Heavy foods are not ideal for those who struggle with weight control
Be Solid Not Fat
Those prone to obesity are generally blessed with a sturdy constitution. When balanced, this gives strength and stability to life. You can be solid without being fat if you take proper care of yourself.
You’ve learned the value of warm, heavy, unctuous comfort foods for balancing the qualities of winter. Sadly these dishes present a dilemma for those who tend to put on weight simply by looking at food. So how do we sort this out?
Lighten Your Diet
The simplest remedy is to remember the principle of Similars and Opposites. If heaviness is a problem, select lighter food. You can still balance the qualities of the season by taking warm food and drinks
Since digestion is strongest at noon, if you are attracted to heavy foods, have them in moderation at lunch. The same food taken in the morning or evening is much more likely to do damage by over-taxing digestive capacity. A mismatch of food intake and digestive capacity is the recipe for creating toxins. Such toxic products of improper digestion known as Ama are a major factor in creating disease.
Caution is particularly important for cheese, yogurt, sour cream and ice cream which are always risky to consume in the evening. Among the animal muscles, poultry is generally lighter than seafood. Red meats are the heaviest. Soups, and to some extent stews, are lighter than whole cuts of meat.
Enjoy Whole Grains
Whole grains like wheat, rice, oats and quinoa are nourishing and easily digested. They are balancing in winter for most people. Cook them with a little salt and healthy oil (ghee, olive oil or coconut oil) to counteract their inherent dryness. Avoid pastas, breads and other products containing white flour. Of the grains, rice is the heaviest. Enjoy it in moderation (up to 5 times per week).
Include Legumes and Ample Vegetables
Most vegetables and legumes (beans and lentils) are light. Have them freshly prepared in satisfying quantity. If they give you gas, choose mung beans, black lentils, red lentils or other small lentils. Cook them until soft or soupy. This is quick and easy using a pressure cooker. Add salt and oil infused with fresh ginger and other spices before eating to make them more digestible.
The Sustainable Weight Control Formula
Lightening the diet is the big first step to sustainable weight control. Here’s the whole formula in order of priority:
- Lighten your diet
- Nourish healthful eating habits
- Normalize digestion
- Reduce Ama, then follow seasonal detoxification procedures
- Maintain a health-promoting daily routine
- Fast on liquids one day each week
- Get picky about what you eat: beans, greens, whole grains, ripe fruit, lassi
- Balance your Doshas
You Can Do It
Does this seem like a tall order? Don’t worry. You’ll experience benefits at each step along the way. In the process, you’ll learn the value of Ayurveda. Moreover, you don’t need to do everything—and certainly not all at once. Don’t create stress for yourself or your loved ones by trying to change too much too soon.
Some steps may not apply. For example, if your Digestion and Elimination are already in good shape, then skip step 3. Similarly, if you don’t have significant symptoms from Ama, then you can move on to step 5 until the time comes around for spring or fall seasonal detoxification.
Unfortunately, digestive disorders are all too common. So I want to explore that with you soon. As background, it would be helpful for you to get comfortable with the Ayurvedic framework for understanding our individual differences (the Doshas). You’ve prepared by learning about the qualities of the seasons and times of day. Adding three new words to your vocabulary will be worthwhile: Vata, Pitta, Kapha. Stay tuned.
Coming Next: The Doshas
Marc Edwards, MD