My yoga teacher was the first vegan I’d ever met. I only knew he was a vegan because he’d talk about raw cacao banana smoothies during class and I’d hover in my triangle pose trying to figure out why yoga people have to be so…well, weird!
I don’t know if you’ve ever done yoga, but if so, you may have noticed that your digestive troubles become fairly apparent during some of those poses. I may never have thought about changing my diet except that the more I went to yoga, the more I noticed how unhappy my tummy constantly was. I figured it was time for me to get a little weird myself!
But where to begin? Should I start eating a raw vegan diet like my teacher? Should I be a vegetarian at least? Should I just be better about eating fat-free, low-calorie foods? Atkins™? South Beach®?
It’s crazy how many dietary theories are out there. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do, so I just started collecting information. Some of it made sense, some of it didn’t. There were a lot of studies with contradictory results.
After years of research, experimentation with my own body and finally going to classes at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, I have boiled down a gabillion dietary theories into principles that work for, well, just about everyone! And they’re really not complicated, I promise.
Here are some best bets for your first steps:
1. Go dark, leafy and green
I’m talking about greens like kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, arugula and broccoli. These vegetables are often-overlooked nutritional powerhouses! They’re low in calories and high in everything that makes the human body feel and look awesome.
Your first step: Try a dark, leafy green vegetable you’ve never had before. Kale can be made into chips, collards make a great sandwich wrap…oh, the ideas are endless!
2. Eat whole foods
No, not Whole Foods™ the store, but rather foods that are whole. Intact. As unprocessed as possible. You may be surprised by how satisfying whole foods are. Think wedges of cheese, pieces of fruit and even bacon! Those are way more filling and yummy than cheese-, fruit- or bacon-flavored products.
Your first step: Start reading labels. Notice how many ingredients are real food and how many sound like weird chemicals.
3. Sweeten the deal
We are born with a desire for sweet flavors. Give yourself exactly that by incorporating more sweet vegetables into your diet: beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, butternut squash and etc. Fruit is another great way to satisfy a sweet tooth, especially when cooked – cooking intensifies the natural sweetness in fruits and vegetables.