Ayurveda — Ayur meaning “life” and Veda “knowledge” — is a 5000-year-old medical system created by the Rishis, or wise men of ancient India. Ayurveda isn’t just about mixing herbs, it gives detailed instructions on how to treat the body, improve the mind, and find balance in our changing environment.
Shaping your lifestyle to find harmony is the key, and ayurvedic doctors help patients to do just that. Ayurvedic doctors like John Douillard have an interesting take on weight loss. If you are over or under weight – it means you’re unbalanced. They teach ways to be balanced in every facet of your life, including food, mental well-being, sleep, exercise, and weathering the changing seasons. Here’s are just a few tips I’ve learned from working with Ayurvedic doctors that have helped me.
Sip Hot Water
During my first trip to France, I saw the head mistress sipping hot water with lemon while I munched on a large chocolate bar! Little did I know that sipping hot water is an old ayurvedic way to rebalance the body and soothe your digestion. Add a slice of lemon to your water — I call lemon ayurvedic “draino”, as it seems to smooth out everything in your pipes. Sip 3 to 4 cups of hot water daily with a squeeze of fresh lemon to feel fuller and beat sugar cravings. Don’t have lemon on hand? Try a slice of lime.
Lunch is the Biggest Meal of the Day
“In Ayurveda (as well as most traditional cultures) supper was considered a “supplemental” or “soup-like” meal — never the main meal. The main meal was typically taken in the early afternoon, while the evening meal was usually light” according to Dr. Douillard.
When I listened to his lecture at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, he also pointed out that our digestion is strongest in the afternoon because that is the time when the “pitta” or fire element is most prevalent.
Have you ever heard that old adage that you’ll get nightmares if you go to bed with a full stomach? Not surprisingly, eating before bed can kick up your metabolism which causes your body to be restless making it harder to fall asleep. Nightmares might also be more prevalent because the brain becomes overactive — but none of these claims have medical studies behind them. Regardless, try eating your biggest meal in the afternoon if only as your own test. Dr. Douillard also recommends that if you want to have a coffee or a small dessert, after the afternoon meal would be the best time!
Fight Sugar Cravings, Include More Flavor
Deconstructing sugar cravings can take some investigation, but many times cravings for sweets can mean that the body is yearning for something that you need to add in.
According to Ayurveda, people who have strong sugar cravings usually don’t have a balanced diet and need to include enough foods from all the “six flavor groups” including sour (you can try the lemon water above), salty, pungent (hot chilies), bitter (leafy greens like kale and spinach, olives, grapefruit, and cocoa), astringent (walnuts, turmeric, pomegranate, rhubarb) and naturally sweet foods (grains, legumes, dairy, starchy vegetables). So be sure you’re adding in enough bitter and astringent to your plate!