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By Nadia Marshall

We often get clients saying, "Yeah, I feel soooo much better after [my cleanse/changing my diet/taking my medicines]... but, I still feel a bit sleepy in the afternoons and still have a bit of a craving for sweeties."

And what do I say back?

Welcome to being human. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you.  I repeat, NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU. We all, universally,  feel a shift in energy around 2-3pm and we all crave the sweet taste. Some of us are affected more than others, but WE ALL FEEL IT. All we need to do is respond appropriately....

I hear a collective sigh of relief go out across the world.

So what's it all about? Why the 3pm Sugar-Craving Slump?

From an Ayurvedic perspective, the doshas - Vata, Pitta and Kapha predominate at different times of life, different seasons but also different times of the day. Kapha is most prevalent from 6am-10am in the morning and 6pm-10pm at night, Pitta prevails from 10am - 2pm and 10pm-2am... and Vata is king from 2am-6am and also 2pm-6pm. These times vary slightly depending on our location, the time of year and when the sunrises and sets but these are a good general guide.

At 2pm in the afternoon, the atmosphere tends to shift down a gear. We begin to move from the Pitta heat of the day to a slightly cooler, clearer, lighter, more ethereal time as the sun makes its journey back to the horizon. We shift from an intense, achievement-oriented Pitta (Fire/Water) energy to a more spacey, sensitive Vata energy. If we've had a chilled-out day this shift will feel like a quiet settling. If we've pushed ourselves (and our nervous systems) hard up until this point it'll feel more like a 'hitting-the-wall' kind of crash. The later is more likely if we have a predominance of Air or Ether in our constitution or a Vata imbalance (and most people do).

So come 2-3pm, we tend to have trouble concentrating, we might feel restless, bored or get more easily distracted or play aimlessly on Facebook.... or we may just get sleepy if our adrenal tank is empty. And, of course, we generally find ourselves desperately seeking tasty sweeties... and caffeine...

The sweet taste, made up of the Earth and Water elements is the ultimate antidote to aggravated Vata. What we're really craving at this Vata time of the day is comfort, grounding and steadiness. This is what the sweet taste provides. So don't have aversion towards the craving. It is nature's wisdom doing her thang. The only problem with this cycle is  the sweeties we usually choose have the opposite effect. Refined sugar, although very sweet, actually aggravates Vata (as well as Pitta and Kapha) and causes increased restlessness and agitation (Rajas) in the mind. When eaten in moderation, unrefined sugars like honey, rapadura, jaggery and maple syrup are a better choice because they pacify Vata and are considered Sattvic, having a peace-promoting effect on the mind. Coffee isn't the best idea because it is overly stimulating and also tends to aggravate Vata and promote Rajas. Black tea is more gentle, especially if you add some cardamom.

So, I repeat, don't have aversion to the craving. Just choose your afternoon tea wisely.  Here are some ideas...

Most importantly, when you have your afternoon tea, take a moment to stop. Press pause on your day and enjoy a few deep breaths. If you've really hit the wall, have a power nap. I used to get up at 5am, do a full-on yoga class then go to work at a relatively stressful corporate job. I had my own office so when I hit the wall at 3pm, I'd hit the floor. Literally. I'd lock the door, close the curtains, lie under my desk and enjoy a 15min power nap. It made me so much more effective for the rest of the afternoon. When we moved to an open plan office, I'd walk to my car and nap there instead! Naturally it is preferable to SLOW DOWN a whole lot more generally so you're not getting up to hit-the-wall pace in the first place. But if you are, embrace the mini-siesta, any way you can.

So there you have it my friends. Permission to slump. Permission to crave sweet. And... permission to respond accordingly. With a dash of unrefined sweetness and some good old rest. Vata's two best friends.


Nadia xxx


Agni - the digestive fire.

Ama or Aama - undigested food waste, toxins.

Ojas- the foundation of our immune system and longevity.

Dhatus - the tissues of the body.

Srotas - the channels of the body.

Vata - the air/ether

intelligence in the body.

Pitta- the fire/water

intelligence in the body.

Kapha- the water/earth intelligence in the body.

Sattva- the quality of purity, intelligence, peace and love.

Rajas- the quality of

turbulence and activity.

Tamas- the quality of

dullness, darkness and inertia.

Rasa - the taste of a food (Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Bitter, Astringent)

Virya - second level of digestion (either Heating or Cooling)

Vipaka - third level of digestion, the deep taste of a food (can be Sweet, Sour or Pungent)

Prabhav - the 'special effect' of a food or herb/spice

Rasa - also the name for plasma tissue

Rakta - blood tissue

Mamsa - muscle tissue

Meda - fat tissue

Asthi - bone tissue

Majja - nerve & bone marrow tissue

Shukra - sexual reproductive tissue

Why The 3pm Sugar-Craving Slump?

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- eat some fresh, ripe sweet fruit with a sweet herbal tea like Sarah's Rejuvenate Tea (don't have a milky tea or you'll get a tummy ache... it is always best to eat fresh fruit on its own).

- make a sweet Sunthi Chai with milk, fresh ginger, black tea and a teaspoon of rapadura or jaggery

- have a Date and Coconut Ball or an Ayurvedic Ginger Shortbread with your cuppa

- have a handful of activated (i.e. soaked and dried/toasted) nuts and sultanas/raisins or a Fruit & Nut Energy Drink. Nuts are predominant in the sweet taste, as are dried fruits but, they are also quite heavy so a small amount is enough.

- have some Spicy Puffed Rice with a herbal tea. It isn't sweet but it is salty (Water/Fire) and the salty taste also pacifies Vata.

- in summer, try a Cooling Rose Lassi. It is sweet but also sour. Good news... the sour taste (Earth/Fire) pacifies Vata as well!  

- or, if you're trying to avoid afternoon snacks, just have a teaspoon of honey in your cup of herbal or black tea. This is often enough to keep me going!

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