Most of us think we should be leaner. A few of you have the opposite issue and are working on bulking up. No one is immune to worry about weight.

Most of us think we should be leaner. A few of you have the opposite issue and are working on bulking up. No one is immune to worry about weight.

In general Ayurveda doesn’t care what your weight is if everything is working properly (but it doesn’t take much to have weight issues to make us feel less vigorous). Much of what Ayurveda says about what we would call ‘the issue of weight’ is actually about building weight and  strength. 2000 years ago people were more likely to be over-active and undernourished than us moderns. But as Classical Ayurveda (what was written down) primarily addressed the courtly and warrior classes there is also knowledge about how to avoid excess heaviness. The rich have always suffered from overly rich food, more psychological than physical stresses, and laxity in daily routine (it’s hard to be a lazy serf!).

 

5 Things to do if you want to (healthily) gain weight (don’t do these things if you want to lose!):

1.     Sleep in the afternoon, especially after eating. Napping increases bulk (ie Kapha) — generally over-sleeping increases weight.

2.     Drink liquids after you eat: liquid dilutes your digestive fire (agni) and slows down the digestion process.

3.     Eat heavier, sweeter, starchier, more nourishing foods. This is the diet of a person who does a lot of physical activity and is trying to build tissues and especially muscles. Foods to prioritize:

- meat (especially chicken, fish, beef, and pork)

- wheat products, and other refined grains

- Urad dhal: a tasty small black bean used in many south Indian snacks like idly and dosa, also used in the light bean soup called dahl. Also known for making your bosom bigger.

- raisins: considered good for muscle development.

(note: many of these food requirements are also aphrodisiac as healthy weight is required to be fertile and sexual).

4.     Drink beer. Actually the texts say drink sura or varuni. Both are sweet beverages said to be like beer (perhaps bubbly) made of rice, herbs, and dates or jaggary. Unlike the sharp, heating, & light drinks like vodka or whisky which in small doses increase digestion and assimilation sweet drinks are said to increase fat weight.

5.     Don’t exercise so actively — or even move around very much. If you are a thin fidgety person and you want to build weight channel your kinetic energy into strength building exercise like weight lifting, Iyengar - type Yoga or other vata calming activity.


7 Things to do if you want to (healthily) lose weight:

1.     Make Honey your main sweetener. Get rid of all other sweeteners (especially artificial!) and use a dab of honey when you need a bit of sweet. Honey is light and a bit astringent so very good for countering overweight conditions. Just remember never to heat your honey—it becomes a poison over 125 degrees or so.

2.      Stop consuming anything cold. This especially applies to iced beverages but also any other cold food.

3.     Drink hot water instead.  Ginger and tumeric tea will be especially helpful. But don’t drink too much liquid: pay attention to your thirst and don’t overdo it. Most overweight people are carrying a lot of water weight and swelling due to being incapable of digesting all the liquid they consume to dampen their hunger.

4.     Have more sex. I know a Vaidya who insists on patients having sex when working on weight loss. This may seem like putting the cart before the horse (ie I’ll have more sex after I lose weight) but sex is the best exercise for losing weight so get started today!

5.     Don’t snack. Sit down at a table and eat as much healthy, delicious food as you need to feel satisfied, then have a pinch of fennel seeds (try an unsweetened mukvas from an Indian store) and don’t put another thing into your mouth until the next meal 3-6 hours later. It is important not to eat any less than 3 hours before bed too.

6.     Wake up earlier—take advantage of the active Vata time of the early morning and get up at 6 am or earlier.

7.     Don’t eat breakfast. When you do get hungry have a light snack of tea and toast with ghee. Make lunch time your largest meal of the day & use the agni or fire of midday to help metabolize your meal quickly and efficiently.

indian figures.jpg


When you make sure that every meal, and even snacks, include all 6 tastes you know your meal will satisfy!. Sweet, salty. spicy, bitter, astringent and sour are all present in this popcorn seasoning. This panoply of  flavors signals to your body that is it being well nourished and you are less likely to have cravings later. Also these spices make sure that your body assimilates the corn fully. Keep a jar of it by your stove and use a light dusting to jazz up sandwiches, salad or soup.

popcorn.jpg

These quantities are rough—so adjust to your taste!

In a hot fry pan add spices in this order, toasting each a few seconds before adding the next. I like to toast the spices in whole form and then grind them all together.

  • 1 tsp black pepper corn
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ajwain
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp hing

When they have all released their fragrances grind them in a mortar and pestle or food processor and add:

  • 1 tsp amchur powder (dried green mango—you might also try ground pomegranate seeds or sumac?)
  • 1 tsp unrefined sugar
  • 1 tsp saindouv or Himalayan salt

Sprinkle over popcorn freshly popped in ghee!


    Fever is the most widely discussed illness in Ayurvedic texts. And it's been in the news a lot lately too.

    saturday night fever

    saturday night fever

    Fever is used as the model for understanding other illnesses. It is considered the King of all Disease as apparently we come into the world with fever and we exit the world with fever. Everyone gets it & every part of the being is affected: body, senses, mind.

    Treating fever correctly will ensure that your body comes out of the experience stronger, recovers faster, and there is no reoccurrence later.

    The story of Fever goes something like this: all three doshas get increased, Vata kidnaps Agni carrying it off to the extremities where it becomes blocked due to accumulated Kapha or sticky Aama, while Pitta goes around burning everything up.

    You know you have Fever if:
    1) Your ability to understand is impaired: that whacked-out feeling and odd perceptions, taste in the mouth etc. I alway know I am in danger of fever when my mind is repeating some phrase or tune over and over to me. Making good decisions is hard for both the doctor and the patient. Often in am ill begotten attempt to make ourselves feel better we will try crazy things. Like drinking a gallon of orange juice. This is a bad idea.
    2) Your whole body is affected at the same time. Achy muscles, sore throat, weak pinkie finger....
    3) You feel weak, easily tired and depleted. Depletion of everything happens quickly. Weight loss, lack of strength, & dry, peeling skin are common.                                           4) Note there is nothing about increased temperature. That happens too-- but having an increased temperature can happen from other causes (ie: running from a tiger or being put on the spot in a large group of people). You have to have these other symptoms to qualify.

    If that is a bit confusing there is all you need to know:

    • Agni is not in your belly where it belongs. You can not digest anything. If you eat - the food you eat will rot. So don't eat. It won't kill you - up to 6 days fasting is safe for most people-- even children.
    • Drink only hot boiled water or teas to help reignite the digestion and metabolise accumulated wastes. Stick to Bitter (cooling) herbs for tea: dhamasa, guduchi, musta, dry ginger, sandalwood, usheer/khus/vetiver. At home cumin, coriander  fennel tea is more manageable.
    • Mahasudarshan is a formula that can be used in all fevers.
    • Give me a call and we can do a Skype or Google video conference so that you can get the proper treatment (i can send or drop off appropriate herbs for you)!
    • Stay warm. Unless dangerously hot - forcing the fever down will be counter productive in the long run and reoccurrence is likely.
    • If you are weak and very tired some Peya or light rice broth can be taken.  Boil for 30 min: 1 T rice, 1 C water, pinch of salt, squeeze of lemon, cumin, coriander.
    • Keep up treatment until the following symptoms are gone: body aches, sweats, shivers, tiredness, and mind and senses are working properly again
    • After a Fever is broken slowly rebuild the digestion by staying on light foods (veg or meat broth is good) and increase amount and richness slowly.

    Do not do: 

    • Abhyanga / oil massage (It will increase aama)
    • Irregular diet
    • Anything that increases heat (except hot water)
    • Anything cold specially cold liquids
    • Strength-reducing activities: exercise, sex, any exertion or strain on the senses or emotions, saunas, bathing