Weight management through Ayurveda

Obesity” is something very common these days. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, which are some of the leading causes of preventable death. There are several ways to reduce the obesity by following various weight management methods. But ancient Ayurveda offers very effective and systematic way of dealing with obesity.

In this article we will see how to balance weight through Ayurveda to control obesity. The recommendations are based on our body condition. Ayurveda determines our body condition through “doshas”. All we need to do is to identify our body type or dosha and then follow the guidelines laid out to control the body weight. So what are these doshas? How can these be determined?

all_about_you

Ayurveda has classified our body types into three types of doshas – Kapha, Vata and Pitta. If we can identify our dosha, then we can adopt to that kind of lifestyle and  diet recommendations to control our weight. We will now briefly learn about the characteristics of each of these doshas and how we can align ourselves to those guidelines.

Kapha dosha

The common weight gain reason for Kapha dosha person is due to slow metabolism. This is the characteristic of a classic Kapha type person. People with Kapha dosha is comprised of earth and water elements and exhibit the nature of those two elements. Hence, they are usually structurally bigger, heavy, stable and gentle in nature. So to balance the weight, it is recommended to add the missing element, the fire into the diet. It is recommended to add mild spices such as black pepper, fresh ginger and turmeric to the cooked food. Also, sipping hot water throughout the day will permeate the molecules of the water throughout  our body. We should avoid cold foods which will slow down the metabolism. Setting aggressive weight goal is not something that works for this dosha type people. They always tend to be little above their ideal weight due to the presence of earth element within their body.

Vata dosha

The common weight imbalance reason for Vata dosha person is due to mental stress because they tend to overuse or misuse their minds. Their physical appearance will be  thin and wiry. Due to this mental stress, they skip meals.  Skipping the meals disturbs the digestion and creates ama (this literally means “uncooked” or “undigested” in Sanskrit), which clogs the channels for digestion. Therefore, eating meals in specific times coupled with regular sleep patterns are highly recommended to overcome this dosha. Practicing yoga and Pranayama also helps balance this dosha. Anyone with this type of dosha should avoid eating all cold foods, desserts and packaged foods.

Pitta dosha

The common weight gain reason for Pitta dosha person is due to not eating regularly, thereby creating excessive weight gains. Pitta dosha has fire as the major element. If we are having this dosha, we should not skip breakfast or any meal in a day. When someone with this dosha skips breakfast or meals, it creates ama within their digestive system. This ama blocks the digestive channels that provide the nutrients. Hence metabolism slows down, which will result in weight gain.

Elements and doshas.001

Closing notes, Things to ponder

We have learnt through this article how Ayurvedic has solutions for weight balancing. The key is to maintain proper balance between the elements that are in each type of dosha. But how are we related to these elements? In Bhagavad-Gita, Lord Sri Krishna reveals the truth that this universe is created with all the five elements (earth, air, water, ether or sky and fire) along with mind, intellect and ego. This directly indicates that we are made of these elements. We are all interconnected with our surroundings through these elements. By identifying the dosha, you can realize the existence of elements and their characteristics within our body. This reinforces the fact that this universe is created by the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna.

Now, let us think why eating right food can balance these elements. Lord Sri Krishna explains how important is to eat the right choice of food in right amounts. Eating the right food will help you cultivate the right thoughts and increase the Sattwic  (being pure, gentle) nature. One who cultivates the Sattwic nature is said to be striving towards reaching the Lord. Thus by eating the right food, we not only can balance our weight but also will become closer to Lord.

Additional information

For detailed information on characteristics of each type of dosha, refer to the table below.

Character/Type of dosha Kapha Vata Pitta
Weight management
  • Balance your metabolism by increasing the ability to digest sugars and carbohydrates by adopting to Kapha balanced diet
  • Eat foods that are easy to digest and nurturing.
  • Follow regular routine for sleep and diet to free yourself from stress
  • Person with this dosha should get into the habit of eating 3 meals a day starting with breakfast. Not skipping meals is key to manage weight
Diet (tastes that balance this dosha)
  • Eat warm, light, cooked foods
  • Flavor the vegetables and dal soups with mildly pungent spices such as black pepper, fresh ginger and turmeric to include the fire element
  • Other tastes that balance Kapha are bitter and astringent such as green leafy vegetables, split mung dal soup and other bean soups
  • Astringent vegetables are broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts
  • Quinoa and Basmati rice are good choices due to high protein and more drying quality respectively
  • Breakfast and dinner should be lighter as digestive fire is weaker
  •  Tri-doshic diet, which balances all 3 doshas
  • Eat warm cooked meals thrice a day
  • Grate Daikon radish (white)  and add to dal soups for mildly spicy flavor, include sweet vegetables for lunch and dinner such as zucchini, Loki or yellow squash
  • Mix Pitta Churna with the diet
  • Cook food with cooling spices, eating light desserts with your meal such as fruits crisps and by drinking light dairy drinks such as sweet lassi
Avoid
  • Heavy, cold desserts such as ice cream and cheesecakes (these will slow your metabolism and increase the cold, heavy qualities of Kapha)
  • Rich desserts, fried foods, foods made up with refined sugar and refined flour, cold foods and drinks
  • Hot and spicy, such as food spiced with chilies, cayenne and black mustard seed
  • Ice cream, iced drinks, cold and heavy desserts
  • Food that are too heavy, such as aged cheeses, meats
  • Foods that are light and dry, such as crackers, cold cereals and packaged snacks
  • Avoid left overs, frozen, canned or packaged foods and processed foods of all kinds
  • Packaged cookies, salty snacks, drink soft drinks, alcohol; Cool items will make the problems worse
Lifestyle
  • Do regular exercise to improve metabolism
  • Regular sleep routine (go to bed early before 10 pm and rise early before 6 am) to balance variable nature
  • Practice yoga and pranayama
  • A daily Abhyanga oil massage also helps
  • Sleep before Pitta time (10 pm to 2 am)
Breathing
  • Deeper breathing helps wake up body metabolism; Breathing becomes shallow if Kapha is out-of-balance
  • Deep breathing helps
  • Deep breathing helps
Breakfast
  • Cooked apple or pear with cooked prunes and figs
  • Cooked apple or pear with cooked prunes and figs
  • Cooked apple or pear with cooked prunes and figs

 

– Venu

4 Responses to “Weight management through Ayurveda”

  1. Sanjai Athi Says:

    Dear Venu,
    Yes. This is all about “you”. Knowing the dosha, its characteristics and recommended lifestyle was excellent. My body type is Vatta. Meditation, Pranayama and most importantly Knowledge under Guru’s guidance helped me a lot in balancing my lifestyle. It is so true that the Vatta body type tends to be thin. It is also true that overuse of the mind on not so significant things was something familiar to me :). Thanks for a wonderful article. It is very informative and well presented.
    Thanks
    Sanjai

  2. Sriram Says:

    Dear Venu,
    A very nice article. You have given a very detailed information in the table. We should have the right food(sattwic) at the right time(breakfast,lunch and dinenr) with the right practices(breathing, meditation and knowledge). Thank you Venu for writing this article

    Thanking you,
    Sriram

  3. Anuradha Says:

    Thank you Venu for very informative article. After reading this article I found out reasons for my weight gain. I belong to Vata and always skip my meals. It is a wonderful article.

  4. Raghu Says:

    Dear Venu,
    It is a wonderful article,I am looking myself as a vata person in this article,As you said ,Vata person uses the mind over and over,It is true,I am the example for that,After studying the knowledge of Bhagavad Gita,I changed the style of eating the food to become sattwic,This article helps me to identify myself and improve more about sattwic.
    Thank you for the great article with useful information.

    Thank you,
    Raghu.

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