In Ayurveda, being overweight is simply an indication of an imbalance in the body. From an Ayurvedic perspective, someone becomes overweight when the body's systems of digestion and food metabolization have become inefficient. Intake of too much of the wrong foods in combination with lack of exercise or other harmful habits bring the body further out of balance and obesity is often the result. In developing an effective weight-loss plan, an Ayurvedic physician examines all aspects of a person's life such as the current state of mind as well as eating habits. To lose weight, Ayurveda focuses on enhancing digestion, eliminating toxins and creating new habits that are supportive to an individual's particular body type.
The Digestive Fire
In Ayurveda, the body's metabolism is often referred to as the "agni" or "digestive fire." There are many foods that are indicated in Ayurveda to strengthen agni. The reason for consuming these foods is to speed up a sluggish metabolism, thereby enhancing weight loss. Foods said to be especially beneficial for stoking the digestive fire include ginger, papaya, mango, pineapple, bitter melons and bitter greens. Adding herbs and spices such as cumin, mustard seed, cayenne and black pepper in generous amounts to your food is also encouraged.
Periodic fasting is also considered an effective way to strengthen metabolism in Ayurveda. An Ayurvedic physician may recommend fasting one day per week, consuming only fruit and vegetable juices in combination with herbal tea and light soups.
Ayurveda refers to toxins and stagnation in the body as "ama." Ama is seen as the harmful byproducts of incomplete digestion and toxic emotions. According to Dr. Deepak Chopra, the accumulation of ama is strongly linked with obesity and disease. In order to reduce or eliminate ama, Dr. Chopra offers several suggestions. Include foods in your diet that are "sattivic," or easily digested, such as organic milk, almonds, sesame and honey. At each meal, try to include each of the six tastes: sweet, sour, astringent, bitter, salty and pungent. Eliminate alcohol and cigarettes, which only cause more ama to accumulate.
Dr. Chopra also stresses the importance of not eating when upset or angry because it disturbs proper digestion. He says to always sit down when you eat, and to only eat when you are hungry. Minimize your consumption of raw foods, which are harder for the body to digest.
There are specific Ayurvedic herbs that are believed to further enhance weight loss. Turmeric, triphala, gymnema and guggul are all supportive.
Exercise is an important tool in weight loss. An Ayurvedic physician may recommend a specific type of exercise that may be most beneficial to your body type. A daily morning walk in combination with a regular practice of yoga and meditation will help balance the body, mind and spirit. Including physical activities that you enjoy the most to help you reach your own personal weight-loss goals with greater ease.