Nutritionist Cheryl J. Zielke's Diet Plan for Yoga

Tracey Kelley
Nutritionist

To help you create a healthy diet plan to complement your yoga practice, LoveToKnow Yoga consulted nutritionist Cheryl J. Zielke. Zielke's business specializes in weight management as well as athletic performance nutrition. She oversees the nutrition program at one of the nation's top spa resorts and is also the editor of LoveToKnow Diet.

Nutritionist Cheryl Zielke's Healthy Diet Plan

In what ways can we ensure that a healthy diet plan includes 5-6 servings of vegetables a day?

Nourishing your body with the vitamins and minerals naturally found in vegetables can be easy. The most important piece of the puzzle is to plan, plan, plan. For example:

  • You must make your grocery list to include a variety of vegetables for the week or a few days, whichever way you shop.
  • It's important to have the vegetables ready to eat at any given moment. For this reason, it's to your benefit to wash, peel, and slice the vegetables ahead of time.
  • Make the vegetables portable by throwing a bagful in your purse, car, or backpack for those afternoon slumps when you need a boost of energy.

Another way to get your vegetables into your daily intake is to "sneak" them in wherever possible. For example, instead of a simple marinara sauce for your pasta tonight, add some chopped up carrots, celery, onion, or any other vegetables of your choice. Remember, just ½ cup amount of chopped vegetables equals a serving.

When eating out, choose vegetable soups, chili, salads, and sandwiches. For example, roasted eggplant and peppers with avocado and sprouts makes for a great, satisfying lunch.

If someone wanted to transition from a heavy meat-based diet to a lighter diet with a more diverse group of proteins, what simple steps can he/she take?

There are many alternative protein choices in a healthy diet plan. Beans, such as kidney beans and chickpeas, are loaded with protein without any fat content whatsoever. Toss them on salads or in soups. Use hummus (made from chickpeas) as a dip or sandwich spread. Lentils are also a great supplier of protein and best in soups and cold salads. Whole grains, such as barley, millet, and whole wheat, are often underestimated as sources of protein.

Check out the fish choices at your local market. There are many varieties of seafood that are great low fat alternatives to high saturated fat meats. Talk to the fishmonger about cooking ideas, because many recipes feature fish that can be simply grilled, broiled, or lightly pan-seared and taste great as is.

When eating out, choose a menu option you would not ordinarily order. This way, you can experience the dish without the worry or anxiety of preparing it yourself.

Generally it is recommended not to eat 2-3 hours before performing yoga, and especially not after a heavy meal. But some people need an energy boost prior to practice. What light snacks would you recommend?

  • A small apple, pear, or banana
  • A handful of grapes
  • ½ of a whole grain bagel or slice of bread with hummus or light cream cheese
  • A few whole grain crackers

The key is to stay away from fat and heavy proteins, as it takes lots of energy to digest these types of foods. Carbohydrates are preferred due to their ease of digestion and quick energy source.

Please explain a few easy ways to determine correct portions in a healthy diet plan.

Your hand can be a great estimator of portion sizes:

  • The tip of your thumb is about a tablespoon.
  • The tip of your pinky finger is about a teaspoon.
  • The palm of your hand (minus your fingers) is about a serving of protein, or 3-4 ounces.
  • Your fist is about the size of a medium-sized fruit.
  • Your cupped hand is about ½ cup portion.

More Healthy Diet Resources

  • Have a more specific question about a healthy diet plan? Ask Zielke or her associate on the site, Kristen Gilmore Leon.
Nutritionist Cheryl J. Zielke's Diet Plan for Yoga