Sunday, December 19, 2010

Nutrition For Yoga: The Simple Stuff That Really Works

Recently I gave a couple of 'food for yoga' seminars over in Perth. It was very interesting to me to hear from participants at the start of each seminar and learn what they would most like to know more about when it comes to nutrition and optimal health. Some of the big points that came up again and again (aside from the obvious; what to eat before or after class) were how to stabilise energy, how to improve digestion, and how to deal with cravings. Energy really seemed to be the stand out point - given how busy we all seem to be, especially at this time of year, this makes a lot of sense! In my experience, when it comes to living a life full of 'va-va-voom', regular exercise like Bikram yoga is just the beginning. Choosing wholesome foods in their natural state, and being organised enough to eat them regularly (I'd suggest every 3 hours) is really the key. The best part is that by learning to fuel your body with the best foods for energy you'll also notice your energy in the yoga room will improve tremendously.

With that in mind, here are my top points for creating an ideal 'food for yoga' nutrition plan.

  • Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants
  • Aim to eat 4-5 times per day, including some form of protein at each meal. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a peasant, and dinner like a pauper
  • Choosing a protein and good fat breakfast will fuel and energise you for the day ahead, and may prevent afternoon sweet cravings
  • Eat until you are seven tenths full and save the other three tenths for hunger
  • Include all three macronutrients at each main meal. These are protein, fats (good fats), and carbohydrates such as seasonal vegetables
  • If stress is an issue for you, minimise caffeine and alcohol intake
  • When it comes to real food there is nothing evil. While some choices of fruits or vegetables may contain more nutrients or less sugar than others you really can’t go wrong with food in its natural state
  • Drink roughly 1/3 a litre of water for every 10kg of body weight
  • Use a food diary or food tracker to keep you accountable to the realities of your food choices
  • Examples of good fats include organic coconut oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil, raw nuts or seeds, and low-mercury fish such as salmon or sardines
  • A serve of protein is generally the size of the palm of your hand. Green vegetables can be eaten in up to 2 fists worth per meal.
  • Avoid creating strict rules around food: it’s better to occasionally eat the chocolate rather than spend the whole day obsessing about chocolate and the fact that you ‘can’t’ have it!
  • Quality counts: it’s better to pay the grocer than the doctor
  • Never eat something that is pretending to be something else – artificial sweeteners, textured protein, margerine or butter replacements, low-fat foods in general. Instead, choose and enjoy a small amount of real food as close to its natural state as possible.
  • Minimise foods with ingredients you can’t pronounce
  • Don’t buy food where you buy petrol. Eating on the run is a fast way to poor health and increased body fat. In the same way, it’s not food if it arrived through your car window
  • Avoid getting to the point of starvation as you’re far more likely to reach for low-nutrition convenience foods
  • Eat animals that have themselves eaten well
  • Break the rules once in a while: All things in moderation; including moderation! (My favourite rule!)
What would you add to this list?

Reference: Some of the above points (including the last one :-)) have been updated by one of my favouriet 'foodie' books: Michael Pollan's 'Food Rules'.


Marina J said...

Improving the quality of life through health and nutrition involve following a diet pattern and adequate levels of nutrition to prevent diseases and maintain physical fitness. The key to true health is to have a balanced wholefoods diet. A balanced diet ensures that all the faculties of digestion work smoothly – absorption, assimilation and elimination.
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Wins said...

yoga is really beneficial for our health. But It works when diet is healthy. I think you did good job in this blog. I was told in my yoga classes about the diet which yoga follower must have in their meal.

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Dainard said...

Hi friends,

The basic principle of nutrition, from the yoga perspective, is to eat small quantities of high quality foods. The high quality foods are those which promote the life force of the body without producing toxins. The recommended foods are fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts. Incredibly, yoga's principles of nutrition are very similar to what modern science has discovered in more recent times. Thanks for sharing it.....

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Fergal said...

Great post! Yoga is really beneficial for our health. But It works when diet is healthy. We can practice many relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga to reduce stress and anxiety. And the all mentioned points are very systematic as well. All the tricks are very helpful in a very efficient way. Thanks for sharing.
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