It’s fair well established that not every weight loss plan works for everyone.
In fact, whether or not you can lose weight successfully depends on many factors, from your gender to your metabolism to your genes. But what if you were told that your body type and general frame of mind also play a role?
Well, that is the core principle of Ayurveda (pronounced Eye-Yur-Vayda and translated into “Science of Life”) medicine, a holistic wellness belief system that originated in ancient India nearly 3,000 years ago.
Recently, wellness gurus have revisited Ayurvedic texts to develop Ayurvedic diet principles, which supposedly uses Ayurvedic principles to aid in weight loss.
I wanted to try the diet. My late great mother who was born and raised in Mumbai, India always used spices like turmeric and ginger in her own kitchen. When she passed away last summer, I took on myself to dabble in some of these spices in my own kitchen.
Sometimes when I cook I feel like my mother is running my hands through. It̵
Given all of this information, I decided to try the Ayurvedic diet for myself.
OK … what exactly is the Ayurvedic diet?
IN THE The root of Ayurveda is the belief that everyone has a specific body type and energy that goes with it. This is called yours Dosha.
According to Kate O’Donnell Daily Ayurveda cooking for a calm, clear mind (which I used as a kind of bible for this experiment) the three doshas are vata, pitta and kapha.
Vatas are usually thin, slender creative types (oddly enough, they often suffer from cold hands and feet).
Kaphas tend to have wider bodies and strictly loyal tendencies, but sometimes suffer from foggy thoughts.
In the middle are Pittas, which are medium-sized and highly motivated.
Each is endowed with specific body features and associated energies that are supposedly synchronized with the five elements of nature including earth, water, fire, space and air.
It’s important to note that Ayurveda has no medical or scientific basis, which means that there is next to no actual evidence that any of this, you know, works at all. But it does encourage you to be aware of your daily eating habits, avoid processed foods, and be aware of your sanity and well-being, all of which have been linked to weight loss.
What Can You Eat On The Ayurvedic Diet?
WELL THAT depends on yours Dosha.
Ayurveda does not place harsh restrictions on your diet, but it does emphasize that you should better consider your choices and eat according to your diet Dosha.
Vatas, Pittas, and Kaphas are encouraged to eat fresh, cooked foods that are highly flavorful and easy to digest. Vatas are cold and dry Dosha, This is why they are encouraged to eat foods that are warmer, heartier, and richer in oil. Pittas are encouraged to eat drier, higher-carb foods. and kaphas tend to be smaller portions.
When trying to follow an Ayurvedic diet, identifying your dosha should be your first step. The Ayurvedic Experience offers a short three-minute quiz to help identify yours.
While the questions may seem silly (the quiz asks, among other things, whether your veins are visible or if your joints make a cracking noise when you walk), the ultimate goal is to personalize your health and weight loss plan, according to Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary, MD .., neurologist and author of the Weight Loss Manual The Prime Minister.
“The unique thing about Ayurveda is that we never give the same dietary recommendations for everyone,” says Chaudhary. “In other words, some people would be very bad with a raw diet. Some would behave badly on a vegan diet. Some would do badly quickly with a juice. Ayurveda takes your individual constitution into account before making a dietary recommendation. That way, it’s very personal. ”
Alan Marks, the CEO of vpk at Maharishi Ayurveda Products International, told me that people who follow the Ayurvedic diet are encouraged to make breakfast easy or skip it, make dinner easy, and make lunch their heaviest meal of the day to make. This is in conflict with most of the traditional weight loss recommendations that encourage people to lose weight in order to get most of their calories in the AM. Additionally, there seems to be some debate in the Ayurvedic community as to whether or not skipping breakfast is okay. But Marks stated that there are drawbacks to topping up calories in the evening, which is what most people do.
“When we eat our largest meal at dinner, we send two competing signals to our body,” says Marks, who has followed the Ayurvedic lifestyle for more than 35 years. “We say,“ When I go to bed I want to settle down as deeply as possible and have as much rest as possible, but I also want to digest food. ‘So people who eat a really big dinner don’t sleep that deeply. ”
Regardless of whether the Ayurvedic diet works in general, this particular takeaway is actually (somehow) backed by science: Eating too much too late has been linked to poorer sleep, and a number of studies have found that people who in the calories at night are more prone to metabolic problems that can lead to weight gain.
Knowing how the diet works, and how it might work for me, I set off for a week of cooking and eating Ayurvedic style.
At the beginning of the week, I took the Ayurvedic Experience online quiz to identify my Dosha. I’ve always been thin (in fact, my problem has always tried to do it gain Weight so as not to lose it), and I’m definitely a creative, so I was fixated on one right away vata, which meant I was encouraged to use spices like turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon when cooking.
(These spices have some well-known health benefits: turmeric, which is widely used in Indian cooking, has notable anti-inflammatory properties, and ginger is commonly used to treat nausea.)
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a light breakfast or a heavy lunch, so that day was kind of a write-off. I vowed to seriously start dieting tomorrow.
I wanted to keep the start of the work week simple and clean. So I started the day with my signature breakfast, steel cut oatmeal with blueberries that felt light enough. For lunch, the heaviest meal of the day, I went with oven-roasted chicken legs and some garlic-sautéed spinach; For dinner I made fried tilapia. Nothing special, but it was definitely a mood for me.
As a freelance writer, my life can get pretty unpredictable. When I had to go out the door to cover an event, the “mindfulness” aspect of the Ayurvedic diet collapsed. On the way to the subway that morning, I got a strawberry pastry from a bakery in Queens and that night in Manhattan, I treated myself to a lobster roll. Those were the only things I ate that day so it wasn’t good.
On Wednesday I wasn’t hungry and skipped breakfast. For lunch, I ordered Pad See Ew Thai noodles that came with spring rolls and a salad; For dinner, I grilled a cod fillet, following Mark’s advice. It was simple, easy, and tasty.
I am happy to have grown up with what I consider to be the best Indian food ever (thank you mom). But since she died, I haven’t eaten much Indian food just because it’s not the same as it was with mom.
Still, I got a little nostalgic with this experiment. So, according to O’Donnell’s book, which has a recipe for lentil daal, I called a local Indian place to get a plate of lasooni daal, also known as yellow lentils, covered in a garlic sauce and over a plate of fragrant, hearty Basmati rice to be served. According to the diet guidelines, it was actually pretty easy for dinner – at least lighter than the chicken slice of pizza I’d had for lunch.
I had a large bowl of oatmeal with blueberries for lunch just to see how that would help me as lunch instead of breakfast. I also had a Mango Lassi (a delicious, creamy Indian yogurt drink, as pictured above). For dinner I went lighter with tilapia, one of my favorites.
To my surprise, I was completely fine, even though this was my third day in a row that I skipped breakfast. So much for breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Even though I was out with my daughter all Saturday, I still managed to stick to the flow of the Ayurvedic diet a little. I skipped breakfast one more time and made lunch my biggest meal of the day (although my lunch, to be fair, was a burger which isn’t the healthiest option). For dinner, I made us fried cod with butter and garlic sauce … which she loved.
IF I Marks started the Ayurvedic diet and predicted that I would end up feeling more energetic and more alert. While this may just be a placebo effect (and while admittedly I didn’t do a great job sticking to the diet initially), I have to say that I felt both things – especially Wednesday through Saturday when I got my lunch made my first and heaviest meal of the day, followed by a lighter dinner.
Sure, I haven’t lost any weight, but because I’m already quite a lean guy, I didn’t try exactly what made the diet a success for me.
Marks says that “Ayurveyda honors people to eat the food they are comfortable with,” and for the most part, I felt that it really was. I always thought about what I ate and how it affected my body. If you are trying to lead an all around healthier lifestyle, I find that very important.
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