by Elaine Oyang, YGSF Instructor
Food trends, fads, and opinions can leave us with more questions than answers about what type of diet is best. In her latest blog post, Elaine explains how to use the yogic principle of Ahimsa, or non-violence, when choosing the best food to eat:
There are a lot of controversies around what constitutes the “yogic” diet. Actually, there are a lot of controversies regarding what to eat in general. Period.
We have the hardcore, raw, vegan yogis who support animal rights and believe in the power of raw, plant foods.
We have the vegan yogis who also support animal rights, but consume some cooked plant-based foods.
Then there are the vegetarian yogis who might just consume eggs or milk, or both.
We also have the gluten-free or grain-free folks who may be vegetarian, vegan, raw/vegan, or none of these, but just avoid gluten or grains.
We have friends who follow the Ayurvedic diet religiously.
And let’s not forget our paleo friends who praise the health benefits of eating as our ancestors did before the age of agriculture.
Then, of course, there are yogis who also eat a little of everything, including chocolate, caffeine, sugar, simple carbohydrates, meat, dairy, eggs, and alcohol.
Over the past decades we’ve gone through major shifts in what constitutes as the “healthy” diet. In the early 1900s, Crisco was invented to replace lard. At that time, people was queasy about the idea of ingesting something that was made from the labs (we can definitely learn from them, huh?), but Proctor & Gamble made sure to hype up the benefits of having Crisco in the media, and antagonized lard. Since then, the popularity of hydrogenated vegetable oils climbed. The popularity of hydrogenated vegetables continued throughout the mid- to late- 1900s, a time in which margarine also became very popular. Then came the low-fat diets and the Atkins diet in the 1970s, Jenny Craig in the 1980s, Zone diet in the 1990s, all of which are still followed today, although vegan, gluten-free, and paleolithic diets are definitely taking the current spotlights.
As you can probably see now, the “right” diet is just like any other trends and fads that come and go. One minute butter was evil, and the next minute we have health experts defending the benefits of good-quality animal fats. It’s no wonder we are always confused.
Elaine was first exposed to yoga in 2006 in Taiwan and soon became a devotee to Ashtanga Yoga. She was awed by its dynamic flow of movement, linking breath to body, and body to mind. In 2011, she traveled to Thailand for teacher training with Paul Dallaghan. Since then, she has returned two more times for continuing education on pranayama and female anatomy.
Elaine finds joy in helping people find themselves through yoga. Her mission is to spread yoga to all of the community, regardless of age, shape, size, flexibility, and strength. She believes that with the right intention, anyone can do yoga. She now lives in Berkeley, CA, where she works as a children’s culinary and nutrition instructor, yoga student and teacher.