There are a lot of fad diets out there that seem to come and go from fashion, they range from swapping food for copious amounts of fresh juice, going raw, sticking mainly to meat and protein, consuming tons of cabbage soup and all sorts of other unbalanced combinations which send your digestion and metabolism into confusion and meltdown.
Like many experts in this area, I’m not a fan of the Atkins diet, strict Ketogenic diet, eating Paleo, or raw, or just juicing. The best way to achieve your ideal weight, to find balance in your body long term, is through your own personalised pathway to good health. That means what works for you, isn’t necessarily going to suit anyone else. What might be medicine for one person, can be poison for another.
Get to know your body type
The first step in getting to your ideal weight is to understand that we all fall into three primary body types, that is vata, pitta and kapha. Each one of these body types will have a different ideal weight, constitution, eating style and lifestyle needs that are completely unique.
We also need to understand how our mind works for optimum health and prosperity. Together with world-acclaimed futurist and social entrepreneur, I created the Health Spectrum - the world’s first health and personality test.
This Spectrum clearly sets out nine levels of health – from optimal health down to chronic disease. It links together the medical industry (which focuses on the lowest levels, or sickness) the wellness community (which focuses at the middle levels) and the mindfulness industry (which is somewhere in the top levels). If you’re interested in finding out more about our other Health Dynamics programs, or doing the test, you can find more information here.
Vata: take a moment out of your busy day
For vata body types weight is often not a problem, you tend to be naturally thin and wiry. This doesn’t mean that weight won’t be an issue, because it’s not uncommon for skinny minnie vatas to put on weight all of a sudden due to a change in metabolism.
The biggest issue for vatas is a tendency towards mental stress, when you are under stress this can lead to carrying extra weight (particularly around the abdomen). When under stress you probably forget to eat, which impacts digestion and increases toxins (ama) in the body by clogging up the channels. These clogged channels can lead to weight gain.
To maintain a healthy weight vata body types need to keep their mental stress under control, a good way of doing that is through regular yoga and meditation practice. Yoga is beneficial to all body types and there are even special yoga poses more suited to each constitution, you can read more in another article I wrote about this here.
You also need to make sure you are nourishing your body with light and easily digestible foods – things like stewed apples, whole grains and fresh vegetables will keep you feeling light and full of energy. Just stay away from heavy foods like aged cheeses, meats and rich desserts; dry foods, like crackers, cold cereals and packaged snacks don’t suit your constitution.
For vatas it’s also important to maintain a good routine – that means going to bed early (before 10pm), eating three warm, cooked meals a day (you may need small snacks in between as you can only eat small amounts at a time). When possible try eat your meals at the same time each day as your digestion tends to be irregular. Remember you’ll do well by slowing-down – it’s not healthy to be rushing around all the time.
Vatas put on weight easily so nourishing your body will help make you feel grounded, balanced - and your ideal weight.
Pitta body type: fanning the fire so it doesn’t burn too strong
Pittas tend to not gain, nor lose weight easily as you have a strong digestion and with all your fire, have little problem burning up carbs and sugars. Your digestive fire is actually so strong it can overeat and cause problems – if you start skipping meals stomach acid will burn the food and damage your stomach.
Pitta body types do well eating three meals a day. It’s important to set regular meal times to keep toxins from forming in your digestive system. Once toxins block your internal digestive channels your strong metabolism might slow down. To prevent this happening, start the day with something that will cool and soothe the digestive fire, rather than overload it (this might be raw pears, cooked porridge or Aloe vera juice). You’ll also feel great and full of energy on a diet of dhal, cooked vegetables and whole grains. Just make sure to avoid chillies, fermented, fried, oily and overly hot foods as they will increase internal acidity.
More than the other body types, it’s important for pittas to go to sleep before the pitta time of the night (10pm-2am) as this is when your body will be expelling toxins and clearing the liver. Even if you feel you have energy then, or develope a desire for late night snacks, it’s important you don’t get into the routine of staying up late, and eating late, as this will make it difficult to keep weight on track.
The other thing that happens with pittas is all of a sudden you might find you have put weight on – this might be due to a change in life, for example menopause or another transitional time, or being under too much pressure and under heavy deadlines. What’s happening in this case is you may be putting on inflammatory weight, which is hardness of tissue. Best thing to do if this is happening to you is detox. This will flush out the organs and get your digestion going again. It will also cool that hot head down - the one that yells or is frustrated and you don’t know why.
Kapha body type: slow and steady wins the race
Sturdy kaphas, with bigger bones and gentle personalities seem to put weight on easily; you’re never going to be the skinny minnies, it’s not in your constitution. You’ll also tend to put weight on all over the body and it often takes a long time to shift these extra kilos. This is because, with elements of earth and water, you have the slowest metabolism of the three body types. Just stay patient, it will come off – it just takes longer for you than other body types.
In terms of diet, you’ll do well eating plenty of vegetables and dhal soups with spices (turmeric especially activates the liver), green leafy vegetables, quinoa and warm, light, cooked foods. Raw veggies are difficult to digest. You’ll also want to avoid ice cream, cheesecake and other heavy, cold desserts as these only slow your metabolism down.
Kapha dosha body types do well eating their main meal in the middle of the day, when the sun is high and digestion is strong. This will help reduce the build-up of toxins, which can slow your metabolism right down.
Regular exercise is important, make sure you push yourself a little. If you’re finding it hard to stay motivated, try mixing up your exercise routine. You’ll also do well with yoga, here you can find the best asanas to suit your individual body type.
It’s not uncommon for kaphas to not be hungry until noon – so don’t feel you need to eat breakfast when you first wake up, there’s nothing wrong with some stewed apple or pear to hold you off until lunch.
This body type also needs to really work on the diet and lifestyle that causes imbalances. You may be on a drug to get your blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes under control but for a real treatment this needs to be combined with diet and lifestyle changes.
Each body type has its own personal pathway to good health. If you’re finding it difficult to shift weight, make sure to read up more on the specific foods and exercises especially suited to your constitution.
If you want more help you can join one of our cleanse and detox programs – each program offers a personal approach to health with our experienced Ayurvedic practitioners. Or you can get in contact with us at the clinic.
If you would like to talk with one of our team to find out more about debriefing your test, please book a time to chat.