With summer right around the corner and the shift to warm weather, many people notice they have put on a few extra pounds during the winter months. Maybe your clothes fit a little tighter, or you might be craving certain foods more than usual. No worries, this is the body’s natural response to a distinctly kapha season. When it’s colder, the metabolism slows down and begins to store fat for insulation. Luckily, the warm weather and renewal of spring is a wonderful time to shed the unwanted weight. Spring is a kapha season saturated in water from melting snow and April showers. As nature ourselves, our bodies follow these kapha qualities and retains heavy, oily, cool, and smooth qualities. Therefore, it is important to follow a kapha-pacifying lifestyle and avoid foods that aggravate kapha in order to shed those extra pounds.
There are a few important rules to follow in order to lose weight the healthy, natural way. Number one is to have a regular bedtime and wakeup. As spring is the season of rebirth and renewal, the ideal time to wake up is between 6 and 8 am. Sleep is one of your greatest allies when it comes to looking and feeling your best. Rule number two is to do fifteen minutes of yoga every day. This might sound like a commitment but it will show amazing benefits after only a week. Rule number three is to exercise four times a week. A good aerobic exercise that gets your blood pumping and sweat going will have your metabolism burning fat quickly and efficiently. Practice something you can find pleasure in, such as going on a bike ride through the forest or a run along the beach! The fourth and final rule is possibly the most important, which is to eat three satisfying meals a day with lunch being the main meal and avoid snacking. This way, your body will be supported nutritionally and your digestive fire will be at its strongest.
In Ayurveda, we strongly believe that you are not only what you eat, but also what you digest. Imagine your stomach like a pot, and your Agni is the fire that allows the food to be digested and assimilated. There is a balance that must be kept in order to start and maintain Agni. Imagine trying to light a giant log of wood with a tiny match, or trying to start a fire with no kindling at all! Hopeless, right? Same principles apply when it comes to diet. Eating large meals can smoother the digestive fire, while stopping eating will cause the fire to die out altogether. Therefore, healthy weight management and a healthy metabolism depend on regular and reliable fuel. This means eating three healthy, digestible meals each day without snacking in between to boost your metabolism. Ideally, lunch should be the largest meal while breakfast and dinner are small portions. The stomach should be filled a third of the way with food, a third with water and the last third left empty. In addition to eating the right sized meals at the right time, it is important to eat kapha-pacifing foods that will support weight loss.
Kapha is heavy, oily, cool, and smooth so it is important to eat whole foods that are opposite in nature. A kapha-pacifying diet is one that emphasizes light, warm and dry foods that are rough and digestible. Generally, fruits and vegetables should constitute the majority of your meal followed with some grains and legumes. In the spring season, it is okay to eat raw fruits and salads as the season supports digestion of raw foods. Foods that are dry in nature are: beans, potatoes, dry fruits, and an occasional glass of wine. Make sure to eat plenty of foods with fiber and roughage such as broccoli, cabbage, and dark leafy greens. Foods to avoid are those that are kapha-aggravating such as dairy, pudding, nuts, wheat breads, pastas, red meat, fried foods, eggs, and avocados.
Emphasizing foods with pungent, astringent, and bitter tastes also helps pacify kapha. Pungent tastes are found in foods such as chilies, radishes, turnips, onions, and most spices. Biter tasting things such as kale, dandelion greens, and dark chocolate helps to cleanse and tonify the skin, muscles, improve appetite, and support digestion. Astringent foods such as legumes, beans, apples, and cranberries, and pomegranates are dry and light, therefore reducing the watery and heavy qualities of kapha and help utilize fluids. Tastes to avoid are sweet, sour, and salty. Remove all refined sugars and processed foods from your diet as they are major contributors to weight gain. Sour foods are moistening and oily and tend to aggravate kapha. In addition to sugar, salt is one of the main culprits when it comes to gaining weight. This is because salt causes water retention, increasing the watery and heavy kapha qualities in the body and can also cause excess thirst, intestinal inflammation, and high blood pressure. By avoiding sweet, sour and salty and favoring astringent, bitter, and pungent, the excess kapha in the body is pacified and extra weight can be shed.
Here are some meal ideas to get you going:
Breakfast: small serving of hot cereal with a small handful of dried fruit and a dab of honey with a cup of green or black tea.
Lunch (largest meal of the day): sautéed kale, cabbage, and cauliflower with whole chickpeas cooked over quinoa.
Dinner: cup or split pea soup with rye toast.
With all this new information, you are well on your way to looking and feeling your best! Remember to practice 15 minutes of yoga every day, get your body moving, eat well and get a good night’s sleep.
Santa Cruz Ayurveda
Welch, DR. Claudia. “Balancing Kapha.” Banyan. N.p., 31 Jan. 2014. Web. 24 May 2017.
“Managing a Kapha Constitution.” Banyan. N.p., 01 Apr. 2014. Web. 24 May 2017.
Rudman, Aarajean. “Eight Ayurveda Tips for Weight Loss.” Kripalu. N.p., 22 Sept. 2016. Web. 24 May 2017.