Let’s get one thing straight: there is no such thing as a “good” food or a “bad” food. There’s just food — a substance that can be ingested for nutrition and fuel to the body. While there are certain kinds of food that can be more nourishing, it doesn’t mean there needs to be a cancellation for other types. (Fast food lovers, rejoice!)
This single mindset alone can change an entirely normalized behavior regarding present-day food consumption. With social media playing a crucial role in the boom of the wellness industry over the last decade, the definition of health and fitness now often falls in the hands of influencers and celebrities that have a full home studio set-up to capture only their best angles and moments everyday. Scientific data and research fall back on the health trend, ironically, and leave a gap for false information to circulate and create a toxic diet culture of self-deprivation when it comes to food.
The resulting wave of unhealthy eating habits now leaves the emotional well-being of the world population vulnerable. Among the pillars of modern wellness, of course, is the breaking of mental health stigma, which the psychological and coaching community addresses through personal growth and self-awareness. Achieving milestones in positive self-image, body acceptance, and boosting confidence have been linked with developing a higher tolerance to stress, which in turn prevents disease and sickness, even slowing down aging.
It can be said, then, that self-love can manifest in healthy eating habits. In case no one told you: food is meant to nourish you, not torture you! In creating a better relationship with the way you eat, you not only feed your body but also your mind. Developing healthy eating habits becomes a practice of being kinder to yourself and enjoying your own company, teaching you to be mindful of your thoughts as well. Are you thankful for your meal or are you begrudgingly taking a forkful of tasteless oatmeal because you saw it on the Instagram of a spin instructor that rides 8 hours in a day?
Here are a few tips and supportive mindset hacks that help you develop healthy eating habits not just for weight loss and the prevention of disease, but to practice some daily self-love that you can stick with in the long-run!
Water, fruit juice, coffee — keep yourself hydrated! Sure, it’s ideal that you prioritize h2o, but if you’re obsessed with drinking water only for your health, then that ain’t self-care. Did you know that there’s even such a thing as over-hydration, or hypothermia? It’s when your body develops an electrolyte imbalance due to excessive urination and overburdening of the kidneys.
Take in a variety of beverages, even the ones with their sugars and caffeine, and consume in moderation. How? Through mindfulness, learn how to listen to your body and the cues it gives you — and don’t wait for your body to sound an alarm by pushing it to the extreme. If you’re thirsty, have a sip. If you’re looking to unwind, pour yourself a drink. This way, you’ll be able to make decisions like having a glass of white wine when you’re enjoying a laid-back lunch or having that mid-afternoon espresso to perk you up — without chasing after the 3 to 4 liters of water you’re supposed to be drinking in a day.
Make Mealtimes Colorful.
While it is quite the self-care thing to do to open up a microwaveable dinner and curl up in front of the TV for some Netflix n’ Chill by yourself, try to plan out a meal you can share with a family member or friend a couple of times a week. This simple behavior brings your attention to the food you set out and how it makes you feel, emotionally and physically. It’s a great opportunity to get you in the kitchen and try out a new dish, like a plant-based recipe or even an air fryer YouTube tutorial. It also invites some creativity with plating, especially if you’re sharing this meal over a video call. Make your food look good with some color beyond greens and browns — and set out that collection of ceramics and cutlery that’s been gathering dust in your drawers. Don’t sweat it, though, and just have fun with your food!
Get Into a Natural Rhythm of Eating.
Back in the primitive age, man didn’t eat three meals a day. Some of them, as gatherers, would graze on fruits and vegetables throughout the day, and some of them, as hunters, would eat a whole hearty deer over the course of a few days until they hunt one down again.
All this to say: consider a fasting method that works for your lifestyle and health requirements. Speaking with a health professional and nutritionist can help you come up with a manageable diet that addresses pre-existing conditions or possible hereditary diseases. That is, don’t just jump into a dieting trend because it worked for someone you know. Find out with your own research and pay some mind to how each method makes you feel. Your body is quite intelligent and it does know what’s best for it — just learn how to understand its language!
Remember: self-love isn’t about starvation or deprivation. It’s about acceptance, non-judgment, and fun. Don’t beat yourself up for eating chocolate or having that order of fries. What goes in comes out anyway, and healthy eating habits keep that system going when it’s done mindfully and with kindness towards yourself!