Avoid Holiday Weight Gain with Ayurveda

Ayurveda is commonly referred to as the yoga’s “sister science.” The key to an Ayurvedic lifestyle and diet is balance. However, imbalance heightens around the holidays due to stress, activities, and foods that aren’t part of our normal routine.

It’s easy to fall into unhealthy patterns when alcohol, cupcakes and cookies are in your face every two minutes. The key to applying Ayurveda is understanding its primary goal: to work with nature, your body, and the seasons—not against them. You wouldn’t stuff ten butter cookies in your mouth on Arbor Day, so why do it this December? Here are seven ways to use Ayurveda to help maintain a healthy weight this holiday season.

#1. Move around after eating

My Ayurvedic physician suggested that I take a 15-30 minute walk after my largest meal each day. Walking after meals stimulates the digestive process and helps the body distribute the food you’ve just eaten. No need to run—just take a brisk walk, and you’ll feel less lethargic every day.

#2. Eat warm, wet and filling foods

Cooked root vegetables, farina, quinoa and spelt pasta are all great foods to add to your diet this holiday season. Use plenty of garlic and herbs to season your meals, and avoid processed, frozen foods. Steam and sauté veggies as opposed to eating them raw—this makes them easier to digest, causing the body to exert less energy on digestion.

#3. Get out of bed

Colder, darker days mean that it’s often harder to get out of bed and get going. Also, the urge to take daytime naps is stronger during the winter. According to Ayurveda, it’s important to sleep well, but not oversleep or take too many daytime naps. The belief is that doing so dulls the mind and creates lethargy.

#4. Drink warm water throughout the day

By now, most of us have heard all about drinking warm water and lemon every day to aid elimination and digestion. It’s not some new trendy fad—Ayurvedic practitioners have always been advocates of warm lemon water throughout the day. Keep your metabolic rate up by avoiding ice and iced drinks; they douse what is known as “agni” (our digestive fire).

#5. Swap the attitude of lack for one of abundance

Stop thinking that it’s now or never when it comes to holiday treats. I started making the most of my holiday season baked goods all year round; it’s a fun way to make an ordinary day feel special. This puts you in a place where you know you may indulge with some of your favorite treats any time. Say to yourself “there’s plenty to go around.”

#6. Eat mindfully

Slow down, stop eating in the car (please), and focus on taking time to prepare real, whole foods. Sit down, shut your phone and ask anyone joining you to do the same. Pay attention to what you’re eating, and think of the ingredients, time and care taken to prepare the food. You’ll be less prone to overeat as a result. Focus on the good company, and be grateful for the food you have access to. Many out there struggle and aren’t as fortunate as you.

#7. Avoid heavy meals late at night

According to Maharishi Ayurveda (mapi.com) our digestive fire is weaker before bed, so dinner should be lighter than lunch. Great dinners to have at this time of year are soups made with root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots and parsnips. Grains and lentils seasoned with ginger, turmeric and black pepper will also nourish and ground you, without empty calories.

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