Nourishing yourself with healthy food is the best health insurance policy you can give yourself. In yoga our physical bodies are called annamaya kosha this translates roughly as food-energy layer. As our yoga practice deepens our awareness of and connection with our physical bodies is clearer we can sense what foods feel good to us, and what foods (even though we may crave them) don’t feel so supportive or nourishing. As we are all subtly different in our make up we all require slightly different types of diet. There is no one right diet or way of eating as we are individual. Hence it is up to us to listen carefully to how we react to food in order to decided whether it feels right for us or not.
1) Fuel Mix Matters
We need different types of fuel for different situations…
In general we will need more fat and protein (more dense food):
When it is cold; when we are stressed; when we are doing a lot of physical exercise
Women will tend to need more fat and protein before, during and after their period (towards the end and at the beginning of their cycle).
We can get away with having less fat and protein in our diets:
When the weather is warm; when we are feeling less stressed, when we are not doing lots of physical training.
Some people will just naturally thrive on less fat and protein.
2) Eat more vegetables (especially green ones)
Vegetables are in general: alkaline, rich in fibre and full of nutrients (if they are organic or homegrown). Forget 5 a day, we are talking 10 a day. Lots of veg and some fruit is super good for you.
3) Eat less (or no) wheat, gluten or carbohydrate foods
We have become over reliant on grains and carbohydrates. In fact our bodies do not need carbohydrate foods at all. However it is good to eat vegetables which contain compounds essential for long term health. We also need the fibre that vegetables provide. In this day and ages it is easy to gluten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There have been many studies and much anecdotal evidence to show that gluten is not great for our digestive systems, and hence our general health. It is worth cutting it out for a week or two and then if things go well, reduce your intake of other grains in a natural and easy way. Once you have cut back on glten food be wary of reintroducing them to quickly. Ten years ago I ate a whole pizza after three weeks of no gluten and promptly had an asthma attack after years of being asthma free!
Nowadays, I eat grains as a birthday or special occasion treat.
4) Have less (or no) milk products
The production of milk is not a pleasant process. Making an industry out of taking the food from a mother, intended for her young is not ethical. However, small scale farming does not carry the same problems as mass milk production. Organic is better than normal milk; small scale farming is often better than organic large scale farming; grass fed animal produce is much healthier than grain fed. Milk and butter is ideally raw (unpasturised, you can get it from local farmer’s markets) and unhomogenised.
5) Good food costs a lot
Expect to pay a lot for good food… cheaper meat has meant appalling conditions for animals and a desensitisation on our part, to their suffering. I am not a vegetarian although I do have many vegetarian meals as it is kinder to the planet (meat eating is the biggest cause of climate change) and kinder to our animal friends. My favourite recipe book is The Cranks Bible.
Healthy Gluten/Grain Free Free