Self-care concentrated eating can take many different guises, in day to day life it could be ensuring we are getting the right nutrients to fuel our body, but sometimes it can be treating ourselves to that slice of cake because we deserve it!
So, do a sigh of relief…we are not doing diets but instead listening to what our body wants. We should aim to intuitively eat, focusing on what we need to fuel us in the current moment. In this light, this post looks at seven smart eating habits that can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle.
Load your Plate with Fruits and Vegetables:
We’ll get the obvious part over with, fruit and vegetables are good for you, who would have thought it? Fruit and veg are a great source of vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. According to a recent study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, there’s a correlation between eating fruits and vegetables and feeling positive. So, loading up on your veggies is actually a key part of self-care.
We’ve all been there, it’s late afternoon, you’re feeling like the Incredible Hulk, everything is irritating, you’re ready to scream and then you realise…the last time you ate was that half a cereal bar you inhaled on the commute to work, or the scraps of the kid’s cereal when they decided their Weetabix had gone “too soggy”. Try not to reach such extreme breaking points of hanger and focus on eating small regular meals to keep your metabolism on an even keel, preventing overeating and regulating blood sugars.
Say Hello to Nuts and Seeds:
Nuts and seeds contain a hell of a lot of nutrients. Seeds (including flaxseed, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds) and nuts (like pistachio, walnuts, almonds and cashews) are a good source of protein, fibre and heart-healthy fats. These are a simple snack to have in your bag, at work or in the kitchen cupboard to eat when you’re on the go. FYI, I’ve been told Snickers don’t count, but I’m still sceptical and believe further research needs to be done.
Slow Carb Instead of No Carb:
A life without carbs is a life not lived, so don’t attempt to rule them out. Carbohydrates provide slow release energy that will fuel you throughout the day. Examples of healthy foods rich in slow-releasing carbohydrates are oats, wholegrain bread and cereals, couscous, pasta, sweet potatoes, lentils. These foods provide a perfect base for everyday meals.
Eat Foods that Will Help you Sleep Better:
As we all know a good night’s sleep is an important part of the self-care process. It elevates mood and helps improve your cognitive skills and cardiovascular health, among other things. What you eat can have a large impact on how you sleep. But we’re not just talking avoiding cheese at night to ward off nightmares. Eating foods that induce sleep is a natural and effective way to fight insomnia. Consuming foods that are rich in tryptophan, such as bananas, potatoes, almonds, seeds, and whole-grain oats, are your best bet. Tryptophan is an amino acid which is involved in the synthesis of melatonin, the sleep hormone (yes, we know things).
Pay Attention to your Plate:
One second your sat down to a steaming bowl of pasta, a few scrolls on your phone and glances at the telly and it’s gone, you’ve finished your meal without even realising. Multitasking while eating often makes it difficult for us to listen to our bodies hunger cues. If possible, try to sit down to meals without the distractions of phones and TV and focus on what you’re eating. Take time to see, smell and enjoy every bite your food. Plus, this provides the perfect lull to catch up with your family and friends.
Healthy and intuitive eating is obviously ideal and should be practised when possible, but we can’t possibly always be expected to create a meal that looks like a perfect example of the Eat Well Plate. Sometimes we’re feeling low, tired and maybe overstretched and we don’t feel like whipping up a dish from scratch and that’s okay! Try to ensure that you always have some easy foods in the freezer ready to go, this could even be some frozen bags of oven food that you can cook quickly with minimal effort. What’s important is that we are listening to our body and fuelling it, ensuring that we have enough energy to continue with the path ahead.
So there we have it, stick to these guidelines…as closely as you can, but don’t beat yourself up if you stray! We’re only human, and we are all just doing our best.