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Beyond Dieting: Alternative Approaches to Weight Loss

How acupuncture, hypnosis, meditation, prayer, and other mind-body practices may help you lose weight.

Ayurveda continued...

A key to Ayurveda is developing your “dosha,” or “life force” profile. The three doshas are called kapha, pitta, and vata. Your dosha balance is based on your eating habits, behaviors, lifestyle, and medical history.

For weight loss, an ayurvedic practitioner will probably try to rebalance your doshas through your diet. For example, kaphas may be told to switch to leaner proteins and trim calories for better harmony.

Ayurveda is a highly personalized method that requires careful guidance by an experienced practitioner. So be sure to ask about background and training, Sierpina says.

Also, be careful about any herbal supplements prescribed. Choose only high-quality products to avoid dangerous contaminants and heavy metals. And tell your mainstream doctor about any supplements you take.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Meditation and mindfulness have a lot in common. And they can both help with your eating.

Mindfulness is a nonjudgmental way of paying attention to the present moment.

For weight loss, mindfulness includes noticing when you're hungry and full, so you don’t eat out of automatic patterns, Hecht says.

Try it. Study a piece of food intensely before putting it in your mouth. Then eat it very slowly, paying close attention to the taste, texture, and how your body responds as you eat.

That's very different from eating food on the run, disconnected from your feelings.

When you're mindful, you might even notice that you're not all that hungry, or that you're satisfied sooner than you think. That may help you not overindulge.

“There is strong weight loss evidence that eating slowly and mindfully helps you eat less, even without meditation,” Politi says.

Meditation is about focusing your attention -- often on your breath, thoughts and feelings, or mantra.

People use meditation to deal with anxiety, pain, depression, stress, sleep problems, and just to feel better. A 2007 study showed that more than 9% of American adults had meditated in the previous year.

Frederick Hecht, MD, researches meditation and mindful eating. “Based on our preliminary research, we do think both mindfulness and meditation may assist people in losing weight, especially in maintaining weight loss, but it would have to be in combination with diet and exercise,” says Hecht, the research director at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

Meditation and mindfulness are easy to learn. It may help to take some classes, but once you know how, they cost nothing to practice and can be done anywhere.

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