How to Practice Self-Care with Food

How to Practice Self-Care with Food | Food & Nutrition | Stone Soup
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When we say “nutrition”, we don’t mean diet. Often times, adhering to a diet tends to be the opposite of nutrition. Dieting generally connotes malnourishment. By definition, nutrition means nourishment. Self-care by another name is nourishment. In the end it’s all the same, but how we go about doing so can make a big difference in our health and well-being. You’ve only got one life. What, when and how you eat determines how you show up for that life. Here are a few ways to ensure your nutrition is an act of self-care rather than self-punishment.

Environment

There is nothing on this earth better than a meal that brings people together. How we eat determines our nutrition and healthy eating habits just as much as what we eat. I’ll admit it, when I find myself eating in front of a computer or TV at mealtime, it’s distracting and I end up wolfing down my meal without much thought. Creating an environment free of distractions and clutter can promote a more peaceful and mindful meal time. When that happens, maybe you linger longer with your food and actually enjoy it. It also helps to recognize hunger and satiety cues so that we don’t overeat. Taking your time over meals also helps you digest your food better. You light candles to meditate, practice yoga or take a bubble bath or whatever else to relax — why not turn off the TV, throw on some music and light a candle for dinner? It’s self-care, people. At the very least, take a breath, sit down at a table and chew your food. If nothing else, you’ll save yourself from some gas afterwards.

Balance

When trying to create more balance in your life, look no further than your plate. You are what you eat and what you eat has the power to determine your reactions to the world around you. When looking to balance your life, start by trying to balance your meals with all the food groups. Different foods have different properties and do different jobs in the body. Some provide energy, some boost mood and some help regulate sleep. No one food is healthy by itself in just the same way that no one food is unhealthy. Not even kale. Eating kale by itself does not provide balanced nourishment to your body. I’ve never tried, but eating only kale sounds soul-crushing. But when you start adding protein, fat and more colors, you’ll provide balance to your body and fuel for your mind. Same idea goes for ice cream. You can add balance by incorporating nuts, seeds and fruit. Taking the time to add a nutrition boost to your meals will leave less room for cravings and more fulfillment.

Time

Eat often and whenever you are hungry. This helps stabilize blood sugar levels throughout the day, making you feel more energized and even-keeled. Eating should not be just another item on your to-do list. Cooking your food is part of self-care. It’s also part of being a grown person. Putting yourself first by taking the time to provide yourself with a balanced and nourishing meal is the ultimate form of self-advocacy. Personally, there is nothing more gratifying than putting together a meal that I created. Not only that, but the simple act of making it can be meditative. Honor your hunger. Having an appetite is a sign of a healthy person, so don’t brush it aside or ignore it. Self-care is about honoring and respecting yourself. The least you can do is respect and listen to your body when it’s telling you it needs to be fed.

Nourishing your body is the foundation of health. Diet culture makes food out to be the enemy or as something that needs to be controlled. However, the food we eat impacts our ability to thrive. At the crux of it all, healthy nutrition is an investment in yourself and your life. Your self-care should start there.

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Callie Exas and Brett Klein
Callie Exas, MPH, MS, RDN, and Brett Klein, MSc, RD, CDN, are clinical dietitians based in Brooklyn, NY, and founders of The Wellthy Plate. You can learn more about them at www.TheWellthyPlate.com. Follow them on Instagram and Facebook.