When I became a mom, it was quickly clear to me that self-care was going to have to come in small ways, if it was going to come at all. I still recall how simple acts like arriving early to places so that I had minutes to myself while my daughter slept in my car were restorative. It was these small but impactful expressions of self-care that guided me then, and still do today, regardless of how stressful or busy life is.
It’s why I’ve always kept exercise as a big part of my life, even if it means early mornings or sneaking it in when I can. That “me time” is so important. And, not surprisingly, it’s why my food choices and approach to eating not only help me stay healthy, but also enhance my mood and energy in the moment.
Here I offer five simple shifts and small acts to show yourself a bit of care every day:
#1 Take a seat.
We’re all guilty of this. The day gets busy and the next thing you know you’re eating your food standing at the counter. It may seem small, but enjoying food begins with relaxing, taking a breath, and pausing. Sitting down encourages this.
#2 Add color.
It’s such a simple thing, but when you add color to your plate, it instantly feels like you leveled up the meal and took time to make yourself something special. It can be as simple as dicing different veggies or adding sliced strawberries to greens. Or maybe it’s colorful carrots, sugar snap peas, and red tomatoes that add color with little prep.
I get it. When the family is all out, it’s super tempting to not make dinner at all. The good news is that’s okay! However, you still need to make yourself a balanced meal…even if that meal is deconstructed.
#4 Slow down.
We rush all day from task to task. Sometimes when meals come around, we feel like we’re still running and consume our food too quickly. Eating fast can lead to overeating, cause digestive issues, and generally leave us uncomfortable. Before enjoying your next meal, consider taking a few deep slow breaths to relax.
#5 Have your own meal.
If you’re a caregiver then you can picture the scene. You’re in the kitchen preparing a meal, snacking on some of this and that. Before we know it, we’ve made these bites and tastes our whole meal rather than just a quick sample. Not only does this diminish our self-care, it sets a bad example for children who are observing. They’re receiving the message that “caregivers don’t have time to sit and eat,” or “we only eat snacks instead of meals.” Self-care is also caregiving. When you’re practicing a healthy relationship for food, you’re modeling one too.