Sunday, March 29, 2009

New Year, New You- Eating, Part 1

“I don’t live to eat, I eat to live,” Martin Payne in “Martin”.

Who could forget the hilarious episode of “Martin” when he got serious about his health and fitness. He transformed into the “black Jack Lalanne” according to Pam, and took on his fitness and health in true Martin fashion, only to be foiled by none other than his mama’s honey butter biscuits.

As a yoga instructor, the most frequent questions I get are about dieting and proper eating habits.
It seems that there is so much mystery and confusion around the proper way to nourish our bodies. Since, I am currently working with folks on yoga and weight loss, I thought this would be a great time to talk about eating.

We cannot just concentrate on ways to improve our physical body and not give thought to what we put inside. Just like our body evolves over time so have our eating habits. However, our diet tends to be the area that causes the most confusion. We try to squeeze meals into our busy schedules. There is very little connection with the food we eat unless we gain weight, or feel a strong cravings like Martin for his mama’s biscuits, or if our food choices have an adverse affect or illness (heartburn, gas, bloating, high blood pressure or diabetes). And then you have tons of fad diets with crazy rules that promise huge results only add to the confusion but deliver nothing in return.

My suggestion is to spend some time and really focus on what your body not just your mind is saying about your diet. One way to do this is to take some time to focus on how you feel not just what you think after your meals. Are you tired, sluggish, nausea, bloated, uncomfortable, etc.? Try not to get caught up in defeat, however, know that you are working on a plan and answer honestly.

The next step is to write it all down. Keep a food journal to help you track your meals and your reaction to them. Write down everything you put into your body, including beverages, even a stick of gum. The important thing here is to be honest with yourself. There is no way to change if you have no idea what you should change, so writing it down gives you a real clear picture of what you are working with. It also gives you a clue to patterns that lead you towards poor food choices.

Then take the emotions out of the equation. I know that it is easy to feel angry, guilty, and so on about your choices but really it gets you no where. Awareness is the start of change and that change won’t happen if you only focus on your feelings and not your plan. You are not going to make a change if you are too embarrassed or feel too guilty to find the true path towards your health.

Once you have a your food journal for a week or two share it with your doctor, wellness provider, nutritionist, or personal trainer you are relying on for your health and wellness plan.

The key thing to remember is that each of us has a unique body with its own set of needs. If you have issues with disease it is important to consult with your doctor or wellness provider for the proper way to go about getting on track to healthy eating habits.

Try this.
Yogis typically suggest a vegetarian diet, however, I know that really extreme for a lot of people. So start with something simple. In class I suggested introducing or reintroducing one new fruit or vegetable into your diet over the next week or two daily. (Add a fresh or organic fruit and/or vegetable because the nutrition is higher.) This fruit or vegetable should be a substitute for just one of your poor food choices like donuts, potato chips, etc. This can be the start of your transition to better eating habits.

If you have a long term plan such as becoming a vegetarian, I suggest cleansing the body first with a fast or detox. A fast will give you a great foundation and help you rebuild your food habits. Again, consult with your health or wellness provider before you begin. For more info on fasting see my previous blog.

Nourishing your body no longer has to be a mystery. Creating your good health is well within your power. Namaste.

I would love to hear from you. Let me know if you are planning to fast or to introduce a new fruit and/or vegetable.

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