6 Ayurvedic Tips to Maintain a Healthy Weight—For Good
As an Ayurvedic practitioner, a common question I receive from clients is how to maintain a healthy weight. Since our modern cultural norms don’t always encourage a healthy relationship with food or body image, I find that these clients are often asking a much bigger question:
The good news is that, with Ayurveda, the answers to both questions are the same.
Every body is different but we all have a natural, healthy weight that is unique to each one of us. Accumulation of too much fat beyond what is natural signifies that ama, or toxins, are accumulating in the digestive tract and spreading throughout the body into the fatty tissues.
The external symptom is weight gain, often accompanied by lethargy and grogginess. But internally, toxins that are supposed to leave the body through the channels of elimination are staying put and accumulating past a place of health and balance.
Step Back into Balance
Plenty of companies selling weight-loss programs will tell you that losing weight will change your life, but those changes will be short-lived if you go back to the same eating habits you had before.
And about those supposed quick-fix weight loss plans? Well, rapid weight loss from surgery or drugs will only create greater imbalance in your body, taking you farther away from the natural state of health with which you are meant to live.
This is because Ayurveda is not just another diet—this ancient science exists to help you reconnect to your natural balance on all levels of being.
When people adopt an Ayurvedic lifestyle, they often find that excess weight disappears without the effort they have put into traditional diet regimens in the past. And the weight stays off for good because the old patterns of eating and living are replaced with new, health-promoting habits and routines.
Try these six simple Ayurvedic tips for achieving—and keeping—your healthy weight.
Six Ayurvedic Tips to Maintain Healthy Weight
Care for your agni.
Agni, our digestive fire, is the cornerstone for understanding weight gain and loss, as well as overall health. When agni is strong, we can effectively process the nutrients from our food and get rid of ama through the four channels of elimination (sweat, urine, tears, and feces).
Take time to learn about your agni by keeping a daily digestive journal. Track what you eat, what your eating environment is like (In front of the television? In a loud environment?), and how your channels of elimination respond.
Note that if your agni is weak, you may not notice the effect of a meal for a few days and you may have come to accept a reduced sense of well-being. Tune in and listen to your body. It is full of clues about your health.
Eat for balance.
Sattva is a Sanskrit term that means balance, harmony, and light. These qualities are present in nature, in us, and in the foods we eat. Sattvic foods are unprocessed, fresh, filled with prana, easily digested, and deeply nourishing. When you eat more sattvic foods, you will strengthen your agni. As a result, you will feel better and it will be easier to lose excess weight.
Add the spice of life.
Spices such as fennel, ginger, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, and cardamom are commonly used in Ayurvedic cooking not only for their delicious taste, but to support healthy digestion. Try incorporating different digestive spices into your meals on a daily basis and feel the difference they make.
Need a boost for your digestion? Try this simple ginger appetizer: Combine ¼ teaspoon fresh, grated ginger with 2–3 drops of lime juice and a pinch of mineral salt. Chew well about 10 minutes before eating to prepare the body for the meal to come.
Eat three meals a day.
To maintain strong agni, we have to allow it to rest and rejuvenate. Constantly eating, whether it’s many small meals or snacks between meals, overwhelms our digestive system with too much work. Get back to balance by eating three balanced meals at the same time each day. Keep at least three hours, but ideally four to six hours, between meals to allow your body to fully digest what you ate previously.
Chew on this.
In our fast-paced lives it’s tempting to think we are saving time by gulping down a meal while driving. But when we eat while distracted—by work, television, or rushing to the next meeting—we forget the most important part of digestion: chewing.
When we don’t chew, our stomach and intestines cannot process the food we take in. What should have been nutrients becomes ama. Take 15 minutes to sit down with each meal and chew each bite at least 20 times, or until it turns to liquid.
Eat until your first burp.
If you don’t know when to stop eating, you won’t stop eating. The good news is that your body has a built-in way to tell you when you’ve consumed enough food—your first burp!
Pay attention at your meals and you’ll begin to notice this signal from your body telling you when your stomach is full. This signal is much clearer if you avoid drinking carbonated beverages or excess liquid with your meal.
Starting with these simple changes can bring about remarkable results and help you not only lose excess weight but also bring a more peaceful and loving sense of connection to your body and the food you eat.