When doing it "all right" was wrong
I grew up eating vegetarian, which gave me the privilege of understanding foods like bok choy and kale and mustard greens—foods other American kids didn't usually eat. As an adult, I found myself eating mostly vegan—which cuts out any food products coming from animals. I felt awesome about the food I ate.
Until I started getting sick.
As a young mom, my exhaustion and brain fog were written off as a by-product of being a woman—and just having had a baby. Eventually I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue and psoriasis, two autoimmune diseases, and I started seeking alternative care. When a naturopath asked me to examine my diet, I confidently replied, "Oh, it's not that. I eat pretty healthy. I've been vegetarian most of my life."
"Well, that may be the problem."
We went on to find that the diet I had so confidently leaned into was actually negatively affecting me.
The other thing she said I needed to cut out of my life? Stress.
At that time, I was working full-time at a demanding job, homeschooling my daughter, and caring for my son. Cut out stress? Ha!
But I took her advice seriously. My exhaustion was so bad, I barely remember the days covered in baby spit up, having not showered, trying to finish my work, and prepare dinner... I didn't want to live like that anymore, so I started making changes. For stress, I sought out yoga.
The only yoga studio that was near me was a studio advertising HOT YOGA and I thought that sounded kind of gross. I had practiced yoga since I was a teenager, but I had always looked at it as a good stretch. After my first class, I was shocked at how challenging it was! Not only that, but my usual attitude of just "pushing through" didn't actually work in yoga. Yoga required patience and balance—a powerful mind and body (I could hardly do many of the poses!). This was totally different than anything I knew and I was instantly hooked.
Meanwhile, my naturopath switched me to a high-protein diet and encouraged me to cut out high-allergen foods like wheat, dairy, soy, egg, and corn. And they suggested I start eating way more food, including meat. That's when I discovered a core belief I was not proud of: Despite my healthy upbringing and confidence in the nutritional impact of my food, I had still been influenced by the "diet culture" all around me. In my mind, it wasn't about vitamins and minerals, macros and micros—In my mind, there was "good" food and "bad" food. Vegetables were good (they still are!), but everything else was bad (um, wrong). I had to completely shift my thinking.
The craziest part of this story is that practicing yoga actually helped me eat cleaner and look at food as fuel. After a year of practicing yoga and eating clean, my fatigue was in remission.
I have only been able to keep my autoimmune diseases at bay with some dietary, and many lifestyle, changes. Yoga and mindfulness have been just as important as food and drink. The COUNTDOWN TO CLEAN series I'm offering inside of YOGA STRONG: Bootcamp & Challenge is NOT about cutting out all the "bad" food. It's about focusing on nutritious food and finding the balance that works for you. Just like I say in my yoga classes, you have to make the right choices for your body. Is eating vegan bad? No! I still eat vegan food much of the time. But I also eat foods that keep me feeling my best and functioning my best, whether it fits into that box or not. Let's get better at embracing our individual needs and TRUSTING our bodies. Wishing you all health and peace, Aurora P.S. I would love to hear your stories about your relationships with food or your first experiences with yoga! Any former diet culture addicts turned clean foodies out there ?