There are yogis who follow the actual yogic diet. A yogic diet is made up of sattvic foods. The Sivananada cookbook suggests that yogis eschew even unfertilized eggs. But that doesn’t mean You have to be a vegan.
The easier thing to do is start where you are and move towards a better diet. To begin with Stop Eating Weird. Any diet that is restrictive is unrealistic. If you won’t eat that way the rest of your life most of the time, than forget about it. Studies show that restrictive diets, the kind where you count calories or avoid foods you like, have the ironic effect of making people fatter. It’s called “yo-yo” dieting because after an initial loss during the period of restriction, the participants then gain back as much as they lost and more as soon as the diet returns to “normal”.
What you need for life long weight loss is a new definition of “normal.” When your “Normal” diet is organic, varied, high in fiber, and made up of non-processed foods you will be healthier.
Eating well includes (and is not limited to) eating low on the food chain, i.e. mostly plants and less animals. Eating produce that is fresh and in season. Also eating low on the process chain, i.e. eating an orange in lieu of orange juice. In addition eat Food, not food substitutes. Sucralose is not a food and the body does not digest it. To that end, butter and cream are generally safer than butter and cream substitutes. In the same vein, soda made with real cane sugar is less damning than diet soda or soda made with high fructose corn syrup. I’m not saying soda good for you. Even real soda has no nutritional value. It’s just better than diet soda.
Which brings me to the subject of BAD diet advice. Everyone has heard some. You sit down to enjoy a fresh salad and the party pooper next to you starts explaining to you how much fat there is in salad dressing. I remember my chiropractor lecturing me on how iceberg lettuce had no fiber and no vitamins. Maybe not, but how is it worse than eating a twinkie, which is what I used to eat while waiting for him? The answer is It’s Not! Iceberg lettuce is ABSOLUTELY better than a twinkie, and romaine better than iceberg.
Special K cereal is better than having a doughnut for breakfast. And Oatmeal is better than Special K, and what the heck, real oatmeal better than instant. It’s a process – this moving toward a better diet. Unless you are Oprah Winfrey and can hire an in-house chef to change your diet overnight, expect it to take time. If you are used to eating doughnuts for breakfast you may have to start with Frosted Miniwheats before you can even move to Special K!
Don’t let the turkeys get you down. As Jane Fonda advised in her original Workout Book: experiment, have fun with it, stick with it! Eventually your palate will become more sensitive. You’ll find you like the hearty flavor of whole grain breads. White flour will start to seem bland. Eventually you will be enjoying salads made with all variety of greens and vegetables with less and less fatty dressing.
When you demand yourself to change abruptly you feel overwhelmed and defeated and retreat back to the way you have always eaten, whether or not it is working for you.
Figure out what is eating you. For many Americans the problem is two-fold. They don’t eat well, AND they eat inappropriately. We have so much abundance in this country. People eat for all kinds of reasons, not only because they are hungry. All the nutritional information in the world won’t help you if the real problem is you are depressed. While I was married to my first husband a therapist advised me to forget about my weight just for a week and nourish my spirit. Had I been single I probably would have started losing weight right then, but my first husband was horrified by her advice. “But she’s fat!” he wailed. Pouring shame on top of guilt like a layer of whipped cream will NOT make you thin.
Stop beating yourself up. Real yogis practice “ahimsa” loosely translated as “non-violence” it actually means “non-injurious.” Stop hurting yourself and don’t let other people hurt you. Start to care deeply about yourself.
We’ve all seen them: the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed “health nuts”. In addition to eating well, they like themselves. They are happy. It is part and parcel of eating well. When you value yourself you are not completely comfortable with eating cr*p.
Health nuts don’t have to tell you how they eat because you can see it in their skin and their hair. They look ten years younger than their actual age. They seem effortlessly slender. It IS effortless because they have made eating well the norm in their life. It isn’t a two-week fix. It isn’t a temporary abstinence. They eat fresh produce! They drink pure water! And if they want a bit of meat once in a while they eat grass-fed cattle or antibiotic free chicken without guilt.