Food writer Anjum Anand uses the ancient Indian medical system Ayurveda to help aid weight loss and fight illness
Ayurveda means ‘science’ or ‘knowledge of life’. Anjum Anand has used Ayurveda to create a way of keeping health issues at bay through a clever use of herbs, diet and lifestyle choices. Ayurveda is part of an ancient Indian culture, based around meditation, energy and nature. It is a holistic science that believes in the unity of mind, body and soul – meaning if one area is ill, others can be affected. For example, stress can trigger an ulcer or hair loss. Ayurveda addresses the root of the problem, rather than just the symptoms.
The body is made up of five elements: air, ether, fire, water and earth. Ayurveda groups these elements into three energies known as doshas.
The Vata dosha is made of air and ether
The Pitta dosha is made of fire and water
The Kapha dosha is made of earth and water
What dosha most represents your body, depends on many factors, such as weight, height, emotional stress and personality. Discovering what dosha you are and eating the right foods to keep a healthy balance will result in a healthy, happy life.
You are a Vata if you are tall or short with little body fat and thin muscles. So you are light and generally thin. You are most likely to have coarse, dry hair and an enthusiastic personality. You will be more active than your Pitta and Kapha counterparts, and you will be a light sleeper. If all or most of this fits your description, you need to eat a nourishing, warming and comforting diet.
To avoid indigestion, eat small portions of simple food. All your meals should be cooked, including breakfast. Your meals should be creamy ,moist and smooth; so try to cook with ghee (clarified butter), oil or cream. Cook meals like soup, stew, rice puddings, pastas or curries. Try to stay away from raw, cold or dry foods, such as crackers and cereal. Sweet fruits are also good for you, but avoid dried fruits unless they are well soaked, as they can be a cause of gas. Also avoid nuts, caffeine and fizzy drinks.
Slow down, relax, nourish and ground yourself. Establish a daily routine of waking, eating and sleeping at roughly the same time each day. Be aware of overexerting yourself through your daily activities – rather than speed sports or aerobics, opt for yoga, dancing, swimming or walking. Release your creative energy by taking up some new hobbies, such as writing or drawing – don’t spend all your time at the computer or in front of the TV.
You are a Pitta if you are of medium build, with a moderately developed physique and good muscles. You will have a moderate weight, that more or less stays the same. You will also have fine or soft hair and may be prematurely bald or grey. You are efficient and disciplined, analytical, driven and a perfectionist. You will be outgoing, organised and you will find it hard to forgive. All of this means you are blessed with a fantastic metabolism, lots of energy and you are a natural leader – a good sportsman or soldier.
You can probably get away with eating whatever you want, but if you are feeling unbalanced, try cooking with ghee (clarified butter) instead of oil and sitting down for your meal, but not at your desk – you need to eat in a calm environment. Focus on eating sweet, bitter foods such as mung beans, coconut, sweet fruits and salads. Stay away from salt, sour flavours and spices. Make your meals quite simple in taste. Avoid tomatoes, yoghurt, vinegar, pickles, chillies and yellow cheese. Snacks can include crackers, oat cakes, white cheese and hummus.
Try to stay cool, both physically and mentally. Don’t sit in the sun for too long, don’t over-exercise and allow your body to cool down before going for a warm shower. Outdoor and water activities are great for you, but try not to get too competitive! To cool the mind, try meditation, yoga and tai chi. Listen to calming music and avoid angry, stressed people. Learn to rebalance your work life with family and friends and avoid conflicts. Be modest, kind and generous.
You are a Kapha if you are curvy, with a heavier frame, bigger bones, strong muscles and a little extra body fat. You will have good skin, nails and thick healthy hair. You have good stamina, but moderate amounts of energy and you act slowly and steadily. You are generous, warm and close to your family, and you probably sleep well and have trouble waking up in the morning. You will be blessed with a happy nature and are strong, healthy and have good longevity, but you have a slow metabolism.
Eat a light diet of freshly cooked, warm meals and keep portion sizes small. You do not need animal protein, but the best meats for you are chicken and turkey and some white fish. Better still, stick to beans, lentils and tofu. Eat more salad greens, apples, beans and spices and cut down on sweet, sour and salty foods. Avoid all refined sugar, yeast, alcohol and deep-fried food. Try not to eat too much dairy, stick to rice and soya instead. Avoid cold and fizzy drinks, opting instead for spiced teas and lassis.
More weight loss tips
Up your activity levels – you have the strength to do lots of cardio exercise like aerobics. Try to walk whenever you can. The sun is great for you, as are steams and saunas. Spend as much time as you can outdoors. Take hot baths and meditate to help you shift stagnant energy, and keep your house de-cluttered. Avoid napping, wake up early and throw yourself into a fun and busy day.
More weight loss tips
This is a fantastic vata breakfast as the eggs are warming and nourishing, but lighter on the system than other types of protein. Enjoy for breakfast, brunch or lunch – it’s also a great way of using up those leftover vegetables.
Find the recipe here
Ayurveda is very vocal about not mixing dairy and animal protein, so if you want to stick to the principles you’ll have to make this deliciously warming chowder with coconut oil. But it doesn’t detract from the gorgeous recipe. Vata and pitta should leave out the chilli, and it’s a great occasional meal for kapha on it’s own.
Find the recipe here
An indulgent dessert that’s great for perking up your ojas (vitality). It’s ideal for kapha but should be eaten on its own, while vata can enjoy it with a little creme fraiche and pitta can drizzle a little cream.
Find the recipe here
Eat Right For Your Body Type by Anjum Anand (Quadrille; £9.99) is published 2 January 2014.
Preorder your copy here