Yoga and Nutrition

by Denise Druce | December 14th, 2011 | Fitness Expert

I finally found it. The real magic potion. After 30 years of watching people turn to infomercials, pills, fads, surgeries, I finally found the cure to our nation’s obesity problem. It’s the Tree Bark Diet. A scientifically designed and proven formula that will melt fat off of your thighs, waist, and arms. It’s 100% natural, made from the bark of rare trees found only off the coast of Africa. Each pill costs $10, but you only have to take one pill a day for a guaranteed 5 pounds a week weight loss.

Now…if you are still reading and you believe me, I am going to quit my fitness career and open a donut shop. Why do we believe these type of claims? Because they are much easier for us to consider than the tried-and-true, time tested facts. If we want to lose weight, we have to move our bodies more and eat with better awareness. Period.

For over 30 years, I think I have heard it all. And I live in my own little bubble I guess, because I keep assuming that the average consumer has heard it all too. So I’m continually amazed when someone asks me what I think about XYZ diet or product. So here I present to you 8 ways to clean up your eating and change the way you feel and look. Warning…these are all things you have heard before. But remember, common sense is not common practice. We, as a nation, are losing the battle. And as Yogis, I feel we have an obligation, and an opportunity to Be The Change.

1. Get the good stuff in. Think about what your body needs for optimum performance, instead of thinking about all of the things you ‘can’t’ have. The minute I tell you what not to eat, you will think of little else until you finally break down and eat that thing (or more likely several of them). But focusing on getting five servings of fruit and vegetable each day helps curb the appetite for those other things.

2. Strive for a colorful plate. A plate full of colorful foods means you have many different nutrients. If you have kids, let them help you choose different and colorful items from the produce section and think of ways to work new colors into familiar dishes.

3. Drink plenty of water. Approximately 70% of our body is water, and our metabolic activity relies on adequate hydration. If we can get in the habit of always having water with us, and drinking often, we might be able to kick the diet soda habit.

4. Consider eating less meat. My kids’ school now does “Meatless Mondays” which I think is pretty cool. If you need some encouragement, consider that the most common cause of death in the US is heart attack. 
Every 45 seconds someone in the US dies of a heart attack. The average US man has a 50% risk of death from heart attack, but the risk to a US man who eats no meat, dairy, or eggs is just 4 percent! Plus, research shows that adults and children who follow a vegetarian diet are generally leaner than non-vegetarians.

5. Learn to prepare more of your own food. Home cooked meals are obviously more healthy than fast food. Meals eaten at a table with real silverware are bound to give you more nutrition (and satisfaction) than meals that come in a paper bag. Maybe you could make cooking a once-a-week family experience. Let meal preparation become something that everyone looks forward to, and sit down to enjoy your creations together.

6. Be bold when using spices. Not only do they flavor foods, many of them also boost the metabolism and speed weight loss. For example, cayenne and cinnamon are both spices that speed up the metabolism and help with fatigue. Do a little research and experimentation. Find out what spices you like and notice that you may have less desire for fatty or sugary, sweet foods.

7. Always eat breakfast. If you’re not a breakfast person, consider a smoothie for the road. Throw in an assortment of fruits, veggies, yogurt, and flaxseed. If you’re still not convinced, how about this: among people who belong to the National Weight Control Registry, those who have maintained weight loss for at least a year, almost 90% reported eating breakfast at least five days a week. This suggests that starting the day with breakfast is an important strategy to lose weight.

8. Slow down. Take your time to eat, and taste your food. Not only will this help you enjoy your meals more, it will help you feel full faster and thus you will eat less. Thich Nhat Hanh gives us some suggestions on eating with gratitude. We can practice an eating meditation every time we sit down to eat by offering the following words:

• This food is a gift of the earth, the sky, numerous living beings, and much hard work.
• May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive it.
• May we recognize and transform our unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed, and learn to eat with moderation.
• May we keep our compassion alive by eating in such a way that we reduce the suffering of living beings, preserve our planet, and reverse the process of global warming.
• We accept this food so that we may nurture our brotherhood and sisterhood, strengthen our sangha and nourish our ideal of serving all beings.

If all of these things seem unreasonable, start with the one that seems doable. Every time we make one small change towards better health, it seems that three more positive changes follow, almost unconsciously. Give it a try. Or, send me a check for some tree bark.

  1. Workout Girl says:

    Fabulous article! There’s nothing like exercise and healthy eating to keep you in good shape.

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.