We hear a lot about self-love and self-care these days and let’s be honest, it’s a bit of a buzzword we’ve all probably thrown around without fully understanding what it’s all about. Self-love means paying attention to and prioritising your own health, both physical and mental. We can practice self-love with a whole range of different activities; regular physical exercise, calming our minds with meditation, a healthy sleep routine and eating a good diet are all key components to consider when planning your own self-love routine.
As an APD Dietitian and Nutritionist, food is definitely my forte, so today we’ll be exploring my three easy steps to achieve self-love with food and how to nourish your body with a holistic approach.
1. Eat Well
Most of the time, we want to be eating a wholesome, nutritious diet that is high in wholefoods with plenty of fruit and vegetables, healthy fats and only small amounts of processed foods. It’s best to ‘eat the rainbow’ and choose a broad array of colourful fruits and vegetables to ensure you are getting a good variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Aim for well-balanced meals most of the time, ensuring each main meal you eat contains each of the following;
- A source of Wholegrain Carbohydrates, such as; brown rice, quinoa, legumes or oats,
- A serving of Protein; lean meat, seafood, low fat dairy or meat alternatives,
- A few servings of Colour; fruits and vegetables
- A small amount of Quality Fats, such as extra virgin olive oil, avocado or nuts.
Eating a balanced meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner helps to provide you with all the nutrients we need to feel our best and keep our bodies functioning. If you find you get hungry between meals, choose snacks that are high in fibre and protein, as this helps keep us feeling fuller for longer. Suitable snacks might be fresh fruit, high protein yoghurts, crackers and cheese or veggie sticks and hummus.
2. The 80:20 Rule
Self-love is not just physical health, but also caring for our mental and emotional health. The saying “there is no sincerer love, than the love of food” really captures the notion that food brings us so much more than just nourishment, food brings us joy, it brings us together, it’s the centre of social gatherings and sometimes, we use food to commiserate with others. So whilst it is important to eat well, it is also important to enjoy and celebrate our food.
That’s where the 80:20 rule comes in. This way of eating is based on the premise that 80% of the time, we choose wholefoods and eat a balanced diet (as above) and then the remaining 20% of the time we choose soul-foods, or things that aren’t as healthy, but offer us other benefits.
We’re all so different when it comes to what we do and don’t like, and that’s why the 80:20 rule works so well. We might choose to have ice-cream on the weekend, or burgers and a beer at trivia but since you’re eating well the rest of the week, there’s no need to feel guilty when we indulge.
3. Eat Mindfully
The third and final step is to practice Mindful Eating. Mindful Eating is a strategy that helps you to regrain control over your eating habits. By eating mindfully, you become more in tune with your hunger and how your symtopms affect what you eat. Mindful Eating has been linked to increase weight loss, increased awareness of hunger cues and found to have positive effects on out mental health. There are many components of mindful eating, but a few tips to help get you started include: