As a yogi, food is a big discussion topic. Now a days there are so many different trending diets, cleanses and detox programs. There is almost a underlying societal pressure to “fit” into some kind of “diet” category. Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Palio, Ayurveda, Pescatarian, Calorie counting, low carb. New eating methods and restrictions seem to appear on the scene over night. Some can certainly be affective, others can be dangerously unhealthy. When it comes to how you are going to fuel your body, it is imperative to listen. It is all about what works for your body, your body that is beautifully unique.
In my opinion, as someone who in the past has attempted to fit into several of these categories, has tried many different diets/get “healthy” programs, there is one active life adjustment that changed my relationship with food forever: Becoming a conscious eater! Its not a diet, it is not a 30 day cleanse to drop a quick couple of pounds, it is a lifestyle change that will inevitably make for a over all more conscious human.
What is meant by conscious eating?
Listen to your body
Listen to your body always, take the time to learn its language. Once you are truly in-tune with your body it will certainly let you know what it wants and when. This will affect more than your eating habits. Listen always, when it needs rest, when you are being gluttonous in your indulgences, remember to be gentle with your body and your mind.
Clean eating is a topic that is discussed quite controversially these days. Eating clean does not mean starving yourself and only drinking lemon water for week. Think of it as what you put into your body is what you will get out of it. If you put fried, sugary, proceed foods in your body, which are completely void of nutrition. You will probably not be operating at your maximum capacity. Make sense? However if you are fueling your body with whole unprocessed nutrients that are easier for your body to digest and turn into energy, it is much easier for it to function at a higher capacity. This is the single most appealing side affect of clean eating. Surely, your body will inevitably lean out and tone with more ease, and who can deny those extra perks.
Slow down, become intentional with your food:
Often as a side effect of basic human survival instincts, at the fist sensation of hunger you will grab for whatever is closest, easiest, or most convenient. Whatever you are reaching for at these times may only be feeding your temporary quick fix craving. Instead, try to take a moment and think about what would really be best for your body. Don’t just eat to fill yourself, eat to fuel yourself.
Eating in a device free, mindful space:
This is something I find to be totally under-rated. A pivotal component of your yoga practice is mindfulness. Carry this from your mat to your dining space. You would not text, or be working while flowing on your mat. Try to maintain this same sense of devotion at meal times.
Training your taste buds and cravings.
The taste buds are much more moldable than you maybe realize. Your body will crave what you give it as you start to pull away from some of your less health conscious indulgences. Notice as your cravings begin to change. Try trading in the proceed candy for some roasted beets.
How you can get started:
Start asking questions
When you are ready to begin your journey of conscious eating, there are many questions to ask yourself and others.
Where is your food coming from? How did it get to you? If you are eating meat, where is coming from? What were the animals you are ingesting, eating? How does it feel in your body? What were the fruits and vegetables you are eating being fed? Are they organic? Locally sourced? What effects do your food choices have on the environment?
I know this list of questions can seem over whelming. But they are not to be questioned all at once, perhaps just begin with one or two. Small changes create massive effects. Before you know you will notice the difference in what you are eating, buying at the grocery store, as well as how your body feels, mental clarity and general energy level shift.
Detoxing & learning your body
If you have been living a relatively “normal” lifestyle, not really putting much thought into what you are buying at the market, even if you feel you are making healthy food choices, chances are your body is quite toxic. Unfortunately, we live in a chemical and pollution dense world. So much so that our bodies are unable to handle the detoxing that needs to occur in order to balance this out. We humans are designed to handle natural pollution created with in our own bodies. We are not however equipped to handle the vast amounts of artificial pollutants we are exposed to everyday. For this purpose it is beneficial to support our systems by consciously detoxing through food and nutrition.
If you are feeling out of balance or as if your body is not reacting well to certain foods but not sure which ones. I recommend trying the Elimination diet, taking certain commonly aggravating foods off your menu for two to three weeks and then slowly reincorporating them taking note of any reactions to said food. This method can be even more effecting and less costly then most allergy tests. Some foods that commonly cause digestive issues include: chicken, beans/lentils, coffee, citrus fruits, nuts, and nightshade vegetables. Once you determine what is making your body uncomfortable it will be easier to maintain your new life style.
The most important part in all of this is to listen to your body. Honor your body. Conscious and clean eating is not a quick fix diet. It is taking your yoga practice of your mat, bringing that same presence and intention with you. In doing this you will undoubtably be thanked by your body and mind.