The ancient Indian health science of Ayurveda offers sound advice on how to survive the holidays without gaining weight.
Why We Crave Heavier Foods With the colder, windy and dry days of fall comes an increase in "vata dosha": the subtle energy in the body that governs movement.
When vata dosha increases in the physiology it triggers an increase in the cool, rough and dry, qualities throughout our body.
This dryness can cause disturbances in our tissues and organs.
You may begin to notice dry skin and lips with the onset of colder, windy weather.
Dryness can also occur in the large intestine or colon, which Ayurveda identifies as the main "seat" of vata.
This can lead to constipation.
With the onset of colder weather you may find that you develop cravings for heavy, sweet foods as your body tries to counterbalance the natural increase of vata.
However, heavier, uncuous kapha-increasing foods can lead to a compromised digestion, leading to the accumulation of toxins over the winter, which, in turn, may result in allergies in the spring.
Eating Tips For The Holiday The following tips will help you enjoy the holiday season in good health, pacifying vata while at the same time, avoiding the additional pounds and health problems often brought on by over indulgence in kapha-increasing foods.
At the beginning of the holiday season, consult an Ayurvedic expert to make sure that any nutritional deficiencies and imbalances are identified and addressed.
Left untreated, these may trigger cravings and compulsive eating.
Drink plain hot water throughout the day.
When you first arrive at a holiday gathering, ask for a cup of hot water.
This will help settle your system and pacify vata.
In addition, people often mistake thirst for hunger.
If you are well hydrated, you will feel less compulsion to over-eat.
Whenever you eat, give it your full attention.
Take the time to sit down at a table to eat.
Do not eat while shopping or standing or moving around.
Give your food your full attention.
Whatever you are eating, as long as you are going to eat it, enjoy it! Eating mindlessly while your attention is elsewhere does not allow you to properly experience, taste, or digest your food.
As a result, even if you are full, you will feel unsatisfied and crave more food later.
Try to have all six tastes at each meal: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent.
Each taste satisfies a different need.
Missing one or more of the tastes can result in cravings.
Favor warm, cooked foods.
If you want to indulge in heavier foods, do so during the day, when your digestive fires are stronger.
It is ideal to keep evening meals light, and to favor soups and fresh, cooked vegetables.
Try not to overeat.
Ideally you should feel refreshed and energized after eating.
Overeating impairs digestion.
When you overeat, even though you are taking in more than you need, your body is actually assimilating less.
This can result in the perpetuation of cravings and nutritional deficiencies, creating a cycle of overeating.
Eating with full attention and enjoyment improves digestion.
It settles and strengthens your entire system.
This simple change can have far-reaching health benefits far beyond weight-management.