A quiet sip of calming tea in the early morning hours, a platter blossoming with colour and flavour shared among friends, a sneaky square of chocolate enjoyed with a lover before bed… food creates mood, it gives life, and it is the key to enjoying every day with happiness and health. Food is the greatest form of self-love and care.
Self-care can mean so many different things to everyone. For some, it might be buying that $7.99 avocado even if it means breaking the weekly food budget to satisfy the avo toast cravings (don't worry, we’ve all been there). For others it might just mean yoga, diving into the ocean as the sun is rising, or even just taking 10 to have a cuppa in the afternoon before getting started on dinner. Either way, there are so many different forms of self-care out there and ultimately it’s all about what makes you feel good - mentally, physically and emotionally. But there is one manner of self-care that is unquestionably the most important for every individual and is of utmost importance to us here at Nutra Organics - and that is good nutrition.
You might be wondering, how does nutrition actually reflect self-care? And vice versa? Aside from the obvious that if you do not eat food and therefore get nutrition, well, you don't live. But there is so much more to nutrition than meets the eye. For starters, it’s a given that you’re probably only going to physically feel as good as the food you eat - but it has an impact on your mental and emotional health too.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has preached this for thousands of years, with practitioners touting the energetics of food and their implications for health and ailments since its establishment. When you think about it, it makes sense that if your food is heavy and greasy, once consumed, it will also pass this feeling of greasiness on into your system making you feel a bit sluggish. Another example, if you bite into a chilli, which by energetics is defined as hot and dry, you will probably immediately feel hot and sweaty, losing hydration in the process, and becoming more hot and dry by nature.
But regardless of energetics, what about how food directly influences our mood? It is becoming undeniable that good nutrition and self-care begins and ends in our headspace. The latest research on neurotransmitters (the little chemicals that essentially create your mood) suggests that roughly 85-95% of our serotonin (the happy hormone/neurotransmitter) is actually created in our gut. Therefore if our gut isn’t right, we’re probably not going to feel the best mentally and emotionally. There is a plethora of confounding factors that influence how well our gut is doing and some of those big ones are undiagnosed food intolerances and leaky gut causing chronic inflammation, poor nutrient absorption and dysbiosis, or an imbalance of good gut bacteria.
The good news is that all of these implications, as much as they can be caused by poor food choices can also be easily addressed by better food choices. You can change your health for the better and improve your wellbeing in all areas by improving your nutrition, which is why we believe it is the greatest form of self-care.
A quick and easy way to set the restart button on your digestive system and help clear your headspace to make these better choices is by doing a brief 3-day juice and broth cleanse. This allows our digestive system to rest from the job of processing all the hard stuff we consume and in turn, tampers down any underlying inflammation, whilst helping to identify food intolerances and giving our brains a bit of a break from constantly thinking about what we can quickly eat on the go or cook. Instead, this time can be better spent reflecting on how we feel when we’re not including certain foods in our diet and what we would like to change moving forward from the cleanse to better look after ourselves.
Bear in mind though that a cleanse isn’t a prerequisite to making better food choices and we don’t always need to cut out all of the things in life we love, sometimes self-care does mean buying that block of chocolate just because you really feel like it. However, it may just mean adding a few more foods into our diets on a regular basis that we know make us feel good and excluding the ones that we know don’t sit well with us more often. For example, if you know you’re lactose intolerant, choosing to drink full-cream milk in your coffee every day anyway for the taste might make you feel worse than what it’s worth. Instead, you might like to swap out for non-dairy milk on a regular basis and keep the full cream only for special occasions. Or, if you know you struggle to make time to cook a lot of fresh vegetables it might be worthwhile investing in a good greens powder like our Super Greens + Reds to help fill in any nutritional gaps that are inevitable in a fast-paced western diet.
Likewise, if you know how good bone broth is for you and you'd love to get on top of some gut issues but don’t know when you’ll have 48 hours to prepare a homemade broth, our dehydrated Bone Broths might be the answer which can easily be incorporated into any and all savoury cooking as a stock.
Self-care requires complete mindfulness of your body and the totality of it's physical, emotional and mental needs to be truly effective. So unsurprisingly, in order to demonstrate self-care through nutrition, mindfulness comes into play in a big way.
Mindfulness is another buzzword at the moment that goes hand in hand with good nutrition and self-care. Consider it the bridge in between the two:
GOOD NUTRITION + MINDFULNESS = SELF CARE
Mindfulness requires introspection and basically is a single word description of knowing oneself wholly and using this knowledge to guide decision-making processes. Sometimes life gets so busy we forget to sit back, reflect and assess what it is that we really need, particularly, what nutrition does this body of mine really need to feel and perform at its best.
It’s important to eat what you feel like eating when you feel like eating it, but of course, this pertains to nutrients and not to midnight McDonalds runs every other night. Mindfulness enters to save the day when you think you’re craving midnight fries, but with a little more thought you realise you don’t really want fries, you just really want something salty. Next, a little self-care, an idea and a little effort enter to satisfy this craving with a nutritious alternative such as fry-pan popcorn made with a little bit of organic grass-fed butter and pink crystal Himalayan salt. Yum. This is the essence of self-care. Going that little bit further to give your body exactly what it wants and needs, without compromising on nutrition, so that you are looking after your body both short and long term and ensuring you make better food choices to feel your best.
It’s not always easy to put yourself first, particularly if you’re a parent or responsible for the welfare of others. However, mindfulness of your needs isn’t in any way selfish but merely means that you rightfully acknowledge that you can’t give your all to others when you’re not giving anything to yourself. Good nutrition is the most basic level of self-care that we really must fulfil but is so often the first compromise we make. So consider this your permission slip to stop the compromises. Be mindful, make food choices that you know will serve your body well because after all, this is the bare minimum your beautiful vessel needs and deserves.