Only person who can gain weight in India?

If you’ve been reading my blog, you may have gotten a sense that I enjoy good food.  You may even recall a few blog posts where I talked about having to wear stretchy pants in Europe because of all the great food I was eating.  Two days ago I was going out to dinner so instead of my everyday uniform of cotton yoga pants and a T-shirt, I put on a pair of jeans.  To my surprise and horror, they were tight on me.  This pair was quite loose just a few weeks ago and they are the same pair that my traveling companion in Europe told me I should throw away because they were too big.  whaaaaaaaaaat?!?!

Yes.  I’ve gained weight in India.  I know I lost weight when I was staying at the Sivananda ashram- eating very sattvic vegetarian meals just twice a day and practicing 4 hours of asana everyday will do that do you.  I maintained a healthy lifestyle at the ayurvedic retreat where I had three portion controlled pure vegetarian meals each day for almost two weeks.  Now that I am living in the real/ outside world I’m finding myself giving in to my senses a bit too much.  We get our breakfast at KYM after our asana practice at 8:30AM.  It’s Indian everyday which is a bit problematic because it’s very starchy and because I don’t seem to tire of it.  I’m nearing the end of my second week at school and I think I’ve figured out the breakfast menu for each day-

Monday: Idli– steamed savory cake made of rice and fermented black lentils.

Tuesday: Pongal – Tamil specialty, thick rice porridge.  For breakfast there is ven (white) pongal which is savory.   In Tamil Nadu, sweet pongal (sakarai pongal) is often served for dessert.  Sakarai in Tamil (the language spoken in Tamil Nadu) means sugar.

Wednesday: Masala dosa– crepe/thin pancake made with fermented rice and black lentil batter, filled with spicy potatoes.

Thursday: Idiyapam– string-like noodles made with rice flour, served with curry (thick spicy sauce with vegetables) and coconut milk.

Idiyapam with curry

Friday: Uttapam– thick pancake made out of rice/black lentil, most times chopped vegetables are cooked right into the pancake and can resemble a pizza.

Friday breakfast- uttapam

Except for the idiyapam, they are all served with sambar (vegetable stew) and two or three different chutneys.  We also get a fruit salad with lots of papayas, a banana, and toast with butter and jam.  Plus tulsi (holy basil) and ginger tea.  I eat a bit (hmmm, a lot) of everything everyday…  Yes, I know.  Oink, oink.

For lunch I’ve been eating the home cooked Indian meals local ladies prepare for us this week.  Since I wrote about it the first day (see that post here), it’s gotten even better.  The variety of vegetables has increased and with another student from KYM, who is an expert in organic farming joining our lunch group, I now get a good salad each day and a bit of dessert as well- today in addition to the tiffin box lunch, we had a spinach salad with beetroots and organic millet cookies made with orange and jaggery (unrefined whole cane sugar or palm sugar, much better for you than refined white sugar) with some French fig jam.  Yes, I know.  Again, oink, oink.

We have a tea break at school around 4PM where we have some cookies and more ginger tea.  For dinner, I make a porridge (Quaker oats) with some fruit every night if I’m staying in.  My dinner is healthy and simple but it’s actually not surprising that I’ve put one some weight given everything else I eat during the day.  I need to reduce the overall amount of food, especially all the carbohydrates I’m eating.

Porridge and fruit for dinner

In our “other yoga texts” class we’ve been studying what “Hatha Yoga Pradipika” says about a proper diet for a yogi and how much food we are supposed to eat.  It says that one needs to take agreeable and appropriate food, and should take in 1/2 solids, 1/4 liquids, and 1/4 air, as in one should only eat up to his/her 75% capacity and leave the last 25% empty.  It also states that one should not talk while eating, drink water in between, eat when you’re in a bad mood, and should eat with reverence (as if you’re offering the food to the gods).  Easier said than done, certainly in our daily lives where eating is a social activity and/or a part of multi-tasking.

Moderation and mindfulness with food.  I’m setting an intention today and will follow through…  But I’m still looking forward to finding out what the tiffin boxes will contain for my lunch tomorrow!

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