Five Pillars Yoga

Better Nutrition in 8 Steps

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
— Hippocrates

One of the major themes we focus on in our approach to Right Nutrition is this:

People should focus more on how to BE mindful eaters, and less on how to DO nutrition.

With so many approaches to nutrition making headlines, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking about nutrition in a compartmentalized way instead of a holistic one. The best approach to nutrition generates consistent clarity and trust in one’s body that supersedes external influences.

Step 1: Build a Supportive Structure

Most of us do not only eat to fuel our bodies. And that’s okay. Nutrition impacts all parts of your physical health and your life, and is connected with everything you do. Thus, the first step in the process is to create a structure for obtaining and eating food that supports your optimal health. Because structure implies behavior; structure defines why you do the things you do. In other words, don’t buy cookies and ice cream if that’s not what you want to be eating. Instead, load up your refrigerator with fresh & healthy food, and fill your pantry mindfully. You may even consider cleaning out foods that are loaded with sugars… and replace them with healthier alternatives.

To support my own healthy behavior, I only buy foods that my higher mind wants me to eat. When I want to indulge in ice cream, for example, I choose my favorite local parlor and savor my treats in the company of friends.

Step 2: Listen and Modify

With so many experts in the world providing contradicting advice and a multi-billion dollar diet industry influencing your subconscious, you may have stopped listening to the messages and cues coming from your own body. “Listen” may be the very best nutritional advice that’s often ignored. The reality is that your body will tell you if the structure you have set up—including the foods you have chosen to eat and the ways in which you have enjoyed your snacks and meals—is working. At the very least, your body will give you cues for hunger and satiety. Listen.

Step 3: Why Do You Care

As you know, when you improve your nutrition, you become healthier and your life gets better. But the best approach to nutrition focuses on clearer objectives. Why do you want to improve your nutrition? To be able to run a 5K? Sustain your energy? Lose weight? Gain weight? Fertility? Hormonal balance? Choose one.

Step 4: Define Your Own Success

How are you going to determine whether your approach (or your doctor’s or dietitian’s) is actually making a difference? What signs are you looking for to determine whether or not your plan is working? Try to move beyond the limitations of weighing yourself and, if your relationship with scales triggers negative feelings, focus more on feelings (physical & emotional) and less on numerical values.

Step 5: Share Your Journey

There are many fads that look back to the way hunters & gatherers ate, and one thing that is often overlooked is that eating is inherently social. If your plan or diet is secretive, too limiting or keeps you isolated from your community, I’ll bet at some point you will start feeding your hungry heart instead of your stomach. To keep your heart full consider the following questions: With whom will you share your approach to nutrition? What are the social outlets that bring joy and pleasure into the mealtime experience?

Step 6: The Heart of It

It doesn’t matter how much information you know, or what plan you follow, your mind isn’t powerful enough to set you on track for better nutrition. How can you appeal to your own heart, rather than your head? Food has been a subject of passion across the ages that is rooted in your culture as much as your biology. The best approach to your personal nutrition isn’t actually about food, it’s about love.

In France, for example, children are taught the art of appreciating food from an early age. Many schools employ a chef and dietitian, and students enjoy several course plated meals complete with gourmet cheese and silverware. These schools are upholding a deeply rooted French value—that food should be enjoyed & respected and mealtimes should be a time to slow down and savor social connection alongside the flavors. What’s at the heart of it for you?

Step 7: How Will You Be Human

Nutrition is about people, not robots.

That is why most diets fail and lead to unwanted weight gain. Embrace your humanity and allow your imperfections & a healthy dose of humor to bust through any and all robotic striving (aka perfection seeking). How will you do that?

Step 8: Dive In & Have Fun

Only after you know why you care about your nutrition, and how you’ll feel successful when you make changes to improve the way you eat should you turn your attention to the nitty gritty details. Keep your approach simple and #GoDeeper into nutritional facts & trends with a healthy grain of salt.


Photo by Megan Hodges on Unsplash