Self Care Through Food & Nutrition
Make food part of your self care routine
In our fast-paced, productivity-focused world, making time for a self care routine is a challenge. Add to that living during a global pandemic, and well, self-care can feel like a foreign concept to many of us.
I think that is why self-care has become a buzzword in recent years. It is an essential life and health improving practice that we need to build into our daily routine to help manage the pressure and chaos that can be life. It is necessary, but it is not always easy.
What to include in a Self Care Routine
A good self care routine involves taking time to slow down and identify what you need to do for yourself, and then actually doing it. It is about focusing on what serves you best in the moment. It sounds simple, but can be very challenging to do! The common assumption is that self-care involves bubble baths, spa treatments, eating your favourite food, and nights out with friends, however, self-care is about so much more than that.
Self-care involves self-compassion and showing you value yourself and your time. That might mean some of the ideas listed above, but it can also mean taking a nap, saying “no” to a night out, hitting up a boxing class, phoning a support person to ask for help, making sure you eat enough during a day, or getting outside to refresh. Self care can mean going to therapy, writing in a journal, asking for help, taking a timeout, or really anything that is focused on meeting a need for yourself.
Nourishing your body is also a need, so self care includes food. The trouble is that many of us have a messy relationship with food. How we use food doesn’t always feel like self-care and sometimes, food can add to our sense of overwhelm.
Food as Part of your Self Care Routine
How can we change that? We can work on how we use food and start using food and nutrition in a self-compassionate way.
For example, I can be quite utilitarian in how I use food. I am a very hungry person and, historically, do not leave much time in my day for preparing meals. This means that sometimes food just fills a void and allows me to get on with my day. Well that doesn’t sound very caring does it? Full credit goes to a client of mine, who is pretty similar to me in how they were using food, for recognizing that how they chose to prepare food for themselves, when they had time to give, was a way of showing themselves how much they valued themselves.
Both of us enjoy food and enjoy the foods we eat, but our approach to personal nutrition lacked time, effort, care, and attention. The resulting food was missing something. It was less than satisfactory at times. There was no care taken in how we nourished ourselves.
Self Care Ideas Including Food
I challenge you to try one more more of these food-related self care strategies:
1. Take time to prepare and eat something you will truly enjoy
Show yourself how much you value you, by giving time and attending to your meal both in preparation and eating.
Once a week or once a month, take the time to slow down. Think of what you would really enjoy having for dinner.
Try a new recipe or an old favourite. I, your dietitian, do not care about the nutritional value you perceive to be in this meal, but rather how much you will enjoy it.
Enjoy the process. Put some music on in the kitchen while you prepare the food. Set the table and sit to eat without distractions like your phone or the TV.
2. Taste your food
Slow down, sit down and let your food do its job!
Food tastes a lot better when it is tasted. I don’t know about you, but the best tasting meals I have eaten were never on the run, in front of the computer screen at work, while driving, or while standing at the kitchen counter.
Food should be enjoyable as well as be something that makes you feel nourished and energized. Let it be healthful AND soulful.
3. Create connection around food
Food is social. So, if you can, safely create a food experience with friends, family, and loved ones.
One of my favourite food-related experiences has always been to try foods that are my friend’s favourites. When they share their food with me, it comes with a story and allows me to get to know them even better.
You could also try a new food together. Whether ordering takout from the same restaurant or preparing the same food home over video conferencing, experiencing new flavours together helps build connection.
4. Strengthen your food intuition
Ask yourself, “What would serve me best in this moment?”, instead of “what is the healthiest or best choice for me”.
The healthiest foods are the ones that fuel you towards truly enjoying all the flavors of your life.
The right self care routine for you is unique to you. I encourage you to try some new approaches just to see how they feel. If you want help repairing your relationship with food or to explore how you are currently using food, reach out to a dietitian who can help!
Find out more about the Virtual Dietitian services provided by the Health Stand team of Online Nutritionists specializing in meal planning, weight concerns, emotional eating, eating disorders, digestive health, heart health, diabetes, sports nutrition and more here: Dietitian Nutrition Counseling Programs.
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Check out more self care blog posts on the blog:
Disordered Eating, Emotional Eating & Sports Nutrition
Fitness enthusiast and lover of all things food, Jana is passionate about helping her clients improve their relationship with food and their body. She is a strong, motivational leader. Jana also offers the balance of a warm, supportive coaching style to nudge her clients from their comfort zone while feeling safe and supported. She specializes in mental health, eating disorders, body image and sports nutrition.