By GGTW Health and Wellness contributor Gaithri Raj
In our introduction to Self-Care Wednesdays (SCW) in May, we talked about taking that first step towards self-care by setting a goal to block out some time for yourself. One of the most important steps towards self-care is making sure you are providing enough nourishment to your body. That means eating healthy food regularly. And that means, ahem, NOT skipping meals or eating junk.
Love coffee in the morning? Caffeine can act as an appetite suppressant that fools you into thinking you aren’t hungry (when you probably are). And some people develop stomach upset when drinking coffee on an empty stomach. Those are two very good reasons to break your overnight fast with a healthy breakfast. Try fruit and yogurt, some whole-grain bread or cereal, or poached eggs.
You know you’ve said it (I know I have): “Oh, I’ll just work through lunch.” This is a common, overused, and potential pitfall for bad self-care. I admire to being guilty of this, especially during the work week. It is really easy to justify doing it once or twice to speed up completing that report or meeting that deadline. Unfortunately, it is also too easy to make this a habit when you begin to do it all the time. After a week or two of skipping lunches and grabbing less than healthy snacks, guess what? You’ve made that into a routine. This month, try to make it a habit NOT to skip lunch, breakfast or any meal.
Don’t forget to be careful about the last meal of the day, either. I know some days it’s hard to think about cooking something after a long day at work. Try preparing meals ahead of time so you can warm them up on your busiest evenings. Or, have the ingredients pre-measured and cut up so all you have to do is throw them in the pot and voilà! By the time you’ve changed out of your work clothes, dinner is ready. Resist the temptation to pick something up at a fast-food place or order out again when fatigue gets the best of you.
Last but not least, drink lots of water and limit your intake of unhealthy snacks. No, potato chips don’t count as a vegetable. But raw carrots and peppers do! Add a side of yogurt-based dip and you’ve got yourself a healthy snack. Or slice up an apple and dip it in peanut butter. Put some berries in a wine glass to make them look festive, and pluck them out as you type away on your keyboard.
I think we can all heed the words of Alice Waters of Chez Panisse: “Food isn’t something to be manipulated by our teeth and shoved down our gullet. It’s our spiritual and physical nourishment, and important to our well-being.”
Here are some other healthy eating go-tos from the Go-getters!
Gaithri: Here are some time-saving and cost-effective meal prep ideas that keep me on a good path to eating healthy despite my busy schedule.
Amanda: I drink water first thing in the morning, and fill a big bottle to carry around the office. I leave a bag of almonds on my desk for the midday craving. I also prep fruit right away when I bring it home and store it in easy to grab containers! Along those lines, I often spend the extra money for food that’s already chopped and prepped. I know myself and my schedule, so it’s either a healthy dinner with pre-diced onion, pepper, and pre-washed spinach or DoorDash…
Lori: My healthy food and supplement has been cherries–either natural when in season, or in dried powder. I’ve suffered from severe joint pain for over a decade. I’ve struggled taking NSAIDs as the side effects are almost as bad, for some people, as the pain. My orthopedic MD suggested I try tart cherry extract and it’s made a world of difference. It has reduced the inflammation which reduces the pain. And when cherries are in season…well, let’s just say, I can eat a boatload of those babies. Learn more about the benefits of cherry juice.
Tricia: Snacking for me can be especially dangerous because I love salty, crispy things, especially after a hard workout. To fend off the potato chip monster, I try to keep healthier choices like RxBars (mixed berry is my favorite), Clif Bars (and you can support the #SomedayIsNow movement via their website!), and Trader Joes’ freeze-dried red seedless grapes in my purse, the car and my backpack.
Precious: I use a four-pronged approach to eating healthy. (1) Eat foods that are as processed as minimally as possible. Eating mostly plant-based foods has been proven to be the healthiest diet, but if that is too far of a stretch for you, follow what our fantastic pediatrician says: “The less feet an animal has, the better it is for you.” (2) Cook more at home. If you are struggling to get out of a cooking rut or have never really cooked, the library is the place for you. They have tons of cookbooks without any of the commitment. I pick up at least one cookbook every time I’m in the library and try at least one new recipe from each of them. Now, not all are winners, but it has single-handedly gotten me out of my comfort zone with food. (3) Track your food intake in an app like MyFitnessPal. Just the simple act of capturing what you are eating makes you more conscious of what you are putting in your body. You will think twice before you get that midnight handful of cookies. (4) Eat what makes your BODY feel happy. This is important. If you eat cheese and consistently get a belly ache after eating it, stop eating cheese. Your body is trying to tell you something.
Happy and nutritious eating, Go-getters! Remember to take good care of your insides so you have the strength and stamina to Go Get The World! And if you have any tips you’d like to share with our community, add a comment below or send us a message.