Just like what came first, the chicken or the egg, how do you see nutrition and self-care?
Eating well is caring for yourself. Caring for yourself is eating well.
Either way, self-care is a key ingredient in both equations which most people tend to overlook.
Just because you prioritise nutrition, it does not mean you are fully caring for your self. I’ve had clients who reply to my question, “How do you care for yourself?”, with “I eat well”. Eating well is a great start, yes, but I feel most of my clients overlook the non-nutrition ways to care for themselves, which is just as important, if not more important.
Why is the dietitian talking about the other non-nutrition ways, you are probably thinking? Because dietitians look at the big picture and appreciate that nutrition is just one piece of the puzzle regarding self-care. I love looking at nutrition and health in terms of puzzle pieces. The puzzle piece analogy works well at helping people to understand the concept of nutrition and health, and how self-care is a significant strategy for eating well and nourishing the body.
I find people put too much emphasis on nutrition as the way to solve their and the world’s issues. I believe nutrition is an untapped superpower, however, only when the big picture is considered. Nutrition should never be viewed as a stand-alone strategy.
Non-Nutritional Ways To Self-Care
- Physical activity
- Getting out in the great outdoors
- Setting work boundaries and sticking to them
- Spending time with your kids/family
- Speaking with a friend or socialising
- Regular GP and other health professional appointments – Many people I see take much better of their cars than themselves! Is this you?
- Taking appropriate medication for medical conditions.
- Setting personal and professional goals and sticking to them.
- Finding yourself a support person personally and professionally – Generally, these 2 worlds do not collide well. Mostly people closest to us do not understand or really care about the intricate details of our professional life.
Nutritional Ways to Care for Yourself
- Eating normally
- Eating intuitively – This means mostly eating in response to hunger.
- Eat mindfully.
- Drinking plenty of water – As a guide 2L/8 cups of water a day. There are fancy fluid formulas to guide you drinking adequate fluid, however, I like to keep it simple for you. A really simple way to check your level of hydration is to check the colour of your urine. If it is light yellow to clear, you are drinking enough fluid. If it is a dark yellow to brown. Drink up, you are not drinking enough fluid.
- Being aware of the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.
- Eating mostly whole foods – This means eating foods as close to its natural state as possible. An example of what this is not is prepackaged convenience foods. Don’t start thinking that you need to cut out all of these. There is a place for them for example, tinned fruit or fruit in containers.
- Having a variety of food available in your home and when you are out and about.
Are you caring for yourself in a balanced way? If not, I encourage you to choose one non-nutrition and one nutrition strategy and practise it this week. Once you have turned the strategy into a habit, pick another strategy until you are doing most things listed above.
Do you need more support? There is a community of like-minded women waiting to support you on your non-dieting journey. Join the Nutrition Empowered Mums Facebook Group.