According to Ayurveda, our constitution is governed by three bodily intelligences called doshas: vata, pitta and kapha. Among these three bodily intelligences, it is usually an imbalance with the kapha dosha that is responsible for weight gain.
To lose excess body fat, we recommend diet and lifestyle practices that reduce kapha in our bodies. Kapha is essential for strength, stability, protection and immunity, however it is important to avoid excess kapha as it can quickly lead to weight gain.
Causes of kapha imbalance
- Too much sleeping, too little exercise
- Too many heavy, cold, sweet and/or salty foods
- Eating foods that reduce our digestive power (such as processed foods)
- Eating at inappropriate times of the day
Poor diet is a primary cause of accumulation of toxins in our tissues, which is turns leads to production of fat cells.
Diet principles to reduce kapha
- Eat small quantities of food more often throughout the day rather than 2-3 large meals.
- Enjoy one main meal a day, preferably at lunchtime when digestion is strong. Our internal digestive fire is strongest when the fire in the sky – the sun – is strongest, that is in the middle of the day.
- Include warm soupy meals in your diet often, as they are very easy to digest. A good staple meal is kitchari (see recipe).
- Aim for around 30% of your daily intake to come from vegetarian protein source, or a small amount of white meat. Avoid red meat where possible. Protein keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
- Your diet should have around 20% of wholegrains that could include porridges made from a variety of grains such as buckwheat, millet, quinoa, corn, spelt etc. Eat grains at breakfast and lunchtime when digestion is strongest. Avoid processed grains and cereals and try to keep bread to a minimum.
- Fruits and vegetables should be around 50% of the food you eat. Include as much variety as you can and don’t overly rely on sweet vegetables and fruit.
- Exclude all processed foods from your diet. They often contain high amounts of sugar and salt which is not good for weight loss, or indeed any healthy eating regime.
- Salt is an important part of a healthy diet; however, it should come from a small amount added to our meals. The best forms of slat to eat are black salt (found at our clinic shop or a good ayurvedic Indian grocer), or Himalayan pink salt (widely available in health stores and some supermarkets).
- A healthy weight loss diet should include a moderate amount of spices (all spices). Begin experimenting with traditional ayurvedic spices in your cooking – including turmeric, ginger, fennel, ajwain, fenugreek, cloves, cardamom, cumin etc.
- Kapha is heavy, so when managing your weight, you will want to limit heavy foods. Some dairy foods can be quite ‘heavy’ such as cold milk (only drink warmed unhomogenised cow’s milk), yoghurt (eat less than ½ cup per day), ice cream, custard, cream (best to avoid these entirely).
- Avoid all types of chilled drinks as they may kill digestive fire immediately. The best drinks to have are warm herbal teas and warm filtered water.
- Avoid alcohol and stimulants like coffee.
- Avoid sugar and artificial sweeteners as they are heavy to digest and the sweet taste increases kapha. If you need to use a sweetener, use a little bit of honey. But make sure the honey is not heated. Heated honey creates ‘ama’ or toxins in tissue channels.
- Include salads in your diet as they are light and dry, the opposite of kapha. The best time to include salads is at lunchtime when digestion is strongest.
- Drink warm water with a small amount of lemon juice and black salt in the morning.
- Exercise frequently. A minimum of 45 minutes/day of physical activity is essential. Walking, yoga or jogging are good forms of exercise.
ADetox for weight loss
Ayurvedic detox (panchakarma) is very beneficial for accelerating weight loss. It gives your digestion a chance to rest, while it clears the toxins from your system. It presses the ‘reset’ button on your metabolism and supports your body to find a healthy balance. Many of our patients struggling with overweight have experienced remarkable benefits in losing a huge amount of unwanted body fat in a very small time with our detox program.
This article is intended for education and awareness. Ayurvedic treatment and advice is always personalised. We recommend you make an appointment with one of our experienced ayurvedic doctors in either of our clinics – Brisbane or the Gold Coast – and find a holistic treatment for your weight loss program.