Radical Self-Care Step Nine – Nourishment

A Hedonist’s Guide to Healthy Eating

Are you Hungry? What sounds good?

Feeding ourselves well is an essential part of self-care. How could it not be? Eating is primal! Among our most basic needs.

I am a massage therapist, which translates to a pleasure-seeking hedonist! Therefore, my relationship to food is all about pleasure. Well, pleasure and health. Part of what makes me enjoy my food is knowing that the things I eat are enhancing my physical well-being. I love foods that are rich with vibrant colors, delectable textures and fresh flavors.

Everything you eat, if possible, should consist of foods you love. This way you are feeding more than your stomach. You are providing a feast to all of your senses. Choose foods that have bright colors, artistically presented, with fresh, rich intense flavors.

Tomato, cheese, crackers

Tomato, cheese, crackers

Here are some tips for making your meals as restorative as possible.

Your favorite foods will likely be different from mine, so as I describe the way I play with these concepts, know that you will create your own way of eating mindfully and joyfully, but the main thing I want you to take away from this is about quality, not quantity.

My very favorite foods are fruits. Mangos, raspberries, crisp apples, strawberries, grace my meals every day. I love foods that look beautiful, taste divine and feel like they are benefiting my health with every chew and swallow.

I try to eat about half my food intake in the form of fruits and vegetables. They are healthy and they are beautiful. They come in a rich variety of colors and have intense flavors. You can arrange fruits and vegetables so that a plate looks like a work of art, making it all the more appetizing. When I was in Italy, a country well known for its epicurean delights, I was struck by how simple and delicious much of the food preparation was. Vegetables were grilled or pan-fried and embellished with a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, some chopped garlic and that’s it. Simple and delicious. Play with garnishes. That’s what students learn in culinary academies. The art of garnishing. It’s fun, it’s creative, it’s tasty and you can make healthy food very appetizing that way. Take some broccoli, steam it, drizzle with olive oil that has had some garlic sautéed in it and then decorate it with a tablespoon of chopped, toasted walnuts. Yum.

Experiment.

Root vegetables

Root vegetables

cooked root vegetables

cooked root vegetables

Try different fresh herbs as a garnish. Some chopped fresh basil, perhaps, or parsley. Or try grating some fresh lemon or orange zest. I became quite an aficionado of zesting and began collecting a variety of zesters. It really adds great flavor, texture and color to all sorts of dishes. And it is chocked full of powerful antioxidants, the substance that fights cancer in your body.

Making good food can be very easy. One of my favorite summer dinners is steamed vegetables topped with a poached egg and a sprinkle of fresh parmesan cheese. This is particularly good on asparagus, summer squash, broccoli or green beans. As the egg yolk breaks and soaks into the vegetable it is rather luxurious! I try to get the freshest eggs I can find, buying them at the farmer’s market whenever possible. The green vegetables, topped by the egg, with its bright orange yolk, create a beautiful presentation! Get in the habit of treating yourself like an honored guest, creating food presentations like you would for company or that you might receive in a fine restaurant.

Hummus platter

Hummus platter

Preparing gorgeous, appetizing food is a form of self-love. It’s nourishing way beyond nutrition. I know a lot of people who think if they don’t have someone else to cook for it’s not worth bothering. These people eat very poorly when they are by themselves. I’m talking about watching TV mindlessly gobbling potato chips, frozen pizza, or some quickly micro-waved frozen dinner. Please treat yourself better than this.

I promise you, that if you start caring for yourself the way you would treat good company your life will change. For one thing, you will become a happier person if little pleasures become part of your daily life, no matter where you are, whom you are with or what you are doing. As you become happier you will radiate positive energy and people will become attracted to that energy and will want to be around you and will automatically be good to you and treat you to things.

When I go out of town on a solo getaway, which is what I like to do in order to recharge and write, I want to keep my costs down so I bring food with me to minimize the expense of eating out. I’ll bring a ripe avocado, mash it with lemon juice, garlic powder and sea salt, making a delicious guacamole. I’ll take a carrot and slice it into slivers for dipping. I may also cut up a red bell pepper and chop up some tomatoes. With a little cheese and crackers it makes a beautiful, healthy meal that I can put together in a hotel room.

I pack fruit, graham crackers, peanut butter and goat cheese for breakfast, cups of instant hot soup that only required boiling water from an electric hot pot I bring with me. I add chopped peanuts to garnish the Thai noodle soup that comes in one of those “just add water” cups and voila! A tasty and beautiful meal. I carry a couple of plates and a nice bowl for my food so I can transfer everything to my pretty dishes. It’s easy, delicious and beautifully presented. And healthy, as well. Most importantly, eating this way, with care to presentation and quality, simple ingredients makes me feel incredibly good.

Ratatouille tart

Ratatouille tart

What would your meals be like if every serving were in some sense a work of art? We see pictures of food in magazines, on websites, in TV commercials, in restaurant ads, foods that have been carefully arranged by a food stylist to make them appear appetizing. What if you did that for yourself? Every time you eat?

You don’t need a lot of money to live well. You just need to make the most of the little things. Food is a pleasure you can use to treat yourself multiple times throughout the day, every day.

This is a way to care yourself physically, emotionally and can become a habit of yummy creativity.

Feed your eyes.

Phyllo mushroom pizza

Phyllo mushroom pizza

Feed your taste buds.

Feed your stomach.

Feed your heart.

Feed your creativity.

Feed your soul.

 

 

 

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Radical Self-Care Step Three – Indulge Yourself

Life is Short. Buy the Shoes.

We are basically puppies and we need our treats. Right? We crave rewards for our efforts and who knows better how hard we are working than we do? We need soothing from something really wonderful every now and then to bring us back to that “life is good” moment. In fact, we need these spritzes of positive energy pretty darned often.

Radical self-care is being your own best friend and making sure you get what you need. Indulging yourself in what will help restore you is good medicine for the soul.

The enraptured face of a woman close-up while she is having a massage.

Giving yourself small gifts of pleasure does not need to be expensive or fattening. It can be a candlelit bath, a drive to a beach, a park or the woods.

It can also certainly be a splurge, because sometimes that’s exactly what you need. We have a culinary school near our house and every once in a while I treat myself to something from their bakery. My favorite items they make are their savory pastries. Last time I went there they had galettes made of puff pastry filled with caramelized onions, goat cheese and butternut squash. I can still remember that buttery taste and the texture of the flaky dough.

The other morning I gave myself the gift of reading in bed in my pajamas, getting up for breakfast and then crawling back into bed for another hour of reading. It felt very indulgent. Maybe you do this all the time, but for me it was a special treat. My day usually begins by consulting my to-do list or getting ready for my scheduled appointments.

I rarely eat out, but instead I save up for getaways on the coast. These recharge me more than anything in a myriad of ways. I figure, a month of not buying lunch or fancy coffees covers a night at my favorite beachside cabin. We are always making choices, so make wise ones.

More than anyone else you know what restores you and helps you find your center again. The more you pamper yourself, the better you can be to others.

My greyhound, Maggie, teaches me about this every day. A walk through the neighborhood is her treat. I try toMaggie with afghan indulge her as much as possible. It’s also a time for us to bond so that’s a reward for us both. After the walk she calms down and will curl up on her favorite cushion for a nap, no longer bouncy and overly energetic, as getting her walk puts her at peace. Maggie is one of my happiness gurus.

It’s important not to put treats off to the point where we are hardly ever getting them. When we do that our lives become drudges that consist of mainly dealing with our responsibilities. It can make us pretty grumpy and give us bad attitudes. Think of this as giving yourself frequent joy blessings. Think of it as medicine. Think of it however you need to. I think of it as Radical Self-Care.

The other day I was walking past a small boutique that had a sign outside which read, “Life is short. Buy the shoes.” Yes, I smiled to myself, eyeing the stylish collection as I strolled by the open door to the shop. Exactly!

What are some of your indulgences?