10 Self-Care Diet Tips
There’s never been a better time to take good care of yourself through your eating style. I’m not talking about setting new rigid, unachievable diet goals that will make you feel stressed, deprived, and low in energy. I’m talking about an eating style brimming with foods that will make you feel good about yourself, from the inside out. And I’m also talking about including favorite, more indulgent foods mindfully, without any guilt. Whether it’s learning more about your body’s needs, ditching an obsession with weight, or discovering certain foods that can have an important impact on how you feel, you can bring so much more to your eating style in order to feel really good, day in and day out. So, take good care of yourself, through your fork with these 10 self-care diet tips! I asked some of the top registered dietitian nutritionists out there to share their best tips for practicing self-care through diet. Read on for these inspiring ways you can show yourself some love.
Eat and Live the Goodness,
10 Self-Care Diet Tips
1. Find Your Calm in the Morning. A good start to your day can happen first thing! Rather than starting the day stressed out, find ways to nourish yourself from the get-go. “I start each day by drinking a pot of chamomile tea every morning before starting my meals and day. It brings calmness before the day starts and much needed hydration,” says Sylvia Klinger, DBA, MS, RD, of Hispanic Nutrition.
2. Get Rid of the “Shoulds”. Often, diet is viewed with a lot of “shoulds” when it comes to the foods you think you need to eat more of, or less of. But that can be stressful, plus it doesn’t account for you as a unique person. “View all of your nutrition choices as an experiment! No expectations necessary; just see how it feels without ‘shoulding’ yourself! Everyone is totally different with the nutrition choices that make them feel the best. Understand the ‘why’ behind your choices, not just doing what you’re told to,” says Colleen Christensen, RD.
3. Consider What You Want. Don’t be afraid to explore your eating opportunities for what they really are. “When you’re faced with an eating or drinking opportunity, ask ‘how do I want to feel after this?’ Sometimes the answer is ‘energized,’ sometimes the answer is ‘happy,’ and sometimes it may even be ‘totally full!’ Just pausing to ask that question has a huge impact and can drive choices that respect our body and soul,” says Chelsea Jackle, MFN, RDN, LD of Chelsea Dishes.
4. Remember, It’s All About Your Eating Pattern, Not Single Choices. Don’t beat yourself up over tiny food choices you make here or there during your day in an effort to be perfect! Skip the perfect! “What you do over time, most of the time, makes the most difference in your nutrition and health. This reframes the pressure to make every meal ‘perfect’ and allows space and freedom with food choices without the extremes,” says Allison Knott, MS, RDN, CSSD of A New Well. “I encourage looking at food as part of a self-care tool-box, which to be effective in all building and repair situations must contain a variety of tools. All hammers but no screwdrivers never works. Focus on quality not perfection, meal pattern vs any one single food, plant-based vs plant-exclusive, connecting emotions to hunger, fullness and satiety,” says Cathy Leman, RDN.
5. Don’t Aim for Perfection. You’ll drive yourself crazy! Instead, practice more self-loving eating. “Whichever food behaviors you experiment with the most are those that are most likely to occur more often. There is no such thing as a perfect meal plan. It’s all about the experience each day,” says Shena Jaramillo, MS, RD, of Peace and Nutrition. “Reduce emphasis on the good and bad labels attached to food. All food serves a purpose. Desserts make us happy in reasonable portions. Desserts all day, not so much,” says Tabitha Berry Nicholas, RDN, of Lifestyle Nutritionist.
6. Target Feel-Good Habits. Instead of making stress-inducing, drastic changes, why not create small habits that will make you feel good immediately? “Pick one thing that’s doable for you and try to make it a habit over a week or two. That could be drinking a glass of water when you wake up, getting 8 hours of sleep, going for a walk daily, or adding a vegetable to your dinner. Focus on what is doable for you and take it one step at a time!” says Megan Byrd, RDN, of The Oregon Dietitian. “Learn to cook! It may be second nature to some, but many are clueless in their designer kitchens. Crank up a YouTube channel and start with simple, healthy recipes,” says Christine Rosenbloom, PhD, RDN, FAND.
7. Look at the Big Picture for You. Do what makes you—as an individual—feel better. This is different for each person. “Eat better. By better, I mean including more plant foods in your eating plan, and not completely avoiding the foods you love; those are OK in moderation. Cutting back on alcohol may be a form of self-care for some, especially during this pandemic. Alcohol sales have increased dramatically. While alcohol temporarily relieves stress, it interferes with the restful, deep sleep you need for self-care,” says Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, of Better is the New Perfect.
8. Enjoy Food as an Experience. Remember to savor each sensual experience of eating. “Enjoy the colors and aroma of the food that you have cooked so lovingly for your family rather than obsessing about calories. Yoga, along with a fresh from scratch meal and drinking lots of green tea, is my self-care routine,” says Moushumi Mukherjee, MS RDN. “Pair your favorite ‘treats’ with a whole food. For example, if you like chocolate, pair it with yogurt and berries. This will allow you to enjoy that treat while adding nutrient dense foods and thus feeling satisfied without guilt,” says Leonila Campos, MBA, RD, of Fueled By Leo.
9. Don’t Fixate on Weight. Good health and self-love is much more than a number on a scale! Love that wonderful body of yours, and how good food nourishes it. “I’m a dietitian who has struggled with weight obsessing. It wasn’t until I focused on enjoying my food through faith-based mindfulness and focused on how food benefited my mind, mood, energy, and health instead of how food effected the way I looked that I finally stopped weight obsessing. I have never felt healthier or happier in my own body,” says Lacy Ngo, MS, RDN of Mindfulness in Faith and Food. “Health looks different on everyone and can’t be adequately assessed using weight alone. For this reason, it’s important to take the emphasis off weight loss and weight management when making food choices. Over time, intuitive eaters typically settle at their natural set-point weight, which is the weight that supports optimal physical and emotional health for their body,” says Rebecca Bitzer, MS, RD, LD, CEDRD.
10. Choose Foods Mindfully that Make You Feel Good. Enjoying foods mindfully can make you feel truly good, from the inside out. “Choose foods that you enjoy, can afford, and that makes your body feel healthy and energetic. Treats are fine in moderation and guilt should never be married to eating,” says Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD, of Sound Bites Nutrition. “Rather than viewing food as good or bad or obsessing over calories, I believe that practicing mindful eating, in addition to mindful living, is so important. When we appreciate our food, tune into our appetites, and register when we feel full, we tend to make healthier food choices while also promoting a positive self-image. Being mindful or focusing your attention to the present moment as well as accepting your current thoughts and feelings without judgement can help alleviate stress and anxiety too,” says Lisa Young, RDN.
For other tips on eating and living well, check out the following: