Ayurvedic Diet for Weight Loss: How it Works and How to Try It
What Is Ayurveda
Ayurveda is a type of medicine that has been used in India for over 5,000 years. One of the main focuses of Ayurveda is striving for optimal health and preventing illnesses through beneficial lifestyle choices and practices such as diet, yoga, meditation, and massage. In terms of treatments, herbal remedies are also used.
Ayurveda is a holistic medicinal practice which means that the body and mind are thought to be one and treated as a whole. Lifestyle changes are recommended to prevent future illnesses and improve health.
Five elements of nature are used in Ayurveda—space, fire, air, earth, and water. These elements combine inside the body and are known as doshas. The three doshas are Pitta, Vatta, and Kapha and are believed to relate to nature’s elements and correspond to particular bodily functions. The idea of Ayurveda is to have all three doshas in balance to obtain the most healthy state.
Ayurveda teaches that a person's doshas are a part of them from conception and influence their physical body and personality. While most people are thought to be a combination of the three doshas, usually there is one dosha that is more pronounced than the others for each person.
The Three Doshas
- Pitta: fire and water are Pitta elements and correspond to intelligence, metabolism, and digestion. People mostly made of this type have muscular frames and are medium-sized.
- Vatta: Air and space are the elements of Vatta and correspond with the heartbeat, breath, joint movement, anxiety, fear, pain, and the nervous system. People mostly made up of this type are thin and more petite.
- Kapha: earth and water are the elements of Kapha and correspond with the immune system, calmness, and the physical body structure. People from this dosha are larger and fully developed.
Illnesses and physical or emotional problems arise when your doshas are not in balance. According to practitioners, Ayurveda uses diet, herbs, physical activity such as yoga, meditation, and other methods to rebalance the doshas and cure illness.
Ayurvedic Diet for Weight Loss
The nutritional component of Ayurveda has been used for thousands of years. As with the rest of this traditional practice, the diet is used to balance the doshas. The ayurvedic diet is unique because it is personalized for each individual based on their body type and doshas. The goal behind the ayurvedic diet is to improve the health of the body and mind as a holistic unit.
Diet Principles of Ayurveda
- Limit red meat, processed foods, and artificial sweeteners.
- Consume plenty of whole foods.
- Pitta focuses on cooling and energizing foods. Avoid using many spices, seeds, or nuts.
- Vatta focuses on warm moist foods that are grounding. Avoid eating many bitter plants or herbs, raw produce, or dried fruit.
- Kapha focuses on fresh fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Avoid fatty, heavy foods, nuts, seeds, and oils.
A foundation of any healthy diet or weight loss diet is a focus on whole foods. The ayurvedic diet encourages the consumption of mainly whole foods and avoiding processed foods. Processed foods typically have healthy components such as fiber stripped from them and are deficient in things like vitamins and minerals. Eating large amounts of processed food leads to weight gain and illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and more.
Although no genuinely scientific evidence eating according to your unique dosha will help you lose weight, adopting the ayurvedic diet principles in terms of focusing on nutrient-dense whole, minimally processed foods is an excellent choice for a weight loss diet.
Another beneficial aspect of the ayurvedic diet is a focus on mindfulness. Mindfulness during meals helps to get more in tune with your body’s hunger and fullness cues, preventing us from overeating. Being mindful of your hunger can also prevent you from getting so hungry that you will raid the fridge and eat less desirable options.
To practice mindfulness while eating, try to eliminate distractions such as your phone or the television and focus on the smell, look, texture, and taste of your food. Eat slowly and try to enjoy your meal. You'll come away feeling more satisfied and less hungry for unhealthy foods later in the day.
The Drawbacks of the Ayurvedic Diet for Weight Loss
If you plan to follow an ayurvedic diet based on your dosha type, the foods you should avoid and consume can become overwhelming and overcomplicated. There are several rules regarding how to eat based on the imbalances allegedly causing your weight gain. Fluctuations in how many times per day you should eat and how much you should eat at each meal are also part of the Ayurvedic diet. What's more, there will be different foods to eat or avoid during each season which can add to the diet’s complexity and make eating a drag that quickly overtakes your life.
Any diet that becomes a burden like this is unlikely to be followed for the long term, which can mean your weight will rebound, leaving you worse off than you were before starting a diet.
Another drawback to the ayurvedic diet for weight loss is that depending on your supposed imbalance and dosha type, certain types of otherwise healthy foods and entire food groups can be eliminated. There is little scientific evidence that this is necessary and can cause your diet to become so restrictive that it feels too complicated, and you stop the diet.
If this happens with you after trying the ayurvedic diet, instead of completely giving up, stick to the main principles of eating healthy whole foods and avoiding overly processed foods combined with a regular exercise routine.
DISCLAIMER: The content of this article is for informational purposes only, and although Reshape.Me strives to keep the information up to date and correct, it does not replace the advice of a healthcare practitioner. Be sure to consult a licensed medical professional if you require personalized support that may affect your health. Any reliance on this information is therefore strictly at your own risk.