What to Eat and What Not to EatIf you’ve ever taken a ride on the roller coaster of yo-yo dieting, you know it’s not much fun. On the other hand, neither is watching the pounds gradually creep on over time. That’s why we’re writing this special three-part series on yoga weight loss tips—to help you finally reach and maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle over the long term.
In this month’s article, we’re going to focus on tips for choosing the best foods to eat (and those to avoid) to help you reach an optimum balance of taste and nutrition in your efforts to look good, feel good, and enjoy excellent health.
Remember that your desire to eat is your friend, not your enemy! Fill your body up with nourishing, delicious foods like fresh fruits, steamed, sautéed, and stir-fried veggies, legumes, wholesome grains, enticing salads loaded with hearty nutrition, simply sweet smoothies, etc. It’s so easy when we’re trying to lose weight to get caught up in the cycle of wanting something we know we shouldn’t eat it, and then we think about eating it so much that eventually we give in, feel guilty about it, etc. The only way to get rid of the junk is by piling on the good stuff. Luckily, when you’re eating delicious healthy food, you really can “pile” it on without piling on the pounds! You’ll be amazed at the quantity of healthy food you can eat and still lose weight or remain slim. Remember that if you are overweight, your metabolism is probably already out of balance and may need some time to adjust. While it’s a good idea to roughly monitor your calorie intake (especially in the beginning, as you adjust to a new style of eating), don’t worry as much about the quantity of food you eat—rather, focus on the quality. If you are overweight, it’s likely that your body is actually deficient in real nutrition, which makes it difficult for your cells to break down and metabolize unwanted fat. That’s why it’s so important to pile on the fruits and vegetables! By giving your body excellent nutrition and learning to tune in to your actual nutritional (and taste!) needs, your body will begin to heal on a deeper level. This will make it much easier for you to lose weight and maintain that loss over the long run.
Try to make every snack, meal, etc., balanced. Think grain, vegetarian protein, and fresh veggies as the ever-perfect combination. Fruit is perfect by itself or combined with a little bit of fat or protein, such as cottage cheese or peanut butter. Nourishing grains plus protein-rich foods such as dairy products, tofu, hummus, etc., combined with fresh vegetables make a perfect snack or meal in minutes and this combination will always leave you energized and satisfied. Just don’t neglect to throw some veggies on there! Vegetables don’t add many calories but they add tons of antioxidants, nutrients, enzymes, and taste! Having the variety of tastes found in fresh fruits and vegetables will truly satisfy your body’s cravings and make it much, much easier for you to lose weight.
Surprise! No—don’t try to follow a very low-fat diet! Fat—in moderation—is an important part of a healthy diet; it also makes food taste good and it helps you to feel full.What’s extremely important is the type of fat you eat. Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats are obvious ones to avoid. Focus on the good fats found in avocados, nuts and seeds (in moderation), extra virgin olive oil, ghee (clarified butter), and vegetable oils to a lesser degree. Occasional use of butter is fine.
Ouch! Well, here’s the hard one—especially for us Americans! Try to avoid too much sweet taste in your diet, even artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame. (One study I came across found that drinking diet sodas caused people to consume extra calories by the end of the day!) According to the ancient science of Ayurveda, we require a balance of different tastes in our diet, including bitter (greens), pungent (garlic), astringent (lemon), etc. Having an overabundance of sweet-tasting foods really tends to stimulate the desire to overeat and also tends to cause excess weight gain. The good news is once you “rehabilitate” your taste buds, you really will become averse to eating too many sweet things! In America, almost everything is sweet—even the bread we eat is loaded with sweetener. (Remember, high-fructose corn syrup is just as refined as white sugar!) A little bit of sweet is fine, especially if it is a healthy sweetener, such as honey, maple syrup, or sucanat. Of course, the best sweet thing to eat is fresh fruit! Check out Wai Lana’s Favorite Juices for ideas on mouthwatering smoothies, fruit juices, and desserts.
Do LOTS and LOTS of yoga! Yoga will not only stretch, tone, and invigorate your body, it will also help you lose weight and keep it off. Yoga will help you to become more in tune with your body’s true needs, making it natural and easy for you to choose mouthwatering, nutrient-filled foods. So pop in a yoga DVD or video and enjoy a yoga-style vacation with our favorite host, Wai Lana!