How nutrition plays a role in self-care

Discover how incorporating different aspects of nutrition can aid in self-care, and see if you can incorporate them into your daily routine.

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  • Published: 4/22/2022
  • 5 min. read

Many of us are used to the hectic, fast-paced routine we call our daily lives – we often get so caught up in the stress of the day to day that we may forget to focus on the most important thing: ourselves and our health.  While there are certain obligations that we may not be able to eliminate, it is important to remember to take a step back and make time to practice self-care. There are many ways to incorporate self-care into your routine. Here, we will help you explore the importance of nutrition and the food you eat as it relates to taking care of yourself and how to engage in different self-care nutrition strategies to live a healthier lifestyle. 

What is self-care and why is it important? 

Often, we tend to focus our energy outward; we jam-pack our schedules with long work hours, appointments, and activities, and use our spare time to take care of our friends and family. But, when it comes to ourselves, we maintain that we do not have the time to focus inward and struggle to give ourselves a break. Due to this, self-care and how to practice it has become a largely discussed topic. Self-care can be a broad term that incorporates hygiene, nutrition, lifestyle, environmental factors, and socioeconomic factors (1).

While the stress we feel from our daily routines may not immediately impact our health, ignoring our individual needs and not managing the continued strain on our bodies may contribute to health problems in the future. Read: it is important to practice self-care. Self-care can be what people do for themselves to establish and maintain physical, mental, and emotional health, and to prevent and deal with certain illnesses (1). The intent behind self-care is to recognize your own needs and to put your health first, so that you may ultimately be able to help others.

There is no standard for self-care– we all practice self-care in different ways. For some it may be pampering yourself with a trip to the spa, taking a bubble bath at the end of a long day, meditating, checking in with yourself, eating a healthful diet, or engaging in daily exercise. No matter what self-care means to you individually, it is about focusing on yourself and your overall well-being. 

Nutrition and self-care

If you are looking to up your self-care routine, consider nutrition when focusing on a single area you would like to change that can have an overall positive effect. A balanced, varied diet can be an important part of self-care as the food you eat directly impacts your overall health and well-being. Proper nutrition can play a vital role in the management of daily stress and the long-term effects that stress may cause. Over time, continued strain on your body from stress may contribute to serious health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other illnesses (2). Therefore, it is important to give your body the nutrition it needs to help combat stress. However, stress is not the only thing that nutrition can help with. Discover some of the ways nutrition is intertwined in other aspects of self-care:

1. Cooking as a form of self-care. For those of you who may find solace in cooking as a form of stress reduction, this is a perfect way to incorporate nutrition into your self-care routine. Not only can the activity of cooking help reduce stress (if you enjoy it, that is), but having your meals prepped and planned ensures that you are eating well-balanced meals throughout the day. Consider these tips for making cooking a stress-free, simple part of your self-care routine:

  •       Try a new healthy recipe. Check out apps such as Lifesum for some well-balanced, delicious recipe ideas.

  •       Cook large batches of food and use leftovers for your meal prep to save on time while not skimping on the nutritional benefits.

  •       Embrace steaming as an alternative, healthier form of cooking

2. Skip the spa – nutrition for your skin and hair care needs. Proper nutrition is essential not only for our body functions but also works from the inside out. If you are someone who enjoys a little pampering for self-care, consider treating your body to these nutritious foods for glowing skin and luscious locks:

  •       Fill up on fruits and vegetables. While research is not yet conclusive, it has been suggested that diets high in vitamins such as Vitamin C, E, D, and A can promote healthier skin (3).

  •       Get in your omega-3s. Upping your omega-3 fatty acid intake with foods such as salmon, mackerel, or sardines has been suggested to have essential functions in healthy skin (4) and may also add some extra shine to your hair.

  •       For stronger, fuller hair, incorporate walnuts, apples, cherries, and oranges into your diet. These foods provide elastin to keep your hair supple and silica to prevent thinning.

  • Already into healthy eating? Go a step further and put together an at-home hair or face mask using items you already have in your kitchen such as egg white, avocado, oatmeal, or yogurt.

3. Connect with others through food. Simply taking a moment to enjoy time with your friends or family can be another method of self-care. Eating together with someone or as a group is referred to as “commensality” and includes the bonding that occurs when having a joint meal which brings people closer to one another (5). Meals have been valuable social events that have brought people together for centuries and still ring true to this day.

We all struggle sometimes with giving ourselves a break. With life always getting in the way, it is important to take the time you need to focus on yourself and your well-being. Self-care is not about just doing nothing; it is about doing the right things for yourself that make you connect with yourself. Whether it is through nutrition, exercise, meditation, social activities, or other methods, how will you start to engage in more self-care?

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All of the content and media on Lifesum is created and published for information purposes only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Users should always consult with a doctor or other health care professional for medical advice. If you have or think you are at risk of developing an eating disorder, do not use the Lifesum app and seek immediate medical help.

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