Here’s a question that was emailed to me recently concerning someone who is new to Yoga and how he feels it is affecting his diet and overall health. Since I fully re-engaged in the Yoga “lifestyle” – and particularly since I entered Yoga Teacher Training – I have seen tremendous changes in my diet and how I view food. I thought this would be a good chance to respond and sort out my own thoughts and feelings on diet and how the physical body responds.
Lately, especially the last couple of days the foods I normally eat without thought seem to upset my stomach. I mean, I feel them inside and each of them I’ve sworn off now. Before you think I’m crazy or need to see a doctor: my wife is a RN and has been for 20 years and is pretty smart about these things so I know I’m not ill.
Additionally, my appetite has decreased, in fact I notice when I’m full. I’m not a big eater at all, but it’s obvious to me when I become filled or full.
Is that Yoga related, as in being tuned into my body now or do you think it’s just my imagination?
I’ll give you my own personal thoughts and observances, as I’m not a doctor nor am I trained in the medical field.
I think that as you practice Yoga more regularly and consistently, your physical body begins to rebel against the foods that:
A) are not really good for it or are not actually food (processed foods, white breads, sugars that don’t come from fruit)
B) your body becomes more adjusted and attuned to its own wants and needs over time.
In my opinion, our physical bodies have “minds” of their own and if left to its own devices (and if someone chooses to be quiet, still and listen to it, as I do), the body will gravitate towards what IT needs rather than what your thinking mind tells it it needs.
I realized awhile back that the fact that I crave cookies (processed sugar) and potato chips (trans fat grossness and god-know-what chemicals and preservatives they put into them) at particular times of the day is not necessarily ME wanting to eat cookies and chips per say, it is addictions that I and my body have acquired throughout the years. And it is my MIND telling me that by eating these foods, I will satisfy whatever emotional needs I may have at the time depending on my life circumstances.
I was a smoker for over 24 years *shudder* and I quit over 5 years ago. One evening I was CRAVING potato chips, and I had not been particularly physically active around that time so I knew that it wasn’t me needing to replace lost sodium due to sweating and exercise. It suddenly occurred to me that the feeling/craving that I was having was EXACTLY the same feeling that I used to get when I smoked and found myself craving a cigarette – which was pretty much all of the time. I thought about this more and more and found that I was able to apply that same feeling of craving a cigarette to pretty much every form of food craving that I had, and still do. Knowing this has made it much easier for me to fight off the urge to eat anything that comes in a package or a bag now. It’s the not the food I crave, it’s the chemicals in them that we are all addicted to on varying levels.
This being said, I don’t know what foods you regularly eat so I’m only speculating that your body is rebelling against the typical Westernized diet type “foods” (cheap carbohydrates dipped in chemicals really) instead of steamed broccoli, fresh asparagus and lean proteins.
Another beautiful thing about Yoga is that it’s a wonderful system for healing and balancing the body. I tend to look at it as taking my car in to have the tires rotated and balanced. The only difference being that you are now “rotating and balancing” your entire skeletal, muscular, nervous and limbic systems. Like everything in the universe, your body is seeking the middle ground, the point of balance and the center. Eating foods that don’t lend themselves to your body attaining that balance will be rejected either on a mental, emotional or physical level. This is probably what is happening to you.
As far as your appetite goes, perhaps you’re adjusting to the amounts of food that your body actually needs to live and thrive rather than to what you’ve become accustomed. AND, if you’re eating more and more of the proper types of food, you are more likely getting the nutrition that you now need, therefore requiring you to eat less. I can tell you that since I began my yoga teacher training, I have lost 10lbs that I didn’t really want to as I only weigh 140lbs as it is. I’m much leaner and more cut though which is good. And I eat like a horse – I have to to keep the weight on. There is something about yoga (and my dietary choices) that makes my metabolism explode.
No, you’re not crazy, you’re awake, alive and tuning in to your needs. This is generally not what we’re taught to do in Western society so it can feel a little unnatural at first. Trust me that you will become rapidly acclimated to this new way of living and being and wonder how you ever got by before. Enjoy.