What do you eat when you do yoga? by Helen Pratt

We are right in the middle of the second IPY Commit to it Challenge. Everyone involved is working on practicing yoga as much as they can AND eating healthy! It seems like a lot of people get involved in yoga to try and lose weight, but Vinyasa yoga isn’t a walk in the park type exercise, it makes you sweat. So, what do you eat to still lose weight and have enough energy to do a vigorous practice? Well let me tell you a little story….

Helen and Daniele

Helen and Daniele

My good friend Daniele is also a part of the IPY family. We are very similar in a lot of things but also in the way we look. We are both short, petite, curvy women. At a glance you’d assume we eat the same type of food, however our diets are completely different. Daniele is on the Paleo diet – which basically means she eats like a caveman. I eat vegetarian over 90 percent of the time and would love to be a vegan. Our diets couldn’t be any further apart but they both keep us looking very similar.

I recently read Baron Baptiste’s book “Journey into Power” which has a chapter on mindful eating. This is a process you do when you pay attention to the food you eat and how it makes you feel during and after eating it. Are you tired? Do you have a ton of energy? Are you bloated? Does your skin have a healthy glow? This list goes on and on. Luckily the more yoga you do the more in tune with your body you become so it makes this discovery process even easier. Over time you will begin to notice your natural state and eat what YOU need to eat to make yourself look and feel fantastic.

Now I know some of you are reading this thinking, “Well my body told me I needed to eat that double cheese burger and chili fries.” Sorry to disappoint you but that’s not mindful eating. That’s more along the lines of emotional eating. For me personally I love to eat food when I am having a problem. I can eat a ton of crap and go into a food coma so I can wallow in my own pity. But when I get back to the Yoga mat my practice is very different than when I eat to make myself feel good. My arms feel like rocks, my twists give me cramps, and my energy and concentration levels are minimal.

As different as Daniele and my diets are, we both eat real food. In caveman years there wasn’t any processed foods, bread, or cream cheese makers. Eating vegetarian obviously means you eat a lot of fruit and vegetables but I have to make an effort to stay away from potato chips, banana nut muffins and mass amounts of chocolate. We both have to listen to our bodies and eat accordingly. And remember a cheat day is always OK! My Granddad used to always say, “Everything in moderation.”

Helen at Love Your Body Day 2012

Helen at Love Your Body Day
Photo by James Martin

So to answer the question – what do you eat when you do yoga – the answer is whatever makes YOUR body feel GOOD. Fad Diets don’t work, and unfortunately there isn’t a magic yoga pill that will make you look like the cover of Yoga Journal. You just have to listen to your body and let your intuition be your guide. If you want to eat a steak or a sprout taco it doesn’t matter, what matters is that you are true to your true self.

Happy eating fellow yogis!

– Helen Pratt