Did you know that by choosing to eat healthy—by only allowing your body to consume foods that are good for it and by forming consistent eating habits and patterns—you are performing an act of self-love?
If you type “self-love” in the search bar of your favourite search engine, such as Google or Pinterest, you will find lots of search results for self-love affirmations, which are positive statements you can say to yourself to help you overcome the negative thought patterns that cause you to hate yourself, especially your body.
While self-love affirmations are important to break those thought patterns that breed contemptuous self-hate lies about your worth, your body, your abilities, etc., I believe acts of self-love are equally important to living a life of loving yourself in the best way possible.
Tap here to read some of my favourite self-love quotes to lift up your self-worth today.
If you don’t follow up self-love affirmations with acts of self-love, you can repeat affirmations until you’re blue in the face, but your body won’t get the message. That’s because your mind will override even your best intentions if some kind of action doesn’t follow.
So what are acts of self-love?
- Eating healthy
Sounds too simple, doesn’t it?
Yet, sometimes the simplest things are the hardest things to do, especially when our mindset is wired for self-sabotage.
This blog post will focus on “Self-Love Act #1: Eating Healthy” because I feel that it is the first step to better loving ourselves in body and mind.
Before I go any further, let me tell you a story.
A few years ago, I went through a period of life where chronic stress plagued me every moment of every day. I responded to this period of chronic stress by stress eating.
Not only did I eat to excess, I ate anything and everything that was convenient, including fast food, chips, donuts, and frozen convenience meals. If it was full of carbs, fat, refined sugar, and/or salt, then I would eat it—and lots of it.
Why did I eat this way? Because it made me feel better… at least for a time.
Or so I thought it did.
In a previous blog post, 5 Tips to Eat Healthier When Life is Stressful, I discussed what happens to the body when it doesn’t get the vitamins and nutrients it needs.
Over the short-term, the body begins to experience symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness or nausea, muscle weakness, and/or mental confusion or forgetfulness (Mayo Clinic Staff).
Over the long-term, there is a higher risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and/or other chronic conditions such as autoimmune diseases, depression, digestive issues, and/or obesity (Benshosan).
In my case, over a short period of time, I gained excess weight. I felt constant fatigue. I had memory loss and brain fog. I couldn’t focus or concentrate. I had mood swings, especially anger and intense sadness. I had debilitating panic attacks that caused muscles tears in my chest and back. I experienced an intense burning sensation in my stomach.
Those are just a few of the symptoms I experienced during this time period of extreme chronic stress. After living this way for eight months, I looked awful and felt awful. I lost the joy of life and nearly lost the will to live.
Tap here to read more about my battle with chronic stress and how I finally overcame it.
This is why I can’t stress enough just how important it is to take proper care of our bodies, and eating healthy should be at the top of that list.
Why? Because our bodies need fuel to function properly in daily life, and the type of fuel we put into our bodies will determine how well we can cope with life’s everyday challenges and problems.
Let’s talk about cars for a sec (gas guzzling cars, not the newer electric ones). Your gas guzzling car needs fuel to operate so you can get from Point A to Point B. If you put water in your gas tank instead of gas, what do you think will happen to the car?
According to Meg Murphy, an engineer from MIT School of Engineering, “water is more of a taker than a giver of energy.” She goes into further detail to explain the chemistry behind water molecules and what it would take for a car to run on water. I won’t bore you with the scientific details, but it would require an incredible amount of energy to separate the atoms of a water molecule in order for it to burn into fuel (Murphy).
In real life, if you put water in your car’s gas tank, your car will buck, stall or not start at all, and if water gets into parts of the engine, it could cause rust and corrosion (Lemon).
In other words, water is very bad for a car and can cause serious damage to the engine. Our bodies, similar to a car, require fuel that will allow us to operate effectively. But does it matter what kind of fuel we put into our bodies?
Today’s commercial food manufacturers might try to tell you that it doesn’t matter what kind of fuel you consume, so you can go ahead and eat whatever your heart desires. Or maybe they’ll try to convince you that their products are safe to consume because they don’t use certain “chemical preservatives” in their foods. And yet, their food labels are filled with words only scientists can pronounce.
Based on my own experience with stress eating and overall unhealthy eating throughout the course of my life, I’m here to tell you that what we put into our bodies does matter.
Have you noticed how you feel after consuming foods that are high in carbs, salt, fat or sugar? Do you feel sluggish, groggy, gassy or bloated? That’s because the pancreas and liver have to work extra hard to break down the excess fat, salt and sugar in your foods.
Watch this video from “The Doctors” for an explanation of what happens to your internal organs after long-term consumption of unhealthy foods.
When I underwent an extremely stressful period in my life, I didn’t eat foods that were nutritious for me because I thought it would be too hard to make a nutritious meal or that it would take too long to prepare and cook and I simply didn’t have time for that.
By adopting the attitude that I didn’t have time to eat better, I was telling my body that it wasn’t worth the time or the effort it would take to feed it something healthy.
In other words, I was telling my body that I didn’t love it. Over time, I even began to hate my body and myself.
Let’s go back to the car analogy from above and apply it to our own bodies. If we were to put premium gas in a car’s gas tank and regularly maintain the car (such as by rotating the tires or getting an oil change), the car would run smoothly and get us from Point A to Point B without breaking down along the way.
Similarly, if we fill our own bodies with foods that are nutritious and maintain proper eating habits, our bodies will operate smoothly and we will feel good about ourselves, both internally and externally as well as physically and mentally.
By consuming only the foods that are good for our bodies, we are actually saying to ourselves, “I love you! You are worth it!” And our bodies will respond in kind by saying, “I feel great! Thank you for loving me so well! I’m ready to tackle anything the day brings.”
To conclude, not only will the recitation of self-love affirmations bring up our value and self-worth by changing our mindset, but when followed up with acts of self-love, such as by giving our bodies the nutritious foods it needs to operate effectively and efficiently, we are putting those self-love affirmations into practice and giving ourselves the best possible chance to effectively tackle any curveball the day might throw at us.
If you found this post helpful, you may also enjoy these posts:
- Chronic Stress: What It Does to Your Health and How to Get It under Control
- How Chronic Stress Nearly Took My Life and How I Took It Back
- 50+ Quotes to Live By When You are Feeling Stressed
- 5 Tips to Eat Healthier When Life is Stressful
- 40+ Quotes to Cultivate a Healthy Body Mindset
- Choosing to Live a Contemplative Lifestyle
- Benshosan, April, “20 Health Issues That Are a Sign of a Bad Diet.” December 13, 2020. Eat This, Not That. <https://www.eatthis.com/health-complications-bad-diet/>
- Lemon, Kylie. “What Happens When Water is Put into a Car’s Gas Tank?” It Still Runs. <https://itstillruns.com/symptoms-water-gas-line-6064754.html>
- Mayo Clinic Staff, “Vitamin Deficiency Anemia.” December 10, 2019. Mayo Clinic <https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vitamin-deficiency-anemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355025>
- Murphy, Meg, “Why Can’t Cars Run on Water Instead of Gasoline?” January 5, 2018. Ask an Engineer. MIT School of Engineering. <https://engineering.mit.edu/engage/ask-an-engineer/why-cant-cars-run-on-water-instead-of-gasoline/>
You are not alone.
You. Are. Loved.
I hope you find love, hope and peace in these words.