Ayurveda Approach to Holiday Eating

Thanksgiving opens the flood gates to six weeks of family feasts and holiday treats. The ancient Indian health science of Ayurveda offers helpful tips on how to make your way though the holidays without gaining weight or over-eating.

Winter cravings

The increasingly colder days of fall bring with them an increase in “vata dosha” — the subtle energy in the body that governs movement. When vata dosha predominates, there is an increase in the dry, rough and cool qualities in the body.  This dryness can disturb various tissues and organs. Many people notice dry skin and lips. Dryness can also occur in the colon or large intestine, leading to constipation. Simultaneously you may find that you develop cravings for heavy, sweet and unctuous foods. This is simply your body’s attempt to balance the increase in vata by increasing kapha. Unfortunately, these heavier foods can also lead to poor digestion and to an accumulation of toxins over the winter, which could result allergies in the spring.

Holiday Eating Tips

The following tips can help you navigate the holiday festivities, pacifying vata dosha while avoiding the weight-gain often brought on by kapha-increasing foods.

1. At the start of the holiday season, consult an Ayurvedic expert to see if you have any nutritional deficiencies or imbalances. If these are left untended, you may find yourself at the mercy of cravings and compulsive eating.

2. When you first arrive at a gathering, request a cup of hot water. This will help to pacify vata and will help you avoid mindless eating. Additionally, people often mistake thirst for hunger. If you are well hydrated, you will feel less compulsion to eat. Drinking plain hot water throughout the day is a simple Ayurvedic secret for improved health.

3. Always sit down at a table to eat. Don’t eat if you are standing or moving.

4. Whenever you eat, give eating your full attention. Enjoy your food — even if you are eating something “naughty”! Eating mindlessly while you are doing something else does not allow you to properly taste, experience, or digest your food. As a result, even if you are full, you will feel unsatisfied and want to eat more later.

5. Learn about the six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. Each taste satisfies a different need. Missing one or more of the tastes can result in cravings. Try to have all six tastes at each meal. If this sounds daunting, there are spice combinations (churnas) made specifically for this.

6. Favor warm, cooked foods. If you want to indulge in heavier foods, do so during the day, when your digestive “fire” is stronger. Try to keep evening meals light, favoring soups and cooked vegetables.

7. Try to take small portions. Ideally you should feel refreshed and energized after eating, not dull. Over-eating compromises digestion. When you overeat, even though you ingest more than you need, your body actually assimilates less. This can result in nutritional deficiencies, perpetuating cravings and the habit of overeating.

Eating with full attention and enjoyment improves digestion. It settles and strengthens your entire system. This can have far-reaching health benefits seemingly unrelated to nutrition.

If you find that you have over-indulged during the holidays, consider enjoying traditional Ayurvedic detoxification treatments, called Panchakarma, in January or February. The soothing oils used in the treatments help detoxify body fat and the recommended treatment diet is the perfect way to get back into healthy eating habits.

Learn more about Ayurveda treatments for weight gain and detoxification at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa:


Hello world!

In 1980 Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the Transcendental Meditation program, began working with India’s top three Ayurvedic experts — Dr. V.M. Dwivedi, Dr. B.D. Triguna and Dr. Balaraj Maharishi — to restore Ayurveda in its fullness and purity under the name of Maharishi Ayurveda. A council of experts was created to formalize authentic herbal formulations and therapies according to the ancient Ayurvedic texts. It was our great fortune to become a part of the campaign to bring this valuable knowledge to the West and to make it available — and understood — by the general public. Thirty years later, this still remains our goal.

Ayurveda is often referred to as “the mother of all healing.” The knowledge of Ayurveda spread out from India and influenced the ancient Chinese system of medicine and even the medicine practiced by Hippocrates in Greece. It is as relevant and useful today as it was 5-10,000 years ago. In fact, at a time when our lives are generally out of sync with the rhythms and cycles of nature, and when scientists estimate that everyone’s body contains at least 700 contaminants, including pesticides and industrial chemicals, one could easily say that Ayurveda is more relevant today than ever.

In our articles we try to give an Ayurvedic perspective to various modern concerns and challenges — and a modern perspective to ancient Ayurvedic wisdom.

Many of our articles promote the traditional purification treatments of Ayurveda, called Panchakarma. According to Ayurveda, toxins, either created internally or taken in from our environment, are the root cause of all the imbalances that lead to chronic medical conditions. We can create toxins through poor digestion and by choosing improper foods. Stress and trauma can also create toxins. Environmental chemicals residing in our bodies come from many sources.  Our air, our water, and our food supply are all contaminated with chemicals. Toxic build-up can result in many health challenges including chronic disorders, fatigue, low energy, eating disorders, and lack of concentration and motivation.

We find that timely panchakarma treatments are helpful both in reversing chronic problems and maintaining vitality and good health  However, if panchakarma treatments are not available to you, Ayurvedic recommendations for diet and lifestyle choices can make a huge difference in helping you to maintain — or restore — good health.  Ideally an Ayurvedic expert would take your pulse and make individual recommendations according to the pulse assessment. In our articles we will introduce you to many general recommendations and try to help you understand the Ayurvedic principles behind them.

The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa and Treatment Center