Yoga is my go-to exercise when I need to feel grounded and more in tune with my body. For many, it’s also a religious, spiritual practice as a way to align with the universe. For whatever reason you enjoy yoga, there is a diet that can support the yogic lifestyle.
The Yoga Diet isn’t about losing weight or being skinny. Instead, it’s about getting in line with nature and learning to eat in a way that connects you with yourself and the planet. On the yoga lifestyle, you’ll eat living, fresh foods and plenty of grounding, healing foods. The idea behind the diet is to create balance and strength in the body and also provide healing to the organs and the blood. Since The Yoga Diet is a vegan diet, it’s also a highly energizing diet and one that creates a calmer and peaceful mind.
Intrigued yet? Here’s what you need to know if you want to eat like a true yogi:
- Emphasize Hydrating Beverages
Green tea, hot water with lemon, fresh vegetable broth, herbal tea, turmeric, peppermint, rooibos, and ginger tea are all commonly consumed on a yogic diet. These diets aren’t only hydrating but also very nourishing and cleansing. They also support the lymphatic system which is one of the body’s natural detox pathways. Replace your morning coffee with green or yerba mate tea; replace sodas for plain water or water with lemon, and have a cup of vegetable broth with lunch or dinner every day. At night, you may find a cup of turmeric, peppermint, roobios, or ginger tea comforting instead of turning to ice cream or sweets.
- Start Morning with Porridge and Fruit
Porridge with fruit is commonly consumed on a yogic diet for breakfast due to its warming and energizing properties. Common grains eaten in porridge in the morning include oats, quinoa, rice, barley, amaranth, and millet, which are all highly prized on the diet for their unique vitamin and mineral content. Some yogis avoid wheat because it can be inflammatory, while others enjoy it with no problem. Sweet fruits are emphasized in the mornings for their high sugar content which provides energy for the day ahead, and also because they assist in cleansing the body’s elimination channels. Many yogis also consume yogurt with their morning porridge, but for a vegan option, you may choose to have fresh coconut or soy yogurt instead. A breakfast of porridge and fruit will provide the ultimate long-lasting energy needed for the yoga practice and for the day ahead.
- Make Lunch the Biggest Meal of the Day
Most yogis and anyone practicing an Ayurvedic diet knows that the digestive fire is greatest at noon each day, so it’s best to consume the largest meal during this time. Aim for a larger lunch based off of raw vegetables and salads with vegan-based proteins such as tempeh, tofu, chickpeas, navy beans, kitchen, or sprouted grains. Other good options include cooked root vegetables, curries, and vegetable or miso soup. Fats should come from nourishing oils such as olive, hemp, or flax oil and nuts and seeds may be consumed in small amounts.
- Allow Space Between Meals
Unlike the Standard American Diet (SAD), yogis don’t eat all day or snack in between meals. They allow space in between meals to allow for optimal nutrient absorption and proper assimilation of nutrients. This also ensures digestion is complete before the next meal is consumed which may also help assist everything from food cravings to cleansing. During the afternoon hours feel free to drink plenty of warm tea, which may help prevent cravings and assist in elimination.
- Eat Mostly Cooked Foods At Dinner
During dinnertime, it’s important to eat cooked foods but also a lighter meal than lunch, so keep portions small. Cooked foods ground the body and allow you to rest more efficiently than energizing raw foods do. You want your energy to be at its peak during the day, not right before bedtime. For your evening meal, consume plenty of cooked vegetables, lentil soup, and be sure to include at least one cooked root vegetables at night such as carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, yams, winter squash, pumpkin. After dinner, you may have a hot cup of tea, broth, or some miso soup to soothe you to sleep.
- Emphasize Healing Spices
Yogis regularly consume a large amount and a large variety of spices at each meal. These include: cardamom, ginger, garam masala, black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, sage, fennel, anise, caraway, mint, basil, cumin, tumeric, parsley, and cilantro. These spices assist with digestion, alkalize the blood, improve your mood, reduce anxiety, and aid in cleansing and healing. Add them throughout your entire day’s worth of meals however you desire.
- Eat With the Right Attitude
The most important part of the yoga diet is to eat with gratitude and love. Take time to eat your meals in silence and outside in nature whenever you can. This connects you to the planet on a greater level, along with yourself and your body. It also makes you more aware of your food and helps you learn to eat to nourish your body instead of just eat to satisfy your cravings.
Eating a diet based of yogic principles can help your yoga practice, your attitude towards food, and will likely help you sleep better as well. Remember to stay away from caffeine outside of tea, sugar, processed foods, animal foods, refined grains, too much salt, and inflammatory oils such as vegetable oils. Aim to practice yoga in the mid-morning hours an hour after breakfast at least 30 minutes a day for beginners and at least an hour for advanced yogis. With the combination of a yogic diet and a yoga practice you can be well on your way to enjoying a more healing, balanced life in just a couple of weeks.