What is the first thing you think of when you hear the term self-care?
I think about a spa day. To be pampered all day long sounds absolutely wonderful to me, and does not happen nearly enough!
What if I told you that self-care really starts with how you treat your body?
How much sleep are you getting each night? Are you burning the candle at both ends? Are you drinking enough water? How many glasses do you drink in a day? What are you feeding your body?
The first place to start with self-care is how you treat your body.
As a mom of three little ones, I often feel like all I do is cook for my kids. They are constantly hungry, and what they liked two days ago is no longer appealing to them. Now, I don’t want to debate how to feed your kids, but I do want you to think about that in relation to how you feed yourself.
For me, I want to make sure that my kids are eating the best food possible to fuel their growing bodies. I want them to be having green smoothies every day, I want them to eat lots of veggies and whole grains, lots of fruits and beans.
But what am I eating?
I often spend so much time trying to make sure everyone else has what they need; I forget to make sure I get what I need.
I realized a couple years ago that I needed to start listening to my body more; to see whether there was a correlation to the foods I was eating, and how I was feeling.
I would get headaches pretty much every day. I knew that I had jaw issues in college, clenching my jaw at night. I got a night guard and that helped, but I was still getting headaches a lot, more than normal. I figured that I would just continue taking ibuprofen and keep going on with my life.
Then when I had Emma, I realized she was fussy when I would eat cheese and nurse her, so I cut out cheese from my diet. My headaches subsided, but I didn’t make the connection.
After I stopped nursing Emma I started eating a lot of cheese again, and the headaches came back with a vengeance. I then made the conscious choice to cut all dairy, and what do you know, the headaches went away.
Now, I am not saying I don’t occasionally eat cheese, because I do. But, I go into it knowing that I am most likely not going to feel well afterwards, so I don’t do it often.
What if we all take the time to listen to our bodies to find out what we need?
When you are concentrating on self-care, you need to think about the foods that you are eating. I know that I don’t want to feed myself unhealthy food, although there are times that is inevitable due to being busy, someone being sick, whatever the reason, it happens. But, if we are cognizant of it, we can make adjustments later on.
I love what Michael Pollan says “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.”
This is great advice. You want to feed your body nourishing food, food that will fuel your body and mind. Food that makes you feel good.
That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have sweets, or snacks, or take entire food groups out of your diet, but if you are listening to your body, you will be able to figure out what foods make you feel the best. Listening to your body you will know when it is time to take a break from meat for a while, or when you really need a good piece of Alaskan salmon for dinner. You will be able to tell if you are eating too much dairy, or if you need more greens in your life.
If you haven’t ever kept track of your food and how you feel while eating those foods, I want to challenge you to start tracking that. Grab a small spiral notebook and start journaling your food intake. Make sure you write how you feel after your meals, how much water you are drinking, if there are different foods that you are trying.
I know that when I started journaling my food and water intake, it opened up an entire world to me of how my body reacts to certain foods, what makes me feel better.
This is an important part of self-care, so don’t skip it. Try it, at least for a week, and see if you can make some connections to the foods you are eating and how you are feeling. There is definitely something to be said for the correlation of how well we are overall and how we are fueling our bodies.
Do you keep a regular food journal? Have you noticed any correlation to the foods you eat and different ways your body reacts to those foods? What is your go-to snack?