The Mindful Eater

By Odariza Lopez

Vegetarian | Vegan | Ayurvedic | Diets

The Mindful Eater

What is a mindful life? Is it perfecting a challenging yoga pose, or can it be found in a scenic view of a mountain range? While things like stretches and meditations most often come to mind when talking about becoming conscious, mindfulness can and should extend beyond physical attributes. Being mindfulness should infuse into every part of a person’s life, including what she or he eats.

Mindfully eating promotes a better quality of life, stability, balance and a mind and body free of diseases. This article focuses on three healthful, plant-based ways of living

that promote mindfulness in the most critical area of life—the food you eat.

Vegetarian Diet

A person who does not eat meat, and sometimes other animal products, especially for moral, religious, or health reasons can be called vegetarian. People become vegetarians for many reasons, including, concerns about animal welfare or the use of antibiotics and hormones in livestock, or a desire to eat in a way that avoids excessive use of environmental resources.

A vegetarian diet focuses on plants for food. These include fruits, vegetables, dried beans and peas, grains, seeds, and nuts. There is no single type of vegetarian diet. Instead, vegetarian eating patterns usually fall into the following groups:

  • Vegan: Excludes all meat and animal products and includes only plant-based foods. Additionally, vegans avoid animal by-products such as eggs, milk, or honey. Vegans do not eat meat, poultry, fish, or any products derived from animals, including eggs, dairy products, and gelatin.
  • Ovo vegetarians: Doesn’t eat meat, poultry, fish, or dairy products, but does eat eggs.
  • Lacto-vegetarian: Includes plant foods plus some or all dairy products.
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarian: Eats plant-based foods and both dairy products and
  • Pescatarian: Eats plant-based foods and seafood.

Nowadays, plant-based eating is recognized as not only nutritionally sufficient but also as a way to reduce the risk for many chronic illnesses. Some veggie foods that can provide all nutritional needs like the following vitamins and minerals: Iron, Calcium, Vitamin D, Zinc, Protein and Vitamin B12.

If you are considering giving it a try, you don’t have to think black and white. You could start by preparing a couple of meat-free dishes each week, and gradually make more substitutions—tofu in a stir-fry instead of chicken or grilled veggie burgers instead of beef.

Vegan Diet

Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or poultry. In addition to following a vegetarian diet, vegans do not use other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics, and soaps derived from animal products. Some people avoid these items because of conditions associated with their production (vegans are often animal rights activists who don’t believe in using animal products for any purpose).

Some macrobiotic diets fall into the vegan category. Macrobiotic diets restrict not only animal products but also refined and processed foods, foods with preservatives, and foods that contain caffeine or other stimulants.

Health-conscious vegans substitute animal products with plant-based replacements, such as:

Tofu, tempeh and seitan, legumes, nuts and nut butter, seeds, calciumfortified plant and nut-based milk and yogurt, algae, nutritional yeast, whole grains, cereals and pseudo-cereals, sprouted and fermented plant foods, fruits, and vegetables.

On the other hand, many vegan versions of familiar foods are available so that you can eat vegan hot dogs, ice cream, cheese, non-dairy yogurt and vegan mayonnaise along with the more familiar veggie burgers and other meat substitute products. However, your genetic makeup and the composition of your gut bacteria may also influence your ability to derive all the nutrients you need from these vegan foods.

One way to minimize the likelihood of deficiency is to limit the amount of processed vegan foods you consume and opt for nutrient-rich plant foods instead. Some vegans may find it difficult to eat enough of the nutrient-rich or fortified foods to meet their daily requirements. Therefore, supplements are an essential part of vegan diets: Vitamin B12, vitamin D, EPA and DHA, iron, iodine, calcium, and zinc.

Ayurvedic Diet

Anything related to fresh and organic fruits or vegetables, including whole grains and nuts are part of the ayurvedic diet. This diet is an outcome of “Ayurveda” the ancient medical system of India.

Ayurveda is a personalized approach to health, and knowing your mind-body type allows you to make optimal choices about diet, exercise, supplements, and all other aspects of your lifestyle. If you eat foods uniquely suited to your physiology and follow a life-supporting routine that enhances digestion, your body will reap the benefits, and you will find that your days will be happier, healthier and filled with real vitality — at any age.

Ayurveda = Personalized Health. Individualized in its approach and suited to our physiology.

According to Ayurveda, each meal should contain all six flavors: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent, and pungent.

The three Ayurvedic body types are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Each of them has a unique set of characteristics. Most people are a combination of two, but one typically predominates. For example, a Vata-predominant person will favor bigger meals with sour and salty tastes. A Kapha-predominant person may prefer more pungent foods, while a Pitta predominant person craves more sweet flavors. Remember, having all six tastes in your meals means that while the spices are present, you don’t overly taste one flavor.

Your body possesses the natural intelligence to process the foods that are closest to nature, such as fresh whole grains and organically-grown fruits and vegetables. Eating nutrient-dense foods makes sense when we consider that we have evolved as a species over millions of years eating whole, natural foods.

Whenever possible, choose organic, unprocessed foods. Your body will thank you!

Below few websites to expand your knowledge.

Reference

Chopra, D. (n.d.). What is Ayurveda? Retrieved from https://chopra.com/articles/what-is-ayurveda

Harvard health. (2017). Becoming a vegetarian. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/becoming-a-vegetarian

Petre, A. (2016). The vegan diet. A complete guide for beginners. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vegan-diet-guide#section8

Ten Ayurvedic dietary must-do’s. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.mapi.com/ayurvedic-knowledge/ayurvedic-diet/nine-ayurvedic-secrets-to-a-healthy-diet.html

The vegetarian resource group. (n.d.). Veganism in a nutshell. Retrieved from http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/vegan.htm

US news best diets. (n.d.). Vegetarian diet. Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/vegetarian-diet

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Odariza Lopez is a singer-songwriter-musician and an upcoming composer. She’s currently enrolled in the Music Production program at Full Sail University. She has been practicing a balanced lifestyle for the last ten years and is an active enthusiast​ of healthy eating and meditation.

Book Recommendations:
Vegan Cookbook for Beginners: The Essential Vegan Cookbook to Get Started

Plant-Based Nutrition, 2E (Idiot’s Guides)

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