As a yoga teacher, I practice yoga almost every day. It plays a major role in the way I feel and has, for sure, transformed my body over the years.
However, being a nutritionist and food scientist as well, I believe that my diet influences my health and looks even more. Ever heard the quote “abs are made in the kitchen”? Well, it’s true.
It doesn’t matter how much you train if you have poor eating habits, you’ll never achieve optimal fitness.
Also, keep in mind that it takes 30 seconds to eat a donut, but 30 minutes of vigorous exercise to burn its calories again.
Obviously, it’s not just about calories but also very much about nutrient density.
For example, an avocado is rich in calories but contains the good kind of fats (unsaturated) which are beneficial to your heart health, metabolism, skin, etc. The donut, on the other hand, mainly consists of deep-fried trans-fat and sugar, so not a nutritious option at all.
Therefore, the best food choices are the ones which really “nourish” your body, think: protein, complex carbs, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins & minerals, antioxidants, etc.
How and what does a yoga teacher eat?
First, I’m not perfect, don’t worry.
I’m all about the 80-20 rule. I have my days where I just want to enjoy a nice pizza or ice cream and it’s ok if these remain special occasions.
I just make sure to make the right choices for my body 80% of the time.
A typical day as a yoga instructor
I don’t always follow a strict morning routine.
But I do need one thing to start the day right no matter what: my morning tonic.
This drink is very refreshing, energizing, detoxifying and anti-inflammatory. I might even have it again later in the afternoon if my energy level feels a little low, it’s that good. You can find the exact recipe and more details about all the benefits here.
Then I usually make a quick and filling breakfast (which I never skip!). I’m a big fan of overnight oats (it’s a specialty in Switzerland and it’s called “Bircher Muesli”).
It’s very convenient as you can prepare it the night before and is easy to take on the go as well if needed. You will find many options on the internet.
I usually make mine with plant-based milk and coconut yogurt as I do not consume cow dairy, lots of seasonal fruits, nuts and protein sources such as hemp, pumpkin and flax seeds, collagen powder and/or pea protein powder.
Finally, I always mix in about ½ teaspoon of cinnamon as it helps lower blood sugar (I would do that in a smoothie as well).
If I have more time (during the weekend), I like to prepare more of a brunch. My favorite combo would be scrambled eggs, avocado toast on rye bread and smoked wild salmon.
I do drink coffee but never first thing in the morning (here is why – it has to do with balancing your cortisol levels).
I sip on green tea all day long. And if I feel like a coffee, I’ll have one around 10 am and maybe another one later in the afternoon.
I usually don’t have any after 3 pm hardly ever more than 2 per day and can go without it for days.
” It doesn’t matter how much you train. If you have poor eating habits, you’ll never achieve optimal fitness. ”
10 AM SNACK
The oat usually keeps me full until lunchtime, but if I have an intense morning and feel hungry before, my usual go tos are apple slices with almond butter, a banana or a handful of mixed nuts.
I never snack/eat if I’m not hungry. I believe that’s an important habit.
My main rule when it comes to lunch is the following: my plate should be at least half-filled with vegetables and greens.
It’s simple and if veggies take most of the space you 1) get your daily fiber intake easily, 2) there isn’t much space left for overdoing carbs or other foods (and yes, veggies will get you full if you eat enough of them!).
The rest of my plate will then be left for:
- Protein: tofu, chickpeas, eggs, fish or chicken – I usually favor vegetarian options
- Healthy fats: avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds
- Carbs: mostly complex ones such as sweet potato, quinoa, brown rice, etc.
My dinner follows the same rule as my lunch (tons of veggies!) but is, in general, a bit lighter.
On a hot summer night, I might have an exotic cucumber salad like this one.
In winter, I love vegetable soups and stews, sweet potato, pumpkin, lentils, and mostly warm food.
I make sure to eat enough to avoid being hungry again in the middle of the night. So if I just taught a class or worked out I might have some grilled wild-caught salmon or some other fatty fish served with vegetables.
I find fish lighter to digest than other protein sources in the evening.
If I had a stressful day or feel like I need a little extra love, I will prepare myself this warming curcuma latte or a rooibos infusion with a spoon of Reishi mushroom powder (an adaptogen which really helps me relax at the end of a long day and keeps my hormones balanced), honey and a splash of coconut milk.
KEY NUTRITION RULES FOLLOWED BY A YOGA INSTRUCTOR
That’s it, now you know what a Yoga teacher eats in a day.
Some days are of course more balanced than others, but I tend to stick to a few rules:
- Never skip breakfast
- No coffee first thing in the morning
- 2-3L of water (+ green tea/infusion) per day
- Never eat if not hungry
- Fill at least half of my plate with veggies
- Choose healthy fats and carbs
- Favor vegetarian options whenever possible
- And most importantly – relax, sit down and make time to eat my meals mindfully!
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