Monday, August 15, 2011

The Onion Known As 'Eating'

I walked through the door today, my legs and arms shaking, my heart beating my face flushed... and I wondered why this keeps happening. I felt fine leaving work, as always, but arriving home after a 20 minute walk I felt as if I could collapse (actually I did, right on the bed).

During the day today I had a jar of blueberries and strawberries, a sandwich and half a chocolate scone. Since when has that not been enough?

For the past several weeks I arrive home as above, a shaking, blubbering mess. It usually means I need to eat right away, including days when I practice yoga in the evening. There's no two hour wait- I wouldn't make it through the yoga practice.

I'm going to be honest here and admit that feeling full has never made me happy. A combination of digestive issues (IBS) and a pervasive social culture that values thinness has always left me feeling uncomfortable when full. I know I can't be the only woman out there who has a strange feeling of satisfaction when her belly is flat and empty. Even typing this makes me shudder: I am NOT that woman!- but I think it's important to talk openly about something our culture forces on us as young as prepubescence. 

It's there in yoga as well- the feeling of 'lightness', of floating. 'Diets' that are masked as 'cleansing' meant to purge our system (of what? nutrients? I'm sorry, my intestines do a pretty good job cleansing themselves naturally as they were meant to). It wouldn't take long to get caught up in micromanaging our eating around what Dosha, yoga practice, or recent health fad is recommended. The act of eating takes on another layer of spiritual morality on top of the cultural and social pressures, the socio-economic pressures and the environmental pressures making up one hell of an onion called Eating.

Bringing a lunch to work is tricky for me, since I walk 20 minutes to and from the ferry. It means carrying stainless steel and glass jars filled with food over my right shoulder. Since I'm not getting a backpack (budgeting reasons and just cuz I'm sorry, but I think they're ugly), I hate the idea of loading more than my lunch tin, my coffee stainless steel Klean Kanteen thermos and a jar of berries. 

These past few weeks taught me that I may need to. A larger lunch paired with an afternoon snack will help me arrive home in ossicular form as opposed to amoeba. I can spend more time with Andrew cooking a healthy, sustainable supper instead of something quick and easy just so I can stop shaking.

 My happy self having a 'moment' where I actually picked something up with chopsticks at 'Le Lotus Bleu' in Montréal. I ate copiously during our visit and drank lots of wine and I felt gorgeous the whole, full, time.

My brain will be happier with more nutrients during the day. I will feel better because in the end I will be eating more, which will make me a REBEL against the constant 'thin' culture we live in. My body and my yoga practice will thank me.  The planet will thank me.
My Spirit will thank me.


article and photograph copyright of EcoYogini at 


  1. It sounds like your blood sugar is plummeting on the way home. Try having a snack that has protein and carbohydrate on the ferry on the way home. I have the same issue with low blood sugar in the afternoon, and it feels yucky! And you could collapse on before the way home--fainting and smashing yourself up in public is not the way you want to go!

  2. this has nothing to do with your post but i thought of you today as i tried a lunchtime yoga class for the first time at my gym. imagine a valley girl with a really loud annoying voice as the instructor, talking about her weekend and shouting out commands (not doing any yoga herself) as she walks around the room - not relaxing, not showing people how to work with their individual bodies, and using the strangest of names she seems to have created for the poses. and 2 minutes before the end of class, rather than being in shivasana (sp?), she's telling us all to get into plow. o.m.g.!! i was so bummed.

  3. Whoah. This is a HUGE topic, Lisa! Huge.

    Like others have said here and on Twitter, more snacks are clearly required for you to keep your blood sugars more balanced.

    I'm having my own issues with this - some days I need to eat very little, others I need to eat a lot more. But the volume of food we eat doesn't have to translate into "too much" or eating the wrong foods.

    All women know what you mean about the "thinness" issue. We each have to find our own way out of that, and for me it's about focusing on making sure my body is getting the nutrients it needs.

    I'm not going to get that from eating crap food, or not eating enough food, right?

    Really, it doesn't sound as though you're eating enough at all. You are probably predominately vata in your metabolism, and this is the dosha that needs to eat more food, not less!

    I hear you on not getting caught up in worrying about doshas or anything else, but Ayurveda isn't meant to be about morality so much as it is about eating right for your body. Without of course, taking it to an obsessive level, because that's against the principals of Ayurveda, too!

    Regarding taking more food to work - is there any way you can do a big shop one day a week, or even take a bunch of food in on the weekends? I keep a mini-pantry at work with teas and good snacks and so on. But then, I also have three supermarkets within walking distance of my office.

    I'm not sure if you do but making smaller and regular shopping trips during my lunch hour helps me keep good foods on hand.

    Best wishes with working out the right thing(s) for you!!

  4. I'm glad you are writing about this. Under-eating is a serious problem. I used to not manage my eating very well and I had many crashes. Now, I am (mostly) off caffeine, which is a huge stabilizer for me, and I make sure to eat enough at each meal and carry snacks with me. I am much more pleasant to be around and I feel better because I am not a blubbering, shaking mess. Also, no scale in the house. I don't need to know my weight. I can judge how I feel without a scale.

  5. @Nicole: eating on the ferry is a fabulous idea actually! of course you're right, fainting on the way home isn't really ideal lol

    @EcoGrrl: ARGH. that's crappy :( boo her. I know you practiced safely though- but what about those who are more vulnerable in that class?

    @Svasti: having a stash is a FANTASTIC idea. I have some teas at work, but I really should get some nuts and stuff. There's a drugstore (that has groceries) not far from my work. I can't go today, but tomorrow I'll have time to zip over (my lunch hour today consists of shoving food in my face and getting over the harbour for a meeting asap). thanks!

    @Sara: thank you. I knew I wasn't alone, and I feel that we need to talk about this more. I also don't have a scale! :)

  6. I'm currently at the curviest I've been in years, and I keep jokingly attributing the blame to the food blog. But, honestly? It's because I'm so stinking happy. My life is so abundant right now and it's showing on my waistline. I have a hard time feeling bad about that, ha ha. I'm going to bask in it a little longer.

    Balance is always important, however, and I do need to get to moving more often in order to keep up good health. I think it really comes down to having mutually reinforcing, healthier relationships with both our food and our bodies. Food is not the enemy! It's a nourishing life force that gives us the strength to master that next difficult posture...

    Seems as though you've already come to this conclusion though :) Good luck finding your balance - I'm looking for mine, too! :)

  7. yes, I agree with Nicole: this totally sounds like a blood sugar crash. I have blood sugar issues myself and have found that I MUST eat something every two hours or I become a useless shaky idiot. Keeping a stash of snacks at work is a great idea (I actually keep protein bars in my purse & car...and when I worked in an office I had some in my desk drawer). Also: protein is your FRIEND. Much better to eat protein than I keep hardboiled eggs in my fridge at all times as an emergency snack. Nuts are great, too. Cheese and yogurt (if you can do dairy) are awesome. In general, I try to pick high-protein items for snacks/meals because that helps maintain a constant blood sugar longer. Maybe a bit of yogurt (full-fat) with your berries? You can even freeze the whole jar so it stays cold till lunch time.
    Good luck and take care!

  8. when i wasn't exercising much, my metabolism was slower than most ppl and i could get by with less food. but now that i bike every day, i haven't lost weight because instead i just get really hungry and need to eat or else my blood sugar gets really low and i can't function. so do what your body tells you and feed it!

  9. Me again! I actually think you might like the book I am currently reading. Was just immersed in it and thought back to this blog post of yours. The latest chapter in it is about the virtuosity of, lo and behold - fat ;) Generally speaking, though, it's a book about our connection to food and the Earth, and the moon cycles that should be dictating our diets. It's also about her personal journey to a love of food :) The book is called Full Moon Feast by Jessica Prentice. Do you know it? It's absolutely fascinating and teaching me so much. Just thought to share! :)

  10. A small little re-usable bag of dried fruit and nuts wouldn't add to the weight of carrying your lunch, and if you replaced the heavy jars and stuff and used a (?compostable) (we can get these in some shops in UK) tub for your fruit that would also be lighter. The snacks would keep you going during the day. Some people (who?) say that little and often is better for eating, sort of like grazing throughout the day, rather than 3 bigger meals.
    Others have mentioned protein and you could try making what's called here 'tutti fruiti balls'. About 2 oz of ground nuts powder or same weight of nuts chopped, 2 oz of raisins or sultanas, 2 oz of another dried fruit, whizz it all up and add a splash of juice to stick it together, then roll into golf balls and keep in fridge. You could take one or two to work each day. You can even add cocoa powder to make chocolatey ones!

    And in terms of size/weight etc, I think each person has an optimal size and for me when I start finding shoulder stand (candle), and some twists umcomfortable I can see this roll of a spare tyre around my tummy... then I know it's time to cut back on the vegan chocolate! I guess you need to find the happy state where you feel like an adult not a 13 year old girl, and neither denying yourself or stuffing yourself.
    Good luck" alysonyoga.wordpress

  11. Hey Lisa,

    On Wednesdays (through the growing season) you could try the Dartmouth market at lunch time for some fresh-local munching supplies. You could also try making homemade kefir, which is totally safe to keep out all day and still consume on the ferry home. If you're interested I can give you some kefir grains to get you started. I find consuming kefir helps keep my blood sugar in balance - I definitely feel it if I go a few days without having some.

  12. I have a stash at the clinic. I'm like you I need to eat little and often or I pass out (not a good look when you're with clients). I have flapjacks (kind of like home-made cereal bars) bananas, dates, nuts, that kind of thing.

    I also have a big carton of vegan jelly beans. Because I do not give a shit what the food police say - jelly beans kick ass! :)

  13. Honestly, I had the same IBS issue until I became a fruitarian. Now I follow the 80/10/10 diet where 80% of my diet is fruit and the rest is veg with a little fat (avocado) At first I resisited the whole idea. Then I did it for a bit, got better, then lost too much weight. Then I found out I was not eating enough (you need 3000 calories instead of 2000) Once I upped my fruit intake everything was perfect. Been doing it for five months now and I feel amazing!!! Once again, I know it sounds crazy. And my yoga practice has improved big time (not to mention I have a lessor enviro footprint)

  14. About the bag and not wanting to buy a backpack: Do you know about furoshiki? It's the Japanese art of cloth folding, and it's a great way to use scarves and the like to make backpack-style containers and other carriers. I have a bit about it on my blog, or you can go to the source.

    Good luck!

  15. FYI, I believe I read somewhere that backpacks were cool again, as in actually fashionable (a la black leather Prada bag circa 80's . . or was that early 90's?)So you'll be cool and can eat more!

    Like Svasti said, create a mini stockpile at work, if you can. As far as bringing more food with you daily, even if you bring an extra sandwich and and WHOLE chocolate scone, it might be just enough to get you from collapsing as soon as get home. If it's a blood sugar thing, I would go for more protein, too. Hope this situation improves (if not, go see the doctor or a nutritionist!.

  16. Definitely sounds like blood sugar dropping, like Nicole wrote! I don't like spending the money on power bar type things, but I do like making my own at home. I have a great recipe for yogini cookies- really healthy cookies with oatmeal, wheat germ, trail mix, etc. One or two of those is great to tide you over 'til dinner, and easy to pack around with you!

    I'm glad you're writing about body image, eating, yoga and being female. It is an important topic! I work a lot with gals with eating disorders and it is a topic I think about often. I'm currently reading a book called Health Food Junkies- it is about orthorexia- which is the obsession with eating healthy food. I think many yogis fall in this category, and I certainly have myself in the past.


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