally Bitter Foods
There are numerous foods that contain bitter substances, but there are some that are particularly rich in bitter substances. Among the bitter foods are:
- Fruits: grapefruit, lemon, orange
- Vegetables & Salad: Artichoke, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Dandelion, Arugula, Radish, Chicory
- Herbs & Spices: Milk Thistle, Valerian, Marjoram, Oregano, Ginger, Hops, Peppermint, Yarrow, Mugwort
More bitter foods
Start incorporating the bitter flavor profile into your daily diet by including bitter foods. The more bitter you eat, the more you appreciate the flavor. And, as the old German saying goes, the less you like bitters, the more you need them.
Start with 1/2 grapefruit for breakfast or as a snack, add more bitter greens to your salad, or enhance your dishes with bitter herbs and spices. Try preparing tea with bitter herbs. For example, try Peppermint, Hops, Yarrow, Galangal, Ginger, Dandelion etc.
Swedish bitters often appear in naturopathy. On consultation with a doctor or alternative practitioner, swedish bitters may be appropriate for you. In Germany, bitter herbal powders and tablets appear frequently, in addition to the classic bitter liqueors.
Stop Sugar Cravings – Be Bitter
Bitter substances can help overcome sugar cravings and support weight loss. But, there’s no need to overdo it by introducing too much into your diet. To reap the benefits of bitters and curb your sugar cravings, you don’t need enormous amounts. Pay attention to your body as you begin to incorporate more bitter substances into your diet. Moderation is the key.