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The Yoga of Eating: How to eat like a Yogi.

Updated on May 11, 2019
Bridget Chaney profile image

Bridget Chaney Lennon, Certified Yoga Teacher and Certified Nutritionist, has been studying Yoga and Eastern Philosophy for 25 years.

The Yoga of Eating

Good nutrition is the foundation of a healthy body and mind. Without the proper nutrients, our bodies cease to function effectively, and develop sickness and disease.

The health of our bodies’ cells helps to determine our overall well-being. The success of each cell depends upon its ability to absorb oxygen, and the capability of removing its toxins or waste. These functions are most important in the cells of the heart and the lungs. With proper nutrition, cell oxygen absorption and waste removal with be most effective.

By supplying the body with the proper nutrients, and by not eating unhealthy foods, along with regular asana practice and breathing and relaxation techniques, we can become a well-balanced, happy and healthy person. Nutritional health, although different people have specific needs or health issues, can be summarized with some basic guidelines.

Organic: Including vegetables, free-range meats, dairy and grains. Organic foods generally taste better, have a higher concentration of nutrients and support a healthier planet.

Seasonal: Choose foods that are in season in your area. These generally taste the best, are the best for you and cost the least.

Vegetables: Increase seasonal vegetables to 3-5 cups per day. Ideally, make vegetable choices and preparation techniques (raw vs. cooked) according to your constitution. Reduce or avoid raw fruits and vegetables if you experience bloating, gas, indigestion or sugar cravings.. Avoid raw foods with diarrhea. Green leafy, and brightly colored veggies are good choices.

Fruits: Include 1-3 pieces raw or lightly cooked fruit per day, staying with seasonal, locally available fruits. Avoid tropical fruits unless in tropical climate. Reduce or avoid raw fruits and vegetables if you experience bloating, gas, indigestion or sugar cravings. If drinking juices, stick with 100% juice (no sugar added).

Legumes (beans, lentils, peas): Include only those legumes that do not lead to gas and indigestion. When tolerated, legumes are a very healthy protein option and can be included daily. Use spices for your constitution to aid in digestion.

Soy: Avoid soy with signs of low thyroid, indigestion, gas, bloating, or with history of breast cancer. Children and men should avoid or limit soy to small amounts. Best choices are fermented (Miso soup, tempeh or soy sauce).

Meat/poultry: Include organic, preferably grass-fed meat regularly with signs of cold or dampness, or in winter (or a cold environment). Reduce or avoid red meats with signs of heat or in summer (a hot environment). Avoid corn or soy-fed meats with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, PMS or headaches. Poultry is generally a better choice than red meat. Choose only organic poultry.

Eggs: Enjoy eggs every 4 days, with 2-3 eggs per serving. Eggs do not cause heart disease or high cholesterol. Best choices are omega-3-rich or DHA-rich eggs or organic, free-range eggs.

Fish: Include fish, especially fatty fish, 2-4 times per week. Best fish include wild salmon, sardines, haddock, and anchovies, swordfish and tuna steaks. Limit intake of shellfish.

Grains/Starch: Avoid white flour products (most pasta, breads, bagels, crackers, pita bread). Choose whole grains. Be aware for potential wheat sensitivity. Millet, rice, amaranth, rye and quinoa are also acceptable.

Nuts/Seeds: Nuts and seeds are generally a healthy food for most. Best choices are walnuts, pumpkin and sesame seeds. Avoid nuts roasted in oils.

Cooking oils: Use only the following for cooking: cold-pressed, organic olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, or ghee. Avoid cooking with corn, safflower, sunflower, soybean or cottonseeds oils.

Other fats: Choose salad dressings and mayonnaise with organic canola oil or olive oil only. Most people can use generous amounts of avocado.

Dairy Products: Avoid all dairy products if there is any mucous, including allergies or other sinus mucous as well as overweight, gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, depression. Avoid with signs of cold or dampness. Men should avoid dairy to reduce risk of prostate cancer as calcium and dairy intake is associated with this disease. Best choices include fermented goat’s milk products or organic whole milk products.

Meals: Eat 4-5 small meals per day with carbs decreasing as day progresses. Make dinner lightest meal.

What to Drink: Best beverages are purified water or herb teas. Herb teas should be selected based on constitution. Green tea is suitable for most people. Acceptable juices include lemonade sweetened with stevia, not sugar and cranberry juice using unsweetened cranberry concentrate. Avoid other juices on a regular basis.

Water: Drink the appropriate amount of purified for your individual needs. Drink until urine is pale yellow. Individuals with signs of heat should drink a minimum of 12 eight ounce glasses, whereas those with signs of cold probably need less than 8 glasses. Typically, anywhere from 4-15, eight ounce glasses may be necessary. Avoid tap water, plastic bottled water and distilled water. Ideal is filtered, spring or glass bottled sparkling water. Avoid iced water.

Nutritional Supplements: Multi-vitamin and other supplements based on individual needs.

Sleep: Adequate sleep must be obtained for the body to be healthy. Sleep needs are determined on an individual basis.

Sunlight: Enjoy natural, unfiltered sunlight 20 minutes each day, preferably in the morning. Avoid use of hats, sunscreen and other blocking agents for this period so your body can form cancer-preventing vitamin D on your skin and make mood-elevating serotonin in your brain.

Substances to Be Avoided or Limited: Any food that lead to an unpleasant reaction: (gas, bloating, indigestion, sinus reactions, skin reactions, fatigue, lethargy, anxiety).

Fats to Avoid: Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils should be strictly avoided. Avoid all commercial, clear glass or plastic bottled corn, safflower, sunflower, grape seed, walnut and soybean oils. Never use them for cooking. Use only cold-pressed, fresh and unheated polyunsaturated oils, in dark colored glass bottles and in small amounts. Most people take in too many of these omega-6 oils which leads to inflammation and weight gain. Avoid oils heat- or chemical-processed, old oils, lard and cottonseed oils. Check all labels for these oils.

Dairy Products: Avoid non-organic cow’s milk products, especially non-fat products. Avoid all dairy products if there is any mucous, including allergies or other sinus mucous as well as overweight, gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, depression. Avoid with signs of cold or dampness. Men should avoid dairy to reduce risk of prostate cancer. Best choices include fermented goat’s milk products or organic whole milk products.

Sweets/sugar: Reduce or totally avoid consumption of corn syrup, fructose, glucose, white table sugar, and all products made with them including sodas, cookies, cakes, candy, pie, frozen desserts, puddings, juices, muffins, and scones.Artificial

Sweeteners: Avoid NutraSweet (aspartame), sucralose, saccharin. Most if not all have numerous studies linking them with health problems, sugar cravings and weight gain. Use stevia, an herb used for hundreds of years safely by numerous countries.

Coffee: For some people, small amounts of coffee are tolerated. For others it contributes significantly to gastric upset, anxiety, irritability, blood sugar problems and high blood pressure. Studies show coffee will harden arteries as well as increase blood pressure and risk of stroke. Avoid more than one to two cups per day. Always choose organic.

Alcohol: Avoid alcohol with any liver issues, elevated liver enzymes, intolerance to caffeine or medications, when using medications, with mood issues, or heat swings. Limit to one to two glasses per day (one for women; two for men). Preferably choose red wine as it has antioxidant properties.

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