What does a yoga teacher eat: A food diary

What does a yoga teacher eat?

I received a comment the other day via instagram asking about the kind of food I like to eat every day to keep me fuelled as a yoga teacher so I thought it would be fun to keep a little food diary for the next few days! I decided to keep the food diary quite short form so that it’s quick and easy to read, and also decided to include some of my activities.

I’d like to start by saying that I do not class myself as “a vegetarian”. In fact, I don’t think I have ever used that word to describe myself at all. Having said that though, the food that I am currently predominantly eating is plant-based with fish every now and again. I have chosen not to actively label myself as a vegetarian for a few different reasons – which I will share below.

    1. Right now I am eating foods which I feel best fuel my body – which is, as mentioned largely plant based. I am 30 years old, lead an active lifestyle and am relatively healthy. This type of eating works for me right now. However, the needs of my body may change in time (pregnancy, disease, etc) and if I need to adapt the food I eat in that time, then I will. I always think about Candace a yoga teacher with Lymes disease who has literally been through every diet in the book (vegan, vegetarian, etc) and the only thing that has helped for her – is meat. I think labels can sometimes be dangerous and if I ever end up in the situation where I need to fuel my body in a different way, then I don’t want to feel like I am letting everyone down. (Enter Deliciously Ella and her choice to start a deli with meat).
    2. Here is something controversial for your Thursday: I believe that humans as animals, just like cats, lions, bears, cheetahs, leopards etc there is some part of us that is intended to eat other animals. BUT, the way in which animals are consumed these days is abhorrent, which for me is the main difference. We have moved far beyond the caveman time of the hunt, with one animal being hunted, celebrated, given thanks for and collectively shared and after that is where the wheels all fall off. The mass consumerism of meat has lead to numerous problems. We already know that. But humans have a knack for creating problems out of everything – not only with regard to meat production. Our greed has pushed us beyond subsistence. (I’ve been thinking out loud on this, whether vegetarians feed their animals meat or not?!)
    3. In a completely made up stereotypical scenario – let’s say Husband and I are one day back-packing through Peru. We meet a lovely small Peruvian family and they decide to take us in for the night to stay with them. We communicate in the most broken of half-dialects, they give us a bed and mat to sleep on the floor of their tiny home and they cook us a hearty meal with the best things they can afford to buy. Served up to the table, is a plate of steaming Cuy – let me just say, I will eat that meat no problem, because in this instance to be sensitive to the being on the plate, removes you from being sensitive to the beings right in front of you. And I think that is completely counter productive.
    4. My mind/thoughts/being may change. I know many people who have lived vegetarian lives for many years and have moved back to eating small amounts of meat. Each of their reasoning is different – and that is their own thing. I know my mind has changed considerably. In fact, before adopting a “less-meat” approach, I remember meeting a friend – the first close friend I had who was vegetarian (from Canada) and being very curious as to her choice and decision to not eat meat. I would ask her numerous times why she had chosen not to eat meat because, honestly I just couldn’t understand it. In fact, I think some of the very words I may have used were “I get where meat comes from, I could watch a video of an animal getting chopped up, but that still doesn’t make me not want to eat it.” I get it now. (Sorry Kristi). The point being, that thoughts and mindsets can shift radically. I think it’s perhaps less common for it to shift back – but, quite honestly, who is to say that it won’t?
    5. I choose not to define myself by what I eat. Let me repeat that. I choose not to define myself by what I eat. Just as I wouldn’t define myself by the clothes I put on my body, or the colour I dye my hair, the colour of my skin or the food I put in my mouth. I am a being and my worth, my value, my identity is infinite. It is way more than screaming out “I EAT CARROTS & POTATOES!!”

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Anywhoo – having said that, here is a little food diary for the past few days, I tried to be up to date with the things I ate and the little snacks I had in between, although, to be fair it’s probably missing a snack or two. As a general thing, we tend to eat super healthy during the week, which gives us a little leeway and the odd glass of wine or two on the weekends.

Day 1

Woke up early and made myself a cup of hot lemon water with a few pieces of ginger in it. (Sat in bed drinking it, journalling)
Had a morning home yoga practice – (nothing too intense, practicing flow for upcoming retreat)

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Breakfast: Grapefruit, boiled egg, spinach, lemon salt + pepper. (Spent 15 minutes trying to take the best picture of it all, was starving by the time I ate it.)

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Mid Morn snack: Coffee, Banana + Peanut butter. I call this “mid-morning” but really it was probably only about 6 minutes after breakfast. (See starvation levels above)
(Busy morning, packing orders, doing illustration, planning classes and meeting with a yoga studio)

Lunch: Met with Holly to discuss plans for yoga retreat – went to Ex Cellar and ordered the soup of the day – Pumpkin soup with toast. (No picture)

Afternoon Snack: Have awesome treats from Creative Nature Superfoods that have arrived from some of our sponsors to be given out to the yogis on our retreat as part of their “goodie bags” – Holly brought some for me. Opened one as I was leaving the restaurant. (Quality control and all). I tried the cacao and berry bar – and it is freaken delicious. Finished it before I had even got to the train.

Went straight to teach a kids yoga class, kid offered me a handful of her snack popcorn. Couldn’t say no, obviously.

Got home and smashed a few mushrooms dipped in hummus (go-to-snack). Warren arrived home and declared he was starved. Me too. Forfeited an evening yoga session and whacked on the oven straight away.

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Dinner: M&S Salmon & broccoli quiche (average),  salad (spinach, tomatoes, baby corn, olives, feta, mushrooms) and hummus. Decided not to waste 15 minutes trying to take a photo of it. Ended up with a terrible picture which I’ve unsuccessfully tried to mash up in photoshop. Split quiche into quarters. I ate one quarter, Warr ate one quarter. Watched MasterChef. Got hungry again. Ate the remaining quarters. No more quiche.

Tried to convince Warren that we should make delicious hot chocolate, with lots of sugar. It was unsuccessful. He made me a berry tea instead. Which is totally not the same thing.

Day 2

Slept terribly, woke up slightly later than yesterday. Did morning practice about 1 and half hours – also partly prepping for retreat classes.

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Breakfast: Protein Smoothie – handful of spinach, about 4 strawberries, 5 blackberries, quarter of an avocado that wasn’t quite ready, protein powder and the green mix from love your blender. I won a love your blender competition on instagram recently and met the guys behind it all at the Om Yoga Show – they gave me a stash of sachets to try and they are really good to add to your morning smoothie. I quite like the Super berry one since the flavours are most similar to the type of things I use in my smoothie anyway. This morn I used the Bright Green one. I’m slightly dubious about testing the cherry one – which has rose in it -because I don’t think I want to be drinking a rose bush for breakfast. Will see though. Currently in the house we have Pulsing Whey Protein. It’s ok – I find it quite “fluffy” in taste/texture and it’s definitely better added to smoothies, rather than drinking it on it’s own – but it does have a really high protein to carb ratio though! We also currently the Optimum nutrition whey protein powder in Vanilla. (The chocolate is also good). I REALLY like the Sun Warrior Protein powders – which are vegan (and delish!). I was using those previously (chocolate and then vanilla flavour). I have read though that it’s a good idea to keep switching up the protein powders you use – so that’s the reason for chopping and changing!

Mid Morn: Coffee and Banana. (Intentionally left banana out of my morning smoothie so that I could have it as a snack)

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Lunch: Scrambled Egg combo. Eggs, tomatoes, olives. Sprinkled fancy looking herbs on it purely for photographic purposes. Tasted good. Will remember that for future.

Afternoon Snack: Was about to make a second cup of coffee then remembered I was creating a public food diary. Made a chai tea with coconut milk instead. ha. Noshed an extra seed bar from yesterday –
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Kids yoga in the afternoon. Smashed a few mushrooms and hummus before heading out. Also a few almonds.
Had a boiled egg before heading back out to teach my adult class.
Taught my open class at St Mark’s straight after that. Came home super hungry.

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Dinner: Lentil soup from Sainsbury’s – (standard staple of ours especially if we are both out doing yoga late at night!  – Warr usually comes to my Wednesday evening yoga class and this dinner makes it quick and easy to heat up when we get home. To be honest, we have this soup at least once a week. Sometimes twice.) Roasted some pumpkin seeds on top as per usual. To make it fancy and all. Managed to convince husband to allow us a piece of dark chocolate. Ate piece of dark lindt chocolate. Ate half of a second piece of chocolate.

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Day 3:
Short run with a little bit of yoga to follow. Came home hungry.
Breakfast: Made oats with honey and added in the cocoa and chilli sachet from the Love Your Blender sachets I have left. Gave a new little spin to the morning oats. Not bad! (Note: above – the “instagram picture” below – the ‘what it ACTUALLY looks like picture’
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Mid morn snack: a few grapes, (and also accidentally a piece of dark chocolate that happened to be sitting on the table.) Pity we don’t have any pets I could blame that on. Hopefully husband won’t notice.

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Lunch: Salad bowl – spinach, falafel, egg, hummus, pesto, cucumber, beetroot, avocado, olives. Pesto and hummus.

Afternoon Snack: Half a Quest protein bar (chocolate flavour)

Taught evening yoga class at Motspur Park.

Dinner: Salmon and vegetable stir-fry, I pretended to cook it and then casually “left it unattended” as Warren walked into the kitchen. No photo. Was delish.

( The weekend was in between here – I didn’t document all the meals since we were at The Weekend Zen – the food was all super delicious and all veggie ranging from Aubergine and tomato ratatouille, to leek tarts, to veggie frittatas. Lunches were soups with salads and healthy coleslaws. Delicious puddings were served – chocolate brownies for the win! Probably more desserts than I would usually have during the week – but probably the right amount for Weekend treats!)

Day 4:

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Had a sleep in, felt a bit bush-whacked after epic retreat weekend.

Breakfast: Coffee. (nearly two cups, but managed to restrain). All bran with cashew nuts and coconut milk. (Had two {mini} bowls of All Bran). Ok, fine, they weren’t that mini.

Snack: Ate a few grapes. Decided I was still hungry so ate an apple before heading out to the post office. Was tempted to get a Pret Feta and butternut salad for lunch. Remembered we had left overs at home –
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Lunch: Left over chickpea and aubergine curry/stew, made by husband for our Sunday night dinner – super yummy! (Husband was trying to be healthy on Sunday, (we didn’t even have wine!) I successfully convinced him to eat an entire bowl of ice-cream covered in Twix Mix chocolate balls. I’m a really good influence. Finished off the ice cream with a piece (two pieces) of dark chocolate. As you do.)

Snack: Ate an entire protein bar. And then some nuts and raisons. And then some grapes. Had a rooibos tea to make up for the fact that I possibly shouldn’t have smashed the entire protein bar in one sitting, when – to be fair, hadn’t done all that much activity this morning. lol. Had a few extra nuts.
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Kids yoga in the afternoon, kid offered me her last chocolate cookie – put it in my bag “for later”. Come to think of it, it is still currently in my bag, possibly melting into the fabric. Awesome.

Taught out at William Morris House. Tried to tell Warren that we should have pizza and red wine for dinner. He resisted and then after a lot of begging, he said, “Fine, we can have that for dinner if you really want to”. Decided to compromise with a “healthy burger”
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Dinner: Spinach and lentil burger patty (store bought), portobello mushroom “buns” with peppers, avocado, cheese, cucumber and gherkin. Was delicious. Tasted naughty, but really wasn’t. Except for possibly the cheese, if you had to be nit-picky. But really who nit-picks over cheese? Super difficult to eat. Had some protein bar to finish off – because the protein bars literally taste like chocolate.

So that is a little four day food diary of the things I fuel into my day – usually breakfasts are protein smoothies, lunch are whatever’s going, generally salads or something fresh. Dinners are quick to prepare meals – often veggie soups with extra roasted pumpkin seeds. For snacking I choose nuts and bananas with peanut butter. I also like snacking on mushrooms and veggies dipped in hummus, boiled eggs are also a good go-to for me! On the weekends we have treats and wine, and often Warren will cook in the evenings which is often something Asian inspired, mainly veggie stir fry or curries – sometimes does them with prawns. On weekend mornings we treat ourselves with coffee in bed with Ouma Rusks. Two rusks each, or one if we are being healthy.

I am in no way a dietician, I eat the things that fuel me best at this stage of my life – which right now, is fresh vibrant food, with a variety of colours. I prefer eating smaller snacking type foods throughout the day and stay away from meats because I’ve found they leave my body feeling quite heavy. It’s not common for us to have bread at home – but will eat it if we are out. Our meals are generally quite low carb. I don’t take sugar in my coffee or tea. I’ve been trying to cut down on the number of coffees I have per day, although generally I don’t drink very strong coffee. Am down to one cup. If I am eating a bowl of cereal or making a smoothie I use coconut or almond milk, otherwise I use regular milk. I cut out diary milk for a little while some time ago and it did make a difference to my skin. Once you train the taste buds to have alternative milk in your coffee and tea – regular milk tastes SO sweet. Might try it again sometime,  although currently I don’t have any pressing reason to. Teaching yoga in the evenings I like to have a snack a few hours before I go and then have dinners that aren’t too heavy because generally I get home later and then am eating later. Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day – I used to be a massive CEREAL-hollic, but sadly have become wiser as to how ridiculous the amounts of sugar there are in most mueslis. Sob. Have made a few of my own mueslis before and they are pretty good! Mueslis are now a treat! I have a generally faster metabolism, but still don’t like eating a main meal less than an hour before a yoga class.

I’d love to know your thoughts! How do you fuel your body?

  1. Liv on December 3, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Ché this was such a good read! Thank you for sharing. I always struggle with my diet, such a sugar fiend. But feeling so bllurggghh right now due to lack of activity and generally ‘allowing’ myself treat after treat after treat. I started my day today with a green smoothie and really trying to give my diet a kick start, this post was the most perfect timing!! On Holland and Barrett website this very minute buying the delicious lemon and ginger tea we had at the retreat and will be adding protein bars to my basket! Would be interested to hear any of your favourite smoothie recipes, I lack creativity!
    Lots of love xxx

    • Ché Dyer on December 3, 2015 at 11:01 am

      URRGH! it’s SO hard to pull yourself out of a bad-eating slump! Make a food diary! It really helps keep you conscious about what you are eating! (The tea on the retreat was so good hey!?! I haven’t had that brand before – also want to get some!)

      Check out simplegreensmoothies on instagram – they have a really awesome skinny mint smoothie! (I leave out the mint!)

  2. Jacci on December 3, 2015 at 11:22 am

    Such a good post. I love how you don’t label yourself. I’ve always been more veggie with fish and bacon(!) on occasion, but when I was pregnant, I turned into a raging carnivore – weird how your body just tells you what you need.

    • Ché Dyer on December 3, 2015 at 12:03 pm

      Yes – I think that is something that I’ve been quite mindful of – what if I fall pregnant and realise my body needs something that I can’t get from spinach! Will see though – for now, eating what makes me happy! 🙂

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