Many of us have learned from experience that dieting doesn’t work and can even backfire. But there are simple ways to “prime” your body for weight loss so you can slim down and feel healthier without counting calories or cutting out foods, says integrative neurologist Kulreet Chaudhary.

“The Prime is a program that helps to remove ama, or unprocessed toxins, from the body, mind, and emotions,” says Chaudhary, a conventionally trained neurologist who is also trained in Ayurvedic medicine. Chaudhary believes our bodies are overloaded by exposure to toxins in the environment and in the foods we eat. The Prime, a 4-step program involving simple herbs, spices, tea, and healthy lifestyle changes like meditation, helps you eliminate these toxins by improving digestion, promoting healthy gut bacteria, and curbing cravings for addictive foods like sugar. All of these changes result in weight loss, Chaudhary says. The Prime also de-stresses and boosts brain health, making you feel sharper and clearer and helping you make better food choices, she adds. In fact, Chaudhary discovered the weight-loss benefits of The Prime by accident when she was treating her neurological patients. (Chaudhary, who believes that brain health and gut health are inextricably linked, begins to treat her neurological patients by detoxifying their bodies and reducing systemic inflammation.)

“As you remove the toxic traffic jam in the body, the body naturally becomes more efficient at processing the toxins it’s exposed to. You start craving different [healthier] things,” says Chaudhary, noting that her patients lose an average of 20–30 pounds on The Prime. Plus, when you’re managing stress better, you’re not releasing the stress hormones that lead to cravings that will undo the best diet, she explains.

1. Brew Prime Tea

Prime Tea, a blend of cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and fennel seeds, helps increase agni (digestive fire) and removes toxins from the gastrointestinal tract and lymphatic system, says Chaudhary. You can brew it yourself with the recipe below.

2. Drink your fiber

Since the average American diet is so fiber-poor, Chaudhary recommends flushing your system with 1 teaspoon of ground flaxseeds and 1 teaspoon of psyllium husks in a glass of room-temperature water every other night before bed. “Fiber feeds the good gut bacteria, absorbs toxins like a sponge and moves them out of your body,” she says.

3. Sprinkle Natural Spices on Your Foods

A blend of naturally anti-inflammatory spices like cumin, coriander, fennel, ginger, turmeric, and amla powder — helps turn your kitchen into a pharmacy, says Chaudhary, who suggests sprinkling it on your food like you would add salt to a dish. “What we are finding in medical research is that inflammation is the final common pathway for most disease states such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and obesity,” she explains.

4. Take Triphala

Triphala may sound foreign to you, but it’s a simple blend of three dried, ground-up berries. Take 500–1000 milligrams at bedtime as a gut tonic, Chaudhary recommends. “Triphala is one of my favorite herbs in the world because of its ability to keep the gut balanced so effortlessly,” she says.

5. Meditate 15–20 minutes twice a day

When you are doing any type of program that is truly cleansing, you may be shocked by the emotional stuff that can come up, Chaudhary says. Meditation is a tool to deal with this emotional “ama” and a coping mechanism to replace the comfort you may have been finding in junk food. Plus, meditation helps control stress and the release of the stress hormone cortisol is linked to overeating, she notes. Chaudhary practices Transcendental Mediation, but if you’re not already meditating, she recommends starting with whatever type of meditation appeals to you. “Not meditating is like not brushing your teeth on a daily basis, but for your mind,” she says. “When you’re meditating, a lot of things change spontaneously.”

Recipe: Prime Tea

Boil 4–5 cups of water in the morning.

Add 1/2 tsp of the following seeds to the water and continue to let steep for at least 10 minutes with the lid on.

  • Whole cumin seeds
  • Whole coriander seeds
  • Whole fennel seeds

Strain out the seeds and pour the liquid into a thermos. Sip the liquid throughout the day. Start fresh with a new batch of tea each morning. If the tea is too strong or if you experience some initial discomfort, reduce the amount of the seeds to 1/4 tsp for two weeks and then increase it back to 1/2 tsp.