The Craze For Size Zero and Eight–Pack Abs

Immunity, stamina, strength, and energy are far more important than the shape of a person’s body because they are key to maintaining good health. Remember, using any and all means to enhance your body superficially can be bad for your health.

Beauty is not just related to outward appearances, colour, curves, or glow. In a broader sense, real beauty is connected to good health. That’s why people lose their natural glow and radiance when they fall ill. Real beauty is deeply rooted in physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual health and cannot be separated from them.

Body Structure: Ayurvedic View

According to Ayurveda, a person’s body structure depends on his / her dominant dosha, which is determined at birth and doesn’t change throughout life. Generally, we can see this difference in many families where all members or siblings do not have similar body types. The structure of their body is often reflective of their constitution. For instance, people dominated by vata dosha are often lean, thin, weak, and tall or too short. Pitta dosha dominant people have moderate physiques, and those dominated by kapha dosha are heavy, obese, and have large body frames.

Ayurveda Body Types

Living and eating naturally keeps a body healthy and strong. Living contrary to the laws of nature can lead to suffering and other complications. It is always good to practise what your own constitution allows rather than crossing the limits just to achieve a size zero body or eight pack abs.

These days, teenage girls have taken “size zero” as a standard of beauty. To fit into that category, they deprive their body of proper nutrition, induce vomiting, follow crash diets, and have strenuous workout routines. They believe that food can spoil their figure and tend to go on a starvation diet. In extreme cases, this can lead to a dangerous condition called “Anorexia nervosa”. It may affect them physically and mentally and lead to several disorders.

If girls are afflicted, boys are not too far behind. They are obsessed with eight-pack abs. To achieve this dream, they are busy pumping iron in the gym for hours. Instead of following a healthy diet, they are opting for protein shakes and supplements that are packed with chemicals. In their desire to build a muscular body, they don’t even hesitate to use steroids.

Essential Tips to Building A Desirable Body

To have a healthy, attractive, and energetic body, follow the guidelines below:

Dos Dont’s
Eat according to your constitution Avoid artificial, unnatural, and packaged food
Have food that is fresh, light, and easily digestible Avoid artificial, unnatural, and packaged food
Follow a natural diet routine according to the season Don’t exercise any more than your capacity
Practice relaxing techniques Don’t allow negative emotions like anxiety, stress, or anger to affect you
Massage regularly to strengthen muscles and improve blood circulation Keep away from using the same diet routine for all seasons

The Youth Phase of Life

In Harit Samhita, a well known Ayurvedic text, life is classified into four age groups. ‘Yuvavstha’ is one of them and it falls between seventeen to twenty five years of age. This phase is considered to be full of energy, enthusiasm, power, stamina, and, of course, many dreams and ambitions.

Another important view given by Ayuveda is that our whole life is based on three doshas, namely vata, pitta and kapha. Puberty to middle age, also known as ‘Yuvavstha’, is dominated by the pitta dosha.

Pitta and Yuva

Pitta symbolises fire and is known to be hot, sharp, light, and oily. That is why youth is considered to be ‘full of fire’. Even modern science proves that this phase sees major hormonal secretions. The hormones that are secreted by the pituitary gland (a pea-shaped gland that sits just under the brain) are the Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). Males and females have both these hormones in their bodies.

For males, these hormones help in testosterone production that lends masculinity to their mannerism. In case of females, FSH and LH target the ovaries, which contain the eggs. Estrogen, along with FSH and LH, causes a girl’s body to mature and prepares her for pregnancy. In this phase, the youth focuses on making a career, seeking prosperity, planning a family, and working hard to fulfill his ambitions. However, by living life so aggressively, their stress levels are usually very high.

Tolerance, endurance, and patience run in short supply for most young people. There are chances that some pitta related disorders may affect their health during this phase of life. Some common problems they witness are acnes, pimples, acidity, hair problems, ulcers, cold sores, migraine, anxiety, behavioural changes, and abnormal hormonal changes.

Importance of Brahmacharya- ashram

It is said that if you nurture a plant or sapling well and give it the right care, only then can it grow into a healthy tree.
In our ancient social system, the average age was categorised into four different phases. The youth falls into the first phase of life because it lasts from birth to 25 years, which also includes yuvavstha. This phase, or the first quarter of life, is known as ‘Brahamcharyashram’. This is the time when a child starts learning, studying, memorising, and attaining self realization. His character is moulded by the spiritual values he receives.

Our scriptures offer a few guidelines on what to follow during these learning years:

• Live a disciplined life, free from materialistic desires.
• Obey the instructions of your teachers, parents, and older people.
• Develop all necessary qualities, such as politeness, compassion, forgiveness, simplicity, generosity, and purity of thought.

The importance of practicing this ashram is that one should know how to channelize the flow of energy in a positive way to achieve the right purpose. When a youth gets educated in this prescribed manner, he learns how to handle every situation and find a solution for every problem.

Causes of Common Youth Problems

On an individual level, each person has a different cause for any problem he faces. But here we are talking about some common problems that affect the youth in general.

Physical level

Pitta aggravation – Irregular and abnormal diet intake, unwholesome lifestyle, being away from one’s own nature (prakriti) as well surroundings

Psychological level

Rajas dominance – Not practicing code of conduct, lack of time utilisation for priorities, lack of communication with elders in the family, acting too fast to achieve all luxury and comfort in a short time

Ayurvedic Suggestions

There are very simple but effective ways mentioned in Ayurveda to overcome the problems that come in this age. Here are a few of them.

• Practise dharma in all aspects of life.
• Take the time to relax when things go wrong.
• Learn proper relaxing techniques.
• Care for and share with all needy people.
• Earn and enjoy according to prescribed moral values.

What are Strength Building Foods?

According to Ayurveda, food that gets digested properly, helps in tissue formation, increases ojas, enhances immunity power, and keeps you safe from physical and mental fatigue is considered energizing food. It not only improves physical health but also satisfied the mind and the senses. Here are some food items that fall into this category


Dates fight against weakness-related disorders and help build strength. They boost appetite, and aid digestion. Dates are commonly eaten after being boiled in milk.

Bengal Grams (Chana Dal)

Everybody is familiar with Bengal gram (chana). A rich source of proteins, it’s a staple in Bharatiya kitchens. Chana is packed with carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins B-6 and C, and minerals like iron, calcium, and magnesium. It increases immunity, balances metabolic process, and keeps the skin, hair, and eyes healthy. Sprouted grams are considered to an energy-building food and given to people suffering from weakness.


Ayurveda speaks of eight different categories of milk, of which cow’s milk is the best. It boosts stamina and intelligence and builds tissues and ojas. Ojas is considered the most purified extract of all seven dhatus (tissues) that determines the body’s résistance power. Milk and ojas share similar qualities and, therefore, complement each other. Regular use of milk and ghee can have an anti-ageing effect on the body.

Black Gram (Urad Dal)

Black gram contains 24% protein, 59% carbohydrate, 1.5% fat and several vitamins and minerals. It increases body weight. It is also effective in problems of the joints and nervous system. Since it’s heavy to digest, black grams must be eaten in moderation. During the winters, laddoos (ball shaped sweets) made of black gram are extremely popular.

Foxnut (Makhana)

Makhana is easy to digest and can be eaten on a regular basis. In general, it is eaten with milk to cure post delivery disability. Foxnut is also helpful in increasing the fertility of both men and women.

Water Chestnut (Singhada)

Water chestnut is used to cure pitta related problems, like heat build up in the body, excessive thirst, or burning sensation while urinating. It has 32.5% carbohydrates, 3.5% proteins, 0.5% fat, and minerals like sodium, calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorus, iodine and magnesium. Apart from being eaten as a fruit, its flour is also used in Indian cooking.

About the Author

Prabir Roy
Prabir Roy works at Jiva Ayurveda (, a company with a mission of bringing Ayurveda to every home.