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“I could not, at any age, be content to take my place by the fireside and simply look on. Life was meant to be lived. Curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Makes 9-12, depending on how what size pan you use and how you cut them
by Maria Shostak (personal website here)
Diet and nutrition in the 21st century have become such big industries that we are constantly being bombarded by numerous, and often conflicting, messages of what is healthy, what should be avoided, and which superfood is in trend right now. It is very easy to become confused! We might start following one diet approach, then give up on it after a while because we don't see results quickly enough, or because it is too rigid – so we 'fail' shortly after beginning. The real truth about diet and nutrition is that no one universal diet approach works for all of us. We are just too different. We live in different climates and cultures, our ancestors passed to us different habits and bodies, we enjoy doing different things and get inspired by different ideas. So the next time you try that fancy juice cleanse, or a gluten-free diet, and it does not seem to work for you – you have not 'failed', it is just that your body is asking you for something else at this very moment in your life, so quiet yourself and listen to what your body is telling you.
What is it that unites all living creatures in this world? Water. Just look around our planet, look at human beings – we are all so water-dependant. These days, we often reach for coffee, tea, juice, etc., but a glass of fresh, clean water both tastes good and is an absolutely essential element of our life. Up to 70% of our bodies are just that – water. Our earth is covered by – guess what – 70% water. Water can't be replaced by solid food, and it can't be sourced from soft drinks. Next time you think you are hungry, try drinking a glass of water first; maybe your body is really just thirsty.
If you practice yoga, you already know a lot about awareness. We learn to be aware of our bodies, movements and emotions on the mat. A food Journal is a very useful tool to develop food awareness. For two weeks, try writing down what you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner (and don’t forget snacks if you eat them!) and how the food makes you feel right after eating, and again 2 hours after. Noting what you eat is not counting calories, and not criticizing yourself for that second helping of your favorite dessert. It is simply a tool to start noticing what you eat, how it makes you feel and what the patterns and connections are. In my experience, I discovered that I had a habit of rewarding myself with some sweets after I put my son to bed in the evenings. It was my time with a well-deserved cup of tea and a bar of chocolate. Start by discovering these things about yourself, and maybe, when the time is right, you will begin to want to change things or make other choices based on what you have learned.
Our body is a magical instrument that is given to us for a very fleeting moment of life. If we treat it with love and respect, listen to it, and exercise it - it will respond with gratitude and healing. What kind of movement fills your body with joy, and makes you feel strong and flexible? Maybe it is running, or dancing, or playing football, or stepping on your yoga mat... Try different things and see what works best for you. Beginning is the most difficult thing. We have all had our first intimidating session in an unknown yoga studio, where we judged ourselves, the teacher, our inflexible body and that annoying super fit lady next to us who seemed to be doing everything right! It takes time, practice and those signals of gratitude and bliss that our bodies send us after sessions, so we return to the yoga mat again and again – to get stronger, to find balance, and, ultimately, to heal.
The most guarded secret of the diet & nutrition world is actually very simple. Things that we call food in our life and that we eat are secondary to the things that feed and nourish us on a much deeper level. Think about the moments when you are inspired by what you are doing, when you are 'in the flow' of whatever is going on, when you live here and now – you feel good, you feel complete, you are involved in what is important to you. Think about playing with friends when you were a child; those times your parents could not tear you away from an activity in order to come and eat; think about when one is in love; think about a meaningful project when you are totally immersed in your work and just too busy to stop. Now, compare it with the days when we are bored – with the job, family obligations, our boss, that deadline and stress – then eating becomes a distraction, reward and substitute for whatever it is missing in our life. Primary foods that nourish us on a much deeper level than all the desserts or chips in the world are very individual, but often include our meaningful relationships, our career, our family life, our friends, home environment, self-care, hobbies, or physical activity.
What is it that inspires you personally? Find food for your soul, connect with people who share your interests, come to Yoga Shala to practice, and you will not need any more special diets to be happy and healthy.