I guess it's that time of year... The holiday season, when people eat a lot. Maybe a little too much. And it seems the yoga community is particularly sensitive to eating. I've seen so many articles this week about food and eating and relationship to food. ...and here I am adding another...
Maybe it's because yoga is linked to mindfulness. You aren't just doing poses, you are being mindful of your body while you're doing the poses, where your body is, what your mind wants and what your body needs, where your focus is while you're flowing through the poses. Or at least you should be being mindful of these things during your practice. And generally speaking, yoga makes you not just aware of your body, but after you've been practicing for a while, you become mindful outside of yoga class. Including when you sit down to dinner, which among other things, means you stop eating when you're full (Woodward). I have a sneaking suspicion, that it's not only the mindfulness that makes yogis more, dare I say, obsessed with food and eating, it may have something to do with the fact that we run around in tights all day.
I've just finished reading an article about someone quitting sugar, including no longer eating fruits. Sugar is toxic, haven't you read about it? Here's an article I read recently in the NY Times about the evil sugar. Remember circa 1998 when fat was bad and we all ate those SnackWell's® cookies? They were full of sugar and preservatives, and we convinced ourselves that they tasted good and they were good for us? (If you don't remember, I don't really want to know, because it probably means you're a spring chicken and I'm getting old.) Then remember 10 years ago when we were all supposed to stop eating carbohydrates, and just eat fats according to the Atkins diet? Well, that dude had a heart attack, and studies show that in the long term, whether you follow a low fat or a low carbohydrate diet, you'll loose around the same amount of weight. Sometime in there was the Paleo diet, which by my (not so extensive) research is similar to Atkins, but gives a different rationale. Around 5 years ago was the start of gluten is evil. It makes you sick and tired, and you must stop eating it? (disclaimer: I realize some people are actually truly allergic to gluten and have Celiacs disease. You know, those with the deficient HLA-DQA1 and HLA-DQB1 genes.) If you don't have Celiacs disease, studies show that whole grains are actually really good for you. They're rich in antioxidants and trace minerals and may provide immune protection (Slavin). There's also that vegetarian/vegan thing, which is becoming more prominent, but shouldn't necessarily be included in this discussion, because it's not a fad (in my opinion), more than it is a personal choice. Now it's the sugar thing. And, well, apparently we were all killing ourselves when we were on the low fat-high carbohydrate diet or the high fat-low carbohydrate diet.
I love food, and have since I was a young girl. I have a cousin who has kept a recipe I wrote for her from when I was around 11. But I still fell for the low fat fad. Back in the day when I was young and dumb and (already a very thin) desperate to be a thinner high school student. I didn't eat many SnackWell's®, they were expensive, and I was mostly on my own (financially) those last 2 years, but I did have many a bag of animal crackers. When I was in college, I wasn't as concerned with what I ate as I was with having something to eat. Now that I have a choice, I eat whatever I want.
What? You're a yogi and you eat whatever you want. Yes. That's right. I want chocolate, I eat chocolate. I want meat, I eat meat. I want bread and butter, I eat bread and butter. Chocolate is really good for you, it has antioxidants and can modulate immune functions (pick your citation). My doctor says I need to eat protein to stabilize blood sugar fluctuations, red meat for its iron content because iron in veggies is not bioavailable, and I just like bread and that heavenly French cristaux de sel de mer butter! But sometimes you have a bit of chocolate, and it's not all you hoped it would be, and you eat a ripe mandarin and it's the best thing in the world at that moment. It's because your body knows what you need, and you should listen! But really listen... Don't watch a commercial then convince yourself you must eat that product. I love kale and chard, spinach and tomatoes, winter and summer squash, beets and brussel sprouts, and I eat them as much as possible. Way more often than bread and butter and steak and chocolate. What I don't eat anymore is SnackWell's® cookies and I find fast food disgusting. I eat bread made with flour, water, oil and yeast. Steak with spices and a little olive oil. Brussel sprouts roasted with olive oil and salt and pepper. If I want a sweet confection, I either bake it myself, or I go to a nice bakery and buy myself a treat, and I enjoy Every. Single. Bite. The craving is then gone, and I don't feel bad about it. I eat whole foods that are so tasty, they are worth every single calorie, whether it's an excellent lemon tart or a handful of brussel sprouts. I don't diet, but I do yoga, because it's good for my body and it's good for my mind.
Former San Francisco DNA wrangler and current Paris yoga teacher and mom. Sharing. Caution: Possibly too much.