Cultivate Self-Love Through nourishment

It’s no secret that what we put into our bodies can profoundly affect our overall health and well-being. This past Mother’s Day, I ate so many delicious treats, and I loved every bit of it! But my body screamed, “Aren’t you done yet, sis?” There’s no shame in what I’ve done. Nope … zilch. 

However, I do realize that the nourishment I give myself goes beyond simply eating healthy or unhealthy foods—it’s also about taking the time to appreciate and celebrate our unique selves. I love myself with each dish I cook and each bite I take, because that is what my body needs in those moments. I shelve the words “healthy” and “unhealthy” because I don’t need the shame that goes along with them. So to answer my body: No, I’m not finished. I will continue to cultivate and celebrate self-love through the foods I eat, and I’m going to show you how to do the same. 

Why Self-Love? 

Because without it, self-care means nothing. 

I had a problem understanding the difference between self-love and self-care until I met Paul Fishman, a self-love coach and “you do you” activist. He explained that most people gravitate toward self-care because it’s tangible. You’ve heard the term “Self-Care Sunday.” It’s what some might use as a label for getting your drink on with friends, getting a massage, or getting your hair and nails “did.” Those things are physical acts. 

Self-love is an emotional act. Fishman goes on to say, “It’s about the individual and devotion you give to that individuality.” When we try to practice self-care without self-love, we work toward destruction. I’ve treated myself to an expensive brunch with friends before, having mimosas and desserts, and felt guilty for doing it. In the back of my mind, I’d say to myself, “What are you doing? You don’t need to put this into your body. You should be eating healthier.” And there it is—that should word. I lost the enjoyment of saying instead, “I’m so glad I am doing this for myself right now.” Do you see the difference? 

Why Do Food and Cooking Matter? 

Now that you can differentiate the two, how does cooking fit into cultivating and celebrating self-love? It’s an emotional act. It’s an act of love! You enjoy gifts, right? Who doesn’t?

  • Cooking for yourself gives you the opportunity to show appreciation for all the hard work that goes into making something delicious.  
  • If you’re just beginning to cook, try a recipe that’s simpler or requires fewer ingredients. Be gentle with yourself, and take it easy—like you would with anything else that’s new to you. 
  • Eating foods that give you more energy can motivate you to get your body moving or start working on projects around the house. 
  • The transformation you make with your food will trickle into a positive transformation within yourself through the cooking process. 
Ways To Cultivate and Celebrate Through Food 
  • Introduce yourself to international cuisines. Educate your taste buds and explore new flavors. 
  • Understand that you don’t need to get recipes right the first time. Simply enjoy the process of creating. 
  • Identify the foods that make you feel good inside. Take note of the ones that work in real-time: comforting soup when you need warmth or a crispy cold salad when you’ve been in 100-degree weather all day.  
  • Appreciate the work that goes into growing, harvesting, processing and distributing the food you choose to cook. 
  • Eat with others so you can share in their joy of eating tasty foods. There’s nothing better than creating a community around your table for a lovely meal. 

In the end, cooking and eating are all about nourishing yourself. You can do so through your diet, and you can also cultivate self-love by savoring every bite of a meal through mindfulness. Eating is an act of love for ourselves, friends and family who enjoy what we make. So give yourself some extra TLC to feel better inside and out! 

Start with this simple Pesto Brunch Toast with Cherry Tomatoes and Avocado:

8 slices ciabatta bread 
Olive oil, for drizzling
Kosher salt to taste 
Fresh-cracked pepper 
1 small container cherry tomatoes 
1 half small red onion, finely chopped
5 sprigs fresh thyme, pulled off stems
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar 
¼ cup pesto sauce 
8 slices of your favorite cheese 
2 large avocados, sliced
Alfalfa sprouts 
4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Hot pepper sauce, for drizzlin
Balsamic glaze, for drizzling

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place ciabatta slices onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lightly drizzle olive oil over each slice, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toast bread in the oven for 10 minutes or until crispy. Remove from oven and set aside, leaving oven on. Slice tomatoes in half and place in a medium bowl. Add garlic, red onion, thyme, a dash of salt and pepper, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Stir to combine and set aside. Smear 1 tablespoon pesto on each slice of toasted ciabatta. Then top with cheese slices and place back in the oven to melt cheese. Remove from oven once the cheese melts and place toast on a serving platter. Top with sliced avocado, cherry tomato mixture and sprouts. Drizzle with hot pepper sauce and balsamic glaze before serving.

Makes 4 servings

 

Author

  • Ruthie owns Black Fig Food catering and is proprietor of the online cooking platform Elevated Plant Plate. Learn more at elevatedplantplate.com and blackfigfood.com.