Mindful eating and the doshas: Understanding the weight loss benefits of the Ayurvedic diet

Fad diets are often made to take advantage of people who want to lose a few pounds the “easy” way. But if you want to improve your eating habits and lose weight naturally, consider learning about the Ayurvedic diet and mindful eating.

What is an Ayurvedic diet?

The Ayurvedic diet is based on the principles of Ayurvedic medicine, which focuses on balancing energies in your body to promote mental and physical well-being. Understanding your body type is crucial if you want to follow this particular diet.

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According to the principles of Ayurveda, there are five elements in the universe, namely, vayu (air), jala (water), akash (space), teja (fire) and prithvi (earth). The five elements form the three doshas or body types linked to the energy in your body.

People have characteristics of all three doshas, but one type is often dominant.

Vata (space and air)

Vata controls basic bodily functions like blood flow, breathing, digestion and the mind. If you have this dosha, you may be thin and energetic.

An unbalanced person with the vata dosha may suffer from anxiety, digestive issues, fatigue, insomnia or weight loss.

Pitta (fire and water)

Pitta is the dosha that controls your digestion, hormones and metabolism. If you have a pitta dosha, you may have a medium build.

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Once out of balance, you may experience digestive issues, heart disease, high blood pressure or inflammation.

Kapha (water and earth)

Kapha is the dosha that controls your immunity, muscle growth and strength. A person with a kapha dosha may have a stocky frame.

Once out of balance, you may suffer from allergies, depression, diabetes, fluid retention, lung problems or weight management issues.

Determining your dosha will help you figure out which foods to eat and which foods to avoid.

Doshas and foods that suit your body type

The Ayurvedic diet lists six major tastes with various beneficial effects: Astringent, bitter, pungent, salty, sour and sweet. If you prepare a meal with all six tastes, you can feel full longer.

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Eating foods with only some of these tastes can make you crave junk food and throw your body out of balance. Note that eating foods with pungent, bitter and astringent tastes can help counter sweet, sour and salty tastes. Doing this may prevent you from binge-eating sweet, sour and salty foods and avoid future health issues.

A vata-dominant person should manage their intake of cold and raw foods and too much caffeine. Eat more warm dishes that have salty, sweet and sour tastes.

To soothe your body, eat naturally sweet foods like honey, starchy vegetables, whole grains and fruits like bananas, mangoes and peaches.

Eat salty foods like salted fish to boost your appetite. Sour foods like berries, citrus fruits and pickled foods can promote digestive health.

If you are pitta-dominant, it is best to limit your intake of hot and spicy foods and avoid alcoholic and fermented foods. Consume more bitter, sweet and astringent foods.

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Bitter foods like broccoli, celery and leafy greens help with detoxification. Meanwhile, astringent foods like beans, green apples, lentils and pomegranate can help balance pitta.

A kapha-dominant person should limit their intake of salty or heavy foods and dairy. Eat more foods that have astringent, bitter and pungent tastes.

Pungent foods like garlic, ginger, mustard, onions and peppers promote sweating and help clear your sinuses.

Losing weight with the Ayurvedic diet

Further study is needed to understand the potential benefits of an Ayurvedic diet, but some findings prove that this eating plan offers certain benefits.

In a small nine-month study, volunteers followed the Ayurvedic diet while also observing other Ayurveda-based lifestyle practices, such as stress management and yoga. Findings showed that the volunteers averaged a weight loss of 13 pounds throughout the study.

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The Ayurvedic diet includes a lot of fresh whole foods and limits your intake of processed foods. You are also encouraged to boost your intake of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can help aid in proper weight management.

A separate study suggests that avoiding processed foods and consuming more whole foods without decreasing your calorie intake can boost post-meal calorie burning by at least 50 percent. (: A healthy lifestyle is the main key in managing (and even treating) hypertension, according to Ayurveda.)

Mindful eating and the Ayurvedic diet

Ayurveda emphasizes mindful eating that can reduce your calorie intake and make you feel full longer.

Increase your energy, naturally. I know that sounds simple, but I read recently that only 6 percent of Americans get the recommended five to six servings of vegetables daily. Make it a goal to add at least one more vegetable into your day and just watch your energy levels soar.

An Ayurvedic lifestyle also encourages other good habits, such as exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, spending more time outdoors and laughing more. It may seem strange, but studies have found that laughter can help reduce stress hormones like cortisol. Excess cortisol can increase your belly fat and weaken your immune system.

Promote weight loss naturally and improve your eating habits by following the Ayurvedic diet. Eat mindfully and prepare foods that complement your doshas to achieve a balanced mind and body.

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