My relationship with eating has evolved drastically over the last few years. When I was in University, all I had were Kit Kats, canned tuna and melted cheese, and saltines. I had that for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Sometimes, I wanted to be “healthy”, so I would head across the street from my dormitory for a Quiznos seafood sub, coupled with a diet coke. I constantly felt bloated, disorganised, and generally unwell.
Looking back, those years were extremely fun and filled with the happiest memories of my young adult years. I wouldn't change a single thing because I was on the journey that I was on then, and it taught me everything about what NOT to eat. As my relationship with yoga intensified, I naturally started to seek out healthier and cleaner options in my food, and thereby started to become more conscious about what I put into my body.
1. Eat organic
I try my best to keep most of my diet organic. In Sydney, I head to Potts Point Organic Market every Saturday morning, and fill up my basket with all sorts of produce - strawberries, bananas, sweet potatoes, corn, oranges, green beans, spinach etc. During the week, I cook according to what produce I have in my pantry.
In Singapore, it’s a little harder to source for organic produce at price points that are reasonable. What I find works really well is buying straight from the organic farmers online. Most of them grow their own produce in the farms out North; but most of the time, they import from Malaysia, Thailand, Australia and the US. They deliver direct, depending on which farmer you choose.
Once you make the commitment to eat organic, you will not go back! Organic foods are free of pesticides, herbicides, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Organic farmers only use natural pest killers, like plant oils, and feed their animals only organic food. When you think of this, it really is a no-brainer to keep your diet exclusively organic.
2. Eat local
When you eat local, you eat according to the seasons. You are in natural harmony with the Universe! Local food has more nutrients, and is full of flavour. Eating and sourcing local also supports the local economy and benefits the environment. Win-win for all! In Sydney, this is easily done - at the Potts Point Organic Market, I buy everything that is presented to me in season.
In Singapore, this is slightly different, since we are equatorial. The local organic farmers grow many local leafy green vegetables, but tend to buy their berries, kiwis, oranges etc. from other countries like Australia, Thailand and the US. I simply try to buy as much local produce as possible that inspires me in making meals at home. My 2-year old, Munro, loves all kinds of fruits, so I would purchase a selection of fruits from whatever the organic grocers have available at that point in time.
2. Eat in small portions
When I was pregnant, my doctor, and naturopath constantly advised me to eat six meals a day, in smaller portions. That way, your body would feel constantly nourished, and also you tend to avoid overeating. Why not apply this same principle at all other times? It made complete sense to me.
When I was in my teenage years, and much more concerned about the way I looked - I would starve myself in between meals, because I thought that was the only way to lose weight and stay slim.
Now, looking back, I realised how silly I was - I wished that someone had given me the information I know now. If your body is constantly nourished with healthy, fresh foods, your body reverts to its natural equilibrium and most ideal weight. If you need to shed the pounds, it will naturally fall off and if you need to gain a bit of weight, it will naturally come on.
3. Do not over eat
A lot of us, myself including, tend to eat whatever is plated. It is right there, so why not! You start to become so unconscious as to how much you are consuming. Most of the time, the portions are twice the size of what your body really needs. The best advice I’ve ever received, is to eat until you’re almost full, but not quite full. Your body doesn't then need to work over time to digest all the food, and also you start to become more conscious of the act of eating.
4. Cook your food lightly
Where possible, very lightly steam, pan fry, roast, or bake your foods. Deep-frying robs food of all its nutrients. I like to steam my spinach, and lightly sprinkle pink rock salt all over it, or even roast up some fresh, local carrots and potatoes mixed with honey and thyme. When you cook your food lightly, all the nutrition stays intact, and you get the full benefit of all the nutrients of the food.
5. Search for interesting ways to eat simple every day ingredients
The best recipes are the ones which are simple, coupled with some fresh herbs and locally sourced, organic ingredients. Look up recipes with simple ingredients and methods of making it. I love a fresh salad, with watermelon, capers, onions and cucumber with a splash of olive oil. I also love a delicious tomato based organic spelt pasta with fresh basil and spinach. I always feel lightly full and complete after such meals.
6. Keep your alcohol and caffeine intake down
This is where I struggle sometimes, as I love a black coffee in the mornings, a cup of english breakfast in the afternoons, and a glass of Pinot Noir with my dinner. Caffeine is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant - it can create havoc with your body chemistry and subtle body. What I do is consciously note what goes into my body. Sometimes, I would take days off alcohol and coffee, and swap with filtered water, matcha green tea or a green juice. I feel that as long as you are consciously consuming, you will always make the best decisions for your body.
7. Practice yoga
With the practice of yoga, you will become more conscious and aware of your mind, energy and body. Your body will crave healthier and cleaner food options. You will shift toward eliminating caffeine, alcohol and drugs from your diet; and you will start to seek out fresh and simple ways to create a meal.
I’ve heard from so many Hom students about how their yoga practice completely shifted their understanding and awareness toward their bodies, and their lifestyle. One woman told me that she would drink alcohol in huge amounts, and smoke at least a pack a day; but her yoga practice completely shifted her relationship with these substances. The last time I saw her, she was a glowing, healthy and beautiful mama to be!
Similar story with me - as my practice intensified, I no longer wanted to have a diet coke or any kind of processed food. Yuck! Instead, I was researching ideas on how to make an avocado smoothie. I no longer craved having copious amounts of chocolate, ice cream, biscuits, chips etc. all the time. I only wanted clean foods to enter my body. I wasn't interested in sullying my body after all the time spent on my mat - breathing, sweating, eliminating toxins, and generally feeling more elevated.
8. Think inclusively
Sometimes, people start to get stressed out because they start thinking of all the foods they cannot eat. You might start to create an internal dialogue, “I can’t have this food and that food, and even worst, no coffee and wine!?” I feel that instead of thinking of all the foods you cannot have, start thinking of all the foods you can ADD to your life.
People these days like to use the word diet. Macrobiotic diet, paleo diet, Atkins diet etc. What I think of the word “diet”, I think of the words “restricting”, “limiting”, “curbing”. All not so good words when thinking about food. I like to consciously expand my food vocabulary so it is inclusive. I like to think of all the yummy foods I’d love to have - a hearty lentil soup, a lightly tossed fresh salad, a beautifully baked sweet potato, a steaming peppermint tea, a bright juicy orange, an avocado smoothie… and the list goes on!!
When you come from this point of view, you come from a viewpoint of inclusiveness, instead of exclusiveness. Being inclusive, is being in complete synergy with the Universe - the trees, the ocean, the animals and everything around you. You will start vibrating to the natural harmony of the Universe, and naturally gravitate toward living a more consciously abundant life.
By Malvina Kang