One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. -Luciano Pavarotti
I have been fielding a lot of questions lately that come down to "what should I eat?" This is such a broad question I never know quite where to start. When I spent 3 years working with my own diet, doing research and experimenting with theories on nutrition and working with naturopaths, nutritionists and herbalists, I learned one universal truth in this field. No one agrees with anyone else. And most people are pretty sure they are the only one who has the right formula for everyone.
Because I teach yoga, people often assume I am a vegetarian or a vegan. I'm not, except for sometimes, like this past month, when I am. I don't believe that there is any one diet right for everyone, or even right for any one person for all times. I'm not here to tell you what to eat but to share and teach how to know what to do for yourself.
In my experience of healing digestive issue and wanting to have energy for my active lifestyle, I've realized a couple things that helped me no matter what I was eating:
1. Notice what is going on in your body. How is it communicating to you?
When I started my quest to understand more about nutrition, I was having trouble waking up i in the morning and sustaining my energy throughout my long days of training teachers. My skin was itchy and no lotion I used seemed to cool it. What I didn't realize was that the sore throats I was experiencing were also from my diet, not from the 8 hour days of speaking. I thought I was eating healthy, but my body was telling me otherwise.
2. Take a look at your overall diet. Where are the patterns? What do you tend to consume the most?
When my naturopath suggested I cut out all gluten from my diet, I baulked. I didn't eat unhealthy grains, I ate organic, sometimes sprouted, locally baked goods. What could be the problem? After only a few days of cutting them out, I noticed a huge difference. When I went back to eating them 6 months later, I noticed how quickly they can take over my diet . . . bread with my soup, crackers for a snack, fresh baked muffins for breakfast , , ,
3. For at least 3 days, commit to one simple change.
When I started to make changes, I learned how my body was responding to the foods I was consuming. One big surprise to me was that a signal I was interpreting as dehydration, was actually a histamine response to the citrus in my favorite beverage at the time. I kept drinking more thinking I was dehydrated and made things worse, not better. Without citrus in my diet, my sore throats went away within a week and I could teach all day without issue. This was also one of those ah ha moments when I realized that something that is considered healthy, wasn't healthy for me.
4. When you take something away, add something new in.
When I decide to stop eating wheat, I pre-shopped for a couple weeks looking at all the alternative things I would be trying. A couple times a year, I do an elimination diet and I see it as a time to explore new foods. This past month I have been mostly gluten-free and vegan and I enjoyed all the new recipes I discovered. A simple internet search turned up these great sites to try and many new favorite recipes like Creamy Coconut Spinach and Mushroom Quinoa and Fresh Spring Rolls with Ginger Sauce:
I'm starting to collect some of the recipes I find on my pinterest Healthy Eating board too. Check it out for some inspiration to start your own.
So am I vegan all the time now? No, but trying it out for stretches of time teaches me what my body is trying to communicate to me with more clarity. I try not to get too fanatical about my diet and I suggest you don't either. Simply ask yourself if it is serving the whole picture of your life. Do you feel good and have ample energy? Are you happy and grateful when you eat? Do you enjoy the places you can go and the people you can share time with? These are all signs that you are getting what nourishes you the most.