Junk Foods [... Yoga and junk food continued]
A rise in blood cholesterol levels in modern times has lead to an increase in the cholesterol coating of blood vessels. When this state is coupled with a high intake of salt, the condition referred to as arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) occurs.
As a result of diets high in animal fats and an increase in the intake of fried foods, this condition, previously observed primarily in aging individuals, has become increasingly prevalent in younger generations too.
The cholesterol which leads to this condition results from saturated animal fats, unlike those from the plant kingdom which are mostly of the poly-unsaturated variety. These plant cholesterols actually have the opposite effect, reducing blood cholesterol levels.
The detrimental fats come from all meat sources, including all animal by-products such as milk, cheese and eggs… adding further support for a vegetarian diet.
Why Do We Eat Junk Foods?
It has been observed by various philosophical and scientific perspectives that food cravings are closely tied with emotions. Even Freud illustrated that the gratifying of the taste buds (chewing or sucking) with salty or sweet things was the oral response to frustration.
And so, it is no surprise that eating junk food began as a peculiar dysfunction of the Western, more decadent lifestyle… a habit which was, until quite recently, absent in the cultures of the East.
But now, as the Western ideals have enthusiastically permeated throughout most every culture around the globe, we see these same peculiar junk foods habit arising in tandem.
Healthy Eating Habits
Nature has designed our biology to function in an efficient and healthy way. A meal containing the proper complex carbohydrates provides the body with a steady source of fuel, creating a normal blood-sugar level over the ensuing hours. When this ‘fuel’ is used up, then we become hungry and we eat once again.
Snacks of fresh fruit and vegetable (or juices) in between meals are alright, as the fruit sugars (fructose) do not affect blood-sugar levels in a drastic way.
However, unhealthy snacks, those that are comprised of refined sugars and carbs, wreak havoc on our metabolism, raising the already high level of blood-sugar. This causes the pancreas to pump out greater amounts of insulin, which can present a dangerous situation.
An unhealthy misuse of refined sugars becomes a particular problem if it begins in early childhood. Here, natural tastes are corrupted and patterns of ‘biological cravings’ are formed, which are extremely difficult to break later in life. A child raised on junk food will be a ‘junk food junkie’ later in life!
To break the junk food addiction, one must start with an awareness of their eating habits. A proper understanding of diet is essential — knowing the proper foods to eat and those to avoid.
Here’s a Few Healthy Eating Tips:
- Firstly, one must conquer the habit of eating between meals. Junk foods as snacks are ‘poison’ to the systems of the body and must be avoided.
- Substitute unhealthy snacks with fresh fruit or vegetables, or their juices.
- Avoid high-cholesterol meat sources. Use animal by-products sparingly, if at all.
- Use moderation with all kinds of sweets.
- Remove all refined sugars and starches from your diet. You don’t need them!
- Never use artificial sweeteners!
- Use natural sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup, or raw sugars, unrefined cane sugar or jaggery – but use all sweets in moderation as they still contain glucose!
- Use salt minimally.
- Decrease the acidifying food intake as much as possible – eat plenty of raw, unrefined and unprocessed foods.
- Drink lots of water.
- Re-gain a proper attitude toward food. Eat only real food. You would not fill your car’s fuel tank with Coca Cola. Don’t put a fuel in your body that it cannot run properly on.
- Practice Yoga daily!
- Lemon water (i.e., a slice of lemon in a warm glass of water) is a good tonic for the liver. DO NOT overdue it however, as this stimulates the liver to produce enzymes which cause insulin to be released from the pancreas. Thus, one with unbalanced blood-sugar does not want to over-stimulate the production of insulin. A glass or two per day, before meals is good maintenance.
- Drink fresh fruit juices daily (4 ounces, twice a day is sufficient), particularly with green leafy vegetables, to support a healthy pancreas.
Yoga and Breaking the Junk Food Habit
Unfortunately, breaking the habit of eating junk foods can be a difficult task. It should be obvious that this physiological dysfunction has its roots deep within the human psyche. Therefore, any attempt to change this debilitating pattern needs more than just physical restraint.
All the processes of yoga, not only the practice of the physical techniques, but the mental re-conditionings and deep understanding of the inner self which result from a comprehensive study and adoption of a yogic lifestyle, are paramount to re-establishing health and harmony on all levels.
Yoga gives us the tools and the guidance to make positive, healthy, and lasting transformations in life.
For more on the yogic approach to healthy eating, see these following two articles:
And visit our online Yoga Training Center and take the first steps toward make positive, healthy and lasting transformations in your life.