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Obesity: A lifestyle menace

Sujal Torgal Patil


If you’re in a battle with your weight, then the chances are you’re desperate for results and have probably tried the latest weight loss trends with disappointing and often disheartening results. Every patient of obesity longs for a miracle drug, therapy or treatment which will either cut or melt away that extra flab. We have to understand that disorders like obesity, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, etc, which are metabolic disorders, are an outcome of faulty lifestyles. They do not occur in a day, but gradually take shape in the body. It is therefore important to acknowledge the fact that they cannot be simply cured but need to be reversed. This process of reversal has to be in sync with the body and therefore can take time.

In the previous article of this series we have tried to understand the point of view of ayurveda with respect to obesity. Medoroga or sthaulya rog is a santarpanjanya vyadhi (disorders caused due to excessive and faulty nutrition of the body). So the key treatment here is tarpan which means nourishment of tissues. So apa-tarpan would mean no nourishment or lack of nourishment to that particular tissue which is medo dhatu or the fatty tissue in this case. We are arresting the nourishment only to the respective dhatu that is deranged and not of the entire system; this means cutting down on food portions or undue crash diets and starvation is not desirable. But cutting down on foods which directly cause augmentation of the fatty tissue is the right approach.

Management plan for the same can be briefly described as below

Diagnosis: It is very important to decide whether the given patient is actually obese or not. Apart from BMI, abdominal girth and weight parameters, one should inspect whether the person is sick or not. If day-to-day bodily functions are not hampered, the person is active with clear senses, and is mentally and emotionally stable we can conclude that their weight may be ideal for their body or constitution. Kapha individuals tend to heavier, whereas vata tend to be thinner and pitta tend to be moderate.

Correct the metabolism, weight loss happens naturally: Often we see obese people setting targets while losing weight, conveniently forgetting that our body functions holistically. Every positive or negative step that we take affects the whole body. For instance, fad crash diets like the keto or paleo diet claim to reduce 8 to 10 kilograms a month and may turn out to be successful too, but there is no knowledge of the side effects of such baseless diets. And so such practices may end up harming the body. Don’t set any targets. Once you start eating appropriately, correct your metabolical status and orient your lifestyle accordingly, your body will start losing those extra kilos conveniently and reach a desirable equilibrium.

Eating guidelines: Avoid eating oily, greasy, heavy and starchy food products. It is important to avoid oil completely if one is in the inflammatory status. Once out of the inflammation, it is fine to have some amount of oil or ghee in daily food. Body needs oil or fat for certain physiological functions.

Do not eat after repeated intervals as being advocated today. The key is to eat only when hungry. Ideas born in the west like repeated smaller meals, extremely heavy breakfast akin to corn and oats and late night supper are not suitable to the Indian subcontinent as our digestive power is comparatively lower than that of the western or polar populace. Skip breakfast if not hungry and have an early lunch, around noon and an early dinner, around sunset.

Also avoid salt (wafers, pickles, vinegar and salted fish) and sugar (refined sugar in the form of sugar crystals, jaggery or molasses) and choose aged honey. One should include old rice, jowar millet, barley, honey, horsegram, triphala, bitter vegetables like gourds, fenugreek, drumstick, kokum, etc, in one’s daily diet. Chewing food properly and having warm water during meals is important.

To suppress untimely hunger pangs one can eat roasted gram or puffed rice as snacks intermittently.

Lifestyle changes: Avoid sedentary lifestyle. Do activities that will induce sweating, for example: Using stairs instead of the lift, doing household work, cleaning your car, etc.

Avoid day naps and night vigils.

Avoid exposure to colder environments continuously, for example: Using the air conditioner or fan.

A self massage with sesame oil for 15 minutes before a bath everyday reduces extra flab and tones the body. Udwartan, ie rubbing dry medicinal powders like triphala on the body vigorously helps in mobilising the cellulite and toning the body. Both the massage and scrub should be avoided in inflammatory status.

Exercise: Vyayam or exercise has been given extreme importance in dinacharya or the ideal daily regimen prescribed by ayurveda. But it has to be practiced with caution. Vyayam should be stopped after an individual starts breathing through his/her mouth as it marks their ardha shakti (half of their total strength). Vyayam should induce sweating, so working out in fancy gyms with freezing temperatures is not ideal.

I will always recommend yoga for one and all. For obese individuals, surya namaskar is highly beneficial. Shavasan before eating helps the mind control cravings. Kapalbhati for 15 to 20 minutes every day boosts metabolism and helps one lose extra weight.

Treatment modalities: Oral medications are prescribed according to the possible reason for weight gain. Dependant on hormonal fluctuations in women, metabolic disorders, stress syndromes or any other reason the physician prescribes medications accordingly. It is important to follow dietary guidelines during the course of internal medications.

Apart from these, panchakarma therapies like vaman, virechan, basti (medicated enemas) like lekhan basti prove to be extremely beneficial in obese patients. External therapies like oleation, sudation, mud bath, nasya, udwartan (dry powder rubs), avagah (decoction baths) are being prescribed by the physician based on the case.

Obese patients are invariably prone to other metabolic disorders like hypercholesterolemia, diabetes mellitus, atherosclerosis, cardiac disorders, sexual dysfunction, hormonal imbalances, arthritis, etc. An early intervention will definitely help prevent this. It would be advisable to follow a holistic approach in treating a multidimensional disorder like obesity and not to fall prey to singular diets, baseless supplements, drugs or slimming treatments that are being advertised these days.


(Writer is CMO at TRAYA NATURAL HEALTH CENTRE and can be reached at

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