Point 1. Eat a light evening meal with easy-to-digest foods.
Everyone dealing with weight loss issues needs to know that it is virtually impossible to make serious progress if you continue to eat large evening meals with heavy foods!
I cannot emphasize this point too much. Ayurveda describes that digestion is less strong in the evening, plus lying down to sleep a few hours later further slows down digestion, metabolism and circulation. The body simply cannot assimilate large evening meals properly. The result is that much of the food is digested poorly and eventually creates toxins, fat and excess weight. For most people struggling to eat less during the day, herbs, pills, special powders and drinks, and even exercise cannot overcome this most serious of all weight loss mistakes.
Especially avoid in the evening: cheese, yogurt, rich desserts, red meat, leftovers of any kind, cold foods, processed foods
Avoid or reduce in evening meals: fowl, fish, desserts
Evening meals should be vegetarian, hot, light and liquidy. If you are significantly overweight the foundation of the evening meal should be 1) non-cream soups, 2) grains cooked in water (for example rice, quinoa, cous cous, barley), and 3) vegetables either steamed, roasted or sautéed with small amounts of extra virgin olive oil. If you must have dessert, I recommend cooked fruit desserts made with only small amounts of organic sugar.
2. Eat the largest meal of the day at lunch with a wide variety of warm, cooked food.
Lunch is the time our bodies can best digest and properly assimilate larger quantities of food due to the fact that digestion is strongest at noon and we have many active hours to metabolize the food before we sleep. Lunch is the most important meal of the day to plan and prepare for.
We should have warm, cooked foods with a wide variety of tastes and dishes. Warm food is essential as it can be more easily digested and assimilated. Cold foods suppress digestion (remember your chemistry- cold temperature suppresses chemical reaction, and digestion is chemistry!) The result of regular meals of cold foods is indigestion, the accumulation of ama (undigested molecules that clog the channels,) and weight gain.
Having a wide variety of foods is essential for nutrition and to prevent the body from developing food cravings-the downfall of many a well-meaning diet plan. Food cravings often occur because of imbalanced diets that included only a few food types. Diets restricted to mostly carbohydrates or protein or fat eventually lead to undernourished tissues that rightfully send hunger messages to our brain. Even though we have just finished eating a large quantity of food parts of our body are still truly malnourished and hungry. Unfortunately if we don’t realize, this we may reach for even more carbohydrate rich and dense foods like desserts when actually we need green vegetables and legume soups.
A good, balanced lunch also helps us feel less hungry in the evening, making it easier to stick to that all-important light evening meal.
3. Drink hot water frequently throughout the day
By sipping hot water throughout the day you help cleanse the digestive tract and entire body of blockages and impurities. Hot water drinking improves digestion and assimilation of food and helps prevent the body from becoming toxic and clogged. It also is a great aid in reducing food cravings between meals. I have known people who lost over 50 pounds by following only this single recommendation.
Most people can accomplish the hot water recommendation by getting a good thermos and having a cup sitting on a small cup-sized hot plate. You can pour your hot water in the cup, put it on the warmer and sip it throughout the day as you work.
The most purifying and cleansing water is water that has been boiled for about ten minutes. Boiling water for ten minutes reduces its heaviness (you will usually see a fine powder at the bottom of the pan that consists of precipitated materials from the water) and energizes the water. Drinking water from your hot water dispenser at work is better than not drinking any at all, but is not as effective as boiled water.
4. Avoid leftovers
Maharishi Ayurveda holds that putting food back in the refrigerator after it has been cooked seriously deteriorates the quality of the foods and their digestibility. Even if you heat it up after you take it out of the refrigerator, it has lost its life giving freshness. We get more than molecules from food. We also get freshness, life force (prana) and nature’s intelligence from our foods. Physics tells us there is a classical world of molecules but also a quantum mechanical world of vibration. The vibration of the deeper fields which comprise nature’s life force and intelligence get destroyed by cooling cooked food. As a result leftovers easily lead to improperly digested waste products called “ama” that accumulate in the body causing toxins, blockages, excessive weight gain and lead to many diseases.
The converse principle sums up the essence of Ayurvedic food guidelines.
“Eat fresh food, freshly prepared”
Because of the activity of our lives, and logistics of shopping and cooking, this simple statement can be difficult to achieve but every step in this direction will help us with weight management and overall good health.
A convenient way to get a home-cooked, nearly fresh meal of pure, wholesome ingredients for lunch each day is to cook barley and lentils (a good fat-busting combination) overnight in a crock pot. In the morning, add chopped vegetables and some spices sautéed in olive oil (try cumin, black pepper, fresh ginger root, coriander and turmeric.) Put in a wide-mouth thermos and bring for lunch. Add some rye crackers (another fat busting grain according to Ayurveda,) and fresh fruit for a well-balanced, pure and nutritious lunch.
5. Get Moving!
I saw a headline in a health paper some time ago that made a good point “Stop Dieting and Start Moving”
Exercise is an antidote for almost everything that ails us. It improves digestion, metabolism, elimination, complexion, body tone and strength, bone density, and helps us normalize weight. It is also emotionally positive as it can be enjoyable, increase self-worth and bring us greater energy, freshness and success throughout the day.
At least take time every day to get out and walk. Evaluate your schedule and take walks whenever you can squeeze them in. Be vigilant to take opportunities to walk. It is especially good to walk after meals and especially healthy to take a walk after the evening meal.
a) Go to bed by 10:00 PM. Metabolism of waste products takes place after 10 PM and is reduced by being awake and active, or eating the proverbial “midnight snack,” at this time
b) Add digestive enhancing, fat-busting spices to your meals like fresh ginger, cumin, black pepper, turmeric and fenugreek.
c) Keep GOOD snacks around to prevent you eating bad snacks for example fresh fruits, dried fruits, nuts, fresh squeezed vegetable juices, whole grain crackers.
d) Practice meditation and yoga daily to keep mind and body balanced and reduce the mental cravings for food. (Based on my patients experiences and hundreds of scientific studies documenting its health benefits, I recommend the TM technique for my patients)
e) Take a walk in the morning. Exercise of some type outdoors in the morning sun has a powerful positive influence on mind, emotions and energy throughout the day.
f) Take Maharishi Panchakarma treatments twice a year. Maharishi Ayurveda recommends panchakarma (the massage, heat treatments and internal cleansing therapies of Ayurveda) be done twice a year to prevent impurities from accumulating and eliminating their buildup in bodily tissues. (A recent study published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine documented the reduction by 50% of the cancer causing chemical PCB in the blood after five days of Maharishi Rejuvenation Treatment, a specific program of panchakarma.) See http://www.theraj.com/for more details.
g) Oils in the diet should be mainly organic, extra virgin olive oil. Organic ghee is acceptable in small quantities (1-2 tsp. per day) or not at all if you are overweight and/or have high cholesterol. Avoid any non-organic vegetable oils especially corn and soy oil. Oils are perhaps the most important food group to get right, as impure oils can contribute to so many diseases if not used properly
Health is won or lost in how we live day-to-day life. I encourage everyone with weight management issues to take initiative and get on an upward spiral of healthy activity. Your quick reward will be greater freshness, happiness and a lighter, healthier body.