5 Simple Ways to Feed Yourself with Kindness & Care

5 Simple Ways to Feed Yourself with Kindness & Care

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

What springs to mind when you think about self care?

Eating a delicious meal?  A relaxing yoga session?  Enjoying a massage or spa treatment?

Do you even think about self-care at all?

Finding time to look after ourselves can be hard, especially when other people depend upon our time and attention.  Yet we all have at least three opportunities for self-kindness and care every day: breakfast, lunch, and evening meal.

Maybe you’ve fallen into the habit of skipping meals or eating hurriedly between meetings and appointments.  Perhaps you don’t even care what you eat, so long as you refuel and can make it through the day.

Such unkind eating habits do more than deplete your body of nutrients and are worth exploring to detect any underlying causes.

Tiredness for example is often a reason for missed meals, but this will of course perpetuate the situation and worsen fatigue.  Feeling stressed by an over-filled schedule is another possible reason.  Exhausted lady holding her headDepending on who organises your schedule, dealing with this factor may mean having an honest conversation with your boss, or creating space in your own diary to eat each day.

Skipping meals forces your system to produce more stress hormones to support the levels of glucose in your blood that keep your muscles and brain working.  A short burst of stress hormones is easily dealt with, but ongoing stimulation can contribute to some nasty health issues including high blood pressure and gaining fat around your middle.

 Eating too quickly can trigger all kinds of digestive problems: from indigestion and bloating, to pain, cramps, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms.

Learning (or re-learning) to chew food thoroughly can alleviate a lot of digestive discomfort, and even help with maintaining health weight balance.

To start a new simple habit of self-nourishment, kindness and care, try one or more of these 5 steps this week;

  1. Create time to sit and enjoy breakfast. This can be a small meal: a smoothie perhaps, or poached egg on sourdough toast.  Whatever it is, be sure to sit down and take ten minutes to chew thoroughly and enjoy your food.

  2. Prepare a large pan of soup and freeze in individual portions so you have ready-made lunches for the week ahead.

  3. Make a mug of your favourite herbal tea, sit somewhere peaceful for twenty minutes and savour the flavour.

  4. Buy a vegetable you’ve never cooked before and find a new recipe for it.

  5. Let the rainbow in by including 6 different colour fruits & vegetables each day. Choose 1 from each of these groups: red, orange, yellow, green, blue/purple, and white.

 

Feeling inspired?  Do share your thoughts in the comments below, or over in the Facebook group – we’d love to hear from you!

And you might also like to read;

Depression & Anxiety – What to Eat to Feel Good

Does Food Affect Your Mood? Find out with this FREE Food, Mood and Movement Tracker #1SmallStep

Get Organised with this FREE 7-Day Meal Planner! #1SmallStep

7 Energy Boosting Breakfasts – #1SmallStep

 

 

 

Lunches On The Go – #1 Small Step

Lunches On The Go – #1 Small Step

Prepared vegetables for lunch

Midweek lunch has to be the most neglected meal.

Squashed in between meetings, deadlines, errands, phonecalls, school runs, it’s too often relegated to Boring Sandwich, ‘Meal Deal’ or Nothing.  Unless you’re in France, in which case take two hours off and dine like you mean it.

Let’s change this.  Let’s spark things up.  Let’s make lunch something you can’t wait to eat, and gets others drooling with envy…

First things first: preparation.  As with all good meals, the magic is in the prep.  Create a list of foods to purchase every week so you always have the necessary bits to hand to make lunches.  If you don’t buy it, you can’t eat it!  Think about vegetables, salad leaves, fruit, tinned fish, fresh meat (see below), and grains like rice, quinoa and buckwheat for salads.

Once you’ve stocked up, take a few minutes to think about the week ahead: how many lunches do you need to prepare?  Where will you be eating?  Does it need to be cold food, or are reheatable items an option?

Use the free  7-Day Meal Planner to capture ideas!

Lady eating lunch

These lunch ingredients can be made in advance and will keep in the fridge for days, giving you plenty of mix-and-match options;

 – Slow cooked meat: at the weekend I like to slow cook a chicken.  I use a slow-cooker so it’s merrily cooking away while I get out and about.  We eat some for Sunday dinner, and the rest is left for pack-ups.  Slow-cooked ham works well too, just shred it with forks and you have pulled-pork filling for pittas or salad.

 – Houmous: there’s a classic houmous recipe from my friend Gina, or try these varieties from Deliciously Ella.

 – Roasted vegetables: chop peppers, aubergine, courgettes, and fennel into chunks and roast in coconut oil for 30-40mins.

 – Hard boiled eggs

 – Pesto: this works well with cashews instead of pine nuts.

 –Homemade soups

 – Brown rice or quinoa: remember to cool rice quickly and store in the fridge until eating.

All prepped?  Now to spend 10mins each morning creating that knockout lunch*….

(*or dinner as it’s known here in Yorkshire.  Breakfast, dinner, and tea.)

Salad Box: rice or quinoa topped with a protein (shredded ham / hardboiled egg / houmous / fish) and a mixture of roasted vegetables and handful of salad leaves.  Dress with a drizzle of olive or flax oil, squeeze of lemon, and black pepper.

Sandwiches: not the boring ones.  Swap dull bread for good quality sourdough or for gluten-free options think creatively and use nori wraps, corn tortillas, or large butterhead lettuce leaves to hold the fillings.

Soups: my all time favourite lunch.  Enjoy with oatcakes and houmous or small chunk of good quality cheese.

Pasta Box: leftover pasta (regular or gluten-free) with pesto, roasted vegetables and cherry tomatoes.

Eating Out

This can be tricky when you have specific dietary needs like gluten or dairy free, but it is getting easier.  I was deliriously happy to discover a ‘Leon’ outlet at the motorway services recently and enjoyed a delicious wheat and dairy-free chicken and brown rice meal!

People eating lunch in a cafe

If you know your options are limited when eating out, carry some basics with you like trail mix and a piece of fruit so you can top up if there’s not much available.

Most city centres have a Pret and an M&S: Pret have a good selection of soups, salad boxes, chopped fruit, and snacky things like nuts and hardboiled eggs with spinach.  Marks & Spencer offer mixed grain salads, picnic sized cheeses, chopped fruit, nuts, and houmous pots.

Stuck at a tiny cafe in the middle of nowhere?  How about a baked potato, omelette, or soup.

Whatever your day holds, a nourishing lunch is essential to sustain your energy and wellbeing.  Symptoms of fatigue, irritability, anxiety, poor concentration and depression are all influenced by the foods we eat, so give your body it’s best shot at working well by feeding it with love and care.

Try these ideas and see what a difference they make to your life – do let me know via email or over in the Facebook group!

You might also like;

Does Food Affect Your Mood? Find out with this FREE Food, Mood and Movement Tracker #1SmallStep

Get Organised with this FREE 7-Day Meal Planner! #1SmallStep

7 Energy Boosting Breakfasts – #1SmallStep

 

PHOTO CREDITS: UNSPLASH

Does Food Affect Your Mood? Find out with this FREE Food, Mood & Movement Tracker – #1 Small Step

FoodMoodMovement_HeaderAre you curious about the connections between what you eat and how you feel?

Do some foods cause energy slumps, bloating, crazy bowel habits or skin breakouts, but you can’t pinpoint the culprits?

Keeping track of how your body responds to foods and drinks for a week or even a month can reveal these connections, and help you discover hidden patterns between eating habits, moods, and uncomfortable symptoms.

It’s easy to blame low energy and erratic digestion on work stresses, or the kids driving you crazy (and these may be perfectly good reasons!) but how much is linked to poor hydration, grazing on snacks, or only eating two servings of vegetables each day?

Writing down what you eat, when you move, how you relax, and how you feel provides a powerful insight into the way you are choosing to nourish yourself. 

To help you discover these connections I’ve created a Food, Mood & Movement Tracker.  Simply download the document, read through the example provided, and print out as many copies of the tracker chart as you need.  Complete it each day, then look back and see if any patterns are emerging between foods and symptoms.

Once you’ve highlighted the areas that need working on (more movement, more relaxation, more green vegetables…) you can decide how to do this, and what support you need – whether that’s nutrition guidance, food intolerance investigations, an exercise plan, or help with relaxation and mindfulness.

It’s a simple tool, and is #1 Small Step on your journey to better health!

Download your free Food, Mood & Movement Tracker – no sign up required – and start discovering what your body is telling you today!

DOWNLOAD HERE:  Food_Mood_Movement_Tracker 

Eat A Rainbow – #1 Small Step

Eat A Rainbow – #1 Small Step

Eat a Rainbow

Ever wondered why doctors and nutrition-people (like me!) keep talking about how important it is to ‘eat a rainbow’?  (A phrase which is dangerously close to the slogan for Skittles – ‘taste a rainbow’- which will have quite the opposite effect on your health!).

It’s because brightly coloured fruits and vegetables contain an array of natural compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that are all bound up with what colour they are.

Food choicesSo for example, orange and yellow veggies like peppers, carrots, and butternut squash are rich in beta-carotene, an immune-bosting antioxidant compound that’s a member of the carotenoid family, whilst dark bluberries and red grapes contain cyanidin – another protective antioxidant compound.

Including at least 1 food from each colour group everyday means you will be nourishing yourself with a vast range of naturally powerful ingredients, giving your body the support it needs to cope with modern life!

Pick any one of these top 10 practical tips to start increasing the colour, variety and nutrient load of your diet;

  1. Green powders are helpful if you struggle to get enough greens into your day: mix spirulina, chlorella, barley grass or wheatgrass powder into pesto to boost the antioxidant and protein levels.

  2. To support blood sugar stability and reduce reliance on refined carbohydrates, swap to higher protein alternatives. Mung bean pasta, lentil pasta, quinoa, or wild rice are good alternatives.

  3. If you’re dealing with intestinal yeast overgrowth (and this is best confirmed with a stool test rather than trying to guess), think foods before supplements: natural anti-microbials such as garlic, ginger, oregano and marjoram can be added easily to salads, soups, casseroles – even herbal infusions.

  4. The anti-inflammatory actions of turmeric and cinnamon are well documented; these spices blend well with warmed almond milk to make a simple chai-style beverage.

  5. Seaweed flakes can be sprinkled into salads, soups or casseroles, and Nori sheets make a good alternative to wheat wraps, instantly increasing the iodine, zinc and magnesium content of your meal – perfect for thyroid support.

  6. Mixing a tablespoon of olive oil into 25g of butter creates a spreadable butter rich in oleic acid – with none of the negative effects associated with margarine or poorly processed vegetable oils.

  7. Encourage children to explore different coloured vegetables by using a picture colour chart and negotiating which coloured veggies to try next.

  8. Nourish your friendly gut bacteria with pre- and probiotic food. Add a tablespoon of sauerkraut to grilled salmon and roasted vegetables; use unfiltered apple cider vinegar in salad dressings with lemon juice and fresh herbs; or mix kefir into a morning smoothie.

  9. Green vegetables can be problematic for many people, especially supertasters. A basic smoothie made from baby spinach, banana and almond milk is a gentle option to begin with, and is packed with folate, vitamin K, vitamin C, and the antioxidant compound lutein.  If you’re managing IBS, add fennel or caraway seeds when steaming brassica greens as this helps to soften the taste and aid digestion, reducing bloating and wind.

  10. To eat different foods you have to buy different foods. A vegetable or fruit box delivery scheme is a hassle-free way to have new ingredients delivered direct to your door. Many schemes offer inspiring recipe ideas too.

Remember, the idea behind #1 Small Step is to encourage steady change and growth whilst side-stepping overwhelm.  So pick 1 new idea to try, and build up those changes gradually!

If you’ve enjoyed this post you might also like;

#1 Small Step – Plan Your Way to Nutrition Success

#1 Small Step – How You Can & Why It’s Good To Eat Mindfully

#1 Small Step – 7 Energy Boosting Breakfasts

What Small Step can you take today?

Tweet me at @nutritioninyork or drop me a line via sallyduffin@nutritioninyork.co.uk

A shorter version of this post was originally produced for Nutrition I-Mag (July/August 2017 edition) downloadable HERE

7 Energy-Boosting Breakfasts – #1 Small Step

7 Energy-Boosting Breakfasts – #1 Small Step

Energy Boosting Breakfasts

Another small step you can take towards improving energy levels and overall health, is to start the day with a nourishing breakfast.  Eating within 2 hours of waking means your body doesn’t have to produce extra stress hormones to support your blood sugar levels.  When this happens, your energy stores are playing ‘catch up’ for the rest of the day and you are likely to find yourself reaching for sugar and caffeine fixes to keep going.

This recipe-roundup is packed with creative ideas for your first feed of the day.

Some of the recipes are super quick whilst other may take a few more minutes to prepare, and they will all keep you energised till lunch (or ‘dinner’ as we call it here in Yorkshire!)…

Categories are;

P good protein source

Ve vegan (or vegan option)

GF gluten free

DF dairy free

Sweet Potato Hash Egg Skillet from Naturally Ella: P GF DF       Naturally Ella

Save time by using leftover cooked sweet potatoes from the day before in this protein and antioxidant packed breakfast.  You can swap sprouted seeds for watercress or rocket – and in case you’re wondering, pepitas are pumpkin seeds!

 

Fluffy Breakfast Quinoa from Food Heaven Made Easy: P GF DF Ve                                                                                                                                                       Again, this one involves a bit of pre-prep to save time in the morning.  Cook a large serving of quinoa at the start of the week and dip into it for breakfasts and lunchtime salads.

 

Grab & Go Chia Yoghurt Parfait from 101 Cookbooks: P GF swap to a plant based yoghurt for DF Ve   This one really is for the super-quick breakfast people!

Chia Yoghurt Parfait

Buckwheat Pancakes: GF with options for Ve and DF.  Add ground seeds or a protein powder to boost the P content.  Perfect for when you have a bit more time to enjoy breakfast; discover this and other warm breakfasts (that aren’t porridge!) over in the Recipe Section

 

Wild Mushrooms on sourdough toast: from My New Roots: use olive oil to make it Ve & DF, and non-gluten bread for GF                                                                  Wild mushrooms on toast                  Regular mushrooms can be used in place of wild ones, and as Sarah says in the post, keeping a packet of dried mushrooms in the store cupboard means you can add them to any mushroom dish for deeper flavours and higher nutrient value.  Mushrooms are a fantastic source of fibre, immune-supporting nutrients, and vitamin D.

 

Greek Chickpeas on Toast: from Lazy Cat Kitchen P DF Ve and GF option          Greek Chickpeas

A warm breakfast packed with protein, fibre and antioxidant plant nutrients from the herbs & spices!

 

 

Butternut, Spinach & Sausage Egg Cups: from Real Food Whole Life P GF DF       Make these in advance and you have a ready-to-go breakfast option for days and days.  They freeze well too.  If you prefer a meaty version there’s an option for including good Rainbow Egg Cupquality sausage or bacon.

 

 

What’s your go-to breakfast option?  I’d love to know!  Share on Twitter (I’m @nutritioninyork) or email at sallyduffin@nutritioninyork.co.uk

If you’d like to know more about how we can work together take a look HERE

You may also enjoy;

   #1 Small Step – Plan Your Way to Nutrition Success

   #1 Small Step – How You Can & Why It’s Good To Eat Mindfully