Weight Management – The Ayurvedic View
Maharishi Ayurveda offers a comprehensive weight management program that can not only help you achieve a balanced weight but results in side benefits such as more stamina, better functioning body and youthful appearance. The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians, suggest that people balance their weight by first determining their Ayurvedic mind-body constitutions and existing imbalances. Please ask your physician for the best recommendations for you and your condition.
Kapha-Related Weight Imbalance
“The first type of overweight imbalance is due to a lack of digestive fire (low agni) and lack of metabolism. These individuals, even though they may eat very small amounts of food, tend to gain weight. This type of person seems to gain weight just by being around food. Two things are occurring with this type of imbalance; digestive impurities are being created and fat tissue is accumulating in the body. Also, the formation of bone tissue is slowed down due to increase of fat tissue. This is a very common weight problem and the solution is to follow an ama burning program,” says The Council.
You can enhance the elimination of ama by taking certain teas. Ask your physician for a recommendation. Individuals on the ama burning diet generally should participate in an exercise program for 30 minutes each day: brisk walking or other activities such as dancing, swimming or weight training. Exercise helps to burn ama and increases circulation and metabolism. For the diet, eat foods that reduce kapha, favoring astringent, bitter, and pungent tastes and reducing salty, sweet, and sour foods. There are aromas that may help as well. Aromas are generally used at night to stimulate the metabolism and a morning massage called garshan can be done with silk gloves to help stimulate digestion or agni and increase circulation. Once a week, preferably on the weekends, a gentle laxative therapy is sometimes recommended. This helps to further eliminate toxins.
Pitta-Related Weight Imbalance
The second type of overweight imbalance occurs when a person has long-term ama build-up and the channels around the stomach area have been clogged, creating too much heat in the body. Here, the appetite may be very high and the individual may experience a lot of thirst. The person may also experience heartburn or other pitta aggravated imbalances, such as irritability and impatience.
Sometimes, instead of specific teas, an herbalized water consisting of small amounts of fenugreek, coriander, licorice and fennel can be taken during the day. The herbalized water assists the thermogenic process: fenugreek burns fat and helps absorption, coriander eliminates toxins, licorice is cooling and fennel helps with digestion.
To make the water, boil 1 quart of water and pour into a thermos. Add 2 pinches ground fenugreek, 2 pinches licorice root, 1/4 teaspoon whole coriander seeds, and 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds. Drink throughout the day.
This program calls for moderate exercise, about 30 minutes 3-4 times a week. It is recommended that this type of person choose his or her exercise from the following: brisk walking, yoga, swimming, and light weight training. Eat lots of sweet juicy fruits. These individuals should be on a pitta-pacifying diet, and include squash, warm milk, and homemade buttermilk in their diet. Stewed prunes and figs can be eaten on the weekends to provide a gentle laxative therapy without disturbing pitta. A self-massage called “abhyanga”, using specific herbalized oils can help to further balance pitta. The Council sometimes recommends using a spice mixture of 1 part turmeric, 2 parts cumin, 3 parts coriander, and four parts fennel to be cooked with vegetables or legumes.
Beating Back Stress
Common to both imbalances is overeating due to emotional stress. This can manifest as eating when you are not hungry or looking for something sweet to pacify a bad mood. If this is the case, The Council recommends taking certain herbal formulations to uplift to the emotions or reduce anxiety, which can lead to overeating. Ask your physician about recipes that help reduce sugar cravings. Practicing stress reducing techniques such as Transcendental Meditation®, or doing yoga asanas is also effective. Receiving massage therapy once a week, regular exercise and surrounding yourself with positive people are other practical tips mentioned by The Council to overcome emotional overeating.
Maharishi Ayurveda also generally recommends avoiding commercial protein powder drinks. Instead eat live protein filled with the intelligence of nature from almonds (no more than 10 per day), walnuts, legumes, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and organic milk products.
The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians suggests the following very practical, general recommendations regarding weight management:
- Limit fat intake to 2 teaspoons of Ghee or olive oil per day (1 teaspoon at lunch and 1 teaspoon at dinner).
- For lunch and dinner, eat 50% vegetables, 20% power grains such as quinoa, whole barley, oats, millet, or amaranth, and 30% protein, such as lentils, paneer, and nuts.
- Two (2) cups of hot or warm milk a day are recommended, and a small cup of lassi at lunch to help with vitamin B-12 if you are a vegetarian and to help balance Sadhaka Pitta.
- Barley water or kanji water is recommended during the day to help cleanse the system, give energy, and help with hunger.
- Avoid cold beverages, aged cheese, potatoes, yeasted breads, butter, cookies, cakes, ice cream, chocolates, deep fried foods, and cream sauces and reduce your intake of rice.
- For breakfast, eat stewed apples and/or pears.
- Do not skip meals.
- Eat your largest meal at lunch and have a smaller dinner eaten before 7 p.m. Do not eat anything after 8 p.m.
This Ayurvedic approach gets to the root of the problem by balancing fat and carbohydrate metabolism to help your body break down your stores of fat, so you’ll have more energy; slow down the digestion of carbohydrates, so you don’t crave sweets and overeat; and maintain a good appetite, and so you absorb the nutrients you need to stay healthy and balanced.
Patience is also one of the key factors that should be included in this program. This is not a fast method to shed pounds but a holistic approach from which you will see satisfying results gradually. Once the digestive fire is strong and the metabolic processes are balanced, then you can enjoy a little more flexibility with your diet.
DISCLAIMER: These results may not be typical. Results with products may vary from individual to individual. Information in this article is presented for the sole purpose of imparting education on Ayurveda and neither the information nor the product is intended to diagnose, treat, mitigate, cure or prevent any disease. If you have a medical condition, or are pregnant or lactating, please consult a health professional. Before making changes to your diet or routine, it is recommended that you speak with your physician.