In a conversation with Celebrity Dietician and Nutritionist SHWETA SHAH, AAKANKSHA BAJPAI tries to pull the cloche off the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda and how one can use it to keep fit.
A nutritionist who has not only worked with the likes of Deepika Padukone, Katrina Kaif, Rakul Preet Singh, Sakshi Dhoni, Gautam Gambhir and Harbhajan Singh but is also a firm believer of Ayurveda and the ancient wisdom of living parted by our elders – sounds like someone you would want to be on your side of the rope, right?
Shweta Shah, Celebrity Dietician and Nutritionist, believes in pursuing a healthy lifestyle through the therapeutic powers of the ancient science of Ayurveda. The wisdom left to us by our ancestors may hold the key to a better lifestyle, a healthier mind, and a fit body.
You believe in the power of Ayurveda and ancient wisdom. Can you give us a basic understanding of Ayurveda?
Ancient wisdom itself means the science of life. It is the manual given to us by mother nature to teach us how to take care of our bodies. This wisdom is not something that you go to when you are sick or when everything else has failed, it is something that you practice as your daily way of life. It majorly involves us getting back to our roots. I have always believed food to be the best medicine and Ayurveda is all about adding natural things to our way of living and letting it heal us. Getting in tune with ourselves and nature is what Ayurveda means to me.
Keep In Mind
- Have half inch ginger after every meal as ginger contains gingerol which speeds up the digestion process.
- Practice shatpawli i.e., walk 100 steps after every meal to improve digestion instead of staying sedentary.
- Have dinner closer to sunset to give your body time to digest food before sleep.
How can one incorporate an ancient lifestyle with weight loss?
This would involve making changes to the small habits of our day-to-day life. Weight gain is the result of toxins getting accumulated in our body, which accumulate due to undigested food. To remove the toxins from our body we need to make sure the food in our system gets digested properly so we do not see any weight gain. Some important practices one can follow are:
- Eat only when you are hungry. People tend to follow the wall clock, but it is important to follow your biological clock and eat only when you truly feel hungry.
- Do not overeat. Eat only the required quantity as your body is already digesting your previous meal. Only when your digestive fire (jathar avni) is active you will be able to digest your food. Our stomach is only of the size of a handful made up of two palms. Overeating tends to increase the size of our intestines from a very young age.
- Don’t eat when you are stressed. It spoils the relationship with food so you tend to eat more or starve, both of which are unhealthy.
- Know incompatible food (virudh ahaar). It is very important to eat based upon your dosha which suits your body instead of following the diet plans of other people.
What is an ancient diet or Ayurvedic diet? How is it different from other diet plans, like KETO?
Ancient diet is very different from all other diets as it not only takes care of food alone but also the overall well-being of a person. It does not believe in removing one whole food group from your diet; rather it believes in incorporating ancient wisdom and listening to our body, helping us get in sync with ourselves and nature. Ayurvedic diet is different for everyone; it depends upon finding your dominant dosha (energy) within your body and recommending foods to eat and avoid based upon your body type. It helps us live in harmony with our practices – the effects of an Ayurvedic diet can be seen in our moods, the way we treat others, getting sound sleep, etc.
Keep In Mind
- Don’t mix fruits with any other food. Fruits take less time to digest compared to other food which puts pressure on your digestive system. The golden rule is to eat fruits alone or leave them alone.
- Don’t heat honey. Honey is medicine and not food. A sugar-free dessert with honey is poisonous and not healthy.
- Don’t mix milk with any other fruits or foods. Yes, milk is best left alone!
What should be the precautions taken, if any?
The only precaution to take is not to believe in fad diets and supplements and any other misleading information when it comes to health. Listening to your body, being patient with yourself, and consistency is key. Healing is not an overnight process nor is it a lonely one – consulting a professional before incorporating any lifestyle change is crucial and recommended.
With the festive season coming up, what would be one piece of advice you would want to give someone trying to be fit?
Rather than running on the treadmill for hours, won’t it be easier to control your portion sizes? Cut down on calories wherever you can. Instead of eating one entire portion of dessert, share it and thus, control the portion size. Try getting physical activity every day and not indulge in binge eating while you can do some other activity. Always make it a point to stay hydrated as you may sometimes confuse thirst with hunger.
Tips for weight loss, the Ayurvedic way:
- After every meal, have a decoction made up of half tablespoon cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and fennel seeds, each boiled and strained in water, to improve your digestion.
- Have ash gourd juice regularly as it is full of nutrients and low in calories. It also helps relieve gastric problems.
- Try to have only one grain meal throughout the day, most preferably during lunch, as the digestive fire is strong during mid-day.
- Breakfast can contain fruits and dinner can be light with soups or baked dishes and vegetables.
- It is important to make mindful choices and watch what you are eating and that would take care of everything. The most important thing is to stay consistent with these practices and be patient with your body, as a healthy lifestyle is a lifelong journey.