My toddler LOVES candy. Not just a little bit. Like, if I would let him, he would eat candy exclusively. I’m not even sure he would get sick. He would be the one child who can eat mounds of sugar in every form and feel the best. And even if he wasn’t that child, he would sure like me to let him try.
Sadly enough for him, I set limits to his inhalation of all things sweet. We talk about healthy food, and what foods are actually healthy. We talk about how our bodies need healthy food to grow and be strong. We talk about how delicious healthy food is at meals and snacks all day long. Every day.
And this has gotten me thinking… healthy eating is really an act of self-care.
I don’t know about you, but when I hear people talking about self-care, it usually goes something like this, “Wine and Netflix in my pjs! Self-care night!” And just like my son with candy, if given the opportunity, I would not turn down a night of wine and Netflix in pjs (though I might modify the wine part to some decadent chocolate dessert… the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree, my friends).
And while this sounds like a great night, the unfortunate news is that’s not actually self-care.
I know. Bummer.
Wine (or chocolate truffle cheesecake, if you will) and Netflix are like our adult version of all the candy. We like it, we might even crave it, it might be difficult to stop, but it’s not helping us. It’s not self-care. In fact, if we allowed ourselves to have wine (or chocolate lava cake) and Netflix every night, we would not be healthier. We would not feel better. Ultimately, we would feel a great deal worse. With time, our bodies would feel the effects of our sedentary consumption and not work as well. Our souls would be uncomfortable, our emotions low.
Self-care isn’t about what feels good in the moment (like fudgy mocha brownies) and eventually makes us sick. True self-care is about doing things for ourselves that promote our emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental health.
True self-care begins with kindness and compassion for ourselves.
When we are kind to our bodies by feeding ourselves nourishing food, we are practicing self-care.
Think about that for a moment… How much easier does self-care become when it is embedded in the very food we eat? Have some berry-banana oatmeal for breakfast and practice self-care! Have some carrots and hummus as a mid-morning snack. Self-care! Have a roasted fall vegetable salad with maple-tahini dressing for lunch. Self-care! An apple. Self-care! Spinach. Self-care!
Kindness allows me to pay attention to my body, noticing the foods that make me feel good (even long after they are consumed), and choosing those over the foods that make me feel sick, sluggish, or give me headaches. Kindness also offers me grace when I do choose chocolate peanut butter pie, and it allows me to smile at myself instead of berate myself for my choice.
Kindness extends to others as well, helping my toddler enjoy delicious healthy food, and also allowing him to have some candy sometimes, because he is human, just like me.
It doesn’t have to be complicated, and it certainly shouldn’t be about deprivation, but when we shift our perspective and think about being kind to ourselves with our food choices, we open up a whole world of small things that add up to big time self-care, nourishing our whole selves for long-term wellness.
In what ways can you offer yourself kindness through nourishment today?
So much love,