The well-known term “comfort food” proves how powerful what we eat can be when it comes to how we’re feeling. So it’s important that you make smart choices if you want to boost your mood with the right food. Nutrition can be a great form of self-care - caring for yourself means eating well and eating well means caring for yourself. It’s a classic chicken and egg scenario (which are both things we’d recommend as part of a healthy diet, by the way).
As simple as it sounds, practicing self-care isn’t always easy. It can be a struggle to prioritize yourself and get that all-important ‘me time’, which is crucial for your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.
There are plenty of ways you can exercise self-care, but perhaps one of the best and easiest ways to incorporate it into your daily routine is through your diet. After all, we are what we eat.
Here are Freeletics Training and Nutrition Specialist David Wiener’s top tips for practicing self-care through your diet:
1. Get the balance right
Proper nutrition can do wonders for your body and your mind, providing you with energy so that you can function and thrive. To ensure that your body is working optimally, you should eat regularly throughout the day, viewing food as fuel that will power your body and allow you to perform at your best. For this reason, it is important to eat a balanced diet which combines carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. These vital nutrients are also incredibly important for your health, helping to reduce the risk of diseases and infections. At the core of a balanced diet are foods that are low in unnecessary fats and sugars and high in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Good examples include fruits, vegetables, grains, oils and healthy sources of protein.
2. Fill half of your plate with fruit and veg
According to a recent study, there is a correlation between eating fruits and vegetables and feeling more positive, and this is just one of the reasons why I’d recommend that at each meal time, half of your plate should be dedicated to fruits and vegetables. The benefits of fruit and vegetables are endless, but the more colorful the ingredient, the more of a nutritional punch it packs. Consuming blue and purple foods like aubergines and blueberries improves digestion, lowers cholesterol, boosts the immune system and helps fight inflammation. Red foods like tomatoes contain lycopene, a phytonutrient that helps fight heart ailments and certain kinds of cancers and leafy greens are an excellent source of calcium, iron, antioxidants and carotenoids, which strengthen bones, manage blood pressure and improve metabolism and cognitive function.
3. Eat mindfully
Mindful eating means simply paying attention while you eat, taking time to focus on the food you’re eating and how that food makes you feel. Actively taking time to eat and digest your food can also help with weight loss, helping your body to identify when it is full and avoiding overeating. To encourage yourself to eat mindfully, have your meals away from distractions such as your smartphone, computer or TV, and ensure you dedicate the proper time to eating meals, rather than grazing on snacks all day or eating lunch at your desk while you’re working. This is especially important if you are working from home. Leave the room you work in if possible and plan times in your day to have a meal away from your laptop.
4. Cut out the processed foods
More often than not, processed foods offer little to no nutritional benefit whatsoever. They are often full of empty calories, and should be avoided where possible. If you’re aiming to practice self-care through your diet, really try to limit the processed foods you’re eating by planning ahead and preparing meals in advance. One of the easiest ways to do this is by making healthy meals in bulk, so that you don’t have to spend time cooking every day. Meal prepping is an easy habit to get into; you don’t have to be super organized and many people even find that cooking can be very therapeutic for them, or helpful for meditation and self-reflection.
It might seem like a lot of effort, but considering your nutrition is always worthwhile and is an important part of self-care. You can only feel good on the inside if you are eating well, and after all, what use is training hard when what you’re putting into your body isn’t top notch? But nutritional self-care shouldn’t just apply on training days. Having a balanced healthy diet can improve your mood, mental well-being and overall physical health. Need a helping hand? Download the Freeletics Nutrition app today.