Like Lino says, we are always purifying. Everyday the practice does something. No matter how many years we have been on the mat. Diet is important! Let me just say not one diet is for all. Just as one teacher is not for all. BUT there is a teacher for every individual and also individual nutritional needs. I have been vegetarian for nearly 30 years but I have taken breaks when I felt depleted, not grounded, and/or craved meat. After all, I grew up on Omaha Steaks, a variety of lamb dishes (being Lebanese), cold cuts, and roast beef at my grandmother’s house for Sunday lunches. Oh, did I forget to mention McDonald’s after 5 o’clock mass on Saturdays!
It’s when I went off to college that my mostly plant based diet began. Now when living with a strong community of practitioners we barely speak about food choices other than perhaps a hiatus off wheat or dairy. The vegetarian foundation is there. In scandinavia some of my students eat fish. I know some of my students here in Montana eat meat. I also know from my own experience with fasting, cleansing, raw diets, vegan diets, lacto veg., and lacto- ovo veg diets, that food is medicine!
What works for me does not necessarily work for someone else and what worked for me 5 years ago may not be working for me now. Diet is experimental, much like the laboratory of asana. With time everything changes: the practice, hormones, skin, metabolsim, sex drive, preferred colors. you name it! We need to stay vigilant. Do you ever notice a change in appetite or taste when practicing different series?…
However what I try and try again when visiting family or friends is to be easy and go with the flow. Unfortunately, I end up suffering.
14 years ago when I started practicing I had a lot of nausea. It took almost 3 years to get past it. I sweat a lot back then (unlike now except when in India!), and I also dealt with skin eruptions. There was definitely several purification processes happening. The way I see it is when we feed ourselves it is like putting gas in our car. We don’t put diesel into a vehicle that takes unleaded.
It is important to listen to what is good for now and what is not, it is also important to enjoy life. So if you take Saturdays off then enjoy pizza and gelato on Friday, but also take note of how you feel on Saturday. Suffering is not the answer. Food should sustain us and keep us healthy! Our needs will change and we should be present enough with ourselves to take notice.