“My friend and I follow the same diet. Yet I have hardly lost any weight, while she is losing weight rapidly” complained Vidya to her uncle who was an Ayurvedic physician from Kerala. He explained to her that according to Ayurveda, each of us has unique metabolism- some people can eat heartily and not gain weight at all while others start putting on weight even though they are eating the same amount of food. Our metabolism is determined by which of the three doshas- or Life Forces- is predominant in a person. The three doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha, and they are balanced in a unique proportion in each individual.
Ayurveda has several helpful tips to fight obesity, but generally speaking obesity must be tackled on a personal level after determining whether your weight gain is caused by an imbalance of the Vata, Pitta or Kapha dosha. Kerala, often referred to as the home of Ayurveda has several legendary families of vaidyas who are renowned for their expertise in treating obesity by chalking out a personalized treatment protocol and diet.
Characteristics and Treatment
Obesity, the most common nutritional disorder among the affluent, is a condition of the body, characterized by over-accumulation of fat under the skin and around certain internal organs. It can be accompanied by low sex drive, poor sexual performance, unpleasant body odour and excessive sweating. Other common problems associated with obesity are breathlessness on exertion, difficulty in breathing, excessive hunger, excessive thirst, difficulty in walking, tiredness, general debility, loss of vitality and mental confusion.
In Ayurveda strategies for weight loss are designed for each person after a thorough assessment an individual’s mind, body, and the soul. The specific remedy or ayurvedic medicines are decided based on the dosha of the person. If you are diagnosed as Vata type, then purification procedures for Vata like cleansing enemas will be carried out. After this, you may be subjected to mild oil application and fomentation. External oil application is carried out with oil containing hot herbs like calamus, ginger and mustard. External fomentation can be done by various methods, like whole-body fomentation via a steam box. After fomentation, oil enemas will be given followed by cleansing enemas. The latter usually contains a decoction of dasamoola, honey, salt, some specific herbs and water. On the other hand, if you are diagnosed as kapha type, then external massage with powders of agaru, calamus, ginger or mustard will be done. These substances help to remove excess fat deposited under the skin. They also help to restore the elasticity to the skin and improve complexion.
Besides massages and enemas, a personalized diet will also be prescribed. Some basic guidelines include the use of only honey collected directly from honeycombs as a sweetener and the use of sesame or mustard oil as well as spices like turmeric, black pepper, ginger and rock-salt for cooking.
The use of vegetables with astringent, bitter and pungent tastes is recommended. Fasting for one to two days a week or partial fasting, and drinking fruit juices and warm water with honey will also be helpful. It is advisable to avoid eating substances prepared with refined wheat flour like white bread, cakes and pastries and also to abstain from dairy products and sweets prepared from milk and sugar. Cold drinks, alcohol, deep fried foods and a non-vegetarian diet are best avoided too.
One should always remember that there are no shortcuts to reduce obesity. Reducing weight requires understanding, will power, patience and a desire to work at it, diligently and faithfully. Never skip a meal. Hunger can be controlled by taking three small meals a day. Pure protein or meat diets, which are the new fad, will help in losing weight rapidly but it is bound to tax the organs, especially the kidneys. The best diet in the long run is the one that is nutritionally balanced which includes vegetables as well, especially raw vegetables and fruits. This is where Ayurved has an edge- it does not treat obesity, it treats a person who is obese, by respecting each individual’s uniqueness and creating customized approach to maintain that uniqueness.