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Dieting, Cleansing, Detoxing, Oh My!

The health industry is a confusing world with an endless supply of information, diets, and conflicting data. There are an incredible amount of diets like the low-fat, low-carb, no gluten, low calorie diet, and the list goes on. The problem with many of these diets is that it often times becomes highly restrictive and tends to put the body in starvation mode. When the body is starved of fats, proteins, carbohydrates, or is put under other forms of stress it reacts the opposite we hope. Under stress (mentally or physically) our bodies produce a hormone called cortisol. This hormone makes the body release stored sugar from the muscles and liver into the bloodstream causing insulin levels to rise. When high doses of insulin are released for emergency energy it stops fat from being processed for energy and it stores fat in the body for later use. This increases the urge for sugar and carbohydrates. This causes the body to need more quick energy such as chocolate, sugary drinks, breads, and cookies (etc.). This vicious cycle will continue creating low energy levels and more cravings, thus making highly restrictive diets unsustainable.

The idea of suffering for weight loss and cleansing is a predominant idea that is spread through out dieting. Many have similar views for exercise that you have to torture your body through highly stressful activities to lose weight. While high heart rate does burn more calories, putting your body in highly stressful situations causes stress hormones to be produced thereby storing fat. We suggest exercises based on you body type and for each season. In example of this would be in summertime to enjoy more swimming to cool down your body on very hot days or if you’re dealing with high stress from aggravated Vata we suggest doing calming yoga. Vata is one of the three doshas that make up a person’s body constitution. One can still have strenuous workouts as long as it’s not causing more stress to their body or mind.

Even cleansing and detoxing have been abused with “diet teas”, juice cleanses, and 5 day detoxes. Cleansing and detoxes are an essential part for the body adjusting to seasons, especially in springtime. However, doing quick fixes won’t work.

Ayurveda is not a “one diet fits all”. It’s a complete lifestyle change from crash diets to balancing your mind, emotions, and body through a sustainable approach. Ayurveda promotes a seasonal diet. This is unlike other diets because it’s about listing to your environment of what vegetables, grains, fruits, and oils are best to eat for the season and is tailored to your individual body type. In Ayurveda it’s not about hating your body or fixing it. We believe in fostering a relationship of listening and love to balance out your stress and emotions. When your body is in balance it will naturally lose the extra weight. Check out our website for how to lose weight the Ayurvedic way.

When we begin to eat seasonally we don’t need to do “detoxes” or “cleanses” that are short lived. Ayurveda promotes cleansing and detoxing through a seasonal diet with the help of certain herbs. Each season we are presented the opportunity to flush out toxins and re-boost our    digestion. The effort in Ayurveda is to become an active part of living a fulfilling and happy life. Your body and mind will thank you!

Some tips we suggest to start eating a diet with less processed foods and break that cycle of crash dieting and cravings are:

1. Eat three meals a day with little snacking in between. This will give the body a chance to process the fat cells for energy before using sugar from meals. 2. Eat your largest meal of the day for lunch. 3. Avoid foods with added sugars. 4. Avoid all processed foods. 5. Daily exercise with focused breathing. This will help burn the fat as fuel and not release stress hormones.

Many Blessings, Santa Cruz Ayurveda

Resources: Douillard, John. “The 3- Season Diet”. Three Rivers Press. New York. 2000.

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