Yoga and a healthy diet

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For many years I have been concerned with what I put in my body. At a young age I was confronted with the fact that my body couldn’t process the meal type I had everyday: meat, vegetables and potatoes. I wasn’t able to digest it well, leading to a bloated tummy, headaches, extreme tiredness after a meal and an overall feeling of not having enough energy. When you are 18 years old, these are conditions you should not have on a daily basis. So I had to go on a diet: no meat and potatoes (or pasta or bread) at the same time. So that basically meant, no carbs and proteins in the same meal. The improvements in my well-being were incredible. And that’s when it clicked: I am what I eat. However, it took me years to find a way of eating that served me as a person. Yoga played a really big role in it, because there I learned to be more in contact with my body. I learned to feel what reactions food gives me and what effect is has on my emotional state. I also learned a lot from the yoga vision on food.

Yogi’s and monks have a few simple rules when it comes to food. They avoid any food that involves killing or harming of animals and they encourage foods that grow harmoniously with nature. In other words, they (prefer to) eat vegetarian and organically farmed fruits and vegetables. Another rule is to try to avoid eating products that distract the mind. Meaning foods that either prolong digestion and therefore takes away your energy and focus (for example meat, fried foods, white flower products), or because it creates a scattered state of mind (spices, onions, starch, alcohol).

But above all, the food choices you make are not a diet; they are part of a lifestyle. We have a conscious choice of what we put into our body everyday, and the more good stuff we put in, the more good stuff comes out.

I’ve made changes to improve what I eat. In my case this means the following: I am a flexitarian, I eat meat or fish on occasion, about once every 2 weeks. I eat parts of my meals raw and other parts cooked. In the morning I drink a glass of water with lime juice. I drink green smoothies, fruit juices (non packaged) and water during the day. I try to cook my own meals as much as possible. I give preference to organic products (if they are available). My average dinner plate is ¾ vegetables and greens and ¼ potatoes, pasta or rice. I try to avoid lactose and gluten, by making my own non-dairy nut milk and by substituting gluten food for similar non-gluten products. And last, but not least, I include superfoods in at least one of my meals per day. Goji berries for breakfast, spirulina and propolis in smoothies, açai as a snack, baking in coconut oil, etcetera.

So now you might think, that is not what I eat. And I am not a yogi, so how do I do this? It is not that hard:

  1. Reduce the amount of times you eat fish or meat per week
  2. Give preference to organic farmed fruits and vegetables in the supermarket
  3. Buy one superfood and include this in your breakfast at home
  4. Take a look at the division of your dinner plate. Make sure that at least half of your plate is vegetables.
  5. Don’t cook all your vegetables; also eat some of them raw.
  6. Take a water bottle to work and fill it, so you can skip several rounds of coffee, sodas and packaged juices.
  7. Don’t make it a diet, make it a lifestyle. Allow yourself to also eat the things that make you happy.

What makes me happy? I love chocolate, a good white wine for dinner and French fries with salt. Because in the end, we cannot control all of our cravings all of the time! And it is ok to have them, as long as we do it in moderation.

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