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As I said, small amounts of sweetness can strengthen Earth. In CM, herbs such as cinnamon and licorice are employed for this purpose. These herbs are sweet- not super-sweet like processed sugar, but naturally, moderately sweet. Someone with an Earth imbalance might not consider these herbs 'sweet,' not like ice cream or soda or candy. This is because body has gotten off-kilter into a vicious cycle of craving exactly wrong thing: huge amounts of supersweets.
Two other oft-consumed sweets are alcohol and carbohydrates. Studies of alcoholics have revealed that they have extreme sugar-addictions, that part of alcoholic withdrawal is due to a drastic reduction in sugar intake, and that subsequent coffee, smoking, and sweet consumption may be a way of preventing food cravings. One study showed that nutritional therapy including low-sugar diet decreased alcohol cravings. Much has been made of carbohydrate addiction, and no or low-carb diets (including Atkins diet) have been among recent dietary fads.
With all of this talk about how sweets can be bad for you, let emphasize that research also shows that preference for sweet taste is innately human, and that avoiding sweets leads to an even greater sweet-craving!
The best thing to do would be to visit a Chinese Medicine (CM) practitioner a few times, get a personalized herbal formula for your imbalance, and take it with discipline. Some practitioners are extreme- they want you to change everything right away, re-arrange your diet, stop eating all 'bad' things, take lots of herbs, and see them weekly so that they can regularly shame you into healthy living.
As a self-confessing coffee addict and former smoker, I understand how difficult it can be to change dietary and lifestyle habits. My belief is that acupuncture, herbs, and dietary therapies exist to help you make transition from imbalance to well-being both possible and comfortable. Real change takes time; moving too fast can lead to short term mega-progress but ultimately result in relapse and a net gain of zero. My point: take your time, change a few things, and stick with it. Be nice to yourself not only in commiting to your own well-being, but also in allowing yourself to progress imperfectly, to be human, to make mistakes.
Best wishes in your journey of health! Brian
Acupuncturist, herbalist, and medical professor Brian B. Carter founded the alternative health megasite The Pulse of Oriental Medicine (http://www.PulseMed.org/). He is the author of the book "Powerful Body, Peaceful Mind: How to Heal Yourself with Foods, Herbs, and Acupressure" (November, 2004). Brian speaks on radio across the country, and has been quoted and interviewed by Real Simple, Glamour, and ESPN magazines.