As a Western physician, I’ve watched an endless stream of fad diets and weight loss schemes come and go over the past 30 years. The questions I am asked the most are: “What are the keys to natural weight loss?” and “What type of diet do you recommend?”
My answer is not a diet at all. It is Ayurvedic Lifestyle Management, ALM. ALM guides us gently toward successful weight management by giving us knowledge — the knowledge of what foods to eat and when, the knowledge of life and longevity, the knowledge of self-healing.
For optimal weight management, you need knowledge of the right foods to eat, the right lifestyle to follow and the right herbal supplements to use. It’s also critical to know your body-mind type, or dosha. Each of the three doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha, comes with a different food plan.
In this blog, you will find Ayurveda’s bottom line in 3 easy steps — 3 keys to a lifestyle of realistic weight management and optimal health.
Many patients have told me that they have “tried everything” in the weight loss department from Atkins to the Beverly Hills Diet to the South Beach Diet. Yet weight management remains an elusive goal. Some of the more humorous fads that have come and gone include the the the Grapefruit Diet, the Chocolate Cake Diet, the Blood Type Diet, the Baby Food Diet and the Morning Banana Diet.
Diets don’t work. Period.
Fad diets make the same promises — easy, effortless weight loss. Unfortunately, the weight usually comes back, often worse than before. Dietary fads are backed up more by celebrity endorsements than solid science.
The National Institute of Health tells us that 99 percent of all people who go on a diet gain all the weight back in three to five years. In addition, many diets leave us craving — often craving what the previous diet told us we shouldn’t eat if we want to lose weight.
For many who have tried unsuccessfully to manage their weight, a change in lifestyle is required. That’s where Ayurveda comes in, with its secrets for natural weight loss.
Ayurvedic Secret # 1 What To Eat
An Ayurvedic lifestyle begins with treating food as medicine. Choose wisely. Stop all junk foods immediately. Stop all fast foods and processed foods. Eating junk food is like putting sand into your gas tank.
Instead, start a new habit of eating, the Ayurvedic way. Have a light breakfast of fruits and/or cereal (like oatmeal) and hot lemon water. Then, drink hot water throughout the day, which helps to lower weight. As an energizer two to three times daily, you can drink lukewarm water with one spoon of aged honey and a few drops of lemon juice for taste. This will give you lots of energy, so that you may not even feel like eating much. Then eat when you really feel hunger.
A yummy Ayurvedic lunch or dinner is vegetarian, loaded with fresh organic fresh fruits and vegetables, with beans and soy products for protein. For example, try a nourishing vegetable soup as an appetizer, followed by an entree of veggies, tofu and rice. Other classic Ayurvedic dishes from India include rice and dahl and kitchari. Spices like turmeric and ginger are used liberally for their healing properties.
Vegetarian doesn’t have to be boring.
Ayurvedic Secret # 2: The Six Tastes
Another thing unique about Ayurvedic cuisine is its use of all six tastes in at mealtime: sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter and astringent. A meal that contains all six is another Ayurvedic secret for reducing cravings in between meals. Those cravings are often the downfall of the well-intended dieter.
Too many sweet and salty tastes, as seen in the standard American diet (hamburger, fries and coke) cause rapid weight gain. To lose weight, emphasize pungent (spicy) foods, bitter (leafy greens) and astringent (pomegranate) in your diet — especially for Kaphas. These tastes help reduce heaviness in the body. They offer healthy counterpoints to the weight gaining nature of the sweet and salty tastes.
When to Eat
Eat three meals a day, without snacks, to encourage more fat burning. Have lunch, your largest meal, between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm. Have dinner, your smallest meal, between 5:30 pm and 8:00 pm, when your digestion is weakest.
End Part 1
Join me next week for Part 2 of “Ayurveda and Natural Weight Loss.”
In this blog we have introduced Ayurvedic Lifestyle Management as an effective way to lose weight and keep it off. We covered what to eat and when, and highlighted the importance of eating according to one’s dosha and of incorporating the six tastes to reduce cravings.
The ultimate goal of Ayurveda is a healthy physical body, a calm (sattvic) mind and a heart connection with Spirit.
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