Lose Weight the Ayurveda Way

Date Posted:28 October 2011 

Tired of playing diet tug of war? Maharishi Ayurveda Consultant Linda Sinden shows us how to lose weight permanently and safely.

According to Ayurveda, there is no 'one size fits all' approach to losing weight. Some people are naturally round, with mild appetite and a slow metabolism and require a focused effort to lose weight; while others may have a slim-to-thin body shape with a fast metabolism that requires regular meals. Every individual has an ideal weight to fit their unique nature.

What type of weight gain do you experience?

Kapha
Do you gain weight even though you eat small amounts of food? This is often due to a lack of digestive fire (enzymes) and a low metabolic rate. The solution is to follow a waste and toxin eliminating programme.

Pitta
Are you often hungry and thirsty? Do you suffer from heartburn and easily, become hot, irritable and impatient? This occurs when a person has long-term waste build-up and the channels around the stomach are clogged, creating too much heat in the body. These people should be on a cooling diet to eliminate toxins eg sweet fruits, green vegetables, whole grains, plenty of purified water and preferring white meats and cold water fish.

Vata
Are you normally thin and wiry and have been under a period of mental stress during which you have forgotten to eat? When under stress, Vata-type people may forget to eat regularly, thus disturbing digestion and clogging the channels, which can cause weight gain.

Ayurveda subscribes to a different approach to weight control. It doesn’t focus on calorie reduction or appetite suppression because that slows down fat metabolism. If the body doesn't assimilate fat and carbohydrates effectively, then fat and impurities accumulate in the body as excess weight. Ayurveda also doesn't target calorie reduction because that typically leads to the “yo-yo” effect, in which people return to their previous eating patterns and gain back the weight they lost, and more, while the underlying imbalances remain. Instead, Ayurveda focuses on correcting the primary imbalance that is actually causing the problem.

Where to begin?
The first step to achieving a balanced weight is to follow the Healing Meal Plan below for one week. Add to this the guidelines for dealing with your type of weight gain (Vata, Pitta or Kapha) and you have a good beginning program to help you lose weight permanently and safely.

Dealing with Kapha Weight Gain
Lifestyle - Wake up by 6am every morning and go for a brisk walk, jog or run.
Diet - lndulge your sensual, nourishing, Kapha nature with delicious home-cooked meals. Eat plenty of legumes, whole grains like barley, and cooked vegetables. Spice generously with thyme, basil, mint, oregano, cumin, turmeric, fresh ginger and black pepper. Avoid red meat, dairy, cold drinks and sugar.

Dealing with Pitta weight gain
Lifestyle - Relax your nervous system by avoiding the computer and telephone after 9pm. Turn your light out by 10pm for a cooler, more restful night.
Diet - Never skip or delay your meals. Eat lunch by 12:30pm and  dinner by 7pm. Avoid processed foods, junk foods, cheese, yogurt, red meat, hot spices, alcohol, caffeine, vinegar, sugary desserts and fried foods. Eat organic, wholesome foods with lots of fresh vegetables and sweet, juicy fruits. Drink plenty of fresh, pure water.

Dealing with Vata weight gain
Lifestyle - Staying rested is the key for you. Establish a regular routine, including regular early to bed, waking up and meal times.
Diet - Eat mainly warm, cooked, wholesome foods at each meal. Reserve salads and raw vegetables for side dishes only. Avoid cold drinks, iced desserts and other cold foods.

The bottom line
Your body knows how to restore a balanced weight for you. If you learn to listen to its quiet inner guidance through its messages of hunger and satisfaction, you can achieve a healthy weight with increased stamina, a more efficiently functioning body and youthful appearance. So why not give it a go?

Healing Meal Plans
General recommendations

  • Only eat when you’re hungry. Hunger is simply a signal from your body that it wants to eat and is prepared for the proper metabolism of food. If you‘re not actually hungry, your body isn’t prepared for metabolizing food. Partially digested food (ama) sits in the stomach and intestines and ferments, creating toxins. Consider the Ayurvedic saying — "It is better to waste food on the plate than to waste food in the body".
  • Sip the following detoxifying tea every 30-to-60 minutes throughout the day up until 6pm. Boil 1.5 to 2 litres of water for 10 minutes and place in a thermos flask to keep warm. Add a quarter teaspoon of cumin seeds, quarter teaspoon of coriander seeds, a quarter teaspoon of fennel seeds and one eighth of a teaspoon of cardamom seeds (or three whole green pods). Use organic seeds where possible. Make fresh each morning and sip throughout the day up until 6pm.

Breakfast
Do not skip breakfast! Even if you’re not hungry, at least have a stewed or baked apple or pear with raisins to start your day. This provides easily digestible nutrition and helps increase your appetite for lunch. If you are hungry add a bowl of cooked wholegrain cereal. If you have a strong appetite and tend to get hungry well before lunchtime, make your cereal with cow or soy milk and add ground nuts for extra protein.

Lunch
This should be your main meal of the day. It’s the only meal where you should eat any non-vegetarian foods such as meat, poultry, fish or seafood, and curdled foods such as cheese, cottage cheese or yogurt. Include whole grains, freshly cooked vegetables and a concentrated source of protein (lentils, chickpeas or other legumes; tofu or other soy: fresh cheese; nuts/seeds; non-vegetarian entrees; etc). Your lunch should mainly consist of cooked foods, although you may have a small amount of salad on the side if you wish.

Afternoon snack
Have fresh fruit, dried fruits, nuts, unleavened crackers, warm milk (boil the milk first, then drink when warm, as you’re less likely to get allergies this way) or soy milk, or rye crackers or rice cakes.

Dinner
Favour light, easy-to-digest foods such as cooked grains and vegetables and soups, including legume-based soups such as lentils. Avoid non-vegetarian foods such as poultry, meat, fish and cheese at the evening meal.

Bedtime snack If you're hungry, try warm milk or soy milk boiled with a pinch of cinnamon, cardamom, or ginger; or have hot cereal made with plenty of water.

Linda Sinden is a Maharishi Ayurveda Consultant in New Zealand with more than 20 years clinical experience. She is available for both personal and telephone consultations. For more information email info@getbalance.co.nz