Have you ever noticed that it is hard to snack with awareness? As yogis, we know that we should pay attention to everything we eat, yet we often find ourselves rushing through our snacks, anxious to move on to the next item on our to-do lists.
The problem with this kind of mindless eating is that it can breed unhealthy choices, and overindulgences, that sabotage our health goals. One bad decision can lead to another, and pretty soon we are much further off track than we ever expected.
Thankfully, yoga gives us the tools we need to change what we believe about snacking, and create new, healthier snacking habits. Here’s a few yogic disciplines can help us become better snackers:
Set an intention. Most yogis know that what we eat before we practice affects our energy on the mat, but sometimes we forget that the food we eat the rest of the day is equally important. Because snacks make up about 25% of our daily food intake, it is essential to snack on healthy foods that fortify our bodies. When we fill ourselves with real foods that are rich in phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals (such as fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds), we eventually stop craving fake, chemical-laden, energy-depleting snack foods.
Prioritize saucha. The practice of saucha, or cleanliness, is just as important in the kitchen, as it is on our yoga mat. Foods contaminated with chemicals, artificial colors, and preservatives require more energy for our body to process than pure, natural foods that come from the earth. We each have a limited amount of energy each day, and minimally processed, clean foods help us use our energy more effectively, on our mat and off.
Create tapas. Tapas is the discipline of creating heat through resistance. It’s an important concept in yoga, and in snacking, because it teaches us the value of pushing our boundaries. Instead of reaching for the same trail mix you always buy at the store, try making your own mix, from items in the bulk food section. Or go raw for snacks. Slice up cucumbers, apples, celery, and bell peppers, instead of opting for the oh-so-convenient but not-quite-as-healthy chips and salsa. Mix things up, and enjoy the benefits of learning to love healthier foods.
Practice mindfulness. I don’t know about you, but I often feel like I have to rush my snacks. It’s hard to chew every bite 17 times, when we have phone calls to return, groceries to buy, and clients to meet! I have learned, however, that the more awareness I bring to snack time, the better choices I make, and the more energy I bring to my daily yoga practice.
Just like on our mat, we grow incrementally when we apply yoga philosophy to our relationship with food. It’s important to remember that every choice matters, and we improve by challenging ourselves. The yoga of snacking is about is about practicing awareness, staying present, exploring what is possible, and accepting that mindful eating helps us live more authentically.
Amber Barry is a certified yoga instructor, wellness coach, motivational speaker, and blogger for My Crazy Healthy Life in Atlanta, GA. She found yoga in 1998, while recovering from a car crash that almost took her life. Little by little, yoga transformed her mind, body and spirit. It made everything seem possible, and she knew she had to spend the rest of her life teaching others how to get healthy through this beautiful practice. She earned her 200 hour certification through Peachtree Yoga Center and The Atlanta Yoga Fellowship in 2002, and has taught yoga ever since, at yoga studios, health clubs, non-profits, private homes, and local businesses. You can follow Amber’s adventures in wellness on the Facebook page for My Crazy Healthy Life, and at mycrazyhealthylife.com.