Obesity is a huge epidemic in both developed and emerging countries.Despite the multitude of efforts of experts,the problem of obesity continues and is growing rapidly.Perhaps we should start tackling this problem from a philosophical point of view. The advocacy to lead a healthy life by eating healthy is an aspect that has been shared in our scriptures also. The Bhagwat Gita highlights a number of recommendations.
Bhagawad Gita recommendations for a healthy diet:
Referring to Bhagawad Gita verse 18;51-53,the advice is referencing a balanced diet consisting of eating more vegetables,fruits and unsaturated fats. Eating nutritionally dense foods at regular intervals is well known to provide essential vitamins ,minerals and calories,which are not only healthy,but curb further desire for food.Starvation and skipping meals will bring back stronger cravings and leads to binge eating.
Verse17;7, refers to useful foods such as vegetables and fruits, which contain no fats,but provide nutrients and added bulk to the food.
The addition of spices and salt has been proven to be addictive and should be limited.
The verse also advocates avoiding half cooked food rare cooked steaks ,unhealthy fermented food,stored and processed food with artificial colours,additives and preservatives.
Burnt foods such as badly barbecued meats should also be avoided.They contain carcinogens,which cause cancer.
In verse3;5,exercise is a part of healthy living.In children a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity per day has proven to prevent obesity.
Perhaps,the cornerstone of success in managing obesity is the practice of self-control as verse2;59 suggests.
How to manage obesity ?
There is a substantial evidence that obesity is akin to the addiction of smoking,alcohol and drugs.There is a common pathway of reward circuitry in the limbic system,which plays a key role in addiction.The risk factors that lead to addiction may be the same for obesity.Some risk factors include dysfunctional family with childhood trauma,family history of obesity,chronic stress ,anxiety and depression.The main issue with obesity is reccurrences of desires for food and subsequent weight gain.The best way to manage obesity is to apply the same principles that are utilised in drug rehabilitation.These include behavioral techniques such as mindfulness,meditation,yoga and breathing techniques such as pranayam,group therapy and psychotherapy in extreme cases.