Does your scale show a few pounds too much? Do you no longer feel good in your skin? You are certainly not alone in this, because being overweight is one of the most common health problems in western industrialized nations. Maybe you’ve already tried a diet or a slimming product, but soon lost motivation, had food cravings and quickly returned to your usual eating habits. But how can you reduce body weight healthily and successfully and keep it off?
Ayurveda can be a sustainable solution and a gentle, holistic concept for the weight problems of each individual. The focus is on the individual inner balance and a sustainable concept of life, which is not designed for quick, short-term success. Ayurveda therapy is primarily about using millennia of Far Eastern knowledge and integrating it into our modern, westernized lives. Not at any price, but with a realistic approach that fits into the individual’s current life. Happyness is the way and the goal, because a healthy metabolism produces joy of life!
How does overweight develop?
From the perspective of Ayurveda, obesity arises from eating and living habits that do not meet the natural individual needs of the body, mind and spirit. Basically, Ayurveda views obesity as an accumulation of Kapha, provoked by a weakened digestive fire (Agni), an uncontrolled mind and the resulting buildup of Ama (incompletely metabolized food) in the body. The reasons for the weakening of the digestive fire can be many, and when combined with unwholesome eating behaviors and improper lifestyle habits, lead to an increase in body weight. These may include:
- excessive consumption of heavy, sweet, cold and fatty foods
- incorrect food combinations and too short breaks between meals
- lack of physical exercise
- lack of mental challenge
- psychological stress or suppressed emotions
- continuous focus on pleasure
- daytime sleep
Obesity and the psyche
Disorders in eating behavior can often also have a psychological cause. Wrong or excessive eating and drinking can be a compensation of suppressed emotions, painful experiences or lack of human attention. Often stress, sadness, nervousness, boredom, unresolved psychomental stress or unfulfilled desires are the reason for uncontrolled eating. Sufferers want to feel better through the amount and type of food or vice versa – to numb themselves. Overall, obesity has a negative effect on people both psychomental and socially.
The consideration of the way of life, the social environment and the psychomental condition is just as important in the analysis in an Ayurvedic nutrition therapy as the determination of the constitution. It is worthwhile to look closely at whether there are life circumstances in the everyday life of the affected person that have a stressful effect and can be partly responsible for the increased weight. More pounds on the ribs are just also a “well” functioning protective mechanism. Weight reduction and cleansing techniques can enable deep self-knowledge and valuable detachment processes from old behavior patterns or addictions. Thus, weight loss can bring about not only the reduction of physical ballast, but also of mental ballast.
Overweight is type-dependent – everyone loses weight differently
Vata people are actually naturally slim built. However, under stress they can tend to compensate for the increased pressure by eating more sweets. The extra weight develops mainly in the front abdominal area. In Vata constitutions, the psychomental component often plays an overriding role and should definitely receive therapeutic attention. In addition, since Vata has an irregular and fragile digestive power, strict weight reduction with too long pauses between meals can put Vata people even more out of balance. Accordingly, gentle and holistic treatment is especially important for Vata.
Pitta constitutions have a fast metabolism with strong digestive power. Only under continuous stress or in combination with Vata or Kapha do weight problems arise in Pitta people. In men, it is mainly the body that gains weight and goes wide; in women, the excess pounds are usually on the chest, hips and thighs. A reduction diet with the goal of not only losing weight, but also deacidifying and regulating the metabolism, is excellent for Pitta and should preferably be carried out in the fall. Then Pitta can also ideally free itself from the accumulated heat in the organism, which has accumulated over the summer.
The Kapha constitution often tends towards higher weight, which is usually distributed quite harmoniously over the whole body. Kapha people tend to have a slow metabolism with weak digestive power and decreased excretion, and can usually adjust to less food without difficulty. Kapha is best to begin weight loss in the spring.
For Pitta and Vata dominance, even mild and short-term constitution-balancing adjustments are often sufficient to bring the increased weight back into the normal range. For the Kapha constitution, a reducing diet may remain current for a long time or a lifetime.
Warm, light and extractive – Ayurvedic diet for obesity
When treating obesity, it is advisable to first eliminate existing ama and strengthen the digestive fire agni. In addition, metabolism should be improved and excessive kapha reduced. This can be done well by foods with the property of “lekhana”, which means to scrape out or remove. This is done primarily by eating expulsive foods with the tastes of pungent, bitter and tart and the properties of light, dry, stimulating and heating. Hot water, honey, hot spices, as well as barley, for example, are well suited and have a lekhana effect on the organism. Dosed according to the individual constitution, the elements of water and earth, which are responsible for obesity, can be sustainably reduced. Nevertheless, for healthy digestion and building healthy body tissues, all ayurvedic six tastes should be eaten, but the previously mentioned ones should be eaten more.
Breakfast: In the morning only little and light food should be eaten. For example, one to two cups of hot ginger water and a little warm barley porridge with cinnamon are good.
Lunch: Legumes (e.g., mungdal) and rice are fine to eat at lunchtime, but half of the meal should consist of vegetables, some of which can be prepared as salads or raw vegetables. Bitter and spicy vegetables, as well as heating root vegetables such as carrots or radishes with metabolism-stimulating properties should be preferred.
Dinner: In the evening, it is advisable to take easily digestible food that does not block the body channels. Soups or stews with lots of vegetables are a good choice.
The general rule is to eat small portions, slowly, warmly, regularly and only when hungry, and to take long breaks from eating. If you do need a snack, you can drink Ayurvedic rice broth, for example, which satiates and satisfies the body without overloading it. Food should definitely taste good so that all levels of human existence are nourished. For this, there are many wonderful Ayurvedic recipes and, of course, one’s own creativity, with which one can prepare all beneficial foods deliciously.
As part of such an Ayurvedic diet plan, certain Ayurvedic herbs can be used as dietary supplements. Trikatu and Triphala, Barberry, Guduchi as well as various Guggulus have proved to be particularly useful. However, they should only be used after consultation with an experienced therapist.
Losing weight with Ayurveda also requires an examination of oneself, one’s previous diet and personal circumstances. On the way to a feel-good weight, each Dosha requires a type-appropriate selection and combination of foods and an individual change in lifestyle. Through professional recommendations, a realistic prognosis and the best possible type-related motivation, the person concerned can achieve his or her goals with joy and lasting success.