Dr Michael Mosely is renowned for making the 5:2 Diet, or Fast Diet, world famous, but he isn’t the one who came up with this style of eating – his ideas are based around intermittent fasting and Ayurvedic knowledge which dates back 5000 years.
Mosley’s 5:2 diet involves fasting, or restricted calorie intake for two days of the week and then eating normally for the other five days. While in Ayurveda, we don’t necessarily recommend fasting, as it doesn’t suit all body types, but in tapping into the idea of giving your digestion a break Mosley is actually understanding one of the most important pillars of good health.
I like to call the two days ‘clean days’ where you are eating completely clean Ayurvedic food (with breakfast, lunch and dinner under 500 calories) and giving your body a rest, on the five ‘dirty’ days you can eat what you like – but it’s better to stay as good as you can with vegetarian food, or at least minimal red meat, and as little sweet and processed foods as possible. The ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ days was inspired by one of our executive clients, who keeps a detox process going all year round. We also have this in our maintenance portion of our 28 day program so you can keep your result going as it’s easy to do.
Cleansing and fasting is the most effective way of restoring agni, or our digestive fire – which governs overall health – and this style of eating can really work in with busy routines without having people completely fall off the wagon and ending up in a binge-crash cycle which seems to come hand in hand with many modern diets. It’s also a good way to wire in new strategies that can become part of your new routine - ultimately forming your new identity.
Benefits of intermittent fasting
There has been a lot of research done on the benefits of intermittent fasting, for example Professor Mark Matton’s work at the National Institute of Aging in Baltimore, which shows that it can increase longevity, reduce dementia, improve mood and a sense of well-being, reduce depression and anxiety, reduce the probability of getting cancer, reduce LDL (or bad) cholesterol as well as reducing blood pressure and insulin resistance.
Intermittent fasting also comes in many shapes and forms. Some people only eat during an eight-hour window, for example 10am to 6pm, then fast from 6pm to 10am. Others fast for 24-36 hours once or twice a week, while others have bone broth or soups on fast days.
Nuts and bolts of eating 5:2
In Ayurveda we don’t have a one-size fits all approach and create specific plans around each person’s particular body type, goals and constitution. This is the why health dynamics is the very first personalised path to health.
Some of the key points to 5:2 eating include:
· Eat your heaviest meal in the middle of the day and have a light supper (usually vegetable soup) nice and early in the evening before 6.30pm. Breakfast will be around 7-8 am, which means you’re effectively fasting for just over 12 hours.
· Detox teas are very effective in cleaning out toxins and keeping your body healthy day to day. A really easy, tasty and cheap one is Ayurvedic medicated water, or CCF tea, made from coriander, cumin and fennel seeds. Used by Ayurvedic practitioners for thousands of years this potent trio (boiled in water) can be an easy way to detoxify your body from the overload of toxins that are absorbed on a daily basis. Cumin breaks down inflammation in the gut, fennel is good at removing toxins from the small intestine and coriander is one of the best herbs for supporting digestion without aggravating pitta (the element of fire). It’s all about getting your kitchen pantry working as your medicine cupboard.
· On your clean days try to cut out (as much as you can) coffee, alcohol, sugar, processed foods, leftover foods, dairy, wheat, red meat and peanut butter as these produce ama (toxins) and have a negative effect on our body.
· Incorporate the six tastes in every meal – sweet, salt, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent – as this will increase longevity and help you reach your ideal weight. Western diets get so caught up in counting calories they often overlook the basic fundamentals of food as the six tastes naturally guide us to our individual nutritional needs. If you look at the recipes on our blogs pages, most of them have the six tastes in them. One of the ones we recommend in the clean days is moong soup.
· Try not to eat too many cold and raw foods (vata body types in particular) as when food and drinks are consumed cold they are harder to digest. You’re better off going for warm soups, daals, stewed apples, mung pancakes and veggie soups, with plenty of digestive spices.
· Eat seasonally as each season is associated with a dosha (body type) – spring with kapha, summer with pitta, and autumn and winter with vata. Each of these dosha have a tendency to increase with the physiology of the season, so in the heat of summer the pitta in us can become aggravated; while in dry, windy and cold conditions vata is increased. So working with the seasons you will do well eating cooler foods like melon and salads in summer, and hotter stews during winter.
To get you started on this 5:2 way of eating for optimum health we want to give you a few recipes as a gift. So read below and your first week is all done for you, plus there’s an extra day to get you started on the next week. If you click through on the links, you can access our great recipes too – each one is made with the six Ayurvedic tastes included.
Breakfast: Poached eggs with wilted spinach
Lunch: Green split moong kitchari
Breakfast: Gluten-free bread with avocado
Lunch: Chicken & tangy pineapple
If you like these recipes, check out our detoxes as this is the kind of food you’ll be eating. While the 5:2 eating plan is a good way to maintain your diet, it’s still important to detox regularly. I like to do two detoxes each year – one in spring and the other in winter. We have our 7 day detox starting any time you like, as it’s s all done online; the next 28 day program commences on the 3 September, 2018.
Importance of regular detoxing
Toxins enter our system not only through the food we eat and what we drink, but also through our skin and lungs. It’s this accumulation of toxins over a period of time that can wreak havoc on our normal metabolic process causing allergies, health problems and even altered mood - basically losing your best asset, which is being your best version of yourself!
Periodic detoxing, or cleansing, is a great way to re-set and re-charge your body for long term health. The main goals of an Ayurvedic detox are to balance the body’s energies - vata (wind), pitta (fire) and kapha (water), eliminate toxins, restore the digestive fire and ignite the body’s innate intelligence.
These are transforming outcomes and not only can help a range of ailments including insomnia and stress; hormonal imbalance and poor blood circulation; premature aging and poor digestion - it also helps to reinvigorate the body’s internal defence mechanism and immunity so there’s lasting change beyond the detox.
For more information on our programs visit www.healthdynamics360.com