It is well known that most people who go on diets ultimately regain the weight they lose; as numerous studies have found, in many cases, dieters also end up gaining additional weight because the calorie deprivation and nutritional imbalances have slowed their metabolism.
Diets don’t work because they also fail to address the emotional and spiritual aspects of our lives. Our emotions play an essential role in our eating habits. We learned early in life how putting something in our mouths soothed upset feelings. Whether it was a breast, a bottle, a pacifier, or a thumb, all of us were conditioned to associate our mouths with comfort. It’s not surprising that adults under stress resort to excessive eating, drinking or smoking.
The ancient healing system known as Ayurveda offers a holistic approach to weight that encompasses the mind, body, and spirit. Commit to these seven practices for one month, and you will begin to regain the balance, health, and happiness that you deserve.
1.) Eat for your dosha or mind-body type. There isn’t a single nutritional plan that is right for everyone because we all have different mind-body types, known is ayurvedic medicine as your dosha. Knowing your mind-body type is essential because it will give you useful information on how to reawaken your body’s inner intelligence. You will be able to identify which foods, activities, and lifestyle choices will have the greatest benefit for you.
2.) Practice meditation to manage your stress. Meditation awakens a healthy conversation between the mind and the body. By meditating regularly, you will become more attuned to what your body needs to nourish itself, and you will more easily let go of old patterns of eating that are no longer serving you. When you meditate, you activate the body’s “relaxation response” – your heart rate slows, your blood pressure decreases and you produce fewer stress hormones associated with weight gain, such as cortisol and adrenaline. Learn more about meditation here.
3.) Eat mindfully. Ayurveda teaches that how we eat is as important as what we eat. If you are not at your ideal weight, ask yourself how often you sit down in a settled, quiet atmosphere and take your time to eat food that delights your senses. The emotions we are experiencing when we eat will be ingested along with the meal. Don't eat when you are upset. Eat in a calm setting with the minimum of disturbances, pay attention to your food, not the television, newspaper, computer or road. But most of all, enjoy your meals. Don't deprive yourself of something you really love (unless for medical reasons). Be moderate and remember that if something makes you feel totally wonderful, it can't be completely bad for you!
4.) Honor your appetite, eating only when you are hungry. To increase your awareness around your body’s true hunger signals, use this technique: Whenever you are ready to eat, place your hand on your abdomen and bring your awareness to your stomach. Then ask yourself the question, “How hungry am I?” Think of your appetite as a fuel gauge with 0 representing empty and 10 denoting filled to capacity. Eat only when you reach a level 2 on the appetite gauge, and stop eating when you reach a 7. This technique will help you become more attuned to your body-mind and increase your awareness of the range of hunger you experience.
Tip: Drink ginger tea or warm water before each meal. This will improve your digestion and decrease the tendency to overeat.
5.) Eat the six tastes at every meal. The human brain sends hunger signal when it becomes aware of the need for energy and information. As we eat, our taste buds send messages to the brain informing it if we have ingested foods that provide the energy and information we need. The six tastes, known in Ayurveda as sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent, are the codes that inform our nervous systems of a meal’s nutritional content.
If we sample foods that correspond to each of these tastes throughout the day, our meals will provide a wide assortment of health-promoting nutrients. If we do not have all flavors available, the brain is not satisfied and continues to send signals to eat more. As a result, we take in too many calories but remain malnourished. Learn more about the six tastes here.
6.) Exercise regularly. As we discussed in the April issue of Agni, exercise can be an enjoyable activity when you choose activities that are suited to your mind-body type. Read the article on exercise here.
7.) Learn conscious communication skills to meet your emotional needs. When we aren’t getting our needs met, we’re likely to feel angry, frustrated, sad and are more likely to self-soothe with food. When we can communicate clearly, we’ll find our habits emotional soothing melting away. Learn a powerful 4-step conscious communication practice here.
The most important principle in achieving your ideal weight is to gauge your healthiest state by personal measures, not by comparing yourself to others. We are constantly bombarded with artificial messages from the media about what the human body should look like, and it’s easy to forget that there is no need to create a “new you” in order to solve a weight problem.
As long as you are not clinically obese (defined as being 25 percent above normal weight for your height), and your weight is not creating health problems for you, what you “should” weigh is really a subjective matter. When you feel healthy, energetic, vital, and comfortable with your body, you are at your ideal weight. You are the sole person who can determine this.
Want to learn more?
If you’d like to tune in to your body’s inner intelligence and – above all – celebrate the experience of eating, join us at the Perfect Weight Panchakarma programthis October.
At Perfect Weight, you will learn how to identify and understand your mind-body type and learn how to correct various imbalances, including weight problems, low energy, digestive disorders, anxiety, depression, and emotional upset. You’ll also enjoy a daily healing massage, detoxification therapy, meditation instruction, and yoga classes taught by our master certified instructors. To learn more, call 888.736.6893 or click here for Perfect Weight Panchakarma details.