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No man in the world has more courage than the man who can stop after eating one peanut. ~Channing Pollock
How happy are you with the way you eat and foods you eat?
Do you constantly eat-on the go, snack on junk food and indulge your cravings for sweet and highly salty foods? Have you tried to eat healthier yet feel over whelmed by all the advise thrown at you from all corners? Given that this is a New Year, if you are interested in changing the way you eat, today’s post looks at five ways yoga encourages you to eat healthier.
Yoga Helps You To Eat Healthier
Yoga, with its emphasis on healthy living promotes eating a healthy balanced diet. If you regularly eat refined and processed foods, drink lots of caffeine or alcohol, red meat and fatty foods and still want to loose a few pounds, tone up or just feel better after eating, then some how or the other you have to change your eating habits. Yoga can help you to regain control of the way you eat.
I am sure you have heard of the saying “you are what you eat”. Most women have a love-hate relationship with food. Food is our saviour, lover, companion, best friend and strongest ally in the war against boredom and loneliness, yet as you know, substituting food for warmth, understanding and human contact stops you living a full and rich life.
If you want to have vibrant health, be full of life and vitality then the foods you eat play a key role in helping you achieve this. Change your unhealthy eating habits and you are well on the way to living a more fulfilling and energised life.
Five Ways Yoga Helps You Break Unhealthy Eating Habits
1. Yoga philosophy offers you a solid framework in which to choose foods to eat.
From a yogic perspective, the purpose of foods is to assist your body to cleanse, to revitalise, repair and build up your immune system. The yogic attitude to food is to eat to live, not live to eat! You eat food to enhance your health and purify your emotions. A yogic diet consists of foods which are eaten in their natural state as possible, e.g raw or lightly steamed; whole grains, pulses, nuts and seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables. Food contains energy, therefore to gain the maximum energy you need for your body to function you need to eat foods which are nutritional rich and bursting with enzymes.
Yoga Food Tip: Eat foods grown in their natural state as possible e.g. munch on raw carrots, sprinkle sunflower seeds, which are rich in protein, fibre and B vitamins on your cereal and main meals.
2. Eat with love.
Yoga encourages you to get in touch with your inner being.
The more you practice yoga, the easy it becomes to be in tune with what is going on in your inner world. Yoga and meditation techniques empower you to develop a sense of enquiry and curiosity about what is going on in your body and accompanying emotions.
Have you noticed that when you are angry, upset or frustrated you mindlessly grab food, comfort eat and stuff yourself with foods which you think make you feel “better”? When I am in that space, macaroni cheese or a stodgy sandwich or a packet crisps, foods which I tend not to eat are “my allies”. Whereas when life flows and you feel good, you gravitate towards foods which you know naturally are healthy and make you feel good inside.
Yoga Food Tip: Take a deep breath in and slowly breathe out before you put anything in your mouth. This simple habit gives you a moment’s grace to stop and check in and hopefully regain your centre and break up that pattern of instantly reaching out and stuffing yourself when you feel tired or unhappy.
3. Develop Appreciation For Life
As you start to become more aware of your inner world and experience the spiritual side of yoga and meditation, you develop a sense of awe and appreciation for all life forms. You recognise the sacredness and oneness of life. Everything is energy and everything and everyone is connected. This extends to the foods you eat. The yogic philosophy of ahimsa (non-violence) recognises the sacred in all forms, including animals. Generally ,yogis favour a non-meat, vegetarian diet as this causes the less harm to the environment and your body. You will notice that a vegetarian diet consists of lots of pulses, nuts and seeds, whole grain substances – foods which are wholesome, low in carbs, high in fibre and protein and naturally help to sustain your energy levels during the day.
Yoga Food Tip: Eat more vegetarian or vegan dishes, foods which nourish you and cause as little harm as possible the environment or other animals.
4. Life is full of colour.
Look around and notice the variety of colours found in fruits and vegetable. Each colour relates to the energy centres (chakras), Choosing a combination of colours in your regular diet helps you to balance and energise your chakras which has a profound effect on your sense of vitality and well-being.
Yoga Food Tip: Be creative and have a colourful plate of food. Avoid bland looking dishes. Aim to have at least 3 different vibrant colours of food in your meals, especially the colours green, red and purple, yellow and orange. Think pumpkins, aubergines, blueberries, red peppers, spinach, almonds, lemons when you shop.
5. Be Present.
Yoga encourages you to live in the present moment, to be fully aware of how your body feels as you breathe on and off the mat. When you apply “presence” to your diet – you eat with conscious awareness and fully appreciate every morsel of your food. Instead of mindless chewing and eating in front of the television, ,eating with presence leaves you feeling spiritually nourished, mentally calmer and fed.
Yoga Food Tip: Try this Food Meditation. Consciously count and chew each mouthful and morsel of food 10-20 times, as you chew take your awareness into the sensations and textures of the food. Savour your foods and at the end of the meal, close your eyes and slowly roll your tongue over your teeth-make sure your tongue glides smoothly over the front, inside and biting surfaces of your teeth. Next glide your tongue over your gums and finally curl your tongue towards the back of your mouth. Be aware of the different textures, the saliva and sensations you feel as your tongue moves around your mouth.
What Next? It takes time, love, patience and energy to change habits. The goal of yoga is to achieve inner and outer balance. The foods you eat, can help you achieve this. Take your time to explore your relationship with food, to note how different foods make you feel and choose foods which leave for feeling cleanse, nourished and vibrant. Be gentle and accept that some days your will is stronger than other days. Yoga is a living science and you are the conductor of your life.
I’d love to hear other suggestions you have to change unhealthy eating habits. Share your thoughts in the comment box below and remember to share the love by clicking the Twitter icon.
And if you want more practical tips and suggestions about yoga and healthy living, my educational ebook A Woman’s Book Of Yoga – A Guide To Relax And Nourish Your Body And Soul is an excellent source of yoga and relaxation techniques. Find out more and buy your copy here
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