While many people explore yoga for better health, a calmer mind and a fitter body, consider whether your practice extend to your dinner table. Eating like a yogi is not about following a specific diet or fasting; the goal is to tune into your own needs to find a way of eating that nourishes your body, mind and spirit.
In our society, it is not uncommon for people to eat for reasons other than hunger: whether out of boredom, anger or pain, eating can be a way of concealing emotion. For others, it may be simply the habit of eating at a certain time or during a certain activity that lead us to eat the wrong kinds of foods or eat when we aren’t really hungry. One of the core teachings of yoga is being mindful of living in the moment. Many yogis find that their compulsion to overeat subsides over time, simply because they are more in tune with what their body requires. This finding is now more than just anecdotal. Recent research in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that people who do yoga regularly tend to eat more mindfully and maintain a healthier body weight over time, independent of the affect of the exercise itself. You can explore this concept even if you aren’t a yogi. Before you rush off to eat, take a moment and ask yourself “Am I really hungry? What does my body need right now?” You may find that this simple question is enough to awaken mindful eating.
In yogic philosophy, Prana is the life force that animates all living beings and we practice yoga to both awaken and harness the Prana within. Not surprisingly, everything we eat has the ability to either energize us or weigh us down. Foods that are unprocessed and close to nature such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds are more energizing to the body than processed foods such as frozen pizzas, boxed side dishes and snack bars. Increasing the amount of vitalizing foods in your diet is easy: simply choose one meal or snack to give a ‘vital’ makeover and see how you feel. If you typically eat a granola bar mid morning with your coffee, why not select your favourite dried fruits and raw nuts to make a trail mix? Choose items without added salt, sugar and sulphites to minimize processing. Increasing the amount of raw fruits and vegetables in your diet energizes thanks to the incredible bounty of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals they contain.
While exploring changes to your diet, avoid rigid dogmas and stay flexible! For some, a vegetarian diet makes sense while for others, choosing organically grown and ethically raised meats may be a better solution. You may find that Ayurvedic nutrition principles inspire your eating or that you prefer a Mediterranean style of dining. Just remember: eating like a yogi means enjoying life, nourishing your body and enjoying food…so dig in!
Desiree Nielsen, RD, Choices DietitianFor more grocery and cooking tips, I invite you to visit us in store or to come along on an InspireHealth Nutrition Tour. To support the InspireHealth community, we are pleased to offer this new complimentary service every other Friday at 11:30am at our Kitsilano location. Key InspireHealth food and nutrition teachings will be put into practice at the grocery store with Choices’ dietitian. You can learn practical tips and techniques for incorporating more healthful foods into your life and also understand more about foods you should be cautious towards.
Tours are FREE and open to all InspireHealth members, however, registration is required. Please call 604-734-7125 to join the next tour!