|Photo: Whole Foods.com|
I have seen many fad diets over the past 20 years, since picking up my first book on health, Fit for Life, at the age of 16. Since then I have tried food combining, Eating for my blood type, and tried on even more labels, such as, Fruitatarian, Macrobiotic, Paleolithic, Raw Foodie, Vegan, Omnivore, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Gluten and Casein Free. It may also come as no shocker, that within this constellation of food experiments, paired with unhealthy self-esteem, that an eating disorder erupted to further the complicate this already complicated relationship I was in, with Food. There are as many different diets out there as there are religions, and in a way our diet is like a religion. There is always a new list of commandments you don’t do to be HEALTHY which equals GOOD. The popular diets and beliefs take over the consumer market. Gluten is the newest EVIL in the religion of health. And companies catch on quickly to line the shelves with products catering to our newest set of beliefs. If we ingest Gluten we are BAD or at least feel bad, as I have told myself for the past 2 years, but if we eat super foods we are GOOD and will feel super human. On a recent trip to whole foods I happened to be in the aisle with a woman that was new to gluten free. There were 3 employees, opening different packages of gluten free cookies and letting us sample them. (I love whole foods) Of course I tried every one they offered, because it was FREE. I left the store with a sugar hangover, wondering if it was really a good idea to eat all of these sugar-filled, refined foods just because the gluten free industry has found a way to make them taste even better than the real deal, in some instances. I started to wonder what it is I was being fed, and if the information was true to me.
Through my years of practicing yoga I began the study of Ayurveda, a sister science to Yoga, that teaches us how to live life. Ayurveda told me exactly what I wanted to hear in a moment the pendulum was swinging from, “There is only One Way to be radiantly healthy to I am no longer putting a label on myself when it comes to my relationship with food!” I no longer believed and believe there could be just ONE way for the complexity of our human bodies. Ayurveda told me that it was ok to eat meat if I needed some grounding, something that the sister science of Yoga and other philosophies have claimed to be bad. It explained why I craved eating raw during the summer months. It told me that there is not going to be one diet for every body or even one way for your body your whole life or even every season. Now I am consumer and practitioner of science of Ayurveda. Still, it is my yoga practice that has given me the most insight into myself and the world, and has healed the struggles I had in my early twenties with an eating disorder. Yoga has taught me to not be a consumer of fads and ever changing diets and beliefs, rather to believe in myself. Food is a way to experience the moment, sensations, and mostly nurturing my RELATIONSHIP with myself and the earth. Ayurveda has taught me to keep my body like a smooth running machine so that if I eat a little gluten or dairy, I still feel good. Yoga has taught me, if I eat too many cookies in the whole foods gluten free aisle, I don’t have to run 10 miles to burn them off. Many times when I am seeing students for nutritional counseling we end up working on forgiveness, self-esteem, and savoring their life. What we eat is only part of the puzzle, because we are multi-dimensional beings. It takes more than the perfect meal to make us feel nourished. How is your relationship with food? What is happening on the mental and emotional level? Are you feeling integrated and deeply connected with yourself, and with nature? This is The Yoga Diet Mantra… “I Know that I am FULL and Happy and am not looking for anything outside of myself.” In the words of my teacher David Frawley, “The consumer is consumed.”