Learning how to nourish your body —whether after a stressful situation, after drinking, during menstruation, or just during everyday life—takes time, patience, and getting to know yourself. After all, you can’t develop a great self-care routine overnight!
But this guide will walk you through 12 ways to nourish your body by creating a healthy routine without depriving yourself.
9 Ways to Nourish Your Body for Optimal Health
1. Move your body
The number one way to nourish your body is by moving it frequently. The CDC says that exercise can benefit everything from:
- lower risk of depression and anxiety
- better sleep
- weight management
- lower risk of cardiovascular disease
- reducing risk of some cancers
- strengthening bones and muscles
- more consistent emotional states
Basically, exercise increases your quality of life on almost every level. And you don’t have to do cardio 5 times a week or do deadlifts at the gym to benefit.
Even moderate activity like walking, yoga, or swimming can have huge benefits.
2. Eat clean
“Clean eating” is defined as eating fresh, whole foods. Think fruits, veggies, wild-caught fish, nuts. Anything that comes in a box or package isn’t a whole food, and will not have the same nutritional value as something that comes straight from the earth.
Some foods that are the most nutritionally dense foods on earth include:
- leafy greens
- olive oil
But here’s the thing: if there’s a particular food that you know is healthy, but you don’t like it, don’t eat it.
Don’t like quinoa? Have some rice and beans.
Don’t like broccoli? Have some cauliflower.
Forcing yourself to eat foods that you find unpalatable is stressful to your mind, which is just as bad on your body. There are plenty of ways to get all the nutrients you need from the food you eat.
READ MORE: The Best Nutrition Books to Read in 2021
3. Eat foods you enjoy, in moderation
On the flip side, once you’ve met your nutritional needs for the day, eat something small that is maybe NOT as healthy as the foods above.
Yes, it’s okay to eat foods with low nutritional value in moderation.
If you enjoy chocolate, opt for a couple pieces of dark chocolate instead of a slice of chocolate pie, which is chock full of sugar, wheat, and other preservatives that aren’t healthy.
If you enjoy lemon-flavored desserts, try a small, dense tart (bonus points if it’s free from refined sugar or wheat like this lemon tart recipe).
Depriving ourselves has no value and can actually do more harm than good. So learn how to savor those foods that you love to eat so that you can actually enjoy them!
4. Sleep to nourish your body
Sleep is absolutely essential to our health and well being, but often, it’s what we cancel to fit in other stuff.
Experts estimate that adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night, but it does vary per person. For example, I know that if I don’t get 8 hours of sleep, I feel groggy and sluggish the next day. It’s about knowing what works for you.
Getting less than 7 hours of sleep on a regular basis can lead to sleep deprivation. Depriving yourself of sleep can lead to things like mood swings, irritability, depression, anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations. People who are chronically sleep deprived are at risk of early death.
Getting enough sleep, however, leads to better weight, getting sick less often, reduced stress, lower risk of heart disease, and even getting along with people better!
5. Watch your stress
We all know stress is generally a bad thing. But many of us don’t have the coping techniques or ability to recognize stress before it it starts to overwhelm us.
Take a look at this PDF to help you determine some of your own emotional or behavioral changes when stress strikes.
But of course, just recognizing them isn’t enough. Being proactive and practicing stress relief (even when you’re NOT stressed) can help you keep those stressful feelings at bay.
Practice stress relief like meditation, exercise, journaling, therapy or counseling, art or music therapy, deep breathing, or affirmations.
READ MORE: Top 5 Benefits of Self-Love and Self-Care
6. Nourish Your Body with Vitamin D
One of the vitamins our bodies need is Vitamin D, yet somewhere around 41% of adults are Vitamin D deficient. This could potentially be because most Americans spend upwards of 90% of their days indoors.
Vitamin D can be absorbed through our diets via foods like eggs (with the yolk) or fish, but one of the main ways our bodies get Vitamin D is through the sun: Vitamin D is synthesized in our skin when we come in contact with the sun.
Get somewhere between 8 and 15 minutes of sunlight exposure without sunscreen per day. This is the easiest and cheapest way to get your daily allotment of Vitamin D! And it has many benefits, including boosting your immune system, reducing risk of cancer, protecting your bones, and helping the body absorb and use other vitamins and minerals, like calcium.
7. Get into proper alignment
Whether doing a online course and exercise program like MoveU or going to the chiropractor on a regular basis, there are some major benefits to being in alignment.
Over the course of our lives, we develop preferences and habits, like sleeping on one side through most of the night every night, chewing our food on only one side, always crossing the same leg when we’re sitting, or overextending our backs when we’re standing, these preferences and habits can really wear on our bones and muscles.
Chiropractic adjustments or alignment work can help us ease pain like headaches or lower back pain, reduce inflammation, and strengthen the correct muscles to stay in balance.
8. Stay hydrated to nourish your body
Drink more water. It’s pretty simple.
Water helps our bodies stay loose and lubricated, it aids digestion, carries nutrients around our bodies, regulates body temperature, and much more.
Although recommendations can vary, generally, if you take your weight in pounds, divide by two, you get the number of ounces of water you should drink every day. For example, if you’re 150 pounds, then drink about 75 ounces of water a day. Of course, if you are exercising during the day, you’ll add about 12 ounces per half an hour you work out.
Drinking enough water through the day can sometimes be difficult. Make it easier by filling up a large water bottle and drinking through the day. If you have some medical conditions like thyroid or kidney, be sure to check with your doctor to determine how much water is right for you.
9. Listen to your body
Simply listening to our bodies can help us determine which of these things we may need more of. If you’re feeling tired and really want a nap when you get home from work, if you’re able to, go ahead and take that nap!
If you’re thirsty, drink. If you’re hungry, eat.
This is over-simplified of course. It means that we actually have to be paying attention to what our bodies need, which isn’t so easy is a world that goes a million miles a minute until we crash into bed at the end of the day.
Take some time throughout your day to check in with yourself. Do some deep breathing and do a body scan. How are you feeling? Do you have aches or pains anywhere? Is your body telling you that you need something?
Giving yourself a few minute break to do this can help prevent all kinds of ailments and help you feel your best.
These 9 things can help you nourish your body in ways that will help your body stay in great shape through decades of your life. While nothing is guaranteed, these are sure to help you treat your body right and embrace it for all of the amazing things your body can do.
Make sure you read the sister post: How to Nourish Your Soul.
Do you listen to your body? How do you nourish your body?